“What a feeling, being’s believing, now I’m dancing for my life.” Lyrics from Flashdance.
It is an axiom that audiences remember little of a speech, especially one an hour and a half long. All that is left is a feeling.
So it was with the President’s SONA.
The President spoke glowingly of his Administration’s achievements, the numbers, the accolades from foreign analysts (“The Philippines is no longer a joke”) and local folk. He spoke of our economic strides notably in business process outsourcing and tourism. He talked of the gains in rice production, coconut drinks and infrastructure; and our improved credit rating.
He mentioned the new culture in Government, the meritocracy, the integrity and the transparency. He talked tough about nailing the scoundrels in our midst and their “padrinos”. The audience lapped the stuff.
He repeated the theme of SONAs past, about our lost decade under the GMA Administration, how we cannot simply “forgive and forget “, how criminals must be answerable or we would be remiss in our historical responsibility.
He spoke as best he could of our sovereignty over the Philippine Seas.
He referred obliquely to responsible parenthood but could not quite mention its legal form, the RH Bill. There were too many pro-lifers in the audience. It was not a time to rattle the cage.
He singled out his seeming favorites in the Cabinet: Singson, (DPWH), a perennial pet having been cited in the last three SONAs; Almendras (DOE), his new go-to guy, one senses P-Noy’s affection for him; Jimenez (DOT), his latest recruit, the Colgate-like video testimonials were probably his idea. Roxas (DOTC), Villanueva (TESDA), Alcala (DA), and Carpio-Morales (Ombudsman) were also recognized. Did the unmentioned Cabinet officers feel left out?
But he reserved his best and most inspirational words for the people. This year’s SONA was an ode to the man in the street. It is a good time to be Filipino. It is all because of you. Nothing is impossible if we unite. These phrases were the SONA moments.
The address, good as it was, could have been strengthened in two ways.