The SONA spoke not only of an exquisite present but also of a sublime and majestic future. It did not simply take note of a distinctly favored people here and now but also foresees them as very much more fortunate and blessed in the days yet to come. It sees a country that is not only wallowing in benefits and accomplishments now but also projects it as overflowing with wealth and honey in the days ahead. In short, the SONA sees the Philippines as one big emerging heaven on earth.
But there were then the poor people in the streets that were hungry and angry. There were the elderly who knew not where to live, what to eat. And there were the children whose present is miserable, whose future is dim and grim. In fact, there were protest rallies in different parts of the country. They said the same things: Living is hard, work is lacking. Food is expensive. Herein imperial Manila, some of them even became violent due to exasperation. Empty handed they came to show their disgust towards the government. Empty handed they went back home – tired, hopeless, fuming.
The SONA was attended by perfumed ladies and well-dressed gentlemen. There were smiles all over the place that was impeccably arranged, cleaned and well-air-conditioned. The place was isolated from the common tao and well-protected from dissenting individuals and protesting groups. There were smiles and kisses all over the hall. Claps were regular and victory shouts were loud. The SONA uprooted the attendees from hard ground realities and nonchalantly elevated them to Cloud 9.
But it remains a common sight to see people living under the bridges if not in push carts here and there. There are young boys and girls with dirty faces and tattered clothes who continue to ask for alms in the streets from passersby as well as from the riding public. There are many families who do not eat three times a day, children who do not go to school. There are millions of fathers and mothers who left their families behind tot work abroad without minding the danger they face, without wanting to think of the lot of their children pitifully left behind.
The SONA exhibited many colored, beautiful and exhilarating statistics – plus some well-chosen flicks that advertised the generosity and greatness of government programs plus the undying gratitude of the chosen characters therein seen. The SONA proclaimed its glorious achievements as well as its celestial projections. It painted such exhilarating scenery that dreams is made from. One hour and a half of fast talking and much prophesying.
Sad to say, the ground realities are the opposite of such a gloriously painted present and a heavenly projected future. Why? The squatters undergo violent demolition and alienation. Crimes are ingredients of daily living. People – pay many and heavy taxes from birth to death. The Hacienda Luisita farmers – together with thousands of others like them – remain landless and disconsolate. There should be more SONA like the last one – for the Philippines to often become heaven on earth.