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Apr 28

The Presidential Seal

We’re all used to seeing the presidential seal, but most people don’t know what it symbolizes or the history behind it.

Presidential_Seal_79stars.jpg

The presidential seal was adopted by President Manuel Roxas in 1947. The design was by the artist Galo Ocampo, who also designed the coat of arms of the Republic.

Actually, the presidential seal is composed of the coat of arms of the President of the Philippines, surrounded by the legend “Seal of the President of the Philippines” (“Sagisag ng Pangulo ng Pilipinas”). The blue circle is the shield; on the shield is a red triangle (representing liberty, equality, and fraternity, the ideals of the French and Philippine revolutions and our republic), on which is a sealion and three stars.

The sealion is a lion with a sea creature’s tail. It was adopted as part of the coat of arms of the city of Manila during the reign of Philip II. Manila’s coat of arms was an adaptation of the arms of the Spanish kingdoms of Castile and Leon. To show we were ultramar, or a new settlement overseas, the Lion of Leon became a sealion.

The sealion became the symbol both of Manila and of the governors-general; therefore, a symbol of the supreme authority in the islands. Combined with the red triangle representing valor and the three stars representing Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, the triangle then represents the President of the Philippines as supreme authority and successor of past rulers.

The triangle is on the Philippine sun, as adopted for our flag, with the eight rays representing the provinces placed under martial law at the onset of the revolution against Spain.

During the administration of President Elpidio Quirino, the American presidential seal, after which our own was patterned, was modified to include a ring of stars representing the states of the union. Quirino modified the presidential seal to include a ring of stars, representing the provinces of the Philippines, then 52.

Because of poor terminology in the official document specifying the seal, and ignorance of heraldry on the part of officials, the stars were represented as white stars, although the Executive Order specified they would be gold. This was because people were more familiar with the American design.

During President Estrada’s term, the presidential seal was further modified to reflect the great increase in the number of provinces since 1952. Now, we have 79. To correct the errors that are possible due to sloppy terminology, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo signed Executive Order 310 recently, correcting the lapses in terminology and representations that have crept in over the years.

The result is a superior rendering of the presidential coat of arms and seal.

11 comments

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  1. Erwin Galeria

    Dear,

    I myself is a person inclined in designing seals, logo and actually made some that became an official lgo/seal of sone organization (although to the extent of what you can say a “small time”.

    To this, would you publish a short biography of your father, Mr.Galo Ocampo, describing also the ways leading to the design of the this seal.

    I’ll appreciate it very much of you can confirm such a request. Thank you in advance.

    Mabuhay,
    Erwin

  2. MANO ARCE

    As President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had signed the Executive Order 310 recently, i hope that filipinos will became united as what the arms of Republican Flag is indicating, may those who’s
    still up the mountains of cordilliera get down to seattle for good and surrender to the republican state, so to help us in the future progress. Me too, i want to go home and build
    my country for my childrens and your children.

  3. Mitch Ocampo

    Dear Manolo,
    Thanks for the credit to my father Galo B. Ocampo who designed the Presidential Seal and the Great Seal of the Republic of the Philippines.
    I still remember the time when you and your father were here in Washington, during the early 1980’s.
    Best regards,
    Mitch Ocampo

  4. Erikka June H. Decrepito

    dear sir/madam

    mine is not a comment but a querry..i would want to ask if there are changes in the presidential seal from president aguinaldo’s time to arroyo’s administration…i am asking this because we are into a huge project of putting up a heroe’s park that will display clusters of national presidents, heroes, etc…we are about to finish life size images of the 14 presidents but then we are not so sure of the presidential seal..pls do give us your advise…we would be very happy to hear from you the soonest possible..

    thank you so much and godbless

  5. eighteen

    this site is good. all my querys have been answered cool!:) im really not a cold bloded filipino, thats why i havent been paying attention to much happenings in the coutry, but if not for my international protocol class i would bother to search about the flag and the presidential seal. its nice to know that there are actually laws that explains what and how they should be regarded. and i must say with great respect. sana naiimplement talaga yung law. i hope the govt would find a way too. i mean with the help of adminsitrative agencies, im sure they will find a way. more power and god bless our country. animo san beda!

  6. Erick del Rosario

    May we Unite for the betterment of the Philippines!
    Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!
    Magkaisa tayo para sa Ikauunlad ng Pilipinas!

  7. Bencard

    great topic and write-up, mlq3. with so much blind hatred of the incumbent, viciously and relentlessly, fomented by her enemies, respect for the office has been eroded over the years. it’s only fitting to remind our people that the office of the presidency must be respected at all times regardless of how we view its occupant. we mold the minds of our youth and our generations to come. let’s not give them the same hang-ups that we suffer today as a nation.

  8. David Ferguson

    Hi,
    Interested in Heraldry & History, I am wondering if its true that the seal designed by Galo Ocampo was also used on the cigars smoked by President Estrada.Does anyone know anything of this?
    Peace to the Phillipines.
    David.

  9. nescb

    good afternoon,

    can i ask the logo of the presidential seal

    thanks!

  10. Cesar Macuja

    Why is it at the time of Marcos, the Presidential Seal was replaced? What is the meaning of the eagle?

    Would you kindly send me all design of the Philippine Presidential Seal from the time of its conceptualization.

    Cheers!

  11. JC Manuel

    The president’s seal for me is like masonic symbol the triangle is the pyramid like the united states old seal..Presidents Emilio Aguinaldo, Manuel L. Quezon, Jose P. laurel, Apolinario Mabini who is the first prime minister, the heroes Andres Bonifacio, Jose Rizal, Antonio Luna and his brother Juan Luna where the part of treaty in Paris.. They are part of the brotherhood of Freemasons,.. the old seal is red triangle with three stars and the sun in the center. which the sun is the eye similar to the masonic pyramid.. look at the portrait picture of Emilio Aguinaldo the seal is there… the symbol of triangle is liberty, equality, and fraternity.. (Fraternity=Freemason)

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