National symbols are vital elements of a country’s identity, representing its history, culture, and values. They serve as a source of pride and a reminder of the nation’s heritage.
In the Philippines, these symbols play a significant role in instilling patriotism and fostering a sense of belonging among its people. This article aims to provide elementary school teachers with insights into the official and unofficial national symbols of the Philippines, enabling them to teach these important concepts to young grade-school students.
Official National Symbols of the Philippines
1. National Flag (Pambansang Watawat)
Overview: The Philippine flag consists of a horizontal bicolor, with an upper blue half and a lower red half, featuring a sun and three stars.
Legal Basis: Republic Act No. 8491, or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, governs the use, display, and handling of the national flag.
The flag’s blue represents peace, truth, and justice, while the red symbolizes patriotism and valor.
The sun on the flag has eight rays, representing the first eight provinces (i.e., Bulacan, Laguna, Tarlac, Cavite, Batangas, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Manila, which was a province then) that revolted against Spanish colonial rule.
The three stars signify the main geographical regions of the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
2. National Seal and Coat-of-Arms (Pambansang Selyo at Kuwadro Almasiga)
Overview: The national seal and coat-of-arms feature a shield bearing the elements of the Philippine flag. On its lower portion, two animals represent the country’s rich colonial past.
Legal Basis: Republic Act No. 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines likewise specifies the code for the national coat-of-arms. The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) is responsible for the proper use and display of the national seal.
3. National Motto (Pambansang Motto)
Overview: The national motto, “Maka-Diyos, Maka-Tao, Makakalikasan, at Makabansa,” embodies the principles of love for God, people, nature, and country.
Legal Basis: The motto is enshrined in the national seal and coat-of-arms through Republic Act No. 8491.
4. National Anthem (Pambansang Awit)
Overview: “Lupang Hinirang” is the Philippine national anthem, expressing love for the homeland and its people. It is sung during flag-raising ceremonies and before any official or important event.
Legal Basis: Republic Act No. 8491 designates “Lupang Hinirang” as the national anthem and prescribes its proper rendition.
5. National Bird (Pambansang Ibon)
Overview: The Philippine Eagle, also known as the monkey-eating eagle, is a critically endangered species and the country’s national bird.
Legal Basis: Presidential Proclamation No. 615, issued in 1995, declared the Philippine Eagle as the national bird.
6. National Tree (Pambansang Puno)
Overview: The Narra tree (Pterocarpus indicus) is the national tree of the Philippines, known for its beautiful golden-yellow flowers.
Legal Basis: Declared the national tree in 1934 through Proclamation No. 652 by Gov. Gen. Frank Murphy, the Narra tree is protected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
7. National Flower (Pambansang Bulaklak)
Overview: The Sampaguita (Jasminum sambac) is the Philippines’ national flower, known for its fragrant and pure white blossoms.
Legal Basis: Also declared as the national flower in 1934 via Proclamation No. 652 by Gov. Gen. Frank Murphy, the Sampaguita is protected by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
8. National Gem (Pambansang Alahas)
Overview: The Philippine Pearl, particularly the South Sea Pearl, is the country’s national gem and is celebrated for its lustrous beauty.
Legal Basis: The Philippine Pearl was proclaimed the national gem by then President Fidel V. Ramos in 1996 through Proclamation No. 905.
9. National Sport and Martial Art (Pambansang Laro at Sining ng Pakikidigma)
Overview: Arnis, a traditional Filipino martial art, is the national sport and martial art of the Philippines.
Legal Basis: Republic Act 9850, signed by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, declared Arnis as the national sport and martial art in 2009.
10. National Language (Pambansang Wika)
Overview: Filipino, based on Tagalog, is the national language of the Philippines, reflecting the country’s linguistic diversity.
Legal Basis: The 1987 Constitution recognizes Filipino as the national language, with English as an official language.
Unofficial National Symbols of the Philippines
While official national symbols hold a special place in a country’s identity, there are also unofficial symbols that resonate deeply with the people of the Philippines. These unofficial symbols are not officially designated by government decrees or laws but are widely embraced by the population for their cultural significance, historical relevance, and representation of the Filipino spirit.
So, what makes these symbols unofficial, and why are they not officially recognized? Additionally, should teachers still teach these unofficial symbols to their students?
Unofficial Status: The unofficial national symbols of the Philippines have not been officially declared by law or government proclamation. They are symbols that have naturally evolved over time and have become ingrained in the culture, identity, and daily lives of Filipinos.
Why Unofficial: The unofficial status of these symbols can be attributed to various reasons, including the absence of specific legislation to designate them as official symbols, the organic development of cultural symbols, and the diverse and decentralized nature of Filipino culture, which has led to multiple local and regional symbols.
Teaching Unofficial Symbols: Educators should consider teaching unofficial national symbols alongside the official ones to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the country’s cultural heritage and identity. While unofficial, these symbols are deeply rooted in the Filipino consciousness and contribute to the rich tapestry of national identity.