Thought Paper: Reflections on BSAIII’s Third State of the Nation Address (SONA)

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.

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“Wag mo lang gawin ang hindi ikaw.”

Originally posted here

Had an interesting conversation with the young’uns during this morning’s cabinet meeting. While our principals were defending their budget lines, four of us spent the intervening five hours chatting about how we’d ended up in government. The most arresting narrative was from J, who handles the day-to-day ops of our Secretary for the Interior and Local Government. She comes from a local political clan, worked on him for her undergraduate thesis, interfaced during the 2010 campaign—but what struck me the most was what SILG gave as marching orders when they began. He said to her, “Wag mo lang gawin ang hindi ikaw”. Just don’t do anything that isn’t you—or to steal from a Janet Jackson song, just be yourself, and let that be your guide.

It makes me wonder: how can one carry out those orders when the Self is thrust inside an institution the negates the self?

Maybe the Self has to be so strong that no institution could ever break it.