Flag of the Philippines

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The national flag of the Philippines is a two-colored horizontal flag with equal bands of blue (on top) and red. A white equilateral triangle is based at the hoist side, and in the center is a golden yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays, and at each corner of the triangle is a five-pointed golden yellow star.

The flag is displayed with the blue field on top in times of peace, and with the red field on top in times of war.



The flag is horizontally divided into two fundamental colors, royal blue and scarlet red, with a white equilateral triangle based at the hoist side. At the center of the triangle is a golden-yellow sun with eight primary rays, each containing three individual rays, and at each corner of the triangle is a five-pointed golden-yellow star. The flag is displayed with the blue field on top in time of peace, and with the red field on top in time of war.

The flag's length is twice its width, which translates into an aspect ratio of 1:2. The sides of the white triangle are equal to the width of the flag. Each star is oriented such that it points towards the tip of the vertex at which it is located.[1]

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.[1][2] The official colors and their approximations in other color spaces are listed below:[3]

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
Hexadecimal #0038A8 #CE1126 #FFFFFF #FCD116

The Philippine flag is unique in the sense that it can indicate a state of war when the red field is displayed on top, or on the observer's left when the flag is displayed vertically, with the white equilateral triangle at the top end.[1]


According to official sources, the white triangle stands for equality and fraternity; the blue field for peace, truth and justice; and the red field for patriotism and valor.[4] The eight primary rays of the sun represent the first eight provinces (Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac) that sought independence from Spain and were placed under martial law by the Spaniards at the start of the Philippine Revolution in 1896.[5] The three stars represent the three major geographical divisions of the country: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.[5]

However, 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 Visayas.[6]


Historical flags

See also: Flags of the Philippine Revolution

It was in 1960 that the development of the Philippine flag was thought to trace back to the individual war standards of the individual leaders of the Katipunan, though it can't be concluded that the present Philippine flag did originate from the flags and symbols of the Katipunan.

The first flag of the Katipunan was a red rectangular one, with three white Ks (the acronym of the Katipunan's full name Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan) lined side by side in a horizontal orientation. The color of the flag symbolizes the blood that the Katipunan members used in signing their membership papers.

During the revolution, the Katipunan was split into two groups due to conflicts between Emilio Aguinaldo and Andres Bonifacio: the Magdiwang and Magdalo, each adopting its own flag.

After the reorganization of the Katipunan, it adopted a new flag design in 1887 during a meeting at Naic, Cavite. The flag still adopts the red color from the previous flags, but now depicted a white sun with a face. The sun had eight rays that symbolize the eight provinces under Spanish military rule.

Current design

The flag, as we know of today, was first designed by General Emilio Aguinaldo in 1897 during his exile in Hong Kong. He drew inspiration from the flags used by the Katipunan and the Cuban revolutionaries. The design was submitted to Marcela Agoncillo (the wife of Felipe Agoncillo), and sewn together with her daughter Lorenza, and Doña Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, niece of José Rizal, the Philippines' national hero, and was first displayed in a battle on May 28, 1898.

The flag was then formally introduced to the public during the proclamation of independence in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1898.



The current Philippine flag design

The flag is horizontally oriented into two fundamental colors, royal blue and scarlet red, with a white equilateral triangle located at the hoist side. Found in the center is a golden yellow sun with eight rays, each containing three individual rays. Three five-pointed golden yellow stars can also be seen at each corner of the triangle.

The flag's length is twice its width (1:2 ratio). The sides of the triangle are equal to the width of the flag. Each star, on the other hand, ir oriented such that it points towards the tip of the vertex at which it is located.

It was in March 25, 1936 that President Manuel L. Quezon issued Executive Order No. 23 that provided the technical description and specifications of the Philippine Flag. Among the provisions were the definition of the triangle at the hoist as an equilateral triangle; 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. A year after, the present proportions of 1:2 was also included.


The colors were not exactly defined, however, in Quezon's order. It was in the 1950s that the National Historical Institute came up with the formal and legal definition of the colors, adopting the color specifications from the American flag. President Marcos, on the other hand, ordered the restoration of the original colors of the flag (blue and red) similar to the Cuban flag. The resolution was reversed after the People Power ousted Marcos from office.

The particular shade of blue used in the flag has been the subject of controversy for almost ninety years. From 1920 until 1985, the shade was navy blue until President Ferdinand E. Marcos ordered it changed to a lighter shade of blue. Due to lobbying by some manufacturers, the flags actually manufactured had sky blue, although this was not precisely the shade contemplated under advice from historical circles. Historians suggested that the proper blue should be the same shade used in the flag of Cuba, which was seen as an ally against Spain, and the revolution of which had provided inspiration to Filipino revolutionaries (the Philippines belongs to the flag family that includes Cuba and Puerto Rico which all adopted flags of similar designs. Due to a lack of standardization and material during the Philippine-American War, supporters for both the navy blue shade and the sky blue shade have documentary evidence that both supports and contradicts each argument.

While some revolutionary-era documents state that the original shade of blue used on the first flag was azul oscura, which roughly translates into English as misty blue, exactly what shade this refers to, will be a matter of debate for years to come. Historians now agree that azul oscura is of a deeper shade than sky blue, but lighter than navy blue. The June 12 Proclamation of Philippine Independence mentions the inclusion of a sketch, with colors, of the Philippine flag, which would be definitive, but the sketch has, to date, not surfaced.

In order to put the controversy to rest, the currently mandated shade is royal blue, according to Republic Act No. 8491 -- the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines. Unfortunately, this act has created controversy between historians and politicians over whether or not the government has the right to alter historical symbols and original meanings of those symbols for the sake of convenience.


According to the June 12, 1898 Proclamation of Philippine Independence, the white triangle is the distinctive emblem of the Katipunan which by means of its blood compact inspired the Filipinos to rise in revolution. The three stars represent the three geographical island groups of the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, although in the Declaration of Philippine Independence, one of the three stars originally represented the island of Panay, instead of the Visayas. Both representations convey the same idea: the unity of separate peoples and cultures into one nation. The eight rays of the sun represent the first eight provinces which revolted against the Spanish rule--Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Laguna, and Batangas.

The significance of the colors--red, white, and blue--are currently attributed as follows:

  • the white triangle stands for equality and fraternity;
  • the blue for peace, truth and justice;
  • the red for patriotism and valor.

However, the original Declaration of Philippine Independence stated that the three colors were inspired by the American flag as a manifestation of the Filipino's gratitude towards American help against the Spanish.

The national flag is considered unique from all other flags that it can indicate a state of war. When the red field is displayed on top (or the left hand side of the observer when the flag is displayed vertically), it means that the Philippines is at war. This was first flown on February 4, 1899, at the start of the hostilities of the 1899-1913 Philippine-American War. It was last officially ordered flown with the red stripe up, in December 1941, following the Japanese attack on the Philippines on December 8, 1941. It remained flown with the red stripe up by the government of the Commonwealth of the Philippines, both during the Japanese invasion and subsequently in front of the temporary capital of the Commonwealth government-in-exile, which was located in the Philippine Resident Commissioner's building in Washington, D.C. The Japanese-sponsored Second Republic of the Philippines flew the flag with the blue stripe up from its proclamation in 1943 until President Jose P. Laurel proclaimed the existence of a state of war with the Allied powers in 1944. There was also a brief attempt to restore the pre-1937 proportions but this wasn't successful.

Today, the provinces of Basilan and Zamboanga Sibugay have displayed their flags upside down since 2001.


Act 1696, known as the Flag Law, was passed on September 6, 1907 during the American Occupation. This law proscribed the Philippine flag and banned the use of the Philippine national anthem. In 1919, Senator Rafael Palma sponsored the Senate Bill No. 1, a bill repealing the Flag Law of 1907 following Governor General Francis Harrison’s recommendation that the law should be repealed since the distrust between the Filipinos and the Americans no longer exists. On 24 October 1919, Act No. 2871 was approved and signed by Gen. Harrison; thus, the Flag Law of 1907 was repealed.

Display of the flag

The following are the guidelines on the display of the Philippine flag, as mandated by Republic Act No. 8491 (The Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines):

  • For household and office display, the flag must be displayed vertically, with the triangle on top. The blue field should be to the right (left of observer) and the red field to the left (right of the observer).
  • The flag should never be displayed horizontally except in flagpoles or hung fastened by its fly. The fly portion should always be free to move.
  • When flown from a flagpole, the flag should have its blue stripe on top in times of peace, and the red on top in times of war.
  • When displayed in the middle of the street, as between buildings or posts, the flag should be balanced vertically with the blue stripe pointing to north or east.
  • When a number of flags are grouped and displayed from stationary staffs, the Philippine flag should be in the center at the highest point, or at the right of the other flags. Also, it must always be in the peak, and not smaller than the other flags of pennants or organizations.
  • When displayed with another flag from crossed staffs, the Philippine flag should be on its right side, the left side of the observer. Its staff should be over the staff of the other flag. Two Philippine flags should never be displayed crossed staff.
  • When used on a speaker's platform without the staff, it should hang vertically and placed above and behind the speaker. It should never be used to cover the speaker's desk, or be draped over the front of the platform.
  • When mounted on a platform, the flag should be placed on the presiding officers' right and a bit in front, as they face the congregation. Other flags should be on their left. However, when it is displayed on a level with the congregation, the flag is placed on the right of the congregation.
  • Torn, faded of worn-out flags should be replaced immediately. They should be disposed off or destroyed privately, if possible by burning.
  • There are exclusion on the use of the flag. The flag should not be used as part of, or as an entire costume. It should not be displayed in cockpits, dance halls, and centers of vice. It should not be used as presentation material in unveiling ceremonies.
  • Also, the flag should not be used as a curtain or a cover, although decorations of blue, white and red can be used. The blue color in the bunting should be at the top, or at the point of honor, and must be equal in width to the other colors.
  • The manufacture, sale, and purchase of all flags for government use and public displayed are regulated by Presidential directives. These processes require the earlier approval of the NHI.
  • The flag must be protected with careful consideration of its technical design, color, materials, and craftsmanship. Flag suppliers are obliged to register annually at the NHI, and are required to furnish the laboratory test results for every color of textile materials to be used in the flag's manufacture.

Flag protocol

The flag should be displayed in all government buildings, official residences, public plazas, and schools every day throughout the year. The days from May 28 (National Flag Day) to June 12 (Independence Day) are designated as flag days, during which all government offices, business establishments, and private homes are also encouraged to display the flag.

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


The flag of the Philippines flown at half-mast in front of the Rizal Provincial Capitol Building.

The flag may be flown at half-mast as a sign of mourning. 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

It is prohibited to deface or ridicule the flag, to dip the flag as a salute, or to add additional marks of any nature on the flag. It may not be used as a drapery, festoon, tablecloth, as a covering for objects, or as part as a costume or uniform.

Several commercial uses of the flag are prohibited, including using the flag as a trademark or for commercial labels or designs. It is forbidden to use the image of the flag on merchandise, or in any advertisement. It also may not be used as a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;

The flag may not be displayed horizontally face-up, or under any painting, picture or platform. It may not be displayed in "places of frivolity", defined in the Flag Code as marked by "boisterous merriment or recreation".


The Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine flag 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 should nonetheless show full respect when the pledge is being rendered by standing at attention.[1]

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 people
For God
for the People,
for Nature and
for the Country.

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

Biggest flag

Filipino Grace Galindez Gupana (CEO, ABS GEN Herbs International) broke 2 world records as certified by Andrea Banfi, Guinness World Records - upon instruction from God - for making the flag of Israel (18,847 square meters); and the 777 Yahveh’s Banner (combination of Israel, the Philippines, North Korea, South Korea flags, and 180 smaller flags of 180 other nations, measuring 54,451 square meters).

The largest Philippine flag (180 meters x 92 meters, or 16,560 sq.m., 3.8 tons; worth P 30 million) was first unfurled on June 12, 2008, Philippine Declaration of Independence Day, at the Baguio Athletic Bowl. The Hallelujah Prophetic Global Foundation of Galindez Gupana made it from 14,000 yards of taffeta nylon and 1,250 yards of satin (for the stars and sun).


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Republic Act No. 8491. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
  2. Dictionary of Vexillology:C. Flags of the World. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
  3. Philippines. Vexilla Mundi. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
  4. Flag and Anthem. The Official Website of the Republic of the Philippines. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Flag of Philippines. CIA World Factbook. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.
  6. Declaration of Philippine Independence. Retrieved on 2007-06-06.

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