The 12th of June was once celebrated as Philippine Flag Day before it became the nation's Independence Day; the 14th was America's commemorating the 1777 unfurling of the red, white, and blue.
During the Sports Meeting early May here at the Shenyang Aerospace University, the foreign contingent of students and faculty marched like a haggard haphazard group of inner-city rappers into the highly organized and polish disciplined troupe. An Aussie couple last year brought and displayed their full-sized Oz flag at the march, and the administration thought it was not representative of the multifarious make-up of the group, so this year, they provided each of us our national flag.
Being of two national identities, I was given the choice of either the golden rays of the Land of the Morning Sun or the Stars and Stripes. They only had two for each of Uncle Sam and the Pea Eye but there were two Americans, a Pinay, and Pinoy-Americano-me. I marched with the eight golden-rayed sun and three stars!
Flags and banners were the ancients' way of broadcasting presence, whether of a mighty horde or a royal realm. Family crests still grace some of European nation's banners. It symbolized integrity and might. Clans in China were once identified by their banners, and one of Sun Tzu's Art of War prescription is to care for one's banners in the battlefield and ensure that they are always in sight of the troops. Meant to keep up morale, the state of one's flag often determines the outcome of a battle.
The famed Iwo Jima flag-raising statue enshrined near the Arlington cemetery in Virginia remains an iconic image, in spite its being posed, arranged for newsprint publication.
Banners, flags, and billowing colors accompany any celebration worth the flow of my excitement. Psychologist tells us that vibrant color unleashes staid enthusiasm!
We have always claimed in our pedagogy that humans operate out of images, determine behavior, and when an image changes, behavior changes as well. Parading the swastika in the environs of a synagogue is a definite no-no, never mind that it is revered among Indo-Aryan devotees. I remember the guys in the '60s who burned Uncle Sam's colors along with their draft cards as inviting for themselves some time in barred confinement. Consequently, some took to trails toward Canada or to the wilds of the Pacific Northwest.
The symmetry of 50 stars designating the States of the Union is so powerful that the possibility of a 51st State, if only in defense of aesthetics, is probably not an option any time soon. The fluttering symbol for Uncle Sam is also very telling: the nation opted for the Union rather than the separation of the States!
It has contradictions. Texas retains an option to divide itself into five States, and the same Senate representation of California to that of Rhode Island baffles the algebra of democratic equity, but what has been dubbed the constitutional compromise was for the sake of the Union. Can one imagine 10 senators from Texas if it divides?
We need not stray too far. The Saipan-Tinian-Rota constitutional compromise on legislative representation makes, e.g., the Manglona-Fitial tiff, of understandable import.
The United States is a federation of political States as the European Union is an economic union of States. The U.S. political union was challenge during the Civil War between the Federal forces versus the State-rights Confederacy. The Federal Union prevailed.
The political union is shaking at the core as political gridlock has characterized the last half century and the foundations of the separation of powers of the legislative, executive and judicial branches is no longer efficient, let alone effective. Whether Obama returns to the White House or is replaced by Romney will just be a shift in emphasis, not a structural change of any consequence.
The European economic Union has shown that financial services as the basis of determining the assets of the global economy is, at best, the accounting of phantom wealth. It reveals the industrialized nation's mercenary actions on resources and production, focusing on the quick accumulation of paper profits at the expense of the sustainable health of the planet and the cultural significance of its peoples.
The Zhongguo (middle realm) China flag has one big star with four smaller ones forming an arc to a circle. Ethnically, the five stars are the Han, Tibetan, Muslim, Mongol, and the Manchu. Politically, the big star is the People's Party conjoining the efforts and interest of the workers (industry), the peasants (agriculture), the petit bourgeoisie (middle class), and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists).
What flag and banners grace your walls? Mine is the earthrise image of 1968. My computer screen saver is the blue Gaia in space. My classroom has various maps and images of the world, China, the U.S. and E.U. Central and above all is a poster of the Blue in space, solitary without blemish of all the artificial divisions drawn in maps to delineate historically willed political lines and geographical boundaries. The bounds are images in the mind. They can be liberated and transformed. I did.
Choose your flag, resolve to keep it in being, and wear it with pride! I do.
Jaime R. Vergara (email@example.com) is a former PSS teacher and is currently writing from the campus of Shenyang Aerospace University in China.