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At 119, first PH Flag is ‘near state of deterioration’

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by Larry Fabian

For this generation of so-called “millennials,” a deep understanding of the core influence of the first Philippine Flag in achieving Philippine Independence is essential to their sense of nationhood.

That is why authorities at the Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio City have gone through great lengths to preserve the first Philippine Flag, which is now “in its most fragile state.”

IN FRAGILE STATE — The first Philippine Flag waved by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 now lays in delicate and fragile condition, englassed and kept at a fixed temperature at the Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio City. (Larry P. Fabian | Manila Bulletin)

IN FRAGILE STATE — The first Philippine Flag waved by Emilio Aguinaldo in 1898 now lays in delicate and fragile condition, englassed and kept at a fixed temperature at the Aguinaldo Museum in Baguio City. (Larry P. Fabian | Manila Bulletin)

Emilio Aguinaldo Suntay III said Aguinaldo Museum has “kept the flag alive” as it may be this generation’s last hope in understanding the relevance of Independence and the struggle for freedom of our forebears.

“Now it’s (the flag’s) near state of deterioration,” revealed Suntay, of  The General Emilio Aguinaldo Foundation, Inc. “This is the dilemma that we are facing right now,” he added.

Suntay is the great grandson of the First President of the Philippine Republic, who waved the iconic First Philippine Flag at the declaration of Independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite.

Speaking to The Manila Bulletin, it was with a heavy heart that Suntay revealed that the flag is “actually in its most fragile state” and he feared that its the condition worsens as time passes.

“Every minute that people enter to catch a glimpse of the First Flag, constitutes to another minute of lifespan that is taken away from the Flag,” Suntay lamented.

The Flag is located at the inner sanctum of the Aguinaldo Museum, where the temperature is monitored and light sources are carefully installed in the corners control its illumination at a more desired position.

However, he explained that these measures are just mere “extenders” for the Flag’s lifespan.

In a collaborative consultation with the Smithsonian Institute on prolonging the Flag’s lifespan, Suntay said that the Institute, which is considered as the custodian of a vast array of relics and mementos of times past, had carefully instructed the delicate essentials to prolong the First Philippine Flag’s lifespan.

“They (Smithsonian experts) even congratulated us for keeping the flag safely to the present as it is already in its more than 100 years,” Suntay said.

 “Realistically, it may still be in a good viewing state for a good 20 or 30 years, but as I have said, it all depends on how we keep it in good room temperature with very dim light as the components of line used in the flag is light and temperature sensitive,” Suntay said.

There are some who think the Flag should just be kept from the public. “But we cannot do that, since the Flag is the pride of our nation and the symbol of our clamor for independence. It is just right for every Filipino to witness the iconic Flag,” Suntay said.

Meantime, the Centennial Flag, a replica of the original First Philippine Flag made in 1998, will be displayed at the SM Baguio Atrium on May 28 in celebration of the Philippine flag days which will end on June 12 after the conclusion of the Philippine Independence day celebration.

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