Yesterday, July 23, 2012, the President of the Republic of the Philippines gave his State of the Nation Address in the House of Representatives. For years, I used to watch the President’s SONA on television. I never thought that I would have the privilege of attending it. So when they asked me to serve as part of the Senate Secretariat, I instantly said “yes”. 🙂
The External Affairs and Relations Office ordered an elegant Kimona inspired Filipiñana gown for my attire. 🙂 Of course I need to check if I look presentable enough since I will be facing Dignitaries.
At 10am, the opening of the 15th Congress in the Senate of the Philippines took place. Dignitaries, Ambassadors, former Senators, other VIPs and even Vice President Binay graced the occasion. VP Binay was in his usual friendly composure when he shook my hand and said, “beautiful gown”. I was already on my way back to the office when an American who was also waiting for the elevator to open told me, “Just join me in the elevator”. I answered, “Thank you but I am going up.” Then some security personnel joined him. The guy standing close to me whispered, “He is Mr. Thomas, Jr.” My eyes widened, “You mean Mr. Harry K. Thomas, Jr.? The US Ambassador???” He answered, “yes, the incumbent”.
We had lunch in the Senate Lounge before leaving for the House of the Representatives. We were the fifth vehicle in the Senate’s Convoy and thanks to the “hagad”, it took us 30 minutes to reach Batasang Pambansa. Oh yeah! Pasay to Quezon City in just 30 minutes! 🙂 Yey!!!
Media people everywhere, reporters from different networks were either doing an interview or waiting for a cue to do a live reporting, Senators and Congressmen talking with one another, PSG and Security officers with their bomb sniffing dogs walking to and fro – checking, observing, and re-checking. This was the scene before the start of the Joint Session. The arrival of President Aquino marked the start of SONA 2012.
Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and House Speaker Sonny Belmonte sat alongside with President Benigno Aquino. During his speech, President Aquino boost the Filipino morale by enumerating the accomplishment of his government for walking through the “daang matuwid”. Among the accomplishments he mentioned in the SONA were: a record 6.4% GDP growth in the first quarter of 2012, record performances of the stock market, rising tourist arrivals, and record high increase in coco water exports. His 91-minute speech was interrupted 120 times by applause.
Now, I am back to my usual office attire and my natural look 🙂 As I read newspapers this morning, the headlines are all about the SONA. I am just happy to say that I am personally present during that event. 🙂