'Rizal is not our official national hero' and other facts about PHL's national symbols
Did you know that Dr. Jose Rizal is not our official national hero?
In fact, we do not have any official national hero.
According to the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) Heraldry Section Chief Teodoro Atienza, there has never been any law passed to recognize a national hero in the country.
And there have never been laws passed to recognize many of our national symbols either.
A report by the GMA News TV’s State of the Nation on Friday revealed that only a few of our national symbols are officially instituted by legislature.
Among the handful of officially recognized symbols are the Philippine Eagle as the national bird, the Sampaguita as the national flower, Narra as the national tree, and the Philippine Pearl as the national gem.
Most of the popular symbols—the national animal (carabao), fruit (mango), leaf (anahaw) and fish (bangus)—have no legislative basis.
According to Professor Nestor Castro, a cultural anthropologist, most of these symbols were just passed on as tradition, with students being asked to buy posters containing such information every time a school year begins.
A new national flower
Some of these symbols have even changed over time.
For instance, sipa, which used to be our national sport, has already been replaced by arnis, the Filipino traditional art of stick-fighting. In December 2009, former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Republic Act 9850, which declared arnis the new national sport.
A second such bill has passed second reading in the House of Representatives—this time proposing to declare a new national flower for the country.
House Bill 5655, authored by Rep. Mylene Garcia-Albano of the second district of Davao, seeks to proclaim a second national flower for the country—the orchid species waling-waling (Euanthe sanderiana or Vanda sanderian).
Unlike the sampaguita, which originated from India, the waling-waling is endemic to the Philippines, specifically in the provinces of Davao, Cotabato and Zamboanga.
For a national symbol to be official, it must first be declared so by an enabling law, which must be passed by the two houses of the legislature and signed by the president.
But both Atienza and Castro believe that more than expert opinion, the declaration of national symbols must first be consulted with the public. –KG, GMA News