In school, I had come late for many times; despite our apartment unit being a ridiculously short walking distance. I had gone through all the penalties that the school administrators could think of for tardy students. I had written a repetitious sentence of “I will not come to school late again” (or something to that effect) on some sheets of tablet paper on front and back sides. We had reprised the flag ceremony together with the other late comers, much to our chagrin from our schoolmates who looked on from inside the classrooms. What the heck, we went through it with laughs. I (together with other tardy teens) stood handling that heavy wooden rifle resting on my shoulder for an hour under the early morning sun. (This was the time when CAT was still part of the curriculum.) There was a time when we were confined within the basketball court (which was not covered) for an hour or two. Some of us sat on the ground and enjoyed the time. I think I walked around. I remember, we enjoyed our time there. When each punishment was over, we’d gladly grab our school bags and merrily run to our classrooms, amused with the whole experience.
So, why was the President late for the SONA? Presidential security and communications staff attributed the unpunctuality to bad weather. Was the weather really that bad? Maybe. I wish there were someone I could ask. But I suppose, if the weather were seriously uncooperative, how come were all the government officials, senators, congressmen and celebrities able to arrive at a reasonable time at the Batasang Pambansa? If it’s something commonly shared as the weather, then everyone or most of the participants would have experienced pretty much the same predicament. But everyone was left waiting and wondering if there really would be a state of the nation address this year or not.
I know, Atty. Panelo would dismiss the lateness as a trivial matter; but come on. I suppose, along with other irregularities on decorum, this has to be a first time for a Philippine President (Historians, correct me, if I’m wrong.) I hate to sound like a die-hard Duterte scorner and blow minor issues out of proportion; but if someone comes unconventionally late for an important meeting, I would consider the length of the tardiness as inversely proportional to the level of value and interest for the audience and the issue for discussion. It gets me wondering, what was he doing? Or what was he thinking? Just when every fashionista legislator was busy preparing for Miss Universe emulation of a gown for the catwalk of the halls of Philippine legislation, and every radical turned representative was setting up objections on their outfits, the President had his attention on that which people who come late for important meetings have their minds on.
(By the way, this is probably the first time, a considerable number of representatives decided to don declarations on their dresses. I have to admit it is rather ingenious. I guess, the traditional banner and megaphone needed some revolution of an innovation. To their credit, it was effective, to some extent, in getting the message across, and underscoring an advocacy. I would have more deference to this group, rather than those who make the occasion an Oscars of Philippine politics. It’s the annual state of the nation speech by the President. Just wear something proper, for crying out loud.)
But whether it be a beauty queen gown or a barong with words that make one smile or frown, they are clear indications of the wearer’s value for the occasion, as worthy of grandeur, or a good platform for gripes; while on the day itself, the man of the hour seemed to have been caught up in something else.
Well, when the President finally came, we were treated to a hodge-podge of recommendations for legislation, on proposal for departments, the coco levy fund, the Land Bank to get its act together, a hiked up bounty on a cop killer, and of course his statements of stand and stance on the West Philippine Sea issue. I have to give it to the man. We can’t go on acting like we can put up a fight against big China, when we would clearly won’t stand a chance in a confrontation, not to mention, the casualties that would be incurred in such an event. On the other hand, who’s talking about war? Logically, making a strong stand on the issue of territory and sovereignty does not necessarily warrant a response of armed aggression. Maybe, there was some slippery slope in the syllogism.
Finally, he ends with setting the goal of a comfortable life for everyone. I guess, not many people noticed that that was an indirect turnaround on the declaration of war against everyone involved in illicit drugs, which gave no consideration for the comforts of drug victims who would need economic and psychosocial rehabilitation for a comfortable life.
“A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest.” Proverbs 6:9