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.

  • China ignores global outcry vs reclamation
    China ignores global outcry vs reclamation

    On Wednesday, G-7 foreign ministers issued a Declaration on Maritime Security expressing alarm over “unilateral actions, such as large scale land reclamation, which change the status quo and increase tensions” in the region. In their communiqué, which did not specifically mention China, the ministers expressed belief that reclamation activities were meant to “change the status quo” in the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea, through which 40 percent of global trade passes. …

  • Project NOAH exec receives recognition
    Project NOAH exec receives recognition

    Project NOAH executive director and University of the Philippines professor Mahar Lagmay recently received recognition from the European Geosciences Union (EGU) for his work in disaster risk reduction and mitigation in the Philippines. …

  • Nightclub ban for US troops
    Nightclub ban for US troops

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said yesterday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipino he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow the 10-day annual military exercises, according to Capt. Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

  • US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow
    US-Phl war games to start under China’s shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will kick off tomorrow expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening  defense alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China’s increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Palace defends legal tack in sea row
    Palace defends legal tack in sea row

    There is nothing weak about taking the legal and diplomatic approach to push for the country’s claims in the disputed West Philippine Sea, Malacañang maintained yesterday. On Friday, Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares led a rally in front of the Chinese consulate in Makati City to protest China’s massive reclamation activities in the Spratly island group to fortify its presence in the disputed waters. Colmenares also criticized the Philippine government for supposedly not doing enough to defend …

  • Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death
    Veloso sons urge authorities to save mother from death

    The sons of Mary Jane Veloso, who is facing execution in Indonesia for drug smuggling, yesterday appealed to government officials to do everything to spare their mother from death. “We love you,” Mark Daniel, 12, said when asked for a message for his mother following a press conference at the University of the Philippines in Diliman, Quezon City. Mark Daniel, an incoming Grade 8 student, reiterated his appeal to those in power to help save his mother from death. His younger brother, …

  • US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow
    US-Philippines wargames to start under China's shadow

    Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers on Monday will kick off expanded wargames, showcasing a deepening defence alliance as alarm bells ring over China. The 10-day exercises in the Philippines are an annual affair between the longtime allies, but this time they will involve double the number of soldiers as last year in a sign of their expanding military partnership. The Philippines is seeking more US military and diplomatic support to fend off China's increasing forcefulness in its bid …

  • Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial
    Bar ban for US troops in Philippines amid murder trial

    The US Pacific Command has banned its troops in the Philippines from bars and nightclubs, a spokesman said Saturday, with the trial under way of a US Marine accused of murdering a transgender Filipina he met in a bar. Thousands of American and Filipino soldiers will on Monday kick off 10-day annual military excercises, according to Captain Alex Lim, a spokesman for the US forces, but there will be strict controls on their free time. Lim would not say why the restrictions were imposed but …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options