Historian finds error in adding 9th ray in PH flag

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It was June 12, 1898 when Philippines’ first president, General Emilio Aguinaldo, declared independence from Spain and first waved the Philippine Flag at his home's balcony, now known as Aguinaldo Shrine.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 12) — A history professor warned on Tuesday against "toying" with the Philippine flag by adding a ninth ray.

"Symbols of our national identity should never be toyed (with) because these are not only the symbols of what our country is like but of course, these are the symbols of what the Filipinos are," historian Vic Torres said.

Torres is reacting to Senator Richard Gordon's pronouncement that his "Ninth Ray Bill" which he has been proposing for nearly a decade is likely to be passed by Congress before this year ends. The senator is also optimistic President Rodrigo Duterte will immediately sign it into law.

The measure proposes that the rays of the sun on the Philippine flag be increased from eight to nine, to symbolize the community of Muslim leaders who defended the country from foreign invasion.

"Ang una talagang lumaban, natural sa katawan, si Lapu-Lapu [the first who fought Spaniards was Lapu-Lapu] at saka ang Spaniard never really conquered Mindanao. Lumalaban at sumusugod daw yung mga Muslim [The Muslims would resist and attack Spaniards]," Gordon said.

The senator added that the bill also aims to foster greater unity among Filipinos regardless of religion.

But Torres pointed out Gordon is working on a wrong premise. He said the sun rays actually represent the first provinces that Spain placed under Martial Law and not the first areas that revolted against Spain.

The eight existing rays represent Manila, Bulacan, Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, and Morong, which is present-day Rizal.

Torres stressed that the Philippine flag should remain as is. "That erroneous assumption was the one that was lobbed in place in the bill that would add a ninth ray is again erroneous," he said.

In a statement Wednesday, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Assemblyman Zia Alonto Adiong said it was important for Filipinos to recognize other groups who fought against colonialism.

"Their heroic deeds to free our country from foreign oppression must be part of our national narratives and must be introduced in our national consciousness so as to inspire future generations of Filipinos," he said.

He added Muslims in Mindanao were never part of Spanish Colonial territory, but fought Spanish incursions since day one.

Adiong, however, did not say whether he was for or against the proposal to include a ninth ray to to the flag.

If the bill becomes law, all Philippine flags in public places such as government offices and schools should be replaced with the nine sun rays.