The attire at the State of the Nation Address has been a contentious issue of late. As the contemporary SONA has become as much a pop culture event as an annual political tradition, its attendees—the politicians as well as celebrities and other high profile guests—began treating the walk to Congress as a celebrity red-carpet opportunity to rival the Oscars.
Of course, it should be quite obviously wrong for our public servants and their fancy friends to frame a national occasion as an opportunity to flaunt an immodest lifestyle. So there have been efforts in recent years to discourage the concept of SONA-as-runway, and to call for a more simple but appropriate business casual and Filipiniana dress code.
Still, every year, some attendees get away with wearing something eye-catching. This year was no different. On the men's corner, a few statesmen stood out for conspicious peacocking, with flashy clothes that violently demanded your attention. Here are the perpetrators this time around:
After the unceremonious power grab that took place before the President's speech, former House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez might have regretted wearing something that drew so much attention. Before Alvarez arrived, congresswoman Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had already taken his seat as House Speaker at the rostrum, which confused everyone and left us wondering where Alvarez was. After things had been sorted out, Alvarez eventually returned to take his place at the rostrum, clad in a barong with loud embroidery that only made him more conspicuous after an awkward situation.
We don't expect less than the flashiest and most outlandish from Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo. To find him in the sea of barongs at yesterday's SONA, just look for the guy who's dressed like he's about to solicit lewd favors from a disreputable figure at the casino. Black suit with a shiny, encrusted jacket, a bow tie, and round-frame, half-tint glasses? Yup, no one else was dressed like that, so that's got to be him.
There's nothing wrong with picking out a barong in a different color than usual, but it's often best to stick to solid colors in subtle tints. So Surigao del Sur Representative Prospero Pichay was really pushing the envelope with his blue striped barong. Perhaps he figured that horizontal stripes would be slimming.
Lord Allan Jay Velasco
Marinduque Representative Lord Allan Jay Velasco stepped out in an bright green barong, which was even more noticeable when he stepped up to the rostrum. Along with other allies of newly elected House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, he joined her as she first declared victory before the President's speech.
Although if we were to count all cases of colorful and attention-grabbing attire at the SONA, we could say that there was also some more purposeful peacocking: A few of the attendees wore statement barongs as a sign of protest. Among them was Antonio Tinio, representative of ACT Teachers Partylist, wore an anti-TRAIN, fair wages message on his barong: