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By Carminda R. Arevalo

On April 29, 2004 , Her Excellency President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued
Proclamation No. 622 “Declaring the Year 2005 as the Centennial Year of the Feminist
Movement in the Philippines .” In commemoration of the 107 th anniversary of the
Proclamation of Philippine Independence, it is just fitting to call to mind the significant
contributions of Filipino women for our emancipation.
Our history is replete with stories of women who have taken significant role in building
our nation. There is truth to the saying that “the hand that rocks the cradle moulds the lives
of men and hence the destiny of nation.”
Before the coming of the Spaniards our women enjoyed the same rights as that of the men.
They could hold positions of honor and prestige. If born to a ruling class, she could
succeed her father; if born to less, she still had as much as her brothers might inherit. Her
judgment was heeded, her person was respected. However, when the colonizers came,
these rights were gradually taken away from them. They were made to believe that their
sole duty was confined in their home – to bear children and take care of them and their
spouses. Indeed, our colonizers succeeded because time came when the Filipino women
ceased enjoying the distinguished social status they used to have. And, in the passing of
time, they were considered as the “weaker sex.”
But this was just momentary. The inherent qualities of Filipino women of being dynamic
and assertive could never be suppressed forever. They have gradually regained the rights
they used to enjoy and consequently played significant role in our history as a nation. In
our long struggle for independence, Filipino women joined our men in their fight for
freedom. The likes of Gabriela Silang, Agueda Kahabagan, Gregoria de Jesus, Melchora
Aquino, Teresa Magbanua, Trinidad Tecson and many more have figured prominently in
our libertarian struggle.
In those days when women were still looked upon as “weak” and “subordinates to men,”
the 21 young women of Malolos demonstrated remarkable boldness when they petitioned
the Governor-General to open a night school for girls in their ardent desire for further
knowledge. In his letter addressed to the young women of Malolos, Rizal expressed his
admiration and it dawned on him that, with the help of our women, our longed for freedom
would soon come to pass. No longer will they be considered subordinates to men but
partners in all their undertakings.
With the coming of the Americans, the Filipino women became increasingly committed in
pursuing activities aimed at self-improvement, cooperative undertaking and community
participation. In June 1905, the Asociacion Feminista Filipina was founded, with
Concepcion Felix as its first president.
Their strong will and determination were proven even more through their fight for their
right to suffrage which they started advocating in 1907. Bills on women suffrage were

General Aguinaldo brought the flag with him when he returned to the Philippines from Hong Kong on May 19. The Philippine national flag symbolizes patriotism. in 1937. Pecson was first to be elected to a national position as Senator. beneath. THE PHILIPPINE FLAG: SYMBOL OF OUR NATIONHOOD By Carminda R. the flag had a white equilateral triangle at the left containing a sunburst of eight rays at the center. niece of Dr. for instance. Visayas and Mindanao. It stands as instrument of unity that binds the Filipino people. He unfurled it in public for the first time to celebrate the victory of the . Jose Rizal and wife of Gen. a five-pointed star at each angle of the triangle. painstakingly designed the flag. then exiled in Hong Kong . The sun stands for liberty. 1898 . It is the nation’s emblem for freedom. the sunburst with letters K. used the “skull flag” in Nueva Ecija. Because of the efforts of the Filipinas of yesteryears. the Filipina women of today continue to work to the best of their capacity for the welfare of our people. the upper blue stripe stands for peace. the flag is the most cherished symbol. President of the Revolutionary Government. Salvador Natividad. truth and justice. they now ran for public offices and were elected to national and local position. They are known worldwide for their excellence in the various fields. The only known flag to them was the Spanish flag. What makes the Philippine flag unique among the flags of the world is the rule of reversing its normal position in time of war – the flag should be hoisted with the red stripe up in times of war. But when the Filipinos rose in revolt against Spain . Our early flags were those of the Katipunan. Bonifacio himself had a personal standard. Made of silk. From the traditional roles as homemakers.submitted but failed to pass the Legislature. an upper stripe of blue and a lower stripe of red. With the rights and opportunities given them. Their struggles and sacrifices were not in vain. It embodies the aspirations and sentiments of the Filipino people in their unceasing quest for independence. while the lower red stripe stands for patriotism and valor. they now assume positions of greater responsibility our society for their significant roles in nation-building. They have distinguished themselves in all lines of human endeavor.K. each revolutionary group had its own banner. The white triangle signifies Filipino hope for equality. It was during the preparation of the second phase of the Philippine Revolution that the idea of coming up with a new flag was conceived by General Emilio Aguinaldo. the Filipinos had no national flag of their own. and the three stars for the three island groups of the Philippines – Luzon. With the women finally enfranchised. the Filipinas of today enjoy equal rights and opportunity with men.K. It was handsewn by Marcela Mariño Agoncillo wife of Don Felipe Agoncillo at Morrison Hill Road with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Delfina Herbosa Natividad. Their perseverance and hard work were not in vain because thirty years later. Geronima T. Prior to the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution of 1896. General Mariano Llanera’s troop. Arevalo In every country. Aguinaldo and other revolutionary leaders. the sunburst of eight rays for the first eight provinces to take up arms against Spain. love of country and sense of nationhood. But the Filipinas’ commitment to their cause never wavered and indefatigably pursued their fight for their rights. woman suffrage was finally granted in the Philippines .

This is undeniably true today. Carminda R. Arevalo.Filipino forces against the Spaniards after the Battle of Alapan on May 28. Such a united. . Since many of us never witnessed our country’s fight for freedom. not only against invaders. but our quest for a just and free society. a Filipino music teacher and composer from Cavite. Flying alone in the wind. There were times during the American and Japanese occupation that the display of the Philippine flag was prohibited and the flag flown in the islands were those of the colonizers.” composed by Julian Felipe. is an unstoppable juggernaut that can topple any oppressive government. and nothing comes close in evoking patriotic sentiments when the flag flies high in the middle of a raging battlefield. During the unfurling. Uckung The Flag symbolizes freedom and patriotism. the Philippine flag integrates into its molecular structure the collective history of resistance of the nation. however. determined force. we need to rekindle the same idealism and patriotism. a nation so disenchanted with her experience of being oppressed. in Kawit. Research. So let us rally to the flag – the symbol of our continued struggle. One of the momentous events in our history was the solemn ceremony of the raising of the Philippine flag and the lowering of the American flag in recognition of Philippine Independence by the United States at the Luneta on July 4. if there is a need. abused and discriminated. willed and spurred on by the flag. of our ideals and sentiments as a nation. it brings back the glory of our struggle. 1898 . the music band of the San Francisco de Malabon played for the first time the “Marcha Nacional Filipina. It encountered the most significant events in the Filipinos’ fight for freedom. the poem “Filipinas” by a young poet soldier Jose Palma became the lyrics of the anthem. During the 50’s and 60’s. Publications and Heraldry Division of the National Historical Institute THE ULTIMATE STANDARD OF COURAGE By Peter Jaynul V. It was. that the official hoisting of the flag took place during the proclamation of Philippine Independence by General Aguinaldo. They marched proudly with tears welling up their eyes and vowing to fight again. Our flag deserves to be treated with solemnity and dignity. on June 12. The very thought of having to relive such wretched captivity again is so abhorrent to the Filipinos that a waving flag in an atmosphere of communal resentment will unite the people against a common foe. 1898 . Supervising History Researcher. 1898 . 1946 . Cavite . Our flag stood as witness to the glorious events of our history. former Katipuneros and revolutionaries would march in front of the Luneta grandstand carrying the Philippine flag every Independence Day. to protect our country’s freedom. Forged from the furnace of revolutionary fervor. The same flag was flown with dignity during the inauguration of Malolos Congress on September 15. Later.

they remained. all UN forces retreated. The world then saw. became the unit farthest north among the UN forces. The defense of Bataan in 1942 found the Philippine flag and “Old Glory” swaying side by side in the wind. Raid after successful raid against the enemy gave the Filipinos a fighting reputation. the last to leave the battlefield full of dead enemies. there was social uneasiness in the countryside. Not having received the order to withdraw. They were. blasted by bullets. still proudly clinging to a battered pole. in fulfillment of the Philippines pledge of assistance to the United Nation’s effort to stem North Korea ’s Communist invasion of South Korea . would give them the chance to sew into the fabric of the Philippine flag the meaning of valor to its highest possible degree. was even called “Cannibal” by his American classmates. It was when Japan invaded the Philippines in 1941 that the flag’s true calling was unfolded. The story behind the Filipino defense of Yultong Ridge is a tale to be told in details. perhaps believing that the Philippines was a land of savages. There was no reason for the flag to stir up antagonism. except the Filipinos. Operation after operation. Vicente Lim. it flew under it. However. the authorities recognized the power of the flag to fuse nationalistic sentiments that its display was prohibited. The UN forces withdrew. Later. however. MacArthur was mightily impressed. It was then a gay era. When the Chinese attack came. when social circumstances indicated a more relaxed and trusting relation between the Filipinos and the Americans. an era of improved social life. Equipment between American and Filipino servicemen were glaringly disproportionate. the Philippine flag. who. The combined Filipino-American forces put up such a defense under the inspiration of the flags that the timetable of the Japanese Military was thrown off track. From then on the Philippine flag flew alongside the Stars and Stripes. determined to fight to the last man. Three hundred years of Spanish racial discrimination upped the Filipino level of tolerance to this kind of slur. Although. Composure was maintained in the face of such irksome incident. although most of the time. like brothers. Except the Filipinos. but in Korea . the Filipinos shone that even Gen. Never was a flag so obeyed in its call for sacrifice that Bataan and Corregidor became synonymous with the indomitable spirit of Filipino resistance. On September of 1950 a Filipino military contingent landed in South Korea . Pay was seldom on equal footing. it must be told that before Bataan . The entry of China into the war. the Filipinos faced the reality of a winter war. American racial discrimination became apparent. The first Filipino graduate of West Point . When Allied forces neared the Yalu River . rallying under the flag and defying orders. Chinese troops attacked. They were finally ordered to retreat. The Philippines is a tropical country. towering over the battlefields of the Bataan peninsula. but soon. urging a people to fight on even in the face of the certainty of defeat. on several occasions. the flag was permitted to fly again in 1919. the boundary between Korea and Manchuria ( China ). the Filipinos tried hard to become professional soldiers. majority of the ruled were contented. remained and engaged the Chinese in a bitter close . tattered.During the early years of American rule.

They were immediately ordered to disengage. They fought on and inspired the whole UN effort to stem the Communist attack.quarter fighting. That order was ignored. they were surprised to learn that the Filipinos were still fighting the enemy. saw the Philippine flag waving gallantly in Korean sky. again. Later. No doubt. the ultimate standard of courage. . Considering the strength of the Chinese. It would be an understatement to say that they prevented the UN front from collapsing. UN Command wrote off the Filipino forces. And so it was that the whole world.