Filipino Americans defend college graduate who is attacked by Filipino creator for wearing the country’s flag on graduation

Filipino Americans on TikTok are defending a college graduate after she was criticized by a Filipino creator for allegedly breaking the law by wearing the Filipino flag on her graduation stole.

On May 24, TikTok creator Soph (@sansophs) shared a video detailing the mistake she made of incorrectly wearing her Filipino stole for her college graduation photos. Soph’s godfather brought this to her attention.

“So I took my grad photos this past weekend, and I sent this to my parents, and my Ninong texted me saying that the Filipino stole is wrong,” Soph says. “Ninong” is the Tagalog word for godfather. “And I was like, ‘What?’ Apparently, when you’re looking at the stole, the blue is supposed to be on the left side because it means we’re in a time of peace. And if it’s the other way around, which is how I was wearing it, it means that we’re in a time of war.”

Soph added that she luckily took photos in an alternate outfit, her Filipiniana, which is a traditional blouse-and-skirt outfit worn by women in the Philippines.

“I don’t know if it’s that big of a deal,” she adds. “I just don’t want to get flamed by Filipinos for representing my culture incorrectly.”

In part of the now-deleted video, which creator @big.lumpia stitched with her own, a Filipino TikTok creator based in the Philippines who goes by the name of @sleoin2 criticized Soph’s decision to wear the Filipino flag and claimed that the right thing would’ve been to refrain from wearing it at all.

“First and foremost, you should’ve researched before actually trying to do that. Second, not only did you orient it wrong, what you did is actually illegal,” @sleoin2 claims. “Specifically in Republic Act 8491, it states that it is ‘prohibited to wear the flag in whole or in a part as a costume or uniform.'”

After @sleoin2‘s video made its way around the digital platform, Filipino Americans chimed in to share their thoughts. Many spoke out against @sleoin2‘s use of the word “foreigner” and his general accusations.

@sleoin2 has since issued an apology; however, Soph and other Fil-Am (an abbreviation for Filipino American) creators question its authenticity.

On June 1, @big.lumpia on TikTok, weighed in on the discourse.

@big.lumpia explains that she attended elementary school in the Philippines and high school in the United States. She then reveals that she, too, wore a sash of the Filipino flag during her graduation. In high school, @big.lumpia claims to have had Filipino classes and that her own teacher recommended she wear the flag. While she understands the call to action for Filipino Americans to do their due diligence, she argues that this is what teachers are for — to help educate you on these exact matters.

“At this point can you still blame Fil-Ams if even educators don’t know that this is illegal?” she asks. @big.lumpia adds that the manufacturer of the Filipino stole should be deemed “clout chasers,” in reference to @sleoin2‘s attack against Soph, as they are the ones selling them.

TikTokers commended @big.lumpia for her candor. While a similar law is in place in the United States, one creator notes how big corporations still produce garments in the flag’s pattern.

“Yes!!! We even do Filipino graduation at our university and they encourage us to wear them,” @ihopeyoulovewords commented.

“LMFAOOOO thank you for this. The man’s very informed but the BIGGEST hater and hella condescending,” @martyyy_b replied.

“Technically the USA flag code also says to never wear the flag or use it for promotional content but ya know Walmart always sells flag bikinis,” @rosesngalaxies wrote.

According to the U.S. flag code, “The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.”

The fractured relations between Filipinos and Filipino Americans have cultivated what is essentially an “us” versus “them” mentality.

“We’ve been known to police them for the way they prepare our signature cuisine, poke fun at stereotypical depictions of those back home, and fail to engage with pressing local issues,” cultural critic Angel Martinez wrote for Esquire Philippines. “While some of these corrections are warranted, approaching all our sparse interactions with them with the same air of hostility harms more than helps. In our desire to speak over them, we fail to see how Filipino-Americans come packaged with their unique set of struggles that inform the way they interact with our heritage.”

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