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Flag of the Philippines


Flag of the Philippines.svg
Name Pambansang Watawat
("National Flag"), Tatlong Bituin at Isang Araw
("Three Stars and a Sun")
Use National flag and ensign National flag and ensign IFIS Normal.svg
Proportion 1:2
Adopted June 12, 1898
Design A horizontal bicolor of blue over red,with a white equilateral triangle at the hoist containing three, 5-pointed gold stars at its vertices, and an 8-rayed gold sun at its center.
Designed by Emilio Aguinaldo
War Flag of the Philippines.svg
Variant flag of the Philippines
Use State and war flag State and war flag IFIS Alternate.svg
Proportion 1:2
Design As above, with the blue and red stripes switched to indicate a state of war.
Designed by Executive Order No. 321 of Elpidio Quirino and Executive Order No. 23 of Manuel L. Quezon in 1936

The National Flag of the Philippines (Tagalog: Pambansang Watawat ng Pilipinas) is a horizontal flag bicolor with equal bands of royal blue and scarlet red, and with a white equilateral triangle at the hoist; in the center of the triangle is a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays, which represent the country's first group of provinces that started the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain; and at each vertex of the triangle is a five-pointed golden yellow star, each of which represent the country's 3 main regions - Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. This flag can indicate a state of war if it is displayed with the red side on top.[1]




The flag's length is twice its width, which translates into an aspect ratio of 1:2 but may be smaller up to 1:\sqrt 3.[2] The length of all the sides of the white triangle are equal to the width of the flag. Each star is oriented in such manner that one of its tips points towards the vertex at which it is located.[3] Moreover the gap-angle between two neighboured of the 8 ray-bundles is as large as the angle of one ray-bundle, so 22.5 °, and its major ray is twice as "thick" then its two minor rays.[2] Remark: the golden sun is not exactly in the center of the triangle but shifted about 1/14 to the right.

  Construction sheet of the Philippine flag.

The flag's colors are specified by Republic Act 8491 in terms of their cable number in the system developed by the Color Association of the United States.[3][4] The official colors and their approximations in other color spaces are listed below:[5].

Scheme Blue Red White Yellow
Cable No. 80173 80108 80001 80068
Pantone 286 186 n.a. 116
RGB 0-56-168 206-17-38 255-255-255 252-209-22
CMYK C100-M60-Y0-K5 C0-M90-Y65-K10 n.a. C0-M18-Y85-K0
HEX #0038A8 #CE1126 #FFFFFF #FCD116

  Usage as war ensign

The Philippines does not utilise a separate war flag; instead, the national flag itself is used for this purpose. The flag is unique in that it can also indicate a state of war when the red field is displayed above the blue, or on the observer's left when the flag is displayed vertically (i.e., with the white equilateral triangle at the top).[3] In times of peace, however, the blue area is the superior field (as in the preceding illustrations). Historical examples of this wartime reversal in orientation are during the Revolution of 1896, World War II, and some flags carried by protesters who stormed Malacañang Palace during the 1986 EDSA Revolution.[3]


  The officially eight-ray sun (3.75°-spacing)
  A mistakenly used eight-ray sun (5°-spacing)

The Philippine national flag had a rectangular design that consist of a white equilateral triangle, symbolizing equality and fraternity; a horizontal blue stripe for peace, truth and justice; and a horizontal red stripe for patriotism and valor. In the center of the white triangle is an eight-ray golden sun symbolizing unity, freedom, people's democracy and sovereignty. Each ray of the sun represents each of the first eight provinces that started the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain. Ambrosio Rianzares Bautista, who wrote the Philippine Declaration of Independence and who read it on the occasion of its proclamation on June 12, 1898, has listed the eight provinces as Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas. Three five-pointed stars, one for each of the triangle's points, stand for the three major geographical island groups that comprise the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

The symbolism given in the 1898 Proclamation of Philippine Independence differs from the current official explanation. It says that the white triangle signifies the emblem of the Katipunan, the secret society that opposed Spanish rule. It says the flag's colors commemorate the flag of the United States as a manifestation of gratitude for American protection against the Spanish during the Philippine Revolution. It also says that one of the three stars represents the island of Panay, rather than the entire Visayan islands. The proclamation also declares that the sun represents the gigantic steps made by the sons of the country along the path of Progress and Civilization, and lists Bataan instead of Tarlac among the eight provinces symbolized by the sun's rays.[6]


  Historical flags

It has been common since the 1960s to trace the development of the Philippine flag to the various war standards of the individual leaders of the Katipunan, a pseudo-masonic revolutionary movement that opposed Spanish rule in the Philippines and led the Philippine Revolution.[7] However, while some symbols common to the Katipunan flags would be adopted into the iconography of the Revolution, it is inconclusive whether these war standards can be considered precursors to the present Philippine flag.[7]

The first flag of the Katipunan was a red rectangular flag with a horizontal alignment of three white Ks (an acronym for the Katipunan's full name, Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan - Supreme and Venerable Society of the Sons of the Nation). The flag's red field symbolized blood, as members of the Katipunan signed their membership papers in their own blood.[7]

The various leaders of the Katipunan, such as Andrés Bonifacio, Mariano Llanera, and Pio del Pilar, also had individual war standards. The organization was represented in Cavite province by two factions: the Magdiwang faction and the Magdalo faction, with each adopting a flag. Both used a white sun. Instead of the letter K the flags bore the symbol for the syllable ka in the pre-Hispanic baybayin writing system.

The Katipunan adopted a new flag in 1897 during an assembly at Naic, Cavite. This new flag was red and depicted a white sun with a face. The sun had eight rays, representing the eight provinces that Spain had placed under martial law.

  Current design

  2012 Flag cupcake, SM City Baliuag.

The modern design of the Philippine flag was conceptualized by President Emilio Aguinaldo during his exile in Hong Kong in 1897. The first flag was sewn by Marcela Marino de Agoncillo with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad (a niece of Propagandista José Rizal). It was displayed in battle on May 28, 1898.

  Flag of the Philippines at the Philippine International Convention Center

The flag was formally unfurled during the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.[8] However, a Manila Times article by Augusto de Viana, Chief History Researcher, National Historical Institute, mentions assertions in history textbooks and commemorative rites that the flag was first raised in Alapan, Imus, Cavite, on May 28, 1898, citing Presidential Proclamation No. 374, issued by then-President Diosdado Macapagal on March 6, 1965.[9] The article goes on to claim that historical records indicate that the first display of the Philippine flag took place in Cavite City, when General Aguinaldo displayed it during the first fight of the Philippine Revolution.

The flag's original symbolism was enumerated in the text of the independence proclamation, which makes reference to an attached drawing, though no record of the drawing has surfaced.[7] The original design of the flag adopted a mythical sun with a face, a symbol common to several former Spanish colonies. The particular shade of blue of the original flag has been a source of controversy. Based on anecdotal evidence and the few surviving flags from the era, historians argue that the colors of the original flag were the same blue and red as found on the flag of Cuba.[7]

The flag of Cuba influenced the design of the flag of the Philippines as Cuba's revolution against Spain inspired, to some degree, the Philippine Revolution.

Hostilities broke out between the Philippines and the United States in 1899. The flag was first flown with the red field up on February 4, 1899 to show that a state of war existed. Aguinaldo was captured by the Americans two years later, and swore allegiance to the United States.

  The detail of Fernando Amorsolo's The Making of the Philippine flag depicting Agoncillo and company's manual sewing

With the defeat of the Philippine Republic, the Philippines was placed under American colonial rule and the display of the Philippine flag was declared illegal by the Sedition Act of 1907. This law was repealed on October 30, 1919.[7] With the legalization of the Philippine flag, the cloth available in most stores was the red and blue of the flag of the United States, so the flag from 1919 onwards adopted the navy blue color. The Philippine Legislature passed Act. No 2928 on March 26, 1920, which legally adopted the Philippine flag as the official flag of the Philippine Islands. Up until the eve of World War II, Flag Day was celebrated on annually on October 30, commemorating the date the ban on the flag was lifted.

The Commonwealth of the Philippines was inaugurated in 1935. On March 25, 1936, President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order No. 23 which provided for the technical description and specifications of the flag.[7] Among the provisions of the order was the definition of the triangle at the hoist as an equilateral triangle, the definition of the aspect ratio at 1:2, the precise angles of the stars, the geometric and aesthetic design of the sun, and the formal elimination of the mythical face on the sun. The exact shades of colors, however, were not precisely defined. These specifications have remained unchanged and in effect to the present. In 1941, Flag Day was officially moved to June 12, commemorating the date that Philippine independence was proclaimed in 1898.

The flag was once again banned with the Japanese invasion and occupation of the Philippines beginning December 1941, to be hoisted again with the establishment of the Japanese-sponsored Second Republic of the Philippines. In ceremonies held in October 1943, Emilio Aguinaldo hoisted the flag with the original Cuban blue and red colors restored. The flag was initially flown with the blue stripe up, until President Jose P. Laurel proclaimed the existence of a state of war with the Allied Powers in 1944. The Commonwealth government-in-exile in Washington, D.C. continued to use the flag with the American colors, and had flown it with the red stripe up since the initial invasion of the Japanese. With the combined forces of the Filipino & American soldiers and the liberation of the Philippines in 1944 to 1945, the flag with the American colors was restored, and it was this flag that was hoisted upon the granting of Philippine independence from the United States on July 4, 1946.

  Design changes


The shade of blue used in the flag has varied over time, beginning with the original color azul oscuro. The exact nature of this shade is uncertain, but a likely candidate is the blue of the Cuban flag, which a theory says influenced the flag's design. Specifications for the flag's colors with shades matching those used in the American flag were adopted by the National Historical Institute in 1955. President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the colors restored to the original light blue and red of the Cuban flag in 1985, but this was immediately rescinded after the 1986 People Power Revolution that removed him from power. For the 1998 independence centennial celebrations, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (RA 8491) was passed, designating royal blue as the official variant.[10]

Philippine flag with a nine ray sun.
  Philippine flag with the proposed ninth ray.

  Sun's rays

Prior to the 1998 independence centennial celebrations, the provincial government of Zambales lobbied that the sunburst design accommodate a ninth ray, reasoning that their province was also in a state of rebellion in 1896. The Centennial Commission however refuted this change, based on research by the National Historical Institute.[11] In 2009, a Senate Bill was introduced to add an additional ray to represent the Moro people in Mindanao who also fought the Spanish and was never occupied by the Spanish colonial government. As of September 24, 2009, it is in the process of bill reconciliation in Congress.[12]

  Crescent moon

Other groups[who?] suggest that a crescent moon should be added to the modification of the flag instead of adding 9th ray to the sun, as a recognition to the Muslims of Mindanao. In religion, the Cross symbolizes Christianity while Islam is represented by the Crescent moon. Some Arabic countries used Crescent moon on their flags. As of now there are many proposal on how the Crescent moon should be to the flag including proposal of President Fidel V. Ramos. But until now this issue is discussed by the Philippine government.


Flag Date Use Description
Flag of New Spain.svg
1535-1821 Flag used when the Philippines was a part of New Spain. A red saltire resembling two crossed, roughly-pruned branches, on a white field
Union flag 1606 (Kings Colors).svg
1762-1764 Flag used during the British occupation of the Philippines. (As used in occupied Manila and Cavite) Red cross commonly called St George's Cross and the white cross commonly called St. Andrew's Cross joined together in a blue field
Flag of Spain (1785-1873 and 1875-1931).svg
1821-1898 Used during Spanish East Indies period. Three horizontal stripes: red, yellow and red, the yellow strip being twice as wide as each red stripe with arms in the first third of the yellow stripe. The arms are crowned, and vertically divided, left red field with a tower representing Castille, right white field with a lion representing Leon.
Philippines flag 1st official.svg
1897 First official flag of the Philippines, created by the Katipunan. A white sun with eight rays and a face on a field of red
Philippines Flag Original.svg
1898-1901 Design as conceived by Emilio Aguinaldo. The exact shade of blue is still a matter of debate; 3 variants were used by subsequent administrations. Sewn by the revolutionary junta in Hong Kong and first displayed in battle on May 28, 1898. It was formally unfurled during the proclamation of Philippine independence on June 12, 1898, by President Emilio Aguinaldo. It contains mythical sun (with a face) common to many former Spanish colonies; the triangle of Masonry; the eight rays represent the first 8 provinces that revolted and were put under martial law by the Spaniards during the start of the Philippine Revolution in 1896; the flag was first unfurled with the blue stripe above, but was flown with the red stripe above upon the commencement of hostilities between the Filipinos and Americans in 1899.
US flag 45 stars.svg
1901-1908 American flag used while under direct administration from the United States Thirteen horizontal stripes alternating red and white representing the original thirteen colonies; in the canton, white stars on a blue field, the number of stars increased as the United States expanded its territory
US flag 46 stars.svg
1908-1912 Variant after Oklahoma became a U.S. state
US flag 48 stars.svg
1912-1919 Variant after Arizona and New Mexico became U.S. states
Flag of the Philippines (navy blue).svg
1919-1985 The shade of blue used here is Navy Blue, following suit from the American Flag. Design conceived by Emilio Aguinaldo remains but the shades of blue and red were adopted from the American flag
Merchant flag of Japan (1870).svg
1942-1945 Flag used during the Japanese Occupation. A red sun-disc centered on a white field
Philippines Flag Original.svg
1943-1944 Used during the Second Republic. The original design made by Aguinaldo remained constant. However, the shades of blue and red varied through the years. In 1998, the flag gained its present definitive shades.
Flag of the Philippines (light blue).svg
1985-1986 Shade of blue used here is Light Blue, similar to that of the Cuban Flag at the time of the proclamation of Independence.
Flag of the Philippines (navy blue).svg
1986-1998 1919 flag; restored after the 1986 People Power Revolution.
Flag of the Philippines.svg
1998-Present The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines specifies that he blue color shall bear Cable No. 80173; the white color, Cable No. 80001; the red color, Cable No. 80108; and the golden yellow, Cable No. 80068.[13][14] Introduced for the Philippine Centennial Celebrations.[citation needed]


  Section 10 of RA 8491 states that when the flag is displayed on a wall during peacetime, the blue field is to the observers' left, as shown here.[3]

  Flag protocol

The flag should be displayed in all government buildings, official residences, public plazas, and schools every day throughout the year. The days of the 28th of May (National Flag Day) and the 12th of June (Independence Day) are designated as flag days, during which all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of government, business establishments, institutions of learning and private homes are enjoined to display the flag.[3] But in recent years, the flag days are now from May 28 to June 30 yearly.

By law, the Philippine flag must be permanently hoisted and illuminated at night at the following locations:[3]


  The flag of the Philippines flown at half-mast in back Bonifacio Shrine in Manila.

The flag may be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning.[3] Upon the official announcement of the death of the President or a former President, the flag should be flown at half-mast for ten days. The flag should be flown at half-mast for seven days following the death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice, the President of the Senate or the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

The flag may also be required to fly at half-mast upon the death of other persons to be determined by the National Historical Institute, for a period less than seven days. The flag shall be flown at half-mast on all the buildings and places where the decedent was holding office, on the day of death until the day of interment of an incumbent member of the Supreme Court, the Cabinet, the Senate or the House of Representatives, and such other persons as may be determined by the National Historical Institute.

When flown at half-mast, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for a moment then lowered to the half-mast position. It should be raised to the peak again before it is lowered for the day.

The flag may also be used to cover the caskets of the dead of the military, veterans of previous wars, national artists, and outstanding civilians as determined by the local government. In such cases, the flag must be placed such that the white triangle is at the head and the blue portion covers the right side of the casket. The flag should not be lowered to the grave or allowed to touch the ground, but should be solemnly folded and handed to the heirs of the deceased.

  Prohibited acts

According to Republic Act 8491 itself, it shall be prohibited:[3]

a) To mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface;
b) To dip the flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute;
c) To use the flag:
  1. As a drapery, festoon, tablecloth;
  2. As covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects;
  3. As a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;
  4. As a staff or whip;
  5. For unveiling monuments or statues; and
  6. As trademarks, or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs.

Moreover, the flag may not be displayed "horizontally face-up, or under any painting, picture or platform." It may also not be displayed in "discotheques, cockpits, night and day clubs, casinos, gambling joints and places of vice or where frivolity prevails."


The Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine flag (distinct from the Patriotic Oath of Allegiance) should be recited while standing with the right hand with palm open raised shoulder high. Individuals whose faith or religious beliefs prohibit them from making such pledge are permitted to excuse themselves, but are required by law to show full respect when the pledge is being rendered by standing at attention.[3]

Ako ay Pilipino
Buong katapatang nanunumpa
Sa watawat ng Pilipinas
At sa bansang kanyang sinasagisag
Na may dangal, katarungan at kalayaan
Na pinakikilos ng sambayanang
Makakalikasan at
English translation
I am a Filipino
I pledge my allegiance
To the flag of the Philippines
And to the country it represents
With honor, justice and freedom
Put in motion by one nation
For God
for the Nature,
for People and
for the Country.

The law makes no statement regarding the language in which the pledge must be recited, but the pledge is written (and therefore recited) in the Filipino language.

  See also


  1. ^ RP flag blooper in New York not intentional—US embassy - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
  2. ^ a b Executive Order No. 23, s. 1936 | Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Republic Act No. 8491". Archived from the original on 2007-12-05. http://web.archive.org/web/20071205235342/http://www.gov.ph/aboutphil/RA8491.asp. Retrieved 2009-06-08.  (archived from the original on 2007-12-05).
  4. ^ "Dictionary of Vexillology:C". Flags of the World. http://www.crwflags.com/fotw/flags/vxt-dv-c.html#cablenumber. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  5. ^ "Philippines". Vexilla Mundi. http://www.vexilla-mundi.com/philippines_flag.html. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  6. ^ "Philippine Declaration of Independence". http://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Philippine_Declaration_of_Independence. Retrieved 2009-06-12. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Quezon, Manuel L. III (2002-04-02). "History of the Philippines Flag". Flags of the World. http://www.fotw.net/flags/ph-hist.html#desc. Retrieved 2007-06-06. 
  8. ^ Renato Perdon (2010). Footnotes to Philippine History. Universal-Publishers. p. 38. ISBN 978-1-59942-842-0. http://books.google.com/books?id=vqKsKUUSNNQC. 
  9. ^ Augusto de Viana (May 28, 2008). "Where was the Filipino Flag first unfurled?". the Manila Times. Archived from the original on 2008-06-24. http://web.archive.org/web/20080624033029/http://www.manilatimes.net/national/2008/may/28/yehey/opinion/20080528opi7.html. Retrieved 2008-05-28. 
  10. ^ Quezon III, Manuel L. (2002-04-12). "Philippines: the shade of blue". Flags of the World. http://www.fotw.net/flags/ph-blue.html. Retrieved 2007-12-22. 
  11. ^ "Adjusting the rays of the flag?". Flags of the World. 1998-03-09. http://www.fotw.us/flags/ph-hist2.html#rays. Retrieved 2008-06-15. 
  12. ^ Michael Lim Ubac, RP flag to have 9th ray to the sun, Philippine Daily Inquirer, September 24, 2009.
  13. ^ "Republic Act No. 8491 (Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines)". Chan Robles Law Library. February 12, 1998. http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno8491.htm. 
  14. ^ "The Philippine National Flag". Monuments and Heraldry division, National Historical institute. National Commission for Culture and the Arts. http://www.ncca.gov.ph/downloads/flag.pdf. 

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