Philippine Mainstream Media has this rather absurd habit of reporting about the State of the Nation Address, in that they count the number of times the President is applauded during a speech. I like to think of blinking “Applause” signs hanging under the rafters of Batasang Pambansa, where on cue, the audience will clap. I think of it as a rather Pavlovian reaction: the gallery applauds the lies and incompetence of the President’s nationwide PowerPoint presentation.
There’s nothing about a SONA that (to use a favorite phrase) strikes me as strange. In an ideal world, the SONA is supposed to be a truthful, transparent presentation of the ills and the problems of the Philippines, and what The Present Government is doing about it. A SONA by Gloria Arroyo, surprisingly, does not depart too much from that ideal: a SONA is a truthful, transparent presentation of the ills and the problems caused by The Government that’s running the Philippines, and what The Present Government is not doing about it.
Truthful… by virtue of implication.
I have to disagree that the SONA is the rhetorical device used by the incumbent Regime to placate the Filipino people; that distinction goes to relief goods and crisp P500 bills you get at Landbank as a “subsidy” if you’re poor. The SONA is a forum where, once a year, we celebrate lies with the intent to dupe the Filipino people into thinking that we have a functional government and a “Strong Republic,” that we feel the progress. We don’t have to experience or acknowledge progress, ladies and gentlemen: we only need to feel it. Besides, rhetoric requires that you know what’s going on.
I’ll be counting applause.