FLAGS AND SYMBOLS FROM 1800 TO 1900 CENTURY
THE PHILIPPINE FLAG AT PRESENT IN THE WAR MEMORIAL TROPHY ROOM - SAN FRANCISCO - U.S.A.
Documenting the origin of the Philippine flag in the War Memorial Trophy Room.
A research study by Rudy Asercion
Board member, War Memorial Commission
During his exile in Hong Kong in 1897, General Emilio Aguinaldo designed the Filipino flag as it looks today. The flag was sewn by Dona Marcela Marino de Agoncillo with the help of her daughter Lorenza and Mrs. Delfina Herbosa de Natividad. Mrs. Agoncillo made the following written statement. "In the house at No. 535, Morison Hill, where I lived with my family, exiled from our country on account of the national cause, I had the good fortune to make the first Philippine flag under the direction of an illustrious leader Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo y Famy ... It took me five days to make that National Flag, and when completed, I myself delivered it to General Aguinaldo before boarding the transport McCulloch."
Historians believe the numerical address of the house on Morrison Hill Road was a typographical error.
According to Marcela Agoncillo, the material used in the making of the flag was of the finest satin bought from a store on Powell Street in Hong Kong.
Prominent among the features of the first Philippine flag is the mythological sun,¯ or the sun with a human face.
Lorenza Agoncillo, the daughter who helped in the flags assembly, said to Dr. Florentino H. Homedo in a published interview that "her mother was a painter, and had painted the sun and stars in the original Hong Kong-made flag."
"It was made of beautiful satin," related Don Felipe Agoncillo who witnessed the sewing of the flag.
The flag contained the present of blue and red and in white triangle. The white triangle stands for equality and fraternity; the blue field for peace, truth and justice; and the red field for patriotism and valor. The white equilateral triangle at the left, the upper blue stripe and the lower red stripe were sewed together. Its seams and edges were stitched, but the sun and stars were painted gold-yellow, with an outline of a mythical face, drawn in black.
In a letter dated January 10, 1953 Aguinaldo had told Director Luis Montilla of the Bureau of Public Libraries that the sun and stars were painted gold-yellow, with an outline of a human face, drawn in black.
The flag was brought to the Philippines by General Emilio Aguinaldo on May 19, 1898 aboard the USS McCulloch.
According to Emilio Aguinaldo, this flag was captured by the Americans during the Philippine-American War.
George Dewey defeated the Spanish Armada in Manila Bay. And United States was ceded the Philippine Islands. Filipinos demanded independence and self rule but America gave them limited autonomy and self-rule as a U.S. territory.
On February 4, 1899, the first shots of the Philippine-American War were fired. It was a war that would drag on for over three years and cost unknown thousands of lives.
It was not until February, 1901, that Aguinaldo's actual hiding-place was discovered. Col. Frederick Funston formulated a scheme and led an expedition with four other American officers to capture Gen. Aguinaldo. Authorized by Arthur MacArthur, the raiding party consisted of Col. Funston, Captain Hazzard, Captain Newton, Lieutenant Hazzard, Lieutenant Kitchell and 82 Filipino soldiers loyal to the Americans..
General Aguinaldo wrote the following account of his capture: They came up to us, and one of them asked, "Which one of you is Aguinaldo?" As soon as I had been identified by the Americans I was placed, with Dr. Barcelona and Colonel Villa, in one of the rooms of the house, and guards were posted at all the windows and doors, under command of one of the Americans. The other four Americans then began to search the house for whatever papers and documents might be there.ā€¯
A June 12, 1957 news article in the Detroit Times, says: "Funston and his men took Aguinaldo prisoner - and hauled down his flag.¯
Historians now believe the Philippine flag was confiscated by the Americans who arrested Aguinaldo in Palanan, Isabela. On March 23, 1901. The confiscated materials including the flag was handed over to US military intelligence and ultimately, in the hands of Commodore George Dewey.
The Malolos Republic collapsed after the capture of General Aguinaldo. The American troops moved in to occupy the Philippines. The bullet-riddled flag came down never to be seen again in public.
President Roosevelt announced official conclusion of the Insurrection on 4 July 1902. General Funston was then sent to the Presidio in San Francisco, as commander of the Department of California.
On May 14, 1903 President Roosevelt dedicated the Dewey Monument in San Francisco's Union Square as a tribute to the sailors of the US Navy commemorating the victory of Admiral George Dewey and the American fleet over Spanish forces at Manila Bay, the Philippines, on May 1, 1898, during the Spanish-American War.
In 1906, General Funston ordered the US Army demolition team to blow up certain buildings and was credited for great services to San Francisco when The City was devastated by earthquake and fire.
According to Mr. Peter Fries who was employed in 1980 as the secretary of the trustees of the Veterans War Memorial Building, documents exists in the basement of the War Memorial Building that would prove the flag was given to President Ted Roosevelt by Commodore Dewey and it became a part of a collection that was first exhibited at the 1904 Worlds Fair during the reunion of the Veterans of the Philippine War.
Brigadier General Frederick Funston, died of a heart attack on February 19, 1917. His body laid in state at San Francisco's City Hall rotunda on February 23rd and 24th, 1917, and was buried at the Presidio of San Francisco. General Funston's widow and surviving family members lived in San Francisco. Mrs. Eda Funston died in the early thirties and was buried also in the Presidio.
The Veterans War Memorial Building was inaugurated on September, 1932. Dominating the inaugural was an exhibition of war trophies and statuary that included a collection of Spanish American and Philippine American War trophies.
In the summer of 2004, a flag matching the descriptions given by all three members of the Agoncillo family and General Aguinaldo was discovered tacked inside a wooden cabinet of a trophy room of the historic War Memorial Building in San Francisco.October 2004. It was learned the wall mounted cabinet that contained the satin flag remained locked and unopened from 1932 until the winter of 2004.
November 2004. Research indicate that no other hand made Philippine flag made of satin is in private collections and US Military Museums.December 2004.
A letter was received from the National Historical Institute that says the hand made Philippine Flag in the Trophy Room of the War Memorial Building is most likely authentic. February 2005.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to approve a resolution to authenticate and preserve the Philippine Flag. The resolution was authored by Supervisor Gerardo Sandoval.
February 2005. A news report of the flag's discovery in the Trophy room of the War Memorial appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle.
February 2005. The Asian Arts Museum called to express interest in the flag as a major art work from a Philippine artist and offered assistance in restoring the flag.
February 21, 2005. The New York Times published the flags discovery under the heading: Scrap of Satin May Be Philippine's First Flag.
February 22, 2005 The Associated Press in a published news report says of the finding of the Philippine flag, Tacked inside a wooden display case in a rarely visited corner of the San Francisco War Memorial could be the answer to one of the great mysteries of Philippine History.¯ The AP item appeared in newspapers world wide.
March 3, 2005 An important document that revealed the presence of an Frederick Funston Auxiliary in the War Memorial Building was discovered. The 1985 document titled "Report to the Board of Supervisors" was an exhaustive management audit of the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building. On page 30 of the audit report, the Frederick Funston Auxiliary was listed in the Directory of the War Memorial Building of San Francisco.
March 4, 2005. The Committee to preserve the flag started reaching out to the US Military establishment for more accurate information about the origin of the Philippine flag in the War Memorial's Trophy Room.
March 5, 2005, To relieve the stress to the fabric, the satin flag was taken down and unfurled, revealing for the first time that the yellow sun contained eight major rays.
March 9, 2005. More authentic Philippine American historical artifacts were identified in the Trophy Room. The collection contained among other things, extremely rare Filipino knives, a military sword of a Philippine officer with the word: Kabankalan¯ and the name Mateo Guanson Villalva written on the blade, George Dewey's Ostrich feathered cap and Epaulettes Dewey wore during the Battle of Manila Bay, Dewey's Congressional medal, a shoulder pad unique to Commodore Dewey, the sword of Captain Rheinhold Richter of the 1st California Volunteer Infantry, (US Military records reveal that the sword was presented to a Lieutenant Rheinhold Richter by Battery C Artillery Regiment on 12/4/1893.) Captain Rheinhold Richter was the first American Officer killed in the Philippines on August 4, 1898, Cedulas issued to a Juan Jacinto in 1898 and 1899 and rare medals from the Philippine American war campaign. (Please see the pictorial on the bottom page of the Historical Notes.)
March 12, 2005, the flag's discovery appeared in Time Magazine.
March 15, 2005, the Chief Curator of the American Flag Center, a textile restorer and a Vexiollogist, visited the Trophy Room of the War Memorial Building. No Philippine flag made of satin exist in any US collections, public, private or military.¯ Says the Chief Curator and citing the sixā€“pointed star (in the Aguinaldo flag documented as having been captured in Pasig) in their own private collection, the chief curator also said the number of points in the star of Philippine flags of that era varied,¯ he expressed interest in helping to preserve what he believes is the flag Agoncillo made for Aguinaldo.
March 17, 2005, the 23rd Legislature of the State of Hawaii introduced SENATE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION 83 Requesting the return of the original Filipino "stars and sun" flag to the Philippines.
March 19, 2005. The National Commander of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the President of the American Legion Auxiliary and a District Vice Chair of the American Legion visited the Trophy Room and expressed strong feelings about the flag being returned to the Philippines.
Footnote: The Veterans of Philippine War started the organization that later became known as the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
*Reprints and publication are authorized with approval of the American Legion War Memorial Commission by Dr. Rudy Asercion.
DETAILS OF THE SUN AND STARS ON THE FLAG
Note the six-pointed star and the shape of the sun and rays
DETAILS OF THE BLUE STRIPE
Note the small white flowers like " sampaguitas "
(Sampaguita flower = Jasminum sambac )
FILIPINO REGIMENTAL FLAG
It was in the collection of Leonard Wood, Wood was in the Philippines as an army Colonel in 1899 during the Spanish-American War and later as Governor General.
FILIPINO FLAG SOUVENIR OF AN UNKNOWN MICHIGAN VOLUNTEER *
* Bill Combs Collection