So it’s that time of the year again. That time when the good president steps into the pedestal to address every single Filipino all over the world, regarding the current state of our country in terms of politics, economics and society. That time when all eyes and cameras are focused on the most powerful man of the country, as he personally delivers the news to the Filipino people about their motherland. That time when the president takes time to inspire the citizens, to reassure them that change is on the way, that they are heading towards greener pastures, that they are about to bask in the warm light of prosperity and peace.
That time… when the president basically says only what’s good, and we’re not even certain whether the good news he utters are also true, per se. Such is the amusing nature of our very own State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Held annually, the SONA is one of the Philippine government’s ideas of fostering transparency and trust between the people and the State, with the goal of informing Filipinos about the condition of their own country so that they won’t remain in the dark. And as you folks know already, the SONA is delivered by the president himself. At face value, the concept of an annual SONA is a noble one, aimed at promoting confidence of the citizenry in the public officials they elected into office to fortify unity in these harsh times. But then, Philippine politics is as Philippine politics does, SONA can also be used as a convenient perfume on one’s decaying reputation.
While we’re on this topic, what do you remember from PNoy’s last SONA? Hm, yeah, lowered hunger rates, lower unemployment, wang-wang, CCT, happier people, daang matuwid, yadda, yadda, yadda. All good stuff! But then, it’s not as if we’re living in a utopian society. We’re bound to have a couple of new problems within our country (as well as problems that remain unsolved), and it is only fitting that we hear about it, right? I mean, how can you prepare for an enemy you know nothing about? Well, apparently, our society recognizes no such idea, as SONAs in our place are nothing more than feel-good speeches for the Filipino masses. Hearing SONA is like going to a weird therapist who takes you by the hand and bombards you with a truckload of happy stuff that you forget what your problem was to begin with.
Sure, you might hear the president mention a problem or two; problems he already claimed to have solved, unresolved problems to which he would give the generic we’ll-do-something-about-it rhetoric, but that’s about it. There are hardly any detailed breakdowns of the problems at hand, and neither do the solutions the big man has for those problems. As several articles before this one have explained, in all probability, all you would hear at PNoy’s much-anticipated SONA is a string of sweet, melodic words depicting the Philippines as comparable to My Little Pony. Talk about informative, huh.
One would probably wonder; why name this event “State of the Nation Address” when we don’t get to hear the whole, unadulterated story? Why name this event as such when people only hear the allegedly good stuff? Yes, allegedly, because, as common sense tells us, humans, and that includes the president, have this intriguing capability to lie. A few skewed statistics here and there, a little dash of downplaying relevant social issues, nothing much of a big deal. Yes, the stalwart protector of our country is not exempt from this tendency.
So, if SONA is actually a misnomer, shouldn’t we just change its name for the sake of clarity? How about State of the Imagination Address? “Statements People Want To Hear” Address? You got better ideas?
Essentially, the purpose of this article is quite simple: don’t base your judgment solely on PNoy’s SONA. SONA is not the Word of God; it isn’t gospel truth. It is spoken by a human being who has a capability to lie and twist facts to suit his purposes… whether you like it or not. Of course, lazy Filipinos will simply swallow PNoy’s drivel hook, line and sinker and get on with their monotonous lives, but could this be said for Filipinos in general? Would you allow this to happen?
I think it’s time that we break free from our collective mental inertia and start actively pursuing the truth, with or without PNoy’s help. If you think about it, you don’t actually need to hear PNoy’s SONA to know how your country’s doing. You only need an open mind and eyes. Look around you. Surf the Internet. Read several newspapers and evaluate their consistency. If you want to take it to the next level, why not take the time to read political and economic theories in your vacant periods?
There are lots of ways to get the truth aside from the highly dubious SONA, if only Filipinos possess enough initiative to do so. The solution is right there in front of us, if we’re only determined enough to move our arses off the couch and pick it up. The truth we seek is very well accessible, if only we have the stomach to absorb the good news as well as the bad.
There’s a Japanese proverb that is quite relevant to the issue of way-too-fancy SONAs.
If you believe everything you read, better not read.
Truth reverberates in this gem of a quote. Believing anything to be true without due critical analysis is as good as reading absolutely nothing. After all, both endeavors give you little to no real knowledge. It’s like believing every quote you see in the Internet even in the absence of proof on who actually said it. Heed statesman Abraham Lincoln’s words:
Don’t believe everything that you read on the Internet.
Needless to say, the aforementioned proverb (as well as the pun quote, I guess) holds true for watching and listening as well. As civilized individuals (or so we claim to be), we must be observant enough not to sheepishly fall for anything the media and the government tells us, simply because they’re the ones who said it.
We must exert efforts to search for the truth on our own, and not merely rely on what some famous political figure tells us. If we Filipinos blindly believe everything, I don’t think we even deserve civilization.
Now that PNoy’s melodramatic SONA is drawing near, may you always remember one important thing; that even in the absence of sweet-sounding speeches fresh from the Palace, through your own rational thinking and honest observations, you yourself can make a far more truthful State of the Nation Address.
Unless, of course, you actually have a thing for kooky therapists.