Sunday, November 15, 2009

The National Symbols We Take for Granted

National symbols. Each country that takes pride in its national identity holds their national symbols with reverence and respect. It is the symbol of their national sovereignty and solidarity. It translates the nation's virtues into images that stays in the minds of its people. We saw most of these images in our first day in school or in our first attendance of a public event like a fiesta.

Growing up we raised our flag every sunrise and every celebration sang our national anthem and in few occasions recite our allegiance to the Philippine flag. In studying our community we eventually got one of our teachers or our social studies books pointing out the carabao as our national domestic animal, the bangus as our national fish, anahaw as our national leaf, and many bits of our national relics. We took these as true and believe them to be a fact hammered consistently through more than ten years of education. Eventually, we took these symbols for granted. All of a sudden our perception of what is a fact and what is not change through an innocent search over the web of the keyword "filipino ideology", "national flag" and "national symbols".

"Reverence and respect shall at all times be accorded the flag, the anthem, and other national symbols which embody the national ideals and traditions and which express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity. The heraldic items and devices shall seek to manifest the national virtues and to inculcate in the minds and hearts of our people a just pride in their native land, fitting respect and affection for the national flag and anthem, and the proper use of the national motto, coat-of-arms and other heraldic items and devices." - Declaration of Policy, Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (Republic Act No. 8491).

According to the National Commission for the Culture and the Arts (NCCA) the "CariƱosa is not the national dance of the Philippines, neither is it Tinikling. It has no basis in Philippine law such as the claims to the supposed Philippines' National Animal (Carabao), National Fish (Bangus), National House (Nipa Hut), National Leaf (Anahaw), National Fruit (Mango), National Sport (Sipa) that are circulating through various sources."

Arrange chronologically as they were prescribed in law, here are some of our most important national symbols.

  • In 1934, Narra or scientifically referred to as Pterocarpus indicus was declared our national tree and Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) as our national flower. Governor-General Frank Murphy issued Executive Proclamation No. 652 on February 01, 1934 declaring Sampaguita the national flower and narra the national tree of the Philippines. Frank Murphy is the last Governor General of the Philippines. He subsequently became the first American High Commissioner after the first Philippine Commonwealth Government was established.
  • Our Panatang Makabayan or The Patriotic Oath is prescribed in Republic Act No. 1265 approved on July 11, 1955 and implemented in schools through Department Order No. 8 of the Department of Education, which was approved on July 21, 1955.
  • Former President Fidel V. Ramos proclaimed the Philippine eagle (Pithecophaga jefferyi) as the national bird in 1995 through Proclamation No. 615.
  • President Ramos named the Philippine Pearl through Proclamation No. 905 series of 1996 as the National Gem.
  • The Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag or referred to in Filipino as "Panunumpa ng Katapatan sa Watawat ng Pilipinas" was first defined in Executive Order No. 343 issued June 12, 1996.

In 1998, REPUBLIC ACT NO. 8491, or referred to as "AN ACT PRESCRIBING THE CODE OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, ANTHEM, MOTTO, COAT-OF-ARMS AND OTHER HERALDIC ITEMS AND DEVICES OF THE PHILIPPINES" was signed into law on February 12, 1998. This law is more briefly referred to as the "Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines." This law prescribed our national symbols which we now know today such as the national flag and the pledge of allegiance to the Philippine Flag. It also defined a less known national symbol our National Motto. Here are some important provisions of the republic act:

  • The National Flag described in Section 4 of Chapter I entitled "The National Flag."
  • National Anthem (Lupang Hinirang) is defined and prescribed in Section 25 of Chapter II "The National Anthem".
  • The Pledge of Allegiance to the Philippine Flag (Filipino: Panunumpa ng Katapatan sa Watawat ng Pilipinas) is found Section 25 Chapter I entitled "National Flag", repealing EXECUTIVE ORDER NO. 343 June 12, 1996.

Under Section 40 of Chapter III of Republic Act No. 8491 is prescribed one of our least known national symbol our national motto:


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