‘Never again’: Edu Manzano comments on production design for Duterte’s 5th SONA

July 31, 2020 - 9:34 AM
Duterte's backdrop in SONA 2020
President Rodrigo Roa Duterte delivers his 5th State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives Complex in Quezon City on July 27, 2020. (Presidential photo)

“Never again” was veteran television host Edu Manzano‘s comment as he noticed the production design of President Rodrigo Duterte‘s penultimate State of the Nation Address aired last Monday.

Manzano went to Twitter to air his opinion on the fifth SONA of the chief executive delivered on the Batansang Pambansa Complex on July 27.

“Who did the production design of the last SONA? Never again pls!” he wrote the day after the highly-anticipated speech.

A production design pertains to the appearance of the environment acting as the backdrop to a story or an event.

Duterte’s SONA for this year was directed by blockbuster film and television director Joyce Bernal.

She began to direct the president’s SONAs in 2018 after independent filmmaker Brillante Mendoza was criticized for his extreme close-up shots and continuous panning.

Bernal previously shared that her direction of Duterte’s fifth SONA would have a “very Pinoy” flavor but some Filipinos reminded her that it was an official report that needed to have substance, not a “flavor.”

She also drew flak for attempting to shoot video footage to be used in the national address in Banaue and Sagada despite the stringent protocols in place amid the ongoing pandemic.

Meanwhile, Manzano’s comment about the production design prompted some Filipinos to share their own opinions as well, particularly about the conspicuous row of plants across Duterte during the address.

“Plants vs. Zombies po talaga ang theme ng SONA. Wala naman pong basagan ng trip,” a Twitter user responded to him in jest.

“Tawang-tawa ako sa mga plants hahahahahaha,” wrote another online user who retweeted Manzano’s comment.

“Me, staring at these plants trying to recognize them the whole SONA. Mute na lang ang TV,” a Filipino said.

Some viewers also poked fun at Bernal’s “very Pinoy” remark and jested that they couldn’t spot it for the duration of the address.

Duterte in his SONA was expected to talk about the country’s COVID-19 recovery plan in terms of the economy, as well as the government’s response efforts in the ongoing pandemic.

However, some Filipinos aired their disappointment when he talked about the Lopezes of embattled media giant ABS-CBN, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, death penalty and the telecommunication services, among others, instead.

The Palace said that details of the COVID-19 recovery “roadmap” was tackled by Cabinet members in pre-SONA briefings following a “new format.”

This was not the first time that physical details of Duterte’s SONA, specifically the production design, had generated conversations.

Last year, the rostrum in the Plenary Hall was decorated with a colorful, patterned backdrop weaved by locals from the Marawi.

A writer aired her misgivings and argued that it was not pleasing to look at.

The backdrop was described as a traditional masterpiece “uniquely Meranao” by the Facebook page of Lanao del Sur Tourism.