The lovely flag of the Philippines reflects the close ties and friendship between the United States and the people of the Philippine islands. It also provides a symbol of unity which pays tribute to the culture of this far flung Asian Pacific island nation.
The Philippines today maintains a population of over 95,000,000. The country extends across a wide geographic area, all the way from the West Philippine Sea (also called the South China Sea) to the Philippine Sea in the waters east of Vietnam. It encompasses the Sulu Sea on three sides. Across the waters to the southwest, the Philippine Islands face the eastern part of Malaysia.
With many islands falling within its jurisdiction, the Philippines have in the past depended heavily upon maritime transportation. The sea and the stars both figured prominently in its history. Philippine sailors in bygone eras often used the night sky for navigation purposes. Today, the modern flag recognizes this fact. The hoist side displays a white triangle carrying an eight-pointed mariner’s wheel and three stars. The eight extensions on the wheel symbolize the eight states of the Philippines. The three stars represent the three branches of government in this democratically elected Republic.
The white equilateral triangle in the Philippines flag extends part way into two equally divided horizontal stripes that each border one edge of the triangle. The blue stripe sits above a lower red stripe of equal height. The red, white and blue colors in these three zones reflect strong historic ties between the United States and the overwhelmingly Christian Philippines.
Ferdinand Magellan became the first European mariner known to have included the Philippines on sea charts in 1521. As Spain extended its colonial empire, that nation made a strong effort to colonize the Philippine Islands. For many years, a Spanish colonial government administered the islands. Then in 1898, following the Spanish-American War, Spain ceded the Philippines to the control of the United States. Many strong ties developed between the Filipino population and the USA during this period.
During World War II, Japan seized control of large portions of the Philippine Islands. A Japanese flag flew over the islands between 1942 and 1943. The United States military liberated the Philippine Islands between 1944 and 1945. Many local residents supported the Allies against Imperial Japan. On July 4, 1946, the Republic of the Philippines adopted the current flag.