How much respect do we give to the Philippine National flag? Do we really pay attention to such details? I say, hardly. My attention to this came after reading this article by noted columnist Manuel Quezon III entitled The Long View: Amend the Flag Law. I was a boy scout, a Maginoo Scout, thank you, and I have been trained to respect the flag during those growing up years. I remember how we were taught how to properly raise (briskly) and lower (solemnly and slowly) it, fold it and to burn it in case it has to be put away as a result of wear and tear. I even remember that we would run to the flagpole and lower it at the slightest sign of rain lest it be drenched. This is the reason why I've always wondered why the flag is let alone flying during a rainy day in school. I looked for the flag law and to my amazement, it doesn't say anything to this effect. As a matter of fact, The Sec. 16 (f) of Republic Act 8491 entitled "AN ACT PRESCRIBING THE CODE OF THE NATIONAL FLAG, ANTHEM, MOTTO, COAT-OF-ARMS AND OTHER HERALDIC ITEMS AND DEVICES OF THE PHILIPPINES" says: The flag shall not be raised when the weather is inclement. If already raised, the flag shall not be lowered. I wonder where our scout master got the idea that it should not be drenched in rain. MAybe the 1935 Constitution, huh? But still, it makes more sense to me that the flag should not let stay under the rain out of respect. But who am I, right? Maybe just a romantic teacher whose ideals can be misplaced at times.
Reading the Flag Law, I noticed we also have a Pledge to the Flag in (f) Sec.24. We never recite this. What we recite is the Panatang Makabayan (Patriot's Oath) which the Department of Education changed sometime in 2001 under Sen. Raul Rocco, who was then the Secretary of Education.
I've written about the singing of the National Anthem and it can be found in the first paragraphs here. As Mr Quezon points out the error of the law, how can the government assure that the song is sung with fervor? Who measures it and with what? If I don't sing it within their standards, would I go to jail? I believe that rules are made with the intention of following it through. Hence, the law must include a teeth by which such can be implemented. Otherwise, it is inutile and must be changed.
Also among Mr. Quezon's observations/protestations, which I believe are noteworthy, are:
1. Displaying the flag en masse violate(s) the spirit and letter of the law...The flag is not for decoration; to display it en masse is to use it primarily for decorative effect; (what about all those flaglets the government put on the roads during Independence Day?) and,
2. Standards for the flag, ie. its color both on historical and practical grounds. The shades chosen are not enforced, and this bothers me, considering the fervor that attended the debate and the discussion on the matter among historians, and the bother our legislature, presidents and government, in general went through to make the change. (Why not enact a law prohibiting the manufacture/purchase of the Philippine flag for both public and private sectors confining it to a single company to ensure uniformity, huh?)
In a country besieged by turmoil brought about by graft and corruption, brain drain, downward economic plunge and all that, the flag may be the last thing on our minds. But should it be so? I say it should not for the flag should be there to unite us and make us proud as a people - collective individuals who aim for one goal under one spirit, one blood. Too bad this is lost to us for the common individual still longs for the most basic commodities such as food, shelter and clothing. When will this ever end? No amount of education can top that, will it?