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EDITORIAL: Fly the Flag Proudly

FROM May 28 to June 12 every year, Filipinos from all over the country, including the islands on the western seaboard off Pangasinan and Palawan which had been claimed to be owned by China, our bully neighbor from thousands of nautical miles away, observe with deep sense of patriotism and fervor the National Flag Days.

The declaration of the 15-day National Flag Days is contained in Republic Act 8491 or the “Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines” and House Bill 5224 which were approved by Congress.

Section 26 of RA 8491 states: The period from May 28 to June 12 of each year is declared as Flag Days, during which period all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of government, business establishments, institutions of learning, and private homes are enjoined to display the flag. Here in Naga, the observance is further extended up to June 18 when it celebrates its Charter Day as an independent city, and unto June 19 to remember the birth of our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal.

The National Flag Day commemorates the day the country’s flag was first raised after the victory in the Battle of Alapan in 1898. Filipino revolutionaries led by General Emilio Aguinaldo defeated the Spanish troops, enabling the recapture of the Province of Cavite by General Aguinaldo’s troops. It was after that battle, on May 28, 1898, that General Aguinaldo unfurled, for the first time, what would become the Philippines’ national flag. It was not until June 12, 1898 however, that the flag was formally presented to the people.

In 1941 to 1964, the country commemorated the Flag Day and Independence Day on June 12, but in 1965, President Diosdado Macapagal, by virtue of Proclamation No. 374 ordered the observance of Flag Day moved to May 28, the date when it was first unfurled. But what is the flag anyway?

The Philippine national flag has a rectangular design that consists of a white equilateral triangle, symbolizing liberty, equality and fraternity; a horizontal blue stripe for peace, truth, and justice; and a horizontal red stripe for patriotism and valor. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. There are protocols or proper ways to use and display them even on days outside the national Flag Day celebration. The lapel flag pin being a replica, for instance, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart. The flag should never touch anything beneath it. It should always be allowed to fall freely. Displaying the flag is honoring the country and the people and soldiers and guerillas who gave their lives to defend our country with their unwavering acts of courage and patriotism.

At this time of year, it is important to be mindful of the prescribed manner for displaying and showing respect for the flag. Standing and placing “our right hand over the heart” is the proper way to demonstrate respect for the flag when it is being carried past, or being raised or lowered. Everyone should stand at attention, drop everything and stop whatever they are doing when the flag ceremony is being conducted, as in offices, movie theaters at start of a film, plazas, and schools. Everyone must be aware that one may be punished or penalized for showing or doing disrespect to the flag. We miss the days when vendors on street corners would sell flaglets to passing jeepneys and private cars for their drivers to display them on conspicuous spaces of their moving vehicles, such as along the hood or near the driver’s window so that on June 12 every street appeared bright with the ambulant tricolors that represent our country’s independence, pride and freedom flying or waving high.

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