10 Philippines Flag Symbolism, Meaning, History, Facts, and Trivia

Flag of Philippines Symbolism Facts & Meaning: History & Trivia

Philippines Flag History

The Philippine flag’s history reflects the nation’s struggle for independence. Before Spanish colonization, various regions had their own unique flags. During Spanish rule, no national flag existed, but resistance movements did used different symbols.

The Katipunan adopted a flag with a red field, a white sun, and three letter Ks as a symbol of their cause for independence in the late 19th century. The Philippines declared independence on June 12, 1898, but until 1946, American colonial control persisted.

In 1935, the Philippines established a transitional government, leading to slight modifications to the flag. In 1946, the Philippines gained full independence with a flag featuring an eight-rayed sun.

The Philippine flag is a powerful symbol of the nation’s quest for independence and its national identity. It features a horizontal bicolor design with blue on top and red on the bottom and a white equilateral triangle at the hoist side, housing a sun with eight rays and three five-pointed stars. This flag design reflects the nation’s history, its long road to independence, and its aspirations for unity and justice.

Philippines First vs Present-Day Flag

The Philippines’ initial flag, raised in 1898 at the country’s declaration of independence from Spanish control, was a horizontal bicolor design with blue at the top and red at the bottom. Three five-pointed stars representing Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao were placed in a white triangle on the hoist side along with a sun that signify the first eight rebel provinces. The flag featured a 1:2 aspect ratio, with the length being twice as wide as the breadth, and the sun and stars were represented in gold.

The current flag, which has been in use since 1946, keeps the horizontal bicolor pattern with red at the bottom and blue at the top. Three five-pointed stars, signifying the same three geographical areas, and an eight-rayed sun, representing independence, are still visible in the white equilateral triangle on the hoist side. The aspect ratio remains 1:2, the blue and red colors are standardized, and the sun and stars are still portrayed in gold. The initial flag’s basic components are still intact in the current form, but with some minor alterations throughout time.

Designer of Philippines Flag

The designer of the first flag of the Philippines is General Emilio Aguinaldo. In Hong Kong, Marcela Agoncillo, her niece Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, and their daughter Lorenza sewed it. The flag was first raised on June 12, 1898, in Kawit, Cavite, to proclaim the independence of the Philippines from Spain.

The designer of the Philippines’ current flag is not a mystery. It remains attributed to General Emilio Aguinaldo, a prominent figure in the Philippine Revolution. The flag’s look was formalized in 1936 by Executive Order No. 23. However, the historical record shows that General Aguinaldo’s initial plan, which he submitted during the Philippine Revolution, served as the inspiration for the majority of the flag’s design features. While there may have been slight modifications over the years, the design’s core elements and symbolism have remained consistent since its official adoption on May 19, 1898.

Symbolic Meaning of Philippines Flag Design

The design, colors, and figures of the Philippine flag carry deep symbolic meaning, representing various aspects of the nation’s history, identity, and aspirations:


The Philippine flag is a rectangular bicololor horizontal flag with a blue field on top, a red field on the bottom, and a white equilateral triangle at the hoist side. The triangle contains a golden sun with eight rays and three five-pointed stars.


  • Blue: It symbolizes a need for peace and ethics in the conduct of national business.
  • Red: Red stands for bravery and patriotism. It reflects the Filipino people’s desire to protect their civil liberties and freedom.
  • White: The color white on the flag symbolizes purity and civic equality. In the culturally varied Filipino society, it highlights the necessity of peace and togetherness.
  • Gold: The flag’s sun and stars are represented in gold, signifying the nation’s promising future and potential for grandeur.


  • White Triangle: The white equilateral triangle on the hoist side stands for the values of human equality and brotherhood. It also signifies the revolutionary society that fought for independence, the “Katipunan”.
  • Sun: The flag’s central sun has eight rays, representing the first eight regions to rise up in protest against Spanish colonial control. Additionally, it stands for personal freedom, independence, and optimism for the future.
  • Three Stars: The white triangle’s three five-pointed stars, which are labeled Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, stand for the country’s three main geographical areas. Different stars represent the harmony and collaboration among different areas in the achievement of shared objectives.

Philippines Flag Symbolic Importance

The Philippine flag is of great symbolic significance to the nation and its people, representing many important facets of its past, present, and future:

  • Struggle for Independence: The flag represents the Philippines’ steadfast struggle for independence from colonial forces.
  • National Identity: The flag symbolizes the Philippines’ unwavering resistance against colonial invaders.
  • Unity in Diversity: The three stars stand for unification of the country’s geographic areas.
  • Remembrance of Sacrifice: The flag honors the bravery and selflessness of the heroes and patriots who fought for the country’s independence and freedom while also paying eternal homage to their sacrifices. It celebrates the nation’s historical development and tenacious struggle against oppression.
  • Sovereignty: The appearance of the flag at international events and institutions shows the Philippines’ status as a sovereign nation in the global community. It symbolizes the nation’s right to self-determination as well as its independence.

Philippines Flag Raising Ceremony

The daily flag-raising ceremonies are cherished traditions in the Philippines, taking place at sunrise and sunset in government buildings, classrooms, and public spaces. The national flag is raised, and the national anthem, “Lupang Hinirang,” is sung, emphasizing proper flag-handling and salute gestures. These events serve as poignant reminders of the nation’s identity and sovereignty. Unique ceremonies accompany national festivals like National Flag Day on May 28 and Independence Day on June 12.

Flying the Philippine flag at half-staff is a solemn tradition that shows respect and mourning when famous people die or tragic events happen. Lowering the flag to half-mast is a way to show the country’s sadness and honor for the deceased, and it shows how much the country cares. In times of hardship, it is quite common for private enterprises and individuals to observe this tradition, often in response to an official executive order that outlines the specific timing and duration of the practice.

Philippines Flag Rules and Etiquette

Flag rules and etiquette for the Philippine flag outline essential guidelines for its proper display and respectful handling.

  • Proper Display: Display the flag horizontally with the blue field on top during peacetime and inverted during wartime.
  • Orientation: The blue field should be on the left when hanging vertically. Never place it upside down on display.
  • Maintenance and Handling: Maintain the flag in a tidy and well-maintained state, and respectfully retire worn-out flags. Additionally, treat the flag respectfully and refrain from wearing or utilizing it as decoration in ways that might be seen as disrespectful.
  • Proper Illumination: If the flag is flying at night, illuminate it.
  • No unauthorized alterations: Avoid making unauthorized changes to the flag’s style or colors.
  • Respectful Disposal: Dispose of damaged flags with dignity by performing a formal flag retirement ceremony, such as burning.

Traditional Philippines Flag Display Customs

Traditional customs and practices for the Philippine flag signify the profound patriotism and cultural importance it carries for Filipinos.

  • Home Display: Many Filipino households traditionally display the national flag in front of their homes, especially during national holidays and celebrations.
  • Barong Tagalog: The national dress for males, known as “Barong Tagalog,” sometimes includes an embroidered patch of the Philippine flag. Wearing it is a statement of patriotism and respect for the country.
  • School and graduation ceremonies: In various ceremonies, Philippine educational institutions display the flag. The flag is typically draped over graduates’ gowns, or they don accessories with patriotic themes at graduation.
  • Independence Day celebrations: Parades and festivities on Independence Day prominently highlight the flag, including flag-themed décor and costumes. Traditional Filipino rituals and cultural exhibits coexist with flag-centric displays.
  • Local Celebrations: Many local celebrations and fiestas incorporate the flag imaginatively into floats, street decorations, and traditional dances, expressing togetherness and national pride.
  • Flag Iconography: Filipino literature, art, and other forms of media frequently employ the sun and stars—two of the flag’s design elements—as emblems of liberty and nationalism.

Philippines Flag Trivia

One of the few flags in the world that is officially inverted during conflict is the Philippine flag, which makes it distinctive. This tradition represents the country’s shift from peace to war. This custom is believed to have started during the Philippine Revolution against Spain, when the Katipunan rebels would invert their flags as a signal to attack. The Philippine flag code states that “the red field of the flag shall be on top in times of war or during a state of national emergency.”

The Netherlands and Paraguay are two further nations that have traditionally flown their flags reversed during times of conflict. The only current national flag that is formally flown inverted during times of conflict is that of the Philippines.

Philippines Flag in Legends and Mythology

There are several tales and myths around the flag, some based on historical occurrences and others totally imaginary. However, all of these stories and myths represent the Filipino people’s strong regard for and love for their flag.

The tale of the three stars on the Philippine flag is one that is well known. Accordingly, the three stars stand for Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao, the three major geographical areas of the Philippines. However, in another legend, the three stars signify three Filipino heroes who struggled and sacrificed for their country: Andres Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, and Emilio Aguinaldo.

A diwata, or fairy, is also said to guard the Philippine flag, according to a tale. According to mythology, the diwata, a powerful spirit, will punish anyone who attempts to harm the flag.

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