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 (SONA) (Filipino: Talumpatì sa Kalagayan ng Bansâ) 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 is delivered every fourth Monday of July at the Plenary Hall of the Batasang Pambansa Complex in Batasan Hills, Quezon City, Metro Manila.

The SONA, which is often broadcast, serves as a means to inform the nation about its present economic, political, and social condition, and is a vehicle for the President to summarise the accomplishments and plans of his/her programme for government both for a particular year and until the end of their term of office.


The address is usually delivered at around 16:00 PST (GMT+8). Before the appointed time, legislators enter the Plenary Hall, with Congresswomen and consorts of Congressmen in recent years sporting traditionally-inspired couture that in some cases expresses their legislative agenda or ideological leanings.

The President meanwhile arrives at the Batasang Pambansa Complex some minutes before the beginning of the joint session, and enters the main building through a back portal. 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 assembly, now standing, in singing the Lupang Hinirang 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 Republic of the Philippines."

The Address, which can last anywhere from one hour to several, is broadcast on television, radio, and online by both state agencies such as Radio Television Malacañang alongside private media organisations.


Malolos Congress[edit]

An early form of the Address was in place during the First Philippine Republic, which was established in 1899 in Malolos, Bulacan. The revolutionary government 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 to preside over the opening of Congress, as well as convey his messages to the legislature through a secretary. When Emilio Aguinaldo addressed the Malolos Congress in Spanish 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 explicitly provide for one.

American occupation[edit]

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

The Jones Act enacted in 1916 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 was in the form of a written document that discussed the transactions and movements of the Insular Government.

When the Commonwealth of the Philippines was created and the 1935 Constitution enacted, it provided for an annual report of the President of the Philippines to Congress:

"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 formal State of the Nation Address was delivered by President Manuel L. Quezon on June 16, 1936 at the Legislative Building in the City of Manila, now known 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.

Second World War[edit]

José P. Laurel of the Japanese-sponsored puppet Second Republic, was able to deliver his only message before the special session of the National Assembly, led by Speaker Benigno Aquino, Sr., on 18 October 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 such an address.

With the 1945 defeat of the Japanese Empire 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 of the Commonwealth was delivered by President Manuel A. Roxas on June 3, 1946. President Roxas would later deliver the first SONA of the Third Philippine Republic in front of the First Congress on January 27, 1947.

Third Republic[edit]

Beginning in 1949, SONAs were delivered at the rebuilt Legislative Building. Only once did a President not appear personally before Congress: on January 23, 1950, President Elpidio R. Quirino, who was recuperating at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland, the United States, delivered his SONA to a joint session of Congress via RCS. The Address was picked up by a local radio network at 10:00 PST (GMT+8), in time for the opening of the regular congressional session.

Martial Law and the Fourth Republic[edit]

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 official anniversary of his imposition of Martial Law upon the country. Since Congress was abolished with the promulgation of the 1973 Constitution, these addresses were delivered before a legislative 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 Corazón C. Aquino did not deliver any SONA following the People Power Revolution.

Fifth Republic[edit]

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.


Local chief executives also give their own addresses modeled after the State of the Nation Address. These speeches are not mandated by law, but are given usually as a matter of practice or tradition.


Recent addresses have been the subject of criticism by various sectors for being too ostentatious and flashy, with politicians and media personalities treating the event as a red carpet fashion show. Senator Miriam Santiago blasts the organizers and calls the event a "thoughtless extravagance" where "peacocks spread their tails and turn around and around, as coached by media in a feeding frenzy."[2]

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. 
  2. ^

External links[edit]

Template:State of the Nation Address