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The national symbols of the Philippines consist of symbols that represent Philippine traditions and ideals and convey the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity. Some of these symbols are stated in the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, which is also known as Republic Act 8491. The national language of the Philippines is Filipino as stated in the Constitution of the Philippines. Aside from those stated symbols in the Constitution and in Republic Act 8491, there are only five official national symbols of the Philippines enacted through law, namely sampaguita as national flower, narra as national tree, the Philippine eagle as national bird, Philippine pearl as national gem and arnis as national sport.
There are symbols such as the carabao (national animal), mango (national fruit) and anahaw (national leaf) that are widely known as national symbols but have no laws recognizing them as official national symbols. Even Jose Rizal, who is widely considered as a national hero, has not been declared officially as a national hero in any existing Philippine law. A National Artist of the Philippines is a rank or a title given to a Filipino citizen in recognition to the recipient's contributions to Philippine arts and letters and they are not considered as a national symbol that represents traditions and ideals.
On 17 February 2014, Bohol First District Representative Rene Relampagos filed a bill at the Philippine House of Representatives that seeks to declare or re-declare and to recognize a number of national symbols. The proposed bill, House Bill 3926 or the "Philippine National Symbols Act of 2014", aims also to encourage nationalism and unity; to guarantee respect, preservation and promotion of national symbols; and to correct the "unofficial" status of the symbols. Among the proposed national symbols listed in the measure are Jose Rizal as the only historical Filipino to be recognized as national hero, adobo as national food and jeepney as national vehicle. It also includes the previous ten official national symbols.
Republic Act 8491, known also as Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, stipulates the code for national flag, anthem, motto, coat-of-arms and other heraldic items and devices of the Philippines. According to Article XIV Section 6 of the Constitution of the Philippines, the national language of the Philippines is Filipino. Apart from RA 8491 and the Constitution, the Philippines has only five official national symbols enacted either through a proclamation by the executive department or through a Republic Act by the legislative department, namely sampaguita, narra, the Philippine eagle, the Philippine pearl and arnis. In 1934, during the Commonwealth era, Governor-General Frank Murphy declared sampaguita and narra as national flower and national tree, respectively, through Proclamation No. 652. Philippine President Fidel Ramos proclaimed the Philippine eagle as the national bird in 1995 through Proclamation No. 615. Ramos also declared the South Sea Pearl or Philippine Pearl as the national gem in 1996 through Proclamation No. 905. In 2009, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo declared arnis as the national sport and martial art through Republic Act 9850.
In February 2013, the Philippine Senate passes a bill declaring waling-waling (Euanthe sanderiana) as the national flower alongside with Sampaguita. A similar bill in the House of Representatives has already been passed in 2012. Normally, the bill will become a law after the President signs the bill. However, the bill that seeks to declare waling-waling as the national flower alongside with the Sampaguita was vetoed by President Benigno Aquino III. Thus, the veto made waling-waling an unofficial national symbol.
A year later, on 17 February 2014, Representative Rene Relampagos, a congressman from the First District of Bohol, proposed a measure at the Philippine House of Representatives that seeks to declare or re-declare and to recognize a number of national symbols. The bill dubbed as House Bill 3926 or the "Philippine National Symbols Act of 2014", aims also to encourage nationalism and unity; to guarantee respect, preservation and promotion of national symbols; and to correct the "unofficial" status of the symbols. It lists 26 symbols including the previous ten official national symbols.
A Philippine national symbol will be considered official once it is declared through a law or a proclamation. National symbols such as the cariñosa, carabao, bangus (milkfish), and anahaw (footstool palm) that are circulating through various sources have no official status and have not established by law. According to Nestor Castro, a Filipino cultural anthropologist, most of these unofficial symbols were passed on as tradition in schools every start of the school year when students were asked to buy posters containing the supposed national symbols. While official national symbols are declared through law, Castro and National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Section Chief Teodoro Atienza considered that the public must be consulted first before declaration of national symbol.
According to the NHCP Section Chief Teodoro Atienza, and Filipino historian Ambeth Ocampo, there is no Filipino historical figure officially declared as national hero through law or executive order. Although, there were laws and proclamations honoring Filipino heroes. In the Rizal Law principally sponsored by Claro M. Recto and enacted in 1956, Jose Rizal is mentioned as a national hero in the "whereas" clause of the law. Although, "whereas" clauses function as a preamble or introduction and it is not part of the provisions. On 15 November 1995, the Technical Committee of the National Heroes Committee, created through Executive Order No. 5 by former President Fidel Ramos, recommended nine Filipino historical figures to be National Heroes: Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio, Emilio Aguinaldo, Apolinario Mabini, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Sultan Dipatuan Kudarat, Juan Luna, Melchora Aquino, and Gabriela Silang. No action has been taken for these recommended National Heroes until it was revisited in one of the proceedings of the 14th Congress in 2009.
On 3 August 2009, shortly after the death of former President Corazon Aquino, widow of Benigno Aquino, Jr., legislative measures have been filed calling for her official recognition as a national hero. Congresswoman Liwayway Vinzons-Chato filed a house resolution declaring Corazon Aquino a national hero. Although, a week after she filed the resolution, she realized that there is no Filipino historical figure declared through law. On 10 August 2009, she cited on her privilege speech in Congress the nine Filipino heroes recommended by National Heroes Committee in 1995. She then urge Congress to sign the resolutions declaring the nine Filipinos recommended by the National Heroes Committee plus Benigno Aquino, Jr. and Corazon Aquino as national heroes. Congressman Salvador Escudero interpellated Vinzons-Chato's speech and stated that heroes are made in the hearts and minds of people and not through legislation. After the interpellation, it was moved by House of Representatives to refer the privilege speech of Vinzons-Chato to the Committee of Basic Education and Culture. Up to now, these resolutions have not been acted upon.
A measure filed by Congressman Rene Relampagos from Bohol in February 2014 seeks to declare Jose Rizal as the sole Filipino national hero. According to the bill, he was a nationalist and well known for his Philippine reforms advocacy during the Spanish colonial era.
Filipinos awarded with the rank or title National Artist of the Philippines are not considered to be national symbols because the title is given in recognition to the recipient's contributions to Philippine arts and letters and not as a symbol that represents traditions and ideals and convey the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity.
Here are list of national symbols that were enacted through Philippine law.
|National flag||12 June 1898|
(Reaffirmed 11 June 1998)
|Proclamation of President Emilio Aguinaldo|
Reaffirmed by Republic Act No. 8491
|Coat of arms||3 July 1946|
(Reaffirmed 11 June 1998)
|Commonwealth Act No. 731|
Reaffirmed by Republic Act No. 8491[Note 1]
|Music : 11 June 1898|
Lyrics : 26 May 1958
(Reaffirmed 11 June 1998)
|Music : Proclamation of President Emilio Aguinaldo|
Lyrics : Department of Education Administrative Order
Reaffirmed by Republic Act No. 8491
("For God, People, Nature, and Country")
|12 February 1998||Republic Act No. 8491, Chapter III, Section 40|
|National language||11 February 1987||Article XIV, Sec. 6 of the 1987 Constitution of the Philippines|
|National flower||1 February 1934||Executive Proclamation No. 652, issued by Governor General Frank Murphy|
|National tree||1 February 1934||Executive Proclamation No. 905|
|National bird||15 July 1995||Proclamation No. 615|
|National gem||15 October 1996||Proclamation No. 905|
|National sport||11 December 2009||Republic Act No. 9850|
Here are list of national symbols that have no official status.