SONA, PNoy style


It was entertaining to say the least, listening to the State of the Nation Address 2014, the President’s fifth, oh how time flies.

And it seems the President thinks he’s had a good run, done the best he could, is pleased with the outcomes. He was emotional and all choked up—so were his four sisters —all making for real good TV.

At some point it did sound like he was throwing in the towel, dejected and conceding.

To imagine this is the most real he has been with the people, and make a big deal out of the fact that he displayed this sensitive side at the SONA, seems a tad bit too much. This President’s got bad acting on his side after all, and who’s to say none of it is an act?

The rhetoric
I do not believe what the President said about the state of the nation on Monday—one knows after all that the SONA since time immemorial is not so much about the real condition of nation as it is about one President brandishing his/her government’s achievements.

But regardless of whether I believe it or not, I realized that for the first time since forever I thought the narrative about the nation the SONA created was quite well done. That is, it was obvious that the audience was not you and me who are more critical of data being presented, who would have a sense to look at counter-data that speak of a totally different state of nation.

This is not just about him speaking in Filipino. It’s about him speaking to an audience that would be carried away with the rhetoric of: look at what we’ve done! it is fantastic!

This SONA, more than any other, had the humble brag down pat, shifting as well to just some good ol’ pagbubuhat ng sariling bangko. It was like listening to a boy trying to impress a girl. Or just the President doing a textbook speech to persuade, the kind we’re taught in a college communications class.

The presentation
One of the things that threw me off watching the President do this SONA was the use of the video testimonial to prove that what was being stated as achievements actually have basis.

Not just factual basis, but real live people willing to speak about how the government’s good work has affected their lives. These parts of it seemed a bit … contrived. Like testimonials straight out of the 700 Club.

Ah, but it might be exactly what would work for the audience the President was talking to. The every man and woman delivering a positive testimonial for government services becoming the voice of the working class and masses, the sectors that this government claims to be helping.

Woven into the 44-page speech of the President, these video clips also provided him a reprieve; some time to cough maybe, take a sip of water probably. I personally thought these testimonials unnecessary knowing as we do how easy it is to get people to speak on camera especially when it’s for the powers-that-be.
My speech teacher would mark that off as: superfluous.

The drama
As were the tears, the President’s and his sisters’. And while the President’s Men are quick to point out that this part was all the President, one cannot be so naive as to think it all wasn’t just part of the narrative that he wanted to tell.

After all, choosing to end with how he himself is already content with what he has done, and then invoking his parents’ heroism, his father’s “The Filipino Is Worth Dying For,” could only have been a conscious effort at ending with some dignity and courage. No matter that it meant the President unthinkingly revising that assertion and appending it with “The Filipino Is Worth Fighting For.” Not at all clear what he was trying to do here.

What was clear was how the President ended this year’s SONA with a very personal thank you list, that was pretending to be a list of people whom he trusted would continue the work he had started. It was a praise list but also a list of allies—other than the members of his Cabinet who had been thanked countless times throughout the speech.

It was, as such, a fitting end to this President’s State of the Nation Address, that what he did was fall back on the personal—handpicking the loyal and trustworthy of his men and women.

It is what one expects of a President who takes criticism personally, as an affront to his person, instead of thinking it constructive and useful, as something worthy of a response. Instead he scolds critics, shooting the messenger and not the message — his father would be turning in his grave.

That is the state of criticism in this country, given this government. It is the state of the nation.


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  1. Pnoy SONA and drama was a failed show. I thought it was ridiculously hilarious one. My guess is, Aquino might need to see a mental health practitioner since the things he said was too far from reality. Is he a liar or just experiencing hallucination or weird imagination due to his fear landing into jail after SC declared DAP unconstitutional? Nag tatanong lang po.
    Great article Ms. Katrina.

  2. All Crocodile tears. Similar to a Filipino movie where one has to cry for payment in a wake.

  3. Those Haiyan typhoon victims who this President refused to see and scolded them from coming to Malacanang could attest very well that his emotion during the SONA are put on or fake, just to get sympathy to cover his many failures.and so his sister acts, already known to be professional actress herself.

  4. Apolinario Mendez on

    He did not shed a tear during Cory’s wake. He was even caught on camera laughing during the Luneta hostage tragedy. On the other hand, we stubbornly did not accept his defense on TV prior to the SONA and contrary to his expectation, critics’ attacks flourished. He can like a child, do no other except to shed those tears to wash DAP. In solace, he’s secretly laughing convinced that many were again fooled by those tears.

  5. P. Akialamiro on

    With the ‘choking up’, holding back tears and the real tears from a sister, I know now why many call it: S-oap O-pera N-i A-quino. (SONA).