The Sona that shunned glitz–and where Erap joined the queue | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022


The story goes that Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. not only endured the artificial arctic climate inside the Batasang Pambansa session hall in traditional wear that barely covered his back, chest and legs for two hours, while President Duterte delivered his first State of the Nation Address.


Baguilat, who was chosen House minority leader just hours before, also had to accommodate requests for selfies from congressional staff and admirers long after most of the warm bodies had left the session hall.


Still, Baguilat wore his native wear with obvious pride—inevitably attracting the most attention among legislators who attended the President’s annual speech detailing policy and direction that he wants Congress to pursue this 17th Congress.


The Sona has long been considered a convenient marriage of politics and fashion because of the pre-speech red-carpet parade where legislators, their spouses, guests and all forms of VIPs strut their designer threads before TV cameras.


This year’s event was different, however, because Malacañang issued an advisory discouraging those who would attend from donning ostentatious clothes while (purportedly) listening to Mr. Duterte’s speech.


So terno hems were chopped to the knee. Many guests who stuck to the “business casual” directive came in corporate attire, prompting one radio reporter to complain that the Palace advisory made it difficult to distinguish “senators and solons from their staff.”


Former Bulacan Rep. Willie Villarama, a known loyalist of ex-president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, sported an image of President Duterte on the backside of his barong.




There still was a red carpet, except that it was off-limits to early arrivals. Before it opened around 2 p.m., security refused to put down the cordon and asked Senators Tito Sotto and Gringo Honasan, Presidential Communications chief Martin Andanar and their respective spouses to walk along the side of the carpet to enter the session hall.


Fashion favorites adhered to the executive restriction but quietly wore designer. Leyte Rep. Lucy Torres-Gomez’s top was a barong reworked by Randy Ortiz that was previously owned by husband Richard.


Tootsy Angara, wife of Sen. Sonny Angara, wore a vintage emerald-green terno that fashion wags noted was a reworked Rajo Laurel.


Representative Arroyo made a splash by attending the Sona days after her release from detention on plunder charges. She was seen at the VIP gallery where former Presidents Fidel Ramos and Joseph Estrada, now the mayor of Manila, were also seated.


Other guests noted how Estrada, who would arrive at the venue via helicopter when he was still chief executive, alighted from his vehicle along the driveway and queued up with other ordinary citizens at the security check of the Batasang complex’s South Wing.


Uy, pumila si Erap,” one reporter said as she elbowed a colleague.


“Wow, change has really come,” the other replied.


Follow the author on Twitter @KatyYam

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