Who makes all these Philippine flags?
The online news portal of TV5
MANILA -- As the celebration of the 114th anniversary of Philippine Independence Day on June 12 approaches, flag manufacturers are ready for massive orders of the national flag from all over the country.
The country celebrates National Flag Day on May 28 of every year to commemorate the date when the Philippine flag was first unfurled after the Philippine Revolutionary Army defeated the Spanish forces in the Battle of Alapan in Imus, Cavite in 1898.
The celebration, however, actually extends until June 12, the Philippine Independence Day, and the Filipino people are encouraged to display the Philippine flag in all offices, agencies and instrumentalities of the government, business establishments, schools and private homes throughout this period provided that they abide with the law governing its proper use and display, as mandated by Republic Act 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines.
One of the most significant dates in the history of the Philippines is June 12, 1898 because it marks its freedom from more than 300 years of Spanish rule.
History shows that the first Philippine flag was designed by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo and sewn by Doña Marcela Marino de Agoncillo, Lorenza Agoncillo, and Delfina Herbosa de Natividad in Hong Kong prior to the proclamation of the Philippine Independence.
That flag was made from fine silk which Dona Marcela bought in Hong Kong and was embroidered in gold and contained stripes of blue and red and a white triangle with the sun and three stars.
Through the years, Filipinos have adopted the flag created by Agoncillo, and some families have even made it a business enterprise.
Flag-making as a business enterprise
To cite one, Atlas Super Flags in Sta. Cruz, Manila, a fourth generation of flag makers company, specializes in the making of Philippine flags, company flags, and international code flags.
Atlas Super Flags is spearheaded by Gregory D. Tan Gatue, whose family has always been known as "The First Family of Flags."
Tan Gatue has been making flags since the late 1910s with Alejandro Tan Gatue, who was the pioneer patriarch who came from China in the year 1903, and was initially supplying linens to the Americans until such time that they commissioned him to make the United States and Philippine flags.
After the Japanese occupation, Pablo Gatue’s eldest son Gregorio and wife Luningning continued the business.
At present, Luningning, at 75 years old, together with son Gregory, is still very active with the flag-making business. The Gatue’s business has been manufacturing flags up to the fourth generation of the family.
Preparing for the big orders
In preparation for Independence Day celebration, how does Atlas work on huge number of orders for flags of various sizes?
“We have been working all year-round just to create flags,” Luningning said in an interview with this writer while stitching a large-sized Philippine flag.
The company makes sure that it is set for the coming orders from the different organizations, both private and public. It produces large-sized flags down to the smallest size and any size a customer needs.
Atlas Super Flags is the one that manufactures the huge Philippine flag being used at the Rizal Monument in Manila's Rizal Park and also the flag in Subic Bay Freeport Zone which has a size of 22 x 44 feet.
The fact that Atlas has only 10 workers, aside from the owners, does not stop the company from being the number one producer of flags in the country.
Atlas Super Flags has been accredited by the National Historical Institute (NHI) for the reliability of the company in making flags.
“We are expecting thousands of orders from our customers from the month of May to June or just before the Independence Day celebration,” Luningning explained.
The workers of Atlas have been trained well by the owners since their early years up to the present.
The owners said that most of their customers are walk-in or those who come unexpectedly to buy flags.
Atlas is also the main supplier of flags needed by SM Malls all over the country which also participate in the display of flags during the Independence Day celebration.
The standard-sized flags are usually ordered by barangay and municipal governments.
Also, Atlas has been producing flags for other events such as during visits of foreign presidents and other dignitaries as well as for hero’s welcome.
Indeed, from the idea of Aguinaldo and Agoncillo on making the first flag of the country, a flag-making industry has emerged.
What is more, the display of Philippine flags every Independence Day celebration proves that the spirit of patriotism shown by Agoncillo over a century ago is still very much alive today.