The flag that Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo hoisted in Kawit, Cavite, during the declaration of Philippine Independence in 1898 remained intact in a museum in Baguio City, but not even the threats of aging and passage of time could tarnish what it symbolized today —territorial sovereignty and freedom.
Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay, Aguinaldo’s great grandson, said the original flag could “crumble to pieces” unless preserved with use of new technology although the flag is indestructible because it represents the will of Filipinos to defend its territorial integrity against foreign interests.
Several times in the past 115 years, the flag was lowered and raised during the Spanish, American and Japanese occupation, and now it flutters in the wind amid a dispute with China over islands and atolls within our territory in the West Philippine Sea.
To honor the flag, the country celebrates every year the Flag Day, a 16-day stretch that ends on the June 12 Independence Day. The celebration is marked with much fervor and sense of patriotism.
The first flag was sewn by Marcela Marino de Agoncillo with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, neice of national hero Jose Rizal. It was formally unfurled during the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.
Suntay called on the government to help preserve the flag kept in a climate-controlled room
with Light Emitting Diode system to control temperature and humidity in the Aguinaldo Museum in Barangay Salud Mitra in Baguio City.
“The country’s oldest flag and another flag hoisted by Gregorio del Pilar have less than 50 years left before they crumble to pieces,” Suntay said. “There is nothing we can do, we are in a dilemma.”
The Flag was at the center of major events in Philippine history starting with the revolution against Spain and the start of American colonial rule at the turn of the 20th century.
The Americans banned display of Aguinaldo’s flag under the Sedition Act of 1907, but the law was repealed on October 30, 1919 and it was adopted as the official flag of the Philippines.
The flag was once more banned during the Japanese invasion in December 1941 and hoisted again when Philippine independence was restored on July 4, 1946.
John Kerry the US Secretary of State said Americans were proud of “our rich history and enduring alliance with the Philippines, an important democracy and strategic partner in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.”
“Today, our two countries enjoy ever-broadening cooperation on challenges from countering extremism to strengthening economic ties,” Kerry said.