Ever been in a movie theater when the National Anthem played and someone remained seated either finishing their snacks or just too lazy to stand? Did you raise any complaint? If you didn’t, we hope next time you will as such act is not only universally disrespectful but illegal and punishable by a P5,000-P20,000 fine and/or 1 year imprisonment.
How about seeing the Philippine Flag hanging on a wall horizontally with its sun and stars on the left and blue and red fields on the right, or on a flagpole onstage at the right of the audience, or hanging as a pennant on the hood of a car? Yup, these are all prohibited treatments of our flag and also subject to the same penalties abovementioned.
While we are going through our annual Flag Days (from March 28-June12), we are taking this opportunity to enlighten you folks of what anyone can and can’t do as regards the National Flag as well as the National Anthem.
It is important to remember that the flag and the anthem are symbols of national ideals and traditions and express the principles of sovereignty and national solidarity, and so reverence and respect are required by law. A modicum of patriotism should be enough basis to honor them.
The National Anthem
Let’s start with the National Anthem. We won’t write the lyrics down as you should be ashamed if you don’t know the words by heart, unless you’re 3 in which case you shouldn’t be surfing the net at all. Go out and play.
What we think you may not know is that the law provides that the playing or singing of the National Anthem, “shall be in accordance with the musical arrangement and composition of Julian Felipe.” As this was originally a march, we think that most playing or singing of the National Anthem might actually not be in accordance with law. However, as long as the versions are not too different from the original, they’re generally not deemed objectionable.
The law also states that when the National Anthem is played at a public gathering, the attendees should sing the anthem and that the “singing must be done with fervor.” So don’t be shy. But don’t shout, or that may de deemed disrespectful.
Everybody is required to stand at attention and face the Philippine flag, and if there is none, they shall face the band or the conductor. Everyone must also salute with their right palms over their left chests during the entire anthem.
By the way, playing or singing the National Anthem for mere recreation, amusement or entertainment purposes is prohibited except during:
a) International competitions where the Philippines is the host or has a representative;
b) Local competitions;
c) During the “signing off” and “signing on” of radio broadcasting and television stations;
d) Before the initial and last screening of films and before the opening of theater performances; and
e) Other occasions as may be allowed by the National Historical Institute (NHI). Sorry at the moment, we don’t know what or if they’ve authorized any.
So it’s definitely not an appropriate karaoke piece.
The Philippine Flag
Again, you must already know which color field goes where or you should go back to grade school.
What you may not have learned in school is that if the flag is displayed:
a) indoors on a flagpole, it should be placed at the left of the observer as one enters the room;
b) outside on a flagpole, it should be at a prominent place or a commanding position in relation to the surrounding buildings;
c) from a staff, it should project upward from the window sill, canopy, balcony or facade of a building;
d) in a suspended position from a rope, it should extend from a building to a pole erected away from the building;
e) on a wall, it should be flat vertically with the sun and stars on top; and
f) hanging in a vertical position across a street, with the blue field pointing east, if the road is heading south or north, or pointing north if the road is heading east or west.
The flag should also be displayed in all public buildings, official residences, public plazas, and institutions of learning every day throughout the year.
The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, flood, water or other objects.
In addition, it is prohibited:
a) To mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface (remember it’s not even supposed to touch the ground);
b) To dip the flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute;
c) To use the flag:
1. As a drapery, festoon, tablecloth;
2. As covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects;< 3. As a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles (yes, even jeepneys);
4. As a staff or whip;
5. For unveiling monuments or statues; and
6. As trademarks, or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs (even if it’s PAL).
d) To display the flag:
1. Under any painting or picture (even if its GMA’s);
2. Horizontally face-up. It shall always be hoisted aloft and be allowed to fall freely;
3. Below any platform; or
4. In discotheques, cockpits, night and day clubs, casinos, gambling joints and places of vice or where frivolity prevails.
e) To wear the flag in whole or in part as a costume or uniform (rockers take note);
f) To add any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawings, advertisement, or imprint of any nature on the flag (i.e., the flag should be depicted alone unmarked. Politicians take note.);
g) To print, paint or attach representation of the flag on handkerchiefs, napkins;
h) To display in public any foreign flag, except in embassies and other diplomatic establishments, and in offices of international organizations;
i) To use, display or be part of any advertisement or infomercial (even if it’s the government’s); and
j) To display the flag in front of buildings or offices occupied by aliens.
Once the flag shows signs of wear and tear (as when it’s faded or in anyway worn out), it should not be thrown away but solemnly burned to avoid misuse or desecration. Sorry but both R.A. 8491 and the NHI are silent on what is and isn’t solemn.
With increasing aggressive advertising, especially election campaigning, we hope the respect and reverence to the Flag and the Anthem remain in people’s minds regardless of their aims. Take time to remember as well that Filipinos have fought and died under this flag, true to the words of our national anthem.
 Sec. 50, Republic Act No. 8491, An Act Prescribing The Code Of The National Flag, Anthem, Motto, Coat-Of-Arms And Other Heraldic Items And Devices Of The Philippines. 12 February 1998.
 Sec. 26, Supra.
 Sec. 2, Supra.
 Sec. 37, Supra.
 Sec. 38, Supra.
 Sec. 16, Ibid.
 Sec. 5, Ibid.
 Sec. 17, Ibid.
 Sec. 34, Ibid.
 Sec. 14, Ibid.