The National flag of the Philippines 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.
The flag's length is twice its width, which translates into an aspect ratio of 1:2. 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. Moreover the gap-angle between two neighbors 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" as its two minor rays. The golden sun is not exactly in the center of the triangle but shifted slightly to the right.
The Philippines does not utilize a separate war flag; instead, the national flag itself is used for this purpose. To indicate a state of war, the red stripe is flown upwards. 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 1869, World War II, and some flags carried by protesters who stormed Malacanan Palace during the 1986 People Power Revolution.
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-taasang 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. The various leaders of the Katipunan, such as Andres 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.
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 Jose Rizal). It was displayed in battle on May 28, 1898.
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. 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.
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. 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. 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.
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