Meaningful or a distraction? Debate on the backdrop for Duterte’s SONA

July 24, 2019 - 4:25 PM
Backdrop for Duterte's 2019 SONA
It was the first time that the rostrum in the plenary hall of Batasang Pambansa complex was decorated was decorated for the State of the Nation Address. In this photo, President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his fourth State of the Nation Address at the House of Representatives in Quezon City on July 22, 2019. (Presidential photo/Robert Alfiler)

The background design for the State of the Nation Address is undoubted of cultural significance, but was it the most appropriate for the setting?

A wall drop called “balod” adorned the rostrum, seen behind President Rodrigo Duterte last July 22. It was the first time the rostrum featured a patterned backdrop.

Writer Katrina Stuart Santiago aired her misgiving that the design was not pleasing to look at against the rest of the plenary.

Who is the production designer of this? Why did ANYONE think that that backdrop would look good? Let's not even talk…

Posted by Katrina Stuart Santiago on Monday, July 22, 2019


“Who is the production designer of this? Why did ANYONE think that that backdrop would look good? Let’s not even talk about the colors (the hell are those colors!)” Santiago said.

“Let’s talk about the fact that it wasn’t even ironed, it wasn’t even straight! Ano ba. Basic naman ang plantsa at symmetry,” she added.

She further argued that it does not even look like a weave as what balod should be.

“That does not look like a weave at all. If the middle parts are, then it’s been sewn onto cheap aqua blue material with even uglier neon orange edging of cheap satin, and because they couldn’t get enough of their fantastic taste, they decided to do a fringe in bright orange that they couldn’t even make sure was consistent,” Santiago said in the comments section.

President Rodrigo Duterte during the 2018 SONA. (Reuters/Czar Dancel)

Others concurred that while using indigenous patterns as décor is appreciated, it should be well-presented to the public.

Facebook page Tourism Lanao Del Sur explained that the drape was donated by Gov. Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong Jr. and the multi-colored fabric or “langkit” used is produced by the Arkat Weavers from Marantao.

“This particular piece was donated by Governor Mamintal “Bombit” Adiong, Jr. and the langkit used are products of Arkat Weavers from Marantao who are recipients of various technical assistance by the Provincial Government of Lanao del Sur under the Technology & Livelihood Development Center,” the page said.

The whole nation was hooked to the screens today awaiting to have a glimpse of how the Philippines will turn out in the…

Posted by Tourism-LDS on Monday, July 22, 2019

Zia Alonto Adiong, former assemblyman in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao, also said that the weavers were victims of the bloody Marawi siege in 2017.

“The native Meranao drape (Balod) adorned the Speaker’s podium where the President delivered his SONA today is a product of our local weavers (Arkat weavers) from Marawi, Lanao del Sur who are themselves displaced by the Marawi Siege,” Adiong tweeted.

The drapery of the podium was not the only indigenous design popular that day.

Vice President Leni Robredo and her daughters Aika, Tricia, and Jillian also wore ternos made of fabrics weaved by Angat Buhay communities in the provinces of Marawi and Basilan.

SONA message on Bangsamoro

Duterte’s fourth SONA lasted for more than an hour as he rambled off-script to stress on issues he finds most pressing.

Of these, Duterte commended the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law and expressed hope for the establishment of the new regional government in Mindanao.

“It is my hope that the Bangsamoro Transition [Authority] will fast-track the establishment of regional government that will secure and comfortable life for Muslim brothers and sisters, and all indigenous communities in the Bangsamoro Regions,” he said.