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Flag makers rush work as Independence Day nears

Published June 7, 2013, 6:31 p.m. PHT

Last updated June 11, 2013, 2:40 p.m. PHT

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MANILA, Philippines (JPR) — As the celebration of the national flag days continues and the commemoration of the Philippine Independence Day nears, flag makers in Sta. Cruz, Manila, work around the clock to fulfill orders.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“It’s peak season now. After that, it’s back to normal. The peak season is from May to June. After that, it’s back to normal. But we have a lot of customers.”

82-year-old flag maker Luningning David-Tan Gatue takes pride in the work she does.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“We’ve made flags for UST. We’ve also sent some flags abroad for the DFA [Department of Foreign Affairs]. The flags are made of satin. And, Malacanang too.”

She may be the one of the owners of the Atlas Super Flags company, but she still makes flags up to this day.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“We also help in making the flags. After I cook food, I sit on my chair here and cut some fabric. I help.”

The Tan Gatue family has been in the flag making business since the 1910s. And it is now the fourth-generation Tan Gatues who are in charge of keeping the business running.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“Before, I do everything. I only had five employees that time. Now I have twenty.

Atlas Super Flag has manufactured all sorts of flags in the past and continues to do so—from the regular-sized flags up to gigantic ones.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“We make the flags for Luneta, which is 10′ x 20′ in size. Also for a 22′ x 40′ flag for Olongapo. We also made the biggest flag which measures 50′ x 100′.

While some might not find the flag making business as lucrative as others, according to Tan Gatue, there’s still a steady demand for Philippine and special flags even during the off-peak season.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“We also make flags, in thousands, used during state visits of foreign leaders here. They put flags along the roads from the airport. We just made East Timor flags.

“We also make flags for the Army, Navy and even the Air Force. We made all those.”

The process of making flags may seem straightforward, but a special set of skills are needed to come up with a good quality Philippine flag.

The whole process—from trimming fabric, sewing, and doing finishing touches—may take up to 2 hours. Or even longer depending on the materials used and the size of the flag being made.

Flag maker Luningning Tan Gatue shows off a huge Philippine flag at her shop in Sta. Cruz, Manila. (JPR Photo/Jeric Pena)

Longtime flag maker Luningning Tan Gatue shows off a huge Philippine flag at her shop in Sta. Cruz, Manila. (JPR Photo/Jeric Pena)

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“It’s not easy to make a flag. You won’t be accredited if you’re not good.”

The National Historical Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) accredits and inspects flag manufacturers annually to the make sure that produced Philippine flags are up to the strict standards defined in the Flag and Heraldic Code of the Philippines.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“We are accredited by the NHCP. It’s not really easy. You don’t just crumple it up.”

When asked on the company’s future, Tan Gatue said that she sees no end yet for Atlas Super Flags.

LUNINGNING DAVID-TAN GATUE
Flag maker and owner, Atlas Super Flags

“Yes, it will continue. My granddaughters who are now in the twenties are here. I’m already 82.”

Reporting from Manila, I am Jeric Pena.

Anna Katharina Peña contributed to this report. Atlas Super Flags is located at 1009 Rizal Ave., Sta. Cruz, Manila, Philippines.



  • http://saberkite.com saberkite

    My parents used to have a garments shop, and one of the things they made were flags for the schools in Region 3. Our house was also the shop, so everyday I could see them making these flags. I think I was around 10 when they last made them. It’s a very interesting and humbling experience to see a flag being made. :)

    • http://www.jericpena.com/ Jeric Pena

      I’ve always been fascinated by flags. I remember owning so many flags when I was young. Glad I was able to meet and interview a flag maker with a very interesting story.