Bayang magiliw, Perlas ng Silanganan — goes the first lines of our national anthem, a song that symbolizes our identity as a free nation and one that every Filipino can sing with eyes closed and even during sleep. Everyday from the time we set foot in pre-school, “Lupang Hinirang” has been part of our daily routines, along with Panatang Makabayan and Panunumpa sa Watawat ng Pilipinas. Even if we don’t admit it, we have mechanically sung, recited and memorized historical nuggets of wisdom about the Philippines. And without even realizing it, we started to forget when it was no longer required of us.
Today, as we celebrate and commemorate the country’s 120th year of being free, let’s be the first ones to remember and re-learn our rich history by heart, starting off with these little-known facts about the Philippines and its independence.
- Luz-Pa-Minda and not Luz-Vi-Minda
It’s always been Luz-Vi-Minda or Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the countries’ three main group of islands. But according to the Proclamation of Independence in Kawit, Cavite, the three stars on the Philippine flag in fact represent Luzon, Panay and Mindanao or “the archipelago’s three principal islands.”
- Where’s our original flag?
During the declaration of Philippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898, the original Philippine flag was proudly hoisted and looked up to. Sadly, that flag was lost somewhere in Tayug, Pangasinan, when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo retreated to Northern Luzon during the Filipino-American War. This narrative was mentioned in Aguinaldo’s letter to Captain Baja dated June 11, 1925. The whereabouts of the original 1898 flag still remains a mystery to this very day.
- Shades of Philippine blue
The blue color in the Philippine flag wasn’t always in the shade that we all know of. In fact, it has been done in various shades. Historians have long been debating on this, with some saying that navy blue was used as ordered by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, whereas others are insisting that it’s sky blue, according to Apolinario Mabini. On February 25, 1985, then president Ferdinand Marcos ordered to use sky blue, which never became popular so everyone reverted back to using navy blue after the People Power. It was former president Fidel Ramos who made the final change and declared in 1998 that royal blue is the official shade of blue in the Philippine flag.
- Independence day on the 4th of July
Although June 12, 1898 is indeed the day when Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo ratified the Proclamation of Inedpendence, this was deemed invalid because of the Treaty of Paris issued on December 10, 1898. Under the said treaty, Spain ceded the Philippines to the US for $20 million. After a transition period under the Tydings-McDuffie Law, the Philippines was granted independence by the US on July 4, 1946. This was only changed to June 12 by former president Diosdado Macapagal 15 years thereafter, affirming the original proclamation on June 12, 1898.
- Philippine independence was declared six times from 1895 to 1946.
- April 12, 1895 by Andres Bonifacio inside a cave in Montalban
- August 23, 1896 in Pugad Lawin (now Balintawak)
- October 31, 1896 by Emilio Aguinaldo in Kawit, Cavite
- October 14, 1943 during the Japanese Occupation
- July 4, 1946 in Luneta
It’s surprising and refreshing to know these facts resurface even after 120 years from first being proclaimed as a free nation. We can learn all there is to know about the Philippines, but at the end of the day what matters is true patriotism for the progress of the country and of the Filipino people.