I wanted to begin this blog first with the passing because it all relates to my year long (seems like a lifetime of) research about my direct ancestral connection to the first Flag of the Philippines especially for this month of October's Filipino American History Month (Filipino American Heritage Month) as well as my rich family history -- at least, from my mother's side of the family. Plus, I'm a history nut! So, I may be incorrect with some of the dates here or even the relationships of my family...believe me, there is so much information out there as well as too little to confirm online. This blog may be re-edited after it is published.
Since the first time I visited the Philippines in the Summer of 1977, I slowly accepted and embraced my Filipino heritage. You see, for years, even recently, I don't see myself as a Filipino, or even the term, "Filipino-American" or "Filipino American" for that matter. Where does that double terminology identity apply towards? Immigrants from the Philippines coming to America or people like me born and raised in the United States by Filipino parents? It can't mean both? I usually call myself "American" or if I'm feeling jovial, it's "American-Filipino" because honestly, I do not speak a lick of Tagalog.
Nevertheless, that doesn't stop me from learning something new about my culture, my heritage and even my family every time I'm in the Philippines. After a one-year stint living there from 1980-1981 and subsequent summer vacations thereafter, there was always something I'd pick up but, unfortunately forget about it later. Until 1995 after my grandmother passed away. She took care of my younger siblings and I during our one year stint in the Philippines. Aside from meeting my many, MANY relatives back in 1980, many of them were at her funeral. So, assembling everything I heard and was informed about my rich and historical Filipino lineage in 1980, 1995 and as recent as 2013, this is what I gathered...
The first photo you see above this blog are of Don Perpetuo Agoncillo and Doña Fidela Marasigan de Agoncillo, a prominent couple from Taal, Batangas in the mid to late 1800s. Both hailed from landed families and had eleven children. Don Perpetuo ran a highly successful shipping business during the latter years of the Spanish rule up to the time of the Japanese Occupation in the Philippines. They are either my 5th or 6th generation grandparents! Perpetuo was a close relation of Felipe Agoncillo (illustrated on the Philippines national stamp below and related to my mother's side), the first Filipino Diplomat and husband of Marcela Agoncillo, who sewed the first Philippine Flag. ZOINKS?!?
She was a daughter of a rich family in her hometown of Taal, Batangas. Finishing her studies at Santa Catalina College, she acquired her learning in music and crafts. At the age of 30, Agoncillo married Filipino lawyer and jurist Don Felipe Agoncillo (who was the Filipino representative to the negotiations in Paris -- that led to the Treaty of Paris which ended the Spanish-American War) and gave birth to six children. Her marriage led to her important role in Philippine history. When her husband was exiled to Hong Kong during the outbreak of the Philippine Revolution, Agoncillo and the rest of the family joined him and temporarily resided there to avoid the anti-Filipino hostility of some foreign countries. While in Hong Kong, General Emilio Aguinaldo requested her to sew a flag that would represent their country. Agoncillo, her eldest daughter, Lorenza and a friend, Delfina Herbosa de Natividad, a niece of Jose Rizal (HELLO?!?) manually sewed the flag (in Hong Kong) in accordance with General Aguinaldo's design which later became the Official Flag of the Philippines. The flag was made from fine silk which Marcela bought in Hong Kong. It was embroidered in gold and contained stripes of blue and red and a white triangle with the sun and three stars. It became known as "the sun and the stars flag". It was finished in a period of five days, through a difficult process. Marcela, Lorenza and Delfina worked manually with the aid of a sewing machine. They had to redo the flag when the rays of the sun were not placed in the proper direction. Their eyes and hands suffered due to the prolonged work. The flag was personally delivered by Marcela to Aguinaldo, which he brought back to Manila. It was hoisted from the window of Aguinaldo's house in Kawit, Cavite during the proclamation of Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898. Marcela was not able to witness the first public display of the flag because she had to stay with her husband, who was still in exile.
Last July 4, 2014, we commemorated the 68th Anniversary of the Formal Recognition of Philippine independence by the United States of America. Although General/President Emilio Aguinaldo initially Declares the Independence of the Philippines back in June 12,1898, it was not until July 4, 1946 when the United States of America officially recognized Philippine Independence. (below photo).
Whew! I learned more about my Filipino heritage here than I did when I spent a semester studying Pinoy history at St. Anthony Novaliches High School in Caloocan City during my one year stay...
Happy Filipino American History Month, everyone!