THE MANILA TIMES
Business Times p.B3
Thursday, June 16, 2005
LEARNING & INNOVATION
By Moje Ramos-Aquino, FPM
Respect and caring for our Philippine national flag
I WENT back and forth between Legaspi and Tabaco cities on June 10-13 for business purposes.
When I was checking in at the Pepperland Hotel, I noticed an employee bundling a Philippine national flag as though it were an ordinary piece of used tablecloth. I told her, “Do you know what you are holding in your hands? That’s our Philippine National Flag. That is not how to handle it.”
She replied, “It’s already dirty and I am getting it ready for washing.”
I told her, “Still you need to fold it properly and not just crumple it.”
She unwound the flag and grudgingly started to fold it neatly. After about 30 minutes, my friends and I came down from my room and on our way out, we saw same (or another) flag crumpled together with other things on top of a table by the main door. Section 34 of Republic Act 8491 reads, “it shall be prohibited: a) to mutilate, deface, defile, trample or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface.”
On our way to Tabaco, I observed that not all government offices and none of private buildings or offices have displayed our flag. R.A. 8491, the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, mandates that the flag be displayed, among other things, in all public buildings and official residences, public plazas, and institutions of learning every day throughout the year; and in private buildings and residences or raised in the open on flag-staffs in front of said buildings, at least, every April 9 (Araw ng Kagitingan), May 1 (Labor Day), May 28 (National Flag Day) to June 12 (Independence Day), last Sunday of August (National Heroes Day), November 30 (Bonifacio Day) and December 30 (Rizal Day); and on such other days as may be declared by the President and/or local chief executives.
On Independence Day itself, we noticed only the Municipality of Malilipot and the San Lorenzo Tabaco Elementary School marked the occasion with a program, complete with costumed participants and marching bands. It was heartwarming. But, what are the millions of Bicolanos doing? LCC Malls in both Legaspi and Tabaco were full of weekend shoppers getting ready for school and stocking up for the week.
On our one-hour ride on the Peñafrancia Highway, my friends were telling me that people don’t anymore bother to stand during the playing of the National Anthem in theaters. Nobody cares.
Section 21 of R.A..8491 provides, “During the flag-raising ceremony, the assembly shall stand in formation facing the flag. At the moment the first note of the anthem is heard, everyone in the premises shall come to attention, moving vehicles shall stop. All persons present shall place their right palms over their chests, those with hats shall uncover; while those in military, scouting, security guard, and citizens military-training uniforms shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations, which salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem.”
And Section 50 imposes fines and imprisonment for any violation by any person or juridical entity of the provisions of the Act. And since not standing during a flag ceremony is tantamount to blatant disregard of the law, anybody can make a citizen’s arrest and bring the disrespectful person to proper government agency.
In Market, Market, I gathered that during the playing of the National Anthem, guards watch the theaters to see who are not paying due respect to the flag. Afterwards, they get the names of the culprits (mostly students at neighboring International School), report them to the school for proper disciplinary action. So far, these students are learning that whoever their parents are, they are in the Philippines and they need to respect our flag and our anthem, among others.
But, what’s with my fellow Bicolanos? Busy with jueteng?
You may download the full copy of Republic Act 8491 from http://www.gov.ph/aboutphil/RA8491.asp
(Moje is president of Paradigms & Paradoxes Corp. Your reaction is welcome via firstname.lastname@example.org)