Political event or fashion show? Social media weigh in on red carpet affair pre-SONA

July 25, 2023 - 1:55 PM
Staff at the House of Representatives undertake final preparations early Monday for the president's second State of the Nation Address, July 24, 2023. (Philstar.com/Cristina Chi)

Is the State of the Nation Address a fashion event, an awards show, or a political function?

These were the questions that some Filipinos raised on social media following the red carpet event before the esteemed talk at the congressional hall took place.

Female guests donned Filipiniana dresses and ethnic wear when they strutted the red carpet of the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Quezon City on SONA day on July 24.

Mainstream media outlets did considerable coverage of their arrival ahead of the second SONA of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

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The wives of government officials who attended the SONA gained buzz on local social media.

They garnered laudatory comments for the details and designs of their Filipiniana outfits. The personalities’ overall looks were also commended online.

Some Filipinos, however, criticized the way other attendees treated this pre-SONA activity.

A Reddit user likened the pose of some attendees to attendees of an awards event.

“Cringe: Senators (and their spouse) posing in SONA like they are attending an awards show,” the Redditor said.

Cringe: Senators (and their spouse) posing in SONA like they are attending an awards show
by u/blue_teeth in Philippines

Some Filipinos on Twitter, meanwhile, deemed that SONA became a fashion show for the guests.

“Isn’t the SONA a status report of the things that are implemented and the administration’s next step? Why has it become a Filipino political version of the MET Gala?” a Twitter user said.

The Met Gala is an annual fundraising event of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute in New York City.

“I don’t get why family members of SONA attendees are even present AND treat it as a fashion show. Like okay bat ka andyan and why you are even relevant??” another Filipino wrote on Twitter.

“Alam mo nakakapika na ‘yung coverage sa SONA as fashion eme, at ‘yung mga politiko as stars. Tantanan na natin ito, please,” award-winning writer Jerry Gracio tweeted.

Theodore Te, the former spokesperson of the Supreme Court, shared the Constitution’s provision on SONA.

“The Constitution does not require a speech, just a report to Congress. So, a SONA could simply be a written answer to the question ‘what is the state of the nation?’ and a detailed technical report explaining why,” Te said on his Twitter account.

SONA traditions

The red-carpet arrival of guests was not given the spotlight before as it was in recent years.

The president is required to deliver an annual address before the Congress every year as stated in Section 23, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, which states that:

“The President shall address the Congress at the opening of its regular session. He may also appear before it at any other time.”

In Section 15, Article VI, it was stated that the Congress shall convene “once every year on the fourth Monday of July for its regular session, unless a different date is fixed by law, and shall continue to be in session for such number of days as it may determine until thirty days before the opening of its next regular session, exclusive of Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. The President may call a special session at any time.”

SONA procedures also excluded a formal affair for the guests.

In the Official Gazette, it was stated that a welcoming committee accompanies the president into the session hall where he will deliver his speech.

This committee comprises “appointed by and among peers in both Chambers of Congress.”

Here is an infographic that details the SONA procedure:

Procedure of the State of the Nation Address (Official Gazette website)