While the country continues its battle against the persisting pandemic, Senator Manny Pacquiao filed a bill last January that aims to add a ninth ray in the sun of the Philippine flag.
Senate Bill No. 1984 seeks to amend the existing Republic Act No. 8491, or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, by including Pacquiao’s long-standing proposition to represent the contribution of Filipino Muslims in the country’s emancipation from Spanish rule.
“Our Muslim heroes who equally struggled valiantly for our country’s independence must be given due recognition alongside with those already recognized in the most heraldic article of national importance, in the Philippine flag,” the Senator said, according to a report by Manila Bulletin.
Pacquiao also adds that the flag “should not only encapsulate a symbolism that survives the passage of time, but one which truly reflects the historical accounts and gives due recognition to those who went through heroic struggles over the course of national history.”
During the 14th Congress back in 2009, both the Senate and the House managed to approve a similar proposal, though it never progressed from there.
Then, in August 2018, , in line with the 120th anniversary of the nation’s independence, Senator Richard Gordon undertook a similar campaign, sponsoring a bill that aimed to achieve the same. He argued that such a bill will “rectify the omission the Muslims from the group of Filipinos given due recognition in the Philippine flag for their heroic struggle against the colonial invaders from the West.” However, it again failed to come to fruition before the 17th Congress adjourned.
“Destroys historical context”
In response to Gordon’s proposal back in 2018, historian Xiao Chua argued that adding a ninth ray in the Philippine flag would “destroy” the historical context from which the flag was conceptualized.
During an interview on ANC’s “Beyond Politics,” Chua explained that the original eight rays – representing the provinces of Batangas, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Manila, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, and Tarlac – do not represent the first eight provinces that joined the revolutionary movement, but rather “the 8 provinces in which the Spaniards suspected that there are members of the Katipunan.”
Therefore, for Chua, to add the ninth ray is to disregard the thought behind it, an act akin to historical revisionism.