Monday, September 27, 2010

The red field is up!

The blurbs have it wrong. The Philippine Flag has no right side up or up side down. The flag's designers envisioned equality in the flag. So whichever side you fly it, it should not matter. However the Flag is unique in that it is the only National Flag which by flying the red side up, becomes a War Standard.

Of course we Filipinos want the nation to be at peace. So we would want the blue side up. But the red side up was first hoisted during the Revolutionary War against the Imperialist United States of America (to show that a Sovereign Nation was at war)  which eventually crushed the Philippine Republic.  The American occupiers banned flying the National Flag blue or red side up for 12 years from 1907-1919 on pain of stiff jail terms, fines or even death. This is the time when the flag could be displayed either covertly or as part of Zarzuela costumes.

The red side was also up when the Philippine Commonwealth was invaded by the Japanese in 1941 and the Field Marshal of the Philippines, General MacArthur and his army had to retreat to Bataan and then to Corregidor. After the USA recognized the Republic's independence in 1946, Pinoys hoisted the red side up as a sign of protest. People who stormed Malacanang Palace to oust the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 flew their red sides up! I was one of them. Tradition states that when Filipinos are oppressed and in distress, they will fly the red side up.

So this photo which is another gaffe involving our Sacred Flag and the United States of America (the first one was the reenactment of the 1946 independence rites at the Luneta in 1996 when Old Glory snagged the Sun and Stars) is partly poetic justice. We see in the photo a United States President who because of his origin, represents a class of people who were once slaves  and a Philippine President who needs to brush up on his historical sense (he said he did not know much about what the Filipino WWII veterans did to make sure the we can hoist the Flag  with the blue field up).

Filipinos immediately got to recall the historical in this photo.  All asked about "our War with the USA".The US Embassy apologized for the gaffe but we haven't heard from our Prez. That is so typical of the man!

It would have been more poetic justice if it were George W Bush that was the US President there. After all, many of the mistakes of 1899 were repeated in 2003.

And more tellingly on Obama's right side, we see the Chinese Premier. His country stakes a claim on some of our islands. We fly our flag on those islands. But if we fly the red side up, can we defend ourselves the way our "beteranos" did in Bataan?

The Red field of the Philippine Flag is sacred to us for it literally was washed with the blood of our fighting men and women.   And this includes the blood of an African American soldier David Fagen who first thought he was fighting to free an enslaved people but soon found that his country which was sworn to liberty was trying put them into colonial captivity.

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