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Understanding the meaning behind its colours, symbolism to the Filipinos



The country itself is a stunning sight to behold. Not only does it boast so much beauty but the Philippines flag is also equally colourful and beautiful. The Philippines does not just have amazing landmarks that attract tourists from all over the globe, the country is also home to one of the world’s greatest boxers, Manny Pacquiao, and Olympic weightlifting gold medalist Hidilyn Francisco.

The Philippine flag is one of the many flags in the world that should easily come to mind. What makes it even more special is that these colours hold very important symbolism for the Filipino people.

All of this and more will be discussed in this article. Continue reading to find out more.

What is the Philippines flag?

What is the Philippines flag?

The Philippines’ national flag is a horizontal bicolour flag with two bands of royal blue and crimson red that are both equally wide. On the left side, there is a white triangle. Inside this triangle, there is a bright yellow sun with eight rays, each one standing for a province. Each corner of the triangle has a yellow star with five points, representing the three main island groups in the country: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.

The white triangle is all about important values like freedom, fairness and unity. And here is something special: If you flip the flag upside down with the red part on top, it means the country is in a state of war. So, it is not just a piece of cloth, the flag also sends important messages.

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Philippines flag history

Philippines flag history

There is a strong connection between the history of the Philippine flag and the nation’s independence movement. Reminiscent of the Filipino people’s struggle for independence, it is a tale of bravery, symbolism and tenacity.

During the late 1800s, the Philippines was under Spanish colonial rule and a revolutionary movement, known as the Katipunan, emerged to oppose this oppressive regime. The Katipunan had its flags but it is uncertain whether these were direct precursors to the modern Philippine flag. One of the early Katipunan flags was red with three white Ks, symbolising its full name.

Alternate Philippines flag
Alternate Philippines flag

The national flag was created by President Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 as the Philippine Revolution gathered steam. Its historic launch occurred on May 28, 1898, at the Battle of Alapan and this contributed to a turning point in the fight for independence. The colours of the flag had deep symbolic meaning: White denoted the Filipino people’s capacity to rule themselves, blue symbolised the people’s resistance against invaders and red stood for bravery.

Inspired by the flags of other countries, such as Puerto Rico and Cuba, the flag’s central design included a legendary sun with a face. Across the Philippine Islands, this sun’s radiance brought different cultures together.

Hostilities broke out between the United States and the Philippines in 1899. To signify the state of war, the flag was flown with the red field up. After Emilio Aguinaldo was finally taken prisoner by the Americans, the United States took control of the Philippines. The U.S. flag’s red and blue were widely accessible in stores at the time the Philippine flag was legalised for display in 1919, which led to the flag’s choice of “National Flag Blue” as its hue.

On March 26, 1920, the Philippine Legislature formally adopted the flag.

Philippines flag meaning

Philippines flag meaning

The Philippine flag is a powerful symbol of the nation’s identity and its long struggle for independence. Its design holds significant meaning and symbolism, representing the core values and aspirations of the Filipino people.

The sun at the heart of the flag, with its eight primary rays, symbolises the first eight provinces that revolted against Spanish colonial rule during the Philippine Revolution. These provinces are a testament to the Filipino people’s determination to break free from oppression and establish their nation

The three main stars within the flag’s triangle represent the three primary island groups of the Philippines: Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each star serves as a reminder of the unity and diversity that characterise the Filipino archipelago. It signifies that, despite geographical differences, the Filipino people are bound together as one nation.

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The white triangle, which appears on the flag’s hoist side, is very important. It is the embodiment of the values that the people of the Philippines are prepared to fight for independence, equality and fraternity. The white triangle is a potent reminder that Filipinos, like people in other countries, are capable of self-governance and will not submit to foreign hegemony.

Specific rules govern how the flag may be displayed, highlighting its significance as a national emblem. All year long, it needs to be publicly exhibited at governmental buildings, official homes, public areas and educational facilities. May 28 is National Flag Day and June 12 is Freedom Day. These are flag days when everyone in the community is encouraged to fly the flag with pride in honour of their country and its freedom.

Interestingly, the flag’s symbolism has evolved. The 1898 Proclamation of Philippine Independence initially explained that the white triangle represented the Katipunan, a secret society that fought against Spanish rule. It also mentioned that the flag’s colours honoured the United States for its aid during the revolution. While these interpretations have evolved, the flag remains a powerful symbol of the nation’s identity and its enduring quest for freedom and justice.

Also, the Philippine flag represents solidarity, resiliency and the spirit of the Filipino people and is more than simply a piece of cloth. It symbolises a country’s transition from colonial dominance to independence, as well as its dedication to ideals that have shaped its current character.

Philippines flag colours

Philippines flag colours

This section takes a closer look at the colours of the Philippine flag and what makes it stand out.


The blue used in the flag has a bit of a mystery to it. In the past, it was described as “azul oscuro”, which means “dark blue” in Spanish. However, the exact shade of this blue is still a topic of debate among historians. Some even say it might be the blue of the Cuban and Puerto Rican flags, which could have influenced the Philippine flag’s design.

It was not until President Ramón Magsaysay’s time that the flag’s colours were officially standardised. This happened in 1955, based on a recommendation from the Philippine Historical Committee. The specific colours they chose were Old Glory Red, National Flag Blue, Spanish Yellow and White. These colours were carefully selected to ensure the flag’s consistency.

In 1985, President Ferdinand E. Marcos tried to restore the flag’s original colour by adopting Oriental Blue. However, this change was later reversed by President Corazon C. Aquino after the 1986 People Power Revolution. The flag returned to its pre-1985 national flag colour, blue.

To commemorate the 1998 centennial celebration of Philippine independence, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines (Republic Act 8491) was passed. This law designated Royal Blue as the official variant to be used from 1998 onwards.


The red colour symbolises patriotism and valour. It reflects the willingness of Filipinos to sacrifice and show bravery in the face of challenges and adversity.


The white colour signifies purity and transparency. It represents the aspiration of Filipinos to have a government that is free from corruption and foreign influence.

Yellow Sun

The yellow sun in the Philippine flag symbolises several important aspects. The eight-rayed golden sun represents unity among the Filipino people. Each ray represents one of the eight provinces that played a significant role in the 1896 Philippines Revolution.

It also symbolises freedom, signifying the Filipinos’ struggle for independence and their aspiration to break free from colonial rule.

The sun also symbolises the values of democracy and sovereignty, which stand for the people’s freedom to self-govern.

Lastly, the sun’s rays break through the clouds, signifying the end of oppression and the determination of national identity.

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