President Duterte’s SONA sets change

MANILA — “President” in, “His Excellency” out. Business attire in, formal long gowns out.

Change has indeed come to Malacanang where President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has begun underdressing the norm. Tomorrow, we see change knocking at the doors of the 17th Congress.

From fashion to food to message and messenger, the first State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA) under President Duterte is keeping everyone excited and grounded, and mindful of the work ahead, a complete departure from the procession of glitz and glamor and lavishness that used to mark the ceremony in previous administrations.

The Palace has reminded legislators, their spouses, and guests not to wear the long gown, but instead observe the business attire in order to downplay the display of opulence criticized as insensitive and immoral by the public.

The confirmed menu is a feast of native dishes given the chef’s orchestral swing: native chips in the form salted duck egg with dressing; mongo soup, paired with smoked fish with alugbati on grissini bread; fresh lumpia ubod in pouch; and chicken and spicy tuna empanaditas.

Other dishes approved are sotong goreng or deep fried calamaris tossed in chili and bell pepper; crispy triangles of flaked chicken adobo and mushrooms; fried lumpia ubod; pandesal with kesong puti and beef steak served on the spot; penne with taba ng talangka sauce; balut pâté in profiteroles; and chicken skin crackling.

The menu is estimated to serve 800 people, including the 293 congressmen and 24 senators, whom the President ought to address every year on the opening of the joint session, as provided in the Constitution.

The SONA’s highlight is the President’s speech.

The Palace earlier mentioned it wanted to center on the President’s message to the people.

Presidential Communications Office Secretary Martin Andanar underscored, “It is a very powerful speech personally written by the President that will awaken the patriot in every Filipino.”

Acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza has been tapped to direct the event, pro bono.

For their part, militants from the Left have vowed not to march in protest as their tradition, but in support of the new President. Expected to join them are a thousand delegates, including the lumad from Northern Mindanao and Caraga. PNA/