State of the Nation Address (Philippines)

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This article is about the Philippines. For other countries, see State of the Nation.
President Benigno Aquino III delivers his second State of the Nation Address at the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex on July 25, 2011.

The State of the Nation Address (Filipino: Talumpatî sa Kalagayan ng Bansà), often referred to simply as SONA (pronounced as a single word), is an annual address by the President of the Republic of the Philippines to a joint session of the Congress of the Philippines. It is mandated by the 1987 Constitution, and must be delivered every fourth Monday of July at the Plenary Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, Metro Manila. A SONA is a way to inform the public about the status or state of the Philippines, the accomplishments and promises by the President of The Philippines.


The State of the Nation Address as an annual practice began during the Philippine Commonwealth.[1]

The First Philippine Republic, established in 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan, took ideas from European parliaments where the magisterial role of the head of state in the legislature was to mark the legislature's official opening. The Malolos Constitution of 1899 provided for the President of the Philippines to preside over the opening of Congress, as well as convey his messages to the legislature through a secretary. When President Emilio Aguinaldo addressed the Malolos Congress on September 15, 1898, he simply congratulated the formation of the first representative body of the Philippines and Asia. This is not considered a State of the Nation Address because the Constitution at the time did not provide for one.

The Jones Act was the first instance where a report about the Philippine Islands was required to be submitted. However, the law only mandated a report by the Governor-General to an executive office assigned by the President of the United States. This report was in written format and about the transactions of the Insular Government.

When the Commonwealth of the Philippines was created and a new Constitution was enacted, it provided for an annual report of the President of the Philippines to Congress on the state of the nation. the 1935 Constitution provides for "The President shall from time to time give to the Congress information on the state of the Nation, and recommend to its consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." [1]

The first State of the Nation Address was delivered by President Manuel L. Quezon on June 16, 1936 at the Legislative Building in the Manila, known now as Old Congress Building.[1] The dates of the SONA were fixed on June 16 of every year at the start of opening sessions of Congress, by virtue of Commonwealth Act No. 17. However, CA 49 changed the date of the opening of Congress to October 16. In 1937, October 16 fell on a Saturday, and the opening of Congress was moved to 18th, when Quezon gave the second State of the Nation Address. The opening date of Congress was again changed that year to the fourth Monday of every year. President Manuel L. Quezon delivered his final State of the Nation Address on January 31, 1941, prior to the onset of World War II.

President José P. Laurel of the Second Philippine Republic, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, was able to deliver his only message before the special session of the National Assembly, led by Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr., on 18 October 18 at the Legislative Building, four days after the Second Republic's establishment. This is, however, not considered a SONA as the 1943 Constitution did not, as President Laurel himself pointed out, provide for the President to deliver one.

With the defeat of the Japanese and the re-establishment of the Commonwealth Government in the Philippines, the Congress of the Philippines, now bicameral, convened for the first time since their election in 1941 on June 9, 1945. During this special session, President Sergio Osmeña addressed lawmakers at their provisional quarters along Lepanto Street in Manila, and gave a comprehensive report on the work carried out by the Commonwealth Government during its three-year as a government-in-exile in Washington, D.C. Furthermore, he described the conditions prevailing in the Philippines during the period of enemy occupation and an acknowledgment of the invaluable assistance rendered by the guerrillas to American forces in the liberation of the Philippines.

The last SONA during the Commonwealth was delivered by President Manuel Roxas on June 3, 1946. President Roxas would deliver the first SONA of the Third Philippine Republic in front of the First Congress on January 27, 1947. Beginning in 1949, SONAs were delivered at the newly reconstructed Legislative Building. Only once did a President not appear personally before Congress: on January 23, 1950, President Elpidio Quirino, who was recuperating at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States, delivered his SONA to a joint session of Congress. His address was beamed through RCS and picked up by a local radio network at 10 o’clock in the morning in time for the opening of the regular congressional session.

The tradition of delivering the SONA on the fourth Monday of January stopped in 1972, when from 1973 to 1977, President Ferdinand E. Marcos delivered the SONA every September 21, the date when he imposed of Martial Law (Martial Law was actually declared on September 23, 1972). Since Congress was abolished with the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution, these addresses were delivered before an assembly either in Malacañan Palace or at Rizal Park, except in 1976 when the address was given during the opening of the Batasang Bayan at the Philippine International Convention Center.

President Marcos began giving the SONA at the Batasang Pambansa Complex on June 12, 1978 during the opening session of the Interim Batasang Pambansa. From 1979 onwards, the SONA was delivered on the fourth Monday of July, following the provisions in the 1973 Constitution and the superseding 1987 Constitution. The only exceptions to this were in 1983, when the SONA was delivered on January 17 (the anniversary of the 1973 Constitution's ratification and the second anniversary of the lifting of Martial Law), and in 1986 when President Corazon C. Aquino did not deliver any SONA.

With the re-establishment of Congress in 1987, President Aquino delivered her SONA at the Session Hall of the Batasang Pambansa. All succeeding Presidents have since delivered their Addresses in the same venue.


The President usually delivers the Address at around 16:00 PHT (UTC+8). Before the appointed time, legislators enter the Plenary Hall, with Congresswomen and spouses of Congressmen in recent years sporting traditionally-inspired couture that in some cases expresses their legislative agenda.

The President meanwhile arrives at the Batasang Pambansa some minutes before the beginning of the joint session, and enters the building through the back entrance. The President is then welcomed with military honours, and greeted by the House Speaker, Senate President and the welcoming committee, before proceeding to the Presidential Legislate Liaison Office.

The President then enters the Plenary Hall as the Presidential Anthem is played. and as the Secretary General introduces him, approaches the rostrum and is seated. The Senate President and the House Speaker then convene the joint session, and the House of Representatives Choir leads the standing assembly in singing the National Anthem. Representatives of various religious groups then lead the people an ecumenical prayer. The Speaker then introduces the President thus: "Ladies and gentlemen, honourable members of the Congress of the Philippines, His/Her Excellency (name), the President of the Philippines." The Address is typically broadcast on television and radio stations, and is streamed online.

Local variations[edit]

Local chief executives also give their own addresses modeled after the State of the Nation Address. At the provincial level, this is called a "State of the Province" Address, or SOPA, given by the provincial governor, while at the city and municipality level, this is called either a "State of the City Address" (SOCA) or "State of the Municipality" Address (SOMA), given by the mayor. In the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, this is called a "State of the Region" Address, or SORA, given by the regional governor. These speeches are not mandated by law, but are given usually as a matter of practice or tradition.

It is the practice of the Philippine Independent Church to release an annual "State of the Church" Address coming from the Supreme Bishop.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Historical Background of the State of the Nation Address". Official Gazette. President of the Philippines. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 

External links[edit]