Should the NHI and Ambeth Ocampo censure Google for the Independence Day doodle?

Google Doodle for Philippine Independence Day 2009

I saw this on Aileen Apolo’s plurk page first (screenshot below):

Google Doodle for Philippine Independence Day on Plurk

I also found several blog posts about it – hey, it’s not everyday that a local holiday get Google Doodled. Here’s one from Jayvee Fernandez of the Blog Herald:

“These don’t come often in the archilepago in South East Asia. June 12 2009 (GMT +8 so they’re advanced) is Independence Day in the Philippines. And Google is first to greet. The logo today represents the colors of the Philippine flag, three stars and the sun. The sun’s design is quite reminiscent as well of the tees made for WordCamp Philippines ‘08 (video).”

Here’s another one from Andrew Dela Serna of

“This is the first-ever Google doodle for the Philippines so we wanted to make it very classic and meaningful for Filipinos. We created a special doodle on the Google Philippines homepage for June 12, 2009 to commemorate the Philippines’ Independence Day,” said Jay Trinidad, Regional Product Marketing Manager, Consumer Products, Google Asia Pacific. Trinidad is a Filipino Googler currently based in Singapore. “Google doodles also celebrate important local events and holidays such as this one. It is our honor to celebrate more than a century of national excellence and achievement with all Filipinos in our own creative and Googley way. On behalf of Google, I wish my fellow Filipinos another century of increasing prosperity and success. Mabuhay ang Pinoy!”

On June 12, 1898, revolutionary forces under Emilio Aguinaldo, the country’s first and youngest President, declared independence from Spanish colonial rule. The Philippine Independence Day doodle is based on the country’s current national flag, which is very similar to the one Aguinaldo raised 111 years ago. We’ve taken the sun with its eight rays, which represents the eight Philippine provinces that pledged their support to the revolution, and used it as the first ‘O’ in our logo,” said Trinidad, explaining the idea behind the doodle’s design. We also used red, white, and blue, the Philippines’ national colors, which stand for patriotism, equality, and justice, respectively. We also incorporated the flag’s three stars in the design, symbolizing the three major geographic regions of the country.”

So, it was actually a Filipino who made this very special Google Doodle to commemorate Philippines’ Independence Day. Even ABS-CBN covered this:

“To commemorate the country’s 111th anniversary of its declaration of independence, Google announced that it has created the first-ever Google doodle for the Philippines. The unique doodle can be viewed on Google’s Philippine website,

A Google doodle is a “decoration” Google makes to its logo every so often. Doodles are designed to celebrate worldwide events, anniversaries, and the lives of notable artists and scientists. Among the doodles that have been displayed on Google’s website are international holidays New Year, Valentine’s Day, and the December holiday season, and logos commemorating Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, and Edvard Munch.”

Personally, I’m happy that Google would take notice of our Independence Day – the problem is – is this kind of use of the “sanctioned” under R.A. 8491 (Flag and Heraldic Law of the Philippines)? The Law states:

I. Prohibited Acts

Sec. 34. It shall be prohibited:

a) To mutilate, deface, defile, trample on or cast contempt or commit any act or omission casting dishonor or ridicule upon the flag or over its surface;

b) To dip the flag to any person or object by way of compliment or salute;

c) To use the flag:

  1. As a drapery, festoon, tablecloth;
  2. As covering for ceilings, walls, statues or other objects;
  3. As a pennant in the hood, side, back and top of motor vehicles;
  4. As a staff or whip;
  5. For unveiling monuments or statues; and
  6. As trademarks, or for industrial, commercial or agricultural labels or designs.

So, Section 3, article c6 might be prohibiting Google from using the distinctive features of the Philippine Flag from being incorporated into the it’s design. But that might be something that Ambeth Ocampo and the National Historical Institute to decide. I can only guess what Ambeth Ocampo’s reaction would be about this but here’s a clue based from his previous articles – here’s an one excerpt:

“Is respect for the flag and anthem irrelevant to our times? If it is considered petty to enforce a simple law, how do we expect others to follow greater, more difficult laws?

Two decades ago, James Fallows wrote about our “damaged culture” and reaped a whirlwind. We should update this to “pasaway culture” of our times.

Why do we have issues with authority and law? History gives us a hint: Rizal and Bonifacio went against Spanish laws and became heroes. Aguinaldo went against American laws and became a hero. Jose Abad Santos went against Japanese laws and became a hero. Today we are a free and independent nation, with Filipinos making laws for Filipinos who unfortunately have been historically conditioned to flout the law and hope to get away with it. Read the exchange on whether Nievera was right or wrong, and ask yourself why laws in this country are mere suggestions. Why can we not agree on how to best respect the symbols of the nation?

I should blame history for this confusion, but then maybe we should blame ourselves and our pasaway culture.”

And here’s another one:

“Should people treat flags in this way? Schoolchildren are taught that our flag should be respected: it is raised in the morning, lowered in the afternoon or in inclement weather. Our flag is folded in a special way and care is made that it does not touch the ground. When a flag is old, faded, or tattered, it is removed from service, burned and the ashes buried somewhere instead of thrown in the waste can or flushed down a toilet. This is what many Filipinos are taught in school and by joining the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of the Philippines. All this I learned before 1998 when Republic Act 8491, more popularly known as the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines, was passed into law.

Is the use of the Philppine Flag as a Google Doodle enough cause for the National Historical Institute and Ambeth Ocampo to censure Google? Let’s see what happens. Or maybe, they already have permission from the NHI? I can only guess. But wouldn’t it be supreme irony, that on the very day the we are supposed to commemorate Aguinaldo’s declaration of Philippine Independence against Spain and a few years later we would be annexed by the United States of America, an American company would actually “doodle” about it?

Erratum: Andrew dela Serna correctly pointed out that Aguinaldo declared Independence against Spain and not the U.S. Thanks for the correction (that’s what you get for blogging while sleepy hehe)


4 thoughts on “Should the NHI and Ambeth Ocampo censure Google for the Independence Day doodle?

  1. Brother paul,

    its not the flag. Its the word Google with the red, white, and blue colors along with a sun with 8 rays plus 3 stars.

    But if the law really says that you cant use the “distinctive features of the Philippine Flag” from being incorporated into a design, why can’t i find an entry in your blog about Francis Magalona’s 3 stars and a sun? 😛

    Shouldn’t we be ecstatic that a multi-billion dollar foreign company defaced their own logo and placed distinctive features of our flag? Doen’t that show that we conquered them?

    1. Migs, read the “quotes” and quotes again (wink, wink) – personally, I’d love to see the day when people can sing the National Anthem in whatever passionate way they like and when people can show their respect to the Philippine flag in more creative ways – what about Kiko? Let him R.I.P. bro.

  2. “Shouldn’t we be ecstatic that a multi-billion dollar foreign company defaced their own logo and placed distinctive features of our flag? Doen’t that show that we conquered them?” – I love this statement, Migs! Well said!

    Interesting post…I personally love the “doodle”

    1. I love what Google did – I’m curious where Ambeth Ocampo and the NHI stands with this – that’s why I posted two quotes – on the one hand Ambeth want Filipinos to honor simple laws like singing the anthem properly and using the flag the right way – on the other hand, he thinks that the Flag Law can be improved. I’m leaning more to the latter than the former.

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