As someone who enjoys historical culture and tradition, I was pretty enthralled with heraldry, coat of arms, achievements, and family crests. I was somewhat surprised to know that a small online community in the Philippines is dedicated to adopting this tradition.
Historically, Filipinos would have been introduced to the western concept of heraldry during its over three centuries of colonization from Spain. This is why the Filipino coat of arms, some of our government institutions, and even corporations that predate our nation tend to have their respective heraldry influenced by our former colonizers.
Do We Have Pre-Colonial Heraldry Traditions?
As far as I’m aware, our pre-colonial ancestors didn’t have a similar tradition of having emblems and sigils. Of course, they still engaged in art. One can only look at the beautiful tattoos of the Pintados of the Visayas or the intricate weavings of our indigenous tribes across the archipelago.
But heraldry is something I seem to miss in my research. It’s either I haven’t looked hard enough, there aren’t any that may have survived, or our ancestors simply didn’t feel the need to have special symbols to represent their tribe or clan (feel free to correct me on this, folks!) same as how heraldry or coat-of-arms would have functioned.
In western traditions, Armigers, those entitled to bear heraldic achievements, tend to be nobility. Today in the Philippines, there is no governing body for Filipino armigers. Essentially, everyone is entitled to assume their own heraldic achievement.
But Why Should Filipinos Have Heraldic Achievements?
Filipinos can gain many significant and life-changing benefits by adopting heraldry. Creating a heraldic achievement is not coming up with a “logo” for yourself. If you refer to Western Traditions and even Asian Traditions in China or Japan, there are rules to follow that preserve the practice.
Usually, governing bodies or Colleges of Arms head and oversee the tradition. They maintain records in their archives and establish and enforce rules and conventions of this custom.
Here are three reasons why I think every Filipino should have a heraldic achievement:
Filipino Heraldry Celebrates Heritage
Heraldry is a form of visual representation and celebration that can be used to honor a person’s heritage and family history. There are a lot of families in the Philippines, and a lot of those families have a rich cultural legacy. Heraldry is a method to commemorate and preserve this heritage, and many families are in the Philippines.
A person’s history and identity can be represented in their coat of arms by including motifs and symbols relevant to their family or cultural background.
Filipino Heraldry Represents Personal Achievements
Heraldry is also a means via which an individual can communicate their personal values and achievements. A person’s accomplishments, interests, or aspirations can all be represented in their coat of arms through various symbols and patterns.
For instance, a person whose occupation is medicine would have a caduceus on their coat of arms, but the coat of arms of someone whose passion is music might feature musical notes. In this sense, heraldry has the potential to be an original and individual method of self-representation.
Filipino Heraldry Promotes Unity
Additionally, heraldry has the potential to foster solidarity and unity among individuals and families. A lot of individuals in the Philippines have extensive extended families, and a coat of arms can be a method to bind these groups together and foster a feeling of shared identity by giving them a common grounding symbol.
Heraldry can also be a means for individuals to connect with others with similar interests or ideals, which can help build a sense of belonging and camaraderie among those involved.
Individuals in the Philippines may find that adopting heraldry as a means of representing their heritage, expressing personal ideals, and cultivating a sense of community is an experience that is significant and fulfilling for them.
Please contact me if you’d like to assume your own personal heraldic achievement and coat of arms. I am offering my skills as an intermediate designer for free to those serious about becoming a Filipino Armiger. You can go to this link if you’d like to see my coat of arms to get an idea. You can also visit the Philippine Armorial to learn more!