Image source from Ellson Quismorio (MANILA BULLETIN)

Amidst the palpable excitement surrounding President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s upcoming second State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 24, an air of uniqueness and cultural pride is set to fill the Batasan Complex in Quezon City. Embracing the essence of the Philippines’ rich heritage, organizers have ingeniously chosen a distinct Filipiniana or “native” theme-slash-motif, adding a touch of tradition and elegance to the event. As the Batasan Complex, serving as the cherished turf of House members and congressmen, takes center stage, all eyes are eagerly fixed on this much-anticipated gathering.

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To stay ahead in any conversation about SONA 2023, here are some quick and noteworthy facts that are bound to impress and inform:

  • Anticipation is building as an extraordinary assembly of over 2,000 esteemed guests is projected to grace the upcoming occasion. This impressive surge in attendees marks a significant rise from the previous year’s exclusive gathering, which extended invitations to a mere 1,365 individuals. 
  • In a historical convergence, the forthcoming event has garnered exceptional importance as it secures the presence of all three living former Philippine presidents— Gloria Macapaga-Arroyo, Rodrigo Duterte, and Joseph “Erap” Estrada. This momentous confirmation of their attendance injects a profound sense of significance and prestige into the occasion. The prospect of witnessing these influential leaders gathered under one roof has ignited excitement and curiosity, making it a truly unprecedented and unique gathering in the country’s political history.
  • For the first time in SONA’s history, a refreshing and unique touch is set to be added to the coverage as the prestigious Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM), the official broadcasting arm of Malacañang, takes the reins of director duties. 
  • As the curtain rises on the ceremony’s grand opening, an element of exhilaration is woven into the fabric of anticipation. All eyes are fixed on the “big surprise” shrouding the designated singer for the Philippine national anthem. 
  • Marking a momentous occasion, President Marcos is set to take the stage at approximately 4 p.m., captivating the audience with his highly-anticipated speech. The distinguished gathering will witness this historic moment during a joint session convened by both the House and Senate, held at the prestigious plenary hall of the Batasan Complex. A unique blend of democracy and governance will unfold as 311 House members and 24 senators, representing the nation’s diverse voices, come together to listen to the President’s address. 
  • As the sun rises on the much-awaited SONA day, all eyes are on ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Erwin Tulfo, eagerly anticipating his grand debut in the House plenary. The morning session is expected to be the stage for this remarkable event, just before the President’s speech takes center stage. As the party-list’s esteemed third nominee, Tulfo brings with him a distinguished background, having served as the former Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) chairman.
  • Despite Negros Oriental 3rd district Rep. Arnolfo Teves Jr.’s request to attend the SONA virtually due to his current absence from the country, his appeal has been declined, as no official invitation was extended in light of his overseas location.
  • Former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo finds herself in a unique position with two possible seats to choose from during the SONA. As an esteemed former president, she has the option to occupy a spot in the VIP section, basking in the recognition and privileges befitting her previous role. Alternatively, she can opt to sit with her House colleagues as the incumbent representative of Pampanga 2nd district and a respected deputy speaker, embracing her current duties and responsibilities as an active legislator. 
  • This year’s pre-SONA lockdown at Batasan Complex is set to span four days, extending one day longer than the security measures implemented in the previous year. The heightened security protocols aim to ensure a safe and secure environment for the highly anticipated event.
  • In conjunction with the lockdown, organizers have implemented additional security measures, such as jamming mobile phone signals and declaring a no-fly zone over Batasan on the day of the SONA. These stringent precautions are taken to safeguard the event’s integrity and protect the attendees from potential security risks.
  • This year’s Covid-19 protocols for SONA guests will be relatively straightforward. Fully vaccinated individuals will only need to present their vaccination card (first series) during the screening process. However, for unvaccinated guests, a negative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test taken within 24 hours before the event will be mandatory.
  • Over 1,000 media practitioners have been accredited to cover the event, ensuring comprehensive media coverage of the President’s address.

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SONA 2023 promises to be an occasion filled with anticipation and hope for the nation’s future. With a unique “native” theme-slash-motif and notable attendees, the event is set to captivate the nation. President Marcos’s speech is eagerly awaited, as it will shed light on the administration’s vision and priorities moving forward.

As the country tunes in to the State of the Nation Address, the Batasan Complex will be abuzz with activity. The House and Senate will unite to hear the President’s plans for the Philippines, and media practitioners will ensure that every detail is captured and disseminated to the nation.

This year’s SONA signifies a new chapter in the country’s history, with a focus on embracing the nation’s cultural heritage and charting a path to a prosperous future. As President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. stands before the joint session, he carries the aspirations and dreams of the Filipino people, and the eyes of the nation are fixed on him, eager to witness the unfolding of the Philippines’ native future.