People were trying to spot Joyce Bernal’s ‘flavor’ to Duterte’s 5th SONA

July 28, 2020 - 11:52 AM
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President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during his State of the Nation Address at the plenary hall of the House of Representatives in Quezon City, Philippines July 27, 2020. (Presidential Photos/via Reuters)

Acclaimed film director Joyce Bernal teased the production of the State of the Nation Address days prior to Monday, as she was chosen for the third time to direct the official event after a successful run in the past two years.

In an interview with reporters last July 24, the award-winning director said that the angling of the presidential address will have a “very Pinoy” taste and will be “for the people.”

“Para sa mga tao naman (ito) so ibang flavor naman. Pinoy na Pinoy. Mas maiintindihan, mas magaan,” Bernal said.

She also said that because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, the fifth SONA will seem simpler in appearance but technically “complicated.”

“Parang sumimple siya pero naging complicated siya technically because hindi ko alam kung nalimit ‘yung mga tao dito sa loob pero merong mga remote areas na kailangan kong kunan,” she said.

Bernal then detailed that she has an IT team that would handle the video conference because there are only a limited number of lawmakers allowed inside the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City.

Other attendees would have to stream President Rodrigo Duterte’s speech on other platforms.

Some parts of the program have also been pre-recorded. She did not mention or specify these parts.

After Duterte’s more than an hour-long SONA last Monday, however, some Filipinos recalled these remarks and poked fun that they did not find these “flavor” during the duration of the video conference.

“So ano ‘yung sinasabi [ni] Joyce Bernal na bagong flavor sa coverage ng SONA?” Twitter user @scorsaguin said.

Activist Vince Liban quipped that the reason Bernal agrees to take the helm of SONA each year because of her expertise in comedy films.

Bernal was popular for directing Filipino comedy movies mostly shown at the Metro Manila Film Festival.

“Maybe Bb. Joyce Bernal accepted to direct #SONA2020 because she specializes in comedy films. The gov’t is a big circus anyway,” he said.

Early this month, Bernal, her production team, and Kapamilya actor Piolo Pascual were also supposed to shoot in Sagada purportedly for SONA.

However, the Sagada provincial government denied their entry, citing the residents’ health and safety amid the persisting novel coronavirus pandemic.

Sagada Mayor James Pooten explained that he wished to keep the province free of COVID-19.

Is hiring a film director for a SONA important?

When Bernal was hired to direct SONA in 2018, some Filipinos questioned the purpose of hiring high-profile directors to these presidential events.

Prior to Bernal, celebrated director Brillante Mendoza, also a Duterte supporter, took the helm of Duterte’s first two national addresses.

Mendoza’s work, however, gathered cheers and jeers from the audience due to his unusual shots which the audience paid more attention to than Duterte’s message.

Some Filipinos perceived it as a form of propaganda and likened this strategy to how Adolf Hitler hired Leni Riefenstahl, who became known for her propaganda films for the National Socialist (Nazi) Party.

Communication experts also explained in an article by The Guardian that a video is “one of the most emotive, impacting and engaging mediums through which to tell a story.”