This site is a mirror of the original site, made in 2022 by Heraldry of the World. The original site is unaltered. This mirror functions as an archive to keep the material available on-line.
All rights remain with the late Hubert de Vries, the original site owner.








The King and the President


The Emblem

General Government

Republica Filipina

American Occupation


Second Republic

Third Republic

4th & 5th Republic


The Army

The Navy

The Air Force


Sulu Sultanate





The Philippine archipelago was discovered by Magellaen in 1521. Spanish colonization and settlement began with the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi's expedition in 1565 who established the first permanent settlement of San Miguel on the island of Cebu. The expedition continued northward reaching the bay of Manila on the island of Luzon in 1571 where they established a new town and thus began an era of Spanish colonization that lasted for more than three centuries.

The Spanish East Indies were ruled as a territory of the Viceroyalty of New Spain and administered from Mexico City from 1565 to 1821, and administered directly from Madrid from 1821 until the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, except for the brief British occupation of the Philippines from 1762 to 1764.


The Philippine Revolution against Spain began in April 1896, but it was largely unsuccessful until it received support from the United States, culminating two years later with a proclamation of independence and the establishment of the First Philippine Republic on 12 June 1898. However, the Treaty of Paris, at the end of the Spanish-American War, transferred control of the Philippines to the United States. This agreement was not recognized by the Philippine Government which, on June 2, 1899, proclaimed a Declaration of War against the United States. The Philippine-American War which ensued resulted in massive casualties. Philippine president Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901 and the U.S. government declared the conflict officially over in 1902. The Filipino leaders, for the most part, accepted that the Americans had won, but hostilities continued and only began to decline in 1913, leaving a total number of casualties on the Filipino side of more than one million dead, many of them civilians.

U.S. colonial rule of the Philippines started in 1905 with very limited local rule. Partial autonomy (commonwealth status) was granted in 1935, preparatory to a planned full independence from the United States in 1946. Preparation for a fully sovereign state was interrupted by the Japanese occupation of the islands during World War II.




The King and the President





“Armas de la insigne y siempre leal Ciudad Manila, Cabeça de las Islas Filipinas, la mas principal dellas.

Un escudo, an la mitad del à parte superior un Castillo dse oro en campo colorado, cerrado, puerta y ventanas de açul, y con una Corona encimacy en la parte inferior en campo açul medio Leon, y el otro medio Delfin de plata, armado, y tan passado de guias, que es Urias, y lengua de colorad, teniendo en su pata una espado, con su guarnicion, y puño. Dieroncele por provision fecha en Aranjuez à 30. de Mayo de 1596.”


In 1596 a coat of arms was adopted for the city of Manila where the spanish administration was seated. It is parted per fess, in the upper half the arms of Castile and in the blue lower half a silver sea-lion, consisting of the upper part of the body of a white lion armed with a sword, and the lower part of the body of a “dolphin”. The upper half is from the crest of king Philip II of Spain, the king after whom the Philippines were called. This was a white crowned lion, armed with a sword upright. The lower half symbolizes the royal territory overseas (ultramar).

On the shield was a crown of three leaves and two pearls.


On the oldest picture of the arms (shown above) the lion is uncrowned and this would make it the lion of the crest of king Charles I (V). Somewhat later, probably in the 17th century, the lion was crowned to match the crest of king Philip II. The crown on the shield was augmented with two leaves and two pearls and matches now the rank of a duke instead of a marquess.

Another version, probably from the time of direct royal rule in the Philippines, shows the arms with a royal crown in chief of the castle in the first.

A twentieth-century version shows the arms in the original form, the lion gold.

The actual version of the arms is on the seal of  the city. It shows:


Arms: Tierced per fess, the first Azure, a shell Argent, the second Gules, a sea-lion holding a sword upright Or, the third Argent, five barrulets engrailed Azure.











The sea lion, en garde, symbolizes the authority of the City Government as a protector and defender of the people and territory of Manila.

The waves symbolise the Pasig River, the fountain of the beginnings and the progress of Manila's commerce and industry.

The castle symbolizes the Spanish borough of Intramuros, the Spanish quarter of the old city.


The Emblem of the Philippines




The emblem of the Philippines was another adaption of the crest of King Philip II of Spain. It is not known when this emblem actually was introduced but it is likely that it is a creation of the Bourbon kings.

The emblem consists of a crowned lion passant reguardant to the sinister, in his dexter claw a sword upright, on his back the cross of St. James (Santiago) and below him two spheres, all on a base of waves of the sea.

In the first versions of the Philippine lion the crown is a royal crown. Later, probably after 1821, the royal crown was replaced by a mural crown.

In the emblem the lion apparently is the lion from the crest of Philip II who augmented the crest for the Low Countries of his father Charles V, a lion with an upright sword,  by a crown. This crowned lion, was the emblem of the Royal Netherlands, today’s Belgium. With a bundle of arrows in his left claw it became the emblem of the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.

The two spheres or globes are from the emblem of the Spanish Americas. This consisted of two globes, showing the western and the eastern hemispheres, crowned and between the Piles of Hercules. This emblem is on coins from the first quarter of the 18th century. 


General Government of the Philippines



Between 1565 and 1821 the General Authority of the Philippines was subordinated to the Vice-kingdom of New Spain. In this time the governor general was General Commander as well as president of the Royal Court of Manila. His term of office was eight years. When the governor was absent or lacking the political administration was in the hands of the Royal Court and the military command was given to some of its auditors.

After 1821, when the Philippines were directly under the crown, all governors were soldiers. When the governor was absent the administration was exercized by his next in rank.


Arms of New Spain at the entrance of Fort Santiago, Manila

The arms are quarterly of Castile and Leon, enté en point of Granada and with an escutcheon Bourbon. They are crowned with a royal crown an are between the Piles of Hercules. For some reason or another the blasons of Bourbon and Granada were at some time replaced by phantasies.

It is likely that the arms were originally just quarterly of  Castile and Leon as the fort was finished in 1592. The Fort was heavily damaged during WW II but the arms date from before that war.


In this period the arms used by the administration were the arms of New Spain, consisting of a quarterly of Castile and Leon, enté en point of Granada. After the accession of the House of Bourbon the arms of Bourbon were added on an escutcheon. This was only replaced by the arms of Savoy in the time of the rule of Amadeo I of Savoy (1870-’73) and omitted in the time of the Republic (1873-’74).

The arms are always royally crowned. The difference between the achievement of New Spain (to which the Philippines were subordinated) and of the Philippines is that in the achievement of the Philippine Government the Piles of Hercules are always omitted. Also, the collar of the Order of the Fleece, making the arms the Royal Arms, is usually missing.


Arms of the General Government of the Philippines

consisting of the arms of New Spain with an escutcheon of Bourbon.  On the seal of the General Government the arms are surrounded by the legend GOBIERNO GENERAL DE FILIPINAS.


Republica Filipina



The arms of the First Republic showed a triangular shield charged with a sun radiant between three five-pointed stars.

In the arms the sun is the Sun of Liberty, the three stars represent Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the three archipelagos composing the country.

In the circular field in which it is depicted there are the initials K.K.K. of the Katipunan insurrectional movement. 

2 centavos-coin 1899

The Katipunan or KKK was founded by Filipino rebels in Manila on July 7, 1892. Its full name was Kataas-taasang Kagalang-galangang Katipunan ng mga Anak ng Bayan or “Supreme and Venerable Society of the Children of the Nation”. It played a major role in the foundation of the first Philippine Republic.The arms were printed on stamps issued in 1899 and are on the obverse of Philippine coinage of the same year.

The seal of the republic showed the Sun of Liberty and the legend é GOB[ier]NO REVOLUCIONARIO é FILIPINAS.


Post stamp, 1899

Showing the national arms


Fiscal stamp, 1899

Showing the seal of the Revolutionary Government



The full achievement of the Republika Filipina consisted of the arms surrounded by a garland and a circular frame:


Arms: Gules, a sun radiant between three five-pointed stars all Or.

Garland: Branches of olive Or.

Compartment: A circular frame proper.[1]


American Occupation



In the time of the American Occupation coins were issued which showed:


Arms: Paly of thirteen Gules and Argent and a chief Azure thirteen five-pointed stars Argent, 7 and 6.

Crest: The America Eagle with olive branch and bundle of arrows sejant.


This is a version of the achievement of the U.S. Department of Justice as on the seal provided for on 5 March 1872. At present the stars are omitted. [2]


Coins with this achievement were common currency in the Philippines until 1935.



The seal of the Government of the Philippines was announced in a cable of G.G. of the Philippines William Howard Taft (1900-’04), of april 1903, adressed to the U.S. War Department. It reads:

“Have seal cut for Great Seal of the Islands with volcano and woman; surrounded with "United States of America, Government of the Philippine Islands”.


It showed a lady, standing, personifying the Philippines with a flower in her left hand and touching an anvil with a hammer in her right hand. On the background there is Mount Mayon (2,463 m) a volcano on Luzon, smoking. L.: UNITED STATES OF AMERICA . GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINE ISLANDS. [3]


*The design of the seal is based on a coin  realized by Melecio Figueroa of the Manila mint, who took his daughter Blanca Figueroa as a model. 


Government of the Philippines




Arms: Paly of thirteen Argent and Gules and a chief Azure, in nombril point an egg-shaped escutcheon of Manila being per fess Gules and Azure, in the first a castle Or, masoned Sable and opened Azure, in the second a sea-lion, armed with a sword Argent.

Crest: On a wreath of the colours the American Eagle proper.

Adopted: 1905


Shield bearing the achievement of the Philippine Islands (1905-‘35).

(origin unknown)


Commonwealth of the Philippines




Arms: Parted per pale Azure and Gules, and a chief Argent, three five-pointed stars Or. On an escutcheon the arms of Manila, the base Argent, the sea-lion Or.

Crest: On a wreath of the colors, the American Eagle displayed proper.




In feb. 1940 by Commonwealth Act n. 602, approved and signed by President Quezon, a new coat of arms was adopted.

The description of the coat of arms reads:


“Paleways of two pieces, dexter azure, and sinister, gules: a chief , white, bearing three mullets, or, dexter, center and  sinister; an oval field, white, emblazoning at the honor point the symbolic eight-rayed sun rayonnant, or, each ray flanked on both sides by lesser and minor rays, or.

Crest- the american eagle proper. The right talon grasping an olive branch with eight leaves, vert, and eight fruits, gules, and the left talon grasping three spears, or.

Beneath, a scroll, argent, with the word "Philippines" , or inscribed thereon.”



By Executive Order no. 313 of 1940 President Quezon also adopted a Great Seal and a (presidential?) flag.

According to the Exucutive Order the Great Seal had a diameter of circa 75 mm. with the arms at the center with an inscription on the rim: GOVERNMENT OF THE PHILIPPINES - UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.

The (presidential) flag was blue with the coat of arms at the center.


The new coat of arms was adopted by the National Assembly and President Quezon after pressure of the prominent historian Teodoro M. Kalaw (1884-1940) and some other people who wanted to get rid of  the sea-dolphin of Manila, exchanging it with a common symbol of all filipinos: the sun, the symbol adopted during the revolution and by the Aguinaldo Republic.

The coat of arms, nor the great seal and the flag probably were ever displayed, the Great Seal even never engraved because, it is said, the sun might be interpreted as a sign of sympathy for Japan. As a result the National Assembly revoked the Commonwealth Act and restored the symbols of 1935 on 23 February 1941. [4]


Republika ng Pilipinas













For the Japanese puppet state of the Philippines a coat of arms is documented on stamps issued 1943-’45, showing president Laurel and a coat of arms in the upper left corner. It is:


Arms: Per pale Gules and Azure, a triangle  Argent charged with a sun radiant Or, and a chief Argent, three five-pointed stars Or 1 and 2.





Print and reconstruction of the Seal of the Republika ng Pilipinas, 1943-‘45


A Great seal of the Republic of the Philippines was adopted in 1943 and published in the Official Gazette 1, N° 1 of 14-31 October 1943, p. 32. The text reads:


“The Great Seal of the Republic of the Philippines shall be circular in form with an equilateral triangle in the middle studded with three five-pointed stars in each corner and emblazoned at the center with a sun radiant” [5]


Republic of the Philippines

1946-1965 ca


The coat of arms of the Republic of the Philippines was designed by Captain Galo Ocampo of the Philippine Heraldry Committee. It is:



Arms: Parted per pale Azure and Gules, in the first the American eagle, wings displayed, in his dexter claw a branch of olive and in his sinister a bundle of arrows all proper, in the second a lion rampant Or; and a chief Argent three five-pointed stars Or. In nombril point an escutcheon Argent, a sun in splendour with eight bundles of three rays Or.

Motto: Initially: REPUBLIC OF THE PHILIPPINES, later: REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS in golden lettering on a white escroll.

Adopted: 4th of July 1946


In 1947 the national seal was replaced by a presidential seal


Republika ng Pilipinas

1965 ca - present


The actual arms of the Republic were adopted by




SECTION 41. The National Coat-of-Arms shall have: Paleways of two (2) pieces, azure and gules; a chief argent studded with three (3) mullets equidistant from each other; and, in point of honor, ovoid argent over all the sun rayonnant with eight minor and lesser rays. Beneath shall be the scroll with the words “REPUBLIKA NG PILIPINAS,” inscribed thereon.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


The Philippine Armed Forces



Back to Main Page

© Hubert de Vries 2010-08-20; Updated 2010-12-08; 2011-09-20; 2012-06-02.



[1]  This achievement can be seen on a portrait of Emilio Aguinaldo, the first president of the Philippines (1899-1901). Reconstruction by the author.

[2]  Zieber, E.: Heraldry in America, p. 110.

[3] As on the bookplate of the Census of the Philippine Islands, 1903. Vol. III, 1905. Reconstruction H.d.V.

[4] Info: Paolo Paddeu www.watawat.net   This all happened before Pearl Harbour (7.12.1941). A reconstruction of the arms is preserved in the  Malakanyang Palace, inside the Presidential Palace Museum, Manila.

[5] Info: Paolo Paddeu. Print from the archives of the late Prof. Heisser on a treaty between Japan and the Philippines. Also documented by the Two Peso Jose P. Laurel Birth Centenary Commemorative Coin (1991) which shows: Obverse: Jose P. Laurel “Ika-100 Taong Kaarawan” 1891-1991Reverse: 1943 Seal of the Republic of the Philippines with an equilateral triangle with the words “Republika ng Pilipinas”, 2 Piso. José P. Laurel was the fourth president of the republic in the time of Japanese Occupation.

Flag Counter In cooperation with Heraldry of the World