Google’s doodle for Panamanian independence day on November 3.
Topps “Flags of the World” trading cards, 1950’s.
The scene for the Philippines is a bit grizzly.
Panama tried to break away from Colombia several times in the 19th century. After an uprising in 1855, the Republic of New Granada (as Colombia was called back then) tried to appease the rebels by making an autonomous state on the isthmus. In 1858, New Granada became a federal republic called the Granadine Confederation, and each of the country’s eight states was given its own flag. Although “own” might be a bit of an exaggeration, since they were all nearly identical. The design was the Confederation’s red-blue-yellow vertical tricolour with the national coat of arms on a white oval in the centre. Around the oval was a red band, which had the country’s name on top and the state’s name on the bottom.
The Granadine Confederation quickly fell into civil war. The rebel liberal general Tomás Cipriano de Mosquera entered Bogota in 1861 and overthrew the sitting conservative government, changing the country’s name to the United States of Colombia and adopting a new coat of arms and flag. Panama’s flag changed accordingly. Finally, with the adoption of a unitary constitution in 1886, the state of Panama became just another province.
Google doodles! You may not realize this, but Google shows you different doodles based on what country you’re in. Here are some of the great flag-based doodles they’ve done over the past couple of years.
Coclé, since 2004
It’s been a long road for the flag of Panama’s Coclé province. First created in 1995, the flag came before the provincial government in 2002 but languished in debate as lawmakers quibbled over whether their specific corners of the province were adequately represented. It was finally adopted in 2004, but it seems to have not been officially raised until November 2012. I’m not sure where this eight year delay came from but it might have been relate to a dispute over whether it was appropriate for a Panamanian province to even have its own flag.
The flag is pretty rich in symbolism: White is the colour of milk, sugar, and cream. It represents fertility. Red is the colour of tomatoes. It represents pride, warmth, love, and the blood shed by patriots like Victoriano Lorenzo. Gray is the colour of smoke. It represents business and industry. The six diamonds symbolize natural wealth. They also stand for the six districts of the province, arranged in a pyramid to show strength.
With a distinct pattern and a unique colour scheme, the design of Coclé’s flag is truly terrific. It took the province long enough to embrace the symbol, but at the end of the day they wound up with something they can really be proud of.
(designer: Nixa Gnaegi de Ríos)
Panama (proposed), 1903
If you think lobbyists in Washington are powerful now, you should see what they used to pull off. Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla basically created the country of Panama, first by lobbying the U.S. Senate to vote for the Panama Canal over the Nicaraguan alternative, and then by encouraging and bankrolling Panamanian rebels when the Colombian government refused to sign the agreement.
Bunau-Varilla drew up a flag for the new country too, an American-style design with seven red and yellow stripes. In the canton were two suns connected by a bar, representing both two continents connected by an isthmus and two oceans connected by a canal. In the end the rebels rejected his design on the grounds that it was designed by a foreigner.
Bullet dodged on that one. The homegrown flag that Panama eventually adopted, designed by the son of its first president, is better in every respect.
(designer: Philippe-Jean Bunau-Varilla)
Panama separated from Colombia on 3 November 1903. The original national flag was slightly different than the modern version, with the solid blue square in the top left corner instead of the bottom left. For reasons unknown, it was changed on 20 December 1903.