History of the Philippine Flags

Rising Sun Flag

        Pio del Pilar's Rising Sun Flag(1896). A red flag with a white triangle on the left side, became well-known through General Pio del Pilar of San Pedro de Makati, who used it up to the Pact of Biak-na-Bato. The triangular strip at the left side preceded the national flag design. At each of the angles of the triangle was a letter K. The rising sun in the middle, had eight rays denoting the first eight provinces that revolted against Spain namely, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Bulacan, Manila, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas.

Llanera's Skull

        Mariano Llanera's Skull Flag(1896). A somber-looking black flag, with the single white letter K and the skull and crossbones emblem. The black color of the flag was inspired by the hood worn during the secret initiation rites of the first degree Katipuneros. The flag was for the camp of General Mariano Llanera of Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, who earned for himself a reputation as a brave and reckless fighter. "Let us fight to the finish," was one of his favorite remarks. This flag looked like the pirates' banner in the Caribbean. It is said that Andres Bonifacio made fun of this flag, calling it "Llanera's skull."

Flag of the Katipuneros in Malibay, Pasay

        War Camp of Katipuneros of Malibay, Pasay(1896). This battle flag had the Masonic triangle on the left, with the Malibay Katipunero designation over a red field.

Tricolor Flag

        Gregorio del Pilar's Tricolor Flag(1897). A flag almost similar to the present National Flag was used by General Gregorio del Pilar, "boy hero of the Battle of Tirad Pass." The upper red stripe stood for the Katipunan color; the lover black was inspired by General Llanera's flag; and the blue triangle at the left signaled comradeship with the revolutionary flag of Cuba, another colony of Spain which was also in revolt.

Aguinaldo-Magdalo Flag

        The Aguinaldo-Magdalo Flag (August 30, 1896). A red flag with the ancient Tagalog script for K ( ~) in white, placed at the center of a sun with eight pointed rays, again representing the Katipunan and the eight revolutionary provinces in Luzon. This was the flag adopted by General Emilio Aguinaldo for his Magdalo faction at Kawit, Cavite on August 30, 1896. General Aguinaldo referred to this flag in his proclamation of October 31, 1896: "Filipino people!! The hour has arrived to shed blood for the conquest of our liberty. Assemble and follow the flag of the Revolution - it stands for Liberty, Equality and Fraternity." Due to the popularity of General Aguinaldo, it was used by the revolutionary forces until December 30, 1897 when it was hauled down from the flagstaff at Biak-na-Bato, signifying the end of hostilities with Spain after the peace pact.

Sun of Liberty Flag

        "Sun of Liberty Flag" (March 17, 1897). A red flag with a white sun of eight rays, symbolizing the quest for liberty. This was adopted by the revolutionary leaders at their assembly in Naic, Cavite on March 17, 1897. It was a reformed version of the Aguinaldo-Magdalo flag, withe a mythological sun at the center.

The last revolutionary flag represented the aspirations for independence of the Filipino nation as a whole, rather than the Katipunan society alone, for the sun (nation) had replaced the KKK as the center of their emblem. It was raised and waved during some of the bloodiest days of the revolution, but alas, it did not last long.

On December 27, 1897, the first phase of the Philippine Revolution ended with the signing of the Pact of Biak-na-Bato between the beleaguered Spanish colonial government and the poorly armed and unsalaried volunteer army of Katipuneros. The truce ushered in a period of false peace before another storm was unleashed in the land.

The Philippine Flag

        "The Sun and the Stars." The second phase of the Philippine revolution (1898-1902) began the hopes for creating the first Philippine republic. And one of the first tasks of the founders who were exiled abroad is to create the flag and a new anthem, the symbols of a state.

The flag, designed by Aguinaldo, was tasked to Marcela Marino de Agoncillo because of her sewing skills. Together with two women, her daughter Lorenza and Dr.Jose Rizal's niece Herbosa de Natividad, they skillfully sewed what was later to be known as "The Sun and the Stars."

The flag's design spoke of the Filipinos' sprit and their deep yearnings for the country. A white triangle on the flag stood for equality; the upper stripe of dark blue for peace, truth and justice, the lower stripe of red for patriotism and valor, the sunburst of eight rays representing the first eight provinces that took up arms against Spain and the three stars symbolizing Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao.


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