Janela Lelis: Flag bearer, hope bringer

Do you think this finalist deserves to be the Pitong Pinoy "People's Choice" awardee?

Vote at Yahoo! PH Pitong Pinoy


While most of her neighbors fled to higher ground amid typhoon Juaning in July last year to save their lives and property from flood, a 12-year-old girl braved the strong current of the murky water to save the Philippine flag.

Janela Lelis, then in sixth grade, salvaged the Philippine flag in Malinao, Albay, worried that it will be lost or buried in mud.

A photo of the feat eloquently told Lelis' story, which spread through social networking sites and was eventually broadcast by major media networks.

It was a "selfless act of courage, reflective of her love for country and constant reverence to the national symbol," Ludovico Badoy, executive director of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) said as he presented a plaque of recognition to Lelis last Aug. 25.

The NHCP, the government agency tasked with the promotion of Philippine history and cultural heritage as well as respect for the flag and other national symbols, has also given Lelis a pin of the national colors which she can proudly wear on her collar, a full-size Philippine flag and P20,000 in cash.

"We thank and admire Janela and we hope that your classmates and all the other young people in the country will follow your wonderful example of giving tribute to our national flag," NHCP President Maria Serena Diokno said during the recognition ceremony.

"I did not know that I would be able to do something good for our country at a young age," Lelis said, who said was not scared during the act as she held on to a rope that had been set up in their barangay for the evacuation.

Lelis, however, modestly said she retrieved the flag following orders from his elder brother Edcel, a color officer in his high school's Citizen Army Training corps.

"He would have to pay for it if it was lost," Lelis said.

Relatives have been caring for the Lelis siblings after they had both been orphaned at a young age.

"Even if it was ordered of her, the fact remains that she did it--holding the flag reverently at that, if you've seen the photo. Clearly, the intention was there," Josefina Saliva, president of the public-private volunteer group Flag and Anthem Advocates, Inc., said in a phone interview.

Saliva said Lelis should serve as a role model for Filipinos, young and old alike, to respect flag and other national symbols.

Janella Lelis

This, as she noted that even government offices and employees sometimes violate Republic Act 8491 or the Flag and Heraldic Code by displaying tattered or faded flags in their offices.

"I think this is because we no longer instinctively look to the flag when we pass by a pole. We only really notice it during flag raising ceremonies, sometimes not even then," Saliva told Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

The law requires, among others, that the Philippine flag flown in public areas should be "replaced immediately when it begins to show signs of wear and tear."

In a separate phone interview, Teodoro Atienza, head of NHCP's Heraldry Section said Lelis' act should inspire other Filipinos, especially older ones who are no longer in schools, to not maintain respect for the country's most recognizable symbol.

"Most young Filipinos still revere the flag because this is taught in schools," Atienza said.

He added that the NHCP regularly conducts seminars on the flag and the national anthem for teachers.

"However, it's hard to imbibe respect for the flag on the older, more stubborn Filipinos," Atienza said.

Atienza said Lelis is a hero at best and a brave girl at worst.

"The courage to take the risk to save the Philippine flag is something you don't normally see in Filipinos, even in the older and stronger ones. That makes her (Lelis) exceptional," he said.

Read about the other Pitong Pinoy finalists here.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes
    ‘Taklub’ wins jury prize in Cannes

    The Yolanda-inspired film “Taklub” has won a special award at the Cannes Film Festival in France. The advocacy film, which had a successful premiere last Tuesday under the festival’s Un Certain Regard section, is directed by 2009 Cannes best director Brillante Mendoza and top-billed by Nora Aunor. The award cited the film’s sensitive portrayal of individuals and communities in the Philippines fighting to continue living despite natural disasters exposing them to suffering and death. …

  • Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam
    Orphan tops chemical engineering board exam

    A 21-year-old orphan from Capiz topped the chemical engineering board examinations held this month. Remington Salaya, a cum laude graduate of the Central Philippine University in Iloilo, ranked first in the board examinations with a score of 83.30 percent. Out of 405 chemical engineering graduates who took the exam in mid-May, 239 passed. …

  • A sunset party for APEC delegates
    A sunset party for APEC delegates

    Greeted by the beat of Ati-atihan drummers, delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation trade ministers meeting enjoyed a welcome dinner and cultural presentation at sunset yesterday. Dubbed FuntaSea, Shangri-La Boracay Resort and Spa’s Banyugan Beach was transformed into a fantasy island, complete with mermaids, fire dancers, and choreographed paraws (sailboat) representing the best of Boracay. With APEC meetings being held all over the Philippines, each presentation is conceptualized …

  • UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute
    UN chief urges peaceful solution of sea dispute

    United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called Friday for a peaceful solution to territorial disputes in the South China Sea, where China’s increased assertiveness has alarmed its smaller neighbors. In Manila, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. appealed to China to respect various international agreements on freedom of navigation and aviation. Coloma’s call came in the wake of an incident Wednesday where Chinese naval forces warned a US …

  • Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center
    Phl seeks transparency, inclusivity in Asean-China Center

    Philippine Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Elizabeth Buensuceso has called on participants of the ASEAN-China Center (ACC) brainstorming session to vigorously work on promoting ASEAN-China relations under the principles of inclusivity, transparency and centrality. The brainstorming session, attended by the ACC’s joint council and joint executive board members, also involved a midterm review of ACC’s work since its establishment in 2011. The ACC aims to promote …

  • Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation
    Lebanon tightens rules on HSW repatriation

    Distressed Filipino domestic helpers in Lebanon may find it more difficult to return home. The government of Lebanon has tightened the rules on repatriation of distressed household service workers (HSWs), Labor Secretary Rosalinda Baldoz reported yesterday. Citing a report from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO), Baldoz said the Lebanese government opted to re-impose a previous policy requiring investigation into every case of HSWs who ran away from their employers and sought …

  • Army execs face attrition over promotion quota
    Army execs face attrition over promotion quota

    Dozens of Philippine Army officials may be removed from the service due to a promotion quota system in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, according to AFP chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang. In a letter to Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, he requested that the 30 percent promotion quota – which means that only 30 percent of those eligible for promotion in a given year will actually be promoted – in the Army be raised to 50 percent. Under the military’s attrition law, middle-grade officers …

  • Philippines backs support for small enterprises at APEC meet

    MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippines' top trade official on Saturday called for support for the integration of micro, small and medium enterprises in global trade, which he said would help reduce poverty and inequality in the Asia-Pacific region. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options