The Talumpati sa Kalagayan ng Bansa, or State of the Nation Address, is a constitutional obligation. Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987 Constitution provides that “[t]he President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session”, which Article VI, Section 15 schedules “once every year on the fourth Monday of July”. That said, for people working in government (particularly under the Executive Branch), the annual SONA is a very personal thing.
This year marked my second SONA as one of the many tiny cogs in government’s engine. Although it wasn’t spent running around Batasan in makeshift terno and heels, as I did last year, in many ways this year was more intense. For us alipins sa guiguilid, the SONA is not just a speech reporting on the status of the country. It is a measure of how successful, or “SONA-ble” line agencies have been over the course of the year, and beyond all else, is a public declaration of marching orders for the following year. Look beyond the gowns and the applause: the SONA is serious because this administration is serious. Look beyond the President’s humor, broadcast in crisp, clear Tagalog (and BSA III is the first and only Chief Executive to have done so)–each soundbite has been fought and labored for with literal tears and sweat and blood.