What happens behind the scenes for the president’s SONA? (PHOTOS)

Photo courtesy of Smile Indias
Photo courtesy of Smile Indias

All eyes are on the president at every State of the Nation Address, but really the biggest speech of the year is the culmination of weeks of work, done by dozens of the nation’s best and the brightest.

Smile Indias—then a staff member of the Presidential Communications Development & Strategic Planning Office (PCDSPO)—posted these photos as a look back at the frenzy of activity that always went on before each of former president Benigno “PNoy” Aquino’s SONAs.

Malacañang staff who served during his term mirrored their boss’s notorious passion for detail, parsing every line of his speeches, rigorously researching and fact-checking every assertion, and examining every nuance—even adjusting the size of the screen pixel by pixel, says Indias.

With her captions, these photos give a rare and personal look at the biggest political event of the year, as seen from the point of view of the actual people who make it happen.

Read: Former Malacañang staff recall what it was like to work under PNoy

‘Yung totoo, hindi ko gets yung SONA nung lumalaki ako. Nanood lang ako dahil required noon sa school pero wala naman talaga akong pake for the most part. Lol,” she admitted in her post. (“To tell you the truth, I didn’t get the SONA while growing up. I used to watch it because it was required in school, but I didn’t really care for the most part.”

Pero dahil sa karanasang ito, nakita ko kay PNoy na iba pala talaga kapag gusto mismo ng lider na maintindihan ng mga boss nya ang tagumpay natin bilang isang bansa. Nasa Filipino ang buong talumpati niya. May kasamang visuals para madaling sundan ang numbers at makitang may totoong tao at pamilyang nakakatanggap ng bawat programa.” (“Because of this experience, I saw how different it is when your leader wants to show the people our triumphs as one nation. His entire speeches were in Filipino. There were visuals, so the numbers were easy to follow and would show that real people and families who benefited from each program.”)

#SalamatPNoy sa pagkakataong mag-ambag sa paraang alam at kaya. I miss the calibre of your thought process. I miss the stability of your presence. I miss the quality of your leadership — a leadership that gives hope, a leadership that inspires. 💛🎗🇵🇭

 

 

Weeks before the actual broadcast, the PCDSPO coordinates closely with the state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) station. 'Dito finafinalize kung ano ang lahat ng visuals na ikakasa. Interesting na negosasyon ito lagi kasi pag sobrang kitid ng area for slides, wala kami halos malalagay. Pag sobrang lapad naman, mauubusan ng space si Sir.Ina-aadjust pixel by pixel yung hatian ng slides at camera.'
Weeks before the actual broadcast, the PCDSPO coordinates closely with the state-run Radio Television Malacañang (RTVM) station. “Dito finafinalize kung ano ang lahat ng visuals na ikakasa. Interesting na negosasyon ito lagi kasi pag sobrang kitid ng area for slides, wala kami halos malalagay. Pag sobrang lapad naman, mauubusan ng space si Sir. Ina-aadjust pixel by pixel yung hatian ng slides at camera.”

 

Shortly before the 2012 SONA, the entire team set up camp at President PNoy Aquino's home on Times St. in Quezon City
Shortly before the 2012 SONA, the entire team set up camp at President PNoy Aquino’s home on Times St. in Quezon City for a run-through. “Practice delivery ni Sir, dapat sabayan na ng slides tapos pag may ipapa-edit yung Cabinet, dapat gawin habang nanonood silang lahat. Think Google Doc pero ikaw lang yung may editing access chz.”

 

The house on 25 Times Street in Quezon City was home to two Philippine presidents: Pres Corazon Aquino and Pres PNoy Aquino
Malacañang staff members got ready for the SONA at the house on 25 Times Street in Quezon City, which was home to two Philippine presidents: Pres Corazon Aquino and Pres PNoy Aquino. “For SONA 2012, ginamit ko lang yung lumang Filipiniana ko from LSAA. Nagbihis ako sa painting room ni President Cory tapos paglabas ko ng kwarto, sabi nina Sec. CVP, ‘Wow. SONA mo???’ Lol after nito, pencil skirt at Filipiniana top na lang tayo haha.”

 

'Pero naaalala ko na high stress ito kasi sobrang traffic sa Marikina tapos naka-chopper si Sir. Baka mauna siya sa venue. HAHAHA Ito rin ata yung SONA na nagpababa na lang kami sa may bungad ng Batasan para tumakbo papuntang tent para makapagsetup agad dahil parating na si P. 😂 #Klazz'
“Pero naaalala ko na high stress ito kasi sobrang traffic sa Marikina tapos naka-chopper si Sir. Baka mauna siya sa venue. HAHAHA Ito rin ata yung SONA na nagpababa na lang kami sa may bungad ng Batasan para tumakbo papuntang tent para makapagsetup agad dahil parating na si P. 😂 #Klazz”

 

'Nag-aabala akong mag-Filipiniana pero yung totoo, yung pwesto namin ay sa tent sa labas ng Batasan. 😂Shared tent ito with RTVM. Dito dinidirect yung buong show. Nung 2013, aside from clicking the slides, inassign din nila akong taga-announce ng pan ng camera. So nakikinig ka kay Sir pero nakikinig ka rin sa instructions ng director sa headset. Filed under: #NeverAgain'
While all eyes are on the Batasang Pambansa, outside the building of the legislative offices are a hive of activity. The nerve center of the broadcast is a tent kitted out for the occasion. “Nag-aabala akong mag-Filipiniana pero yung totoo, yung pwesto namin ay sa tent sa labas ng Batasan. 😂 Shared tent ito with RTVM. Dito dinidirect yung buong show. Nung 2013, aside from clicking the slides, inassign din nila akong taga-announce ng pan ng camera. So nakikinig ka kay Sir pero nakikinig ka rin sa instructions ng director sa headset. Filed under: #NeverAgain”

 

For SONA 2014, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balicasag stepped in to explain his department's data to the Speechwriting Group (SWG). 'Favorite ko yung mga ganitong moment na nakikita mo talaga yung talino at sipag ng mga CabSecs. ❤'
For SONA 2014, National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) Secretary Arsenio Balicasag stepped in to explain his department’s data to the Speechwriting Group (SWG). “Favorite ko yung mga ganitong moment na nakikita mo talaga yung talino at sipag ng mga CabSecs. ❤”

 

Preparing for the 2015 SONA at PNoy's official residence at Bahay Pangarap. 'One week before the SONA, pwede na kaming umupo sa gilid at para mag-abang ng structural changes sa speech para masabayan ng slides. Mag-aabang kung may bagong set ng photos or videos na kailangang hanapin. High stress yung mga ganitong meeting lalo na para sa SWG pero sa mga ganitong pagkakataon talaga nakikita yung talino ng mga principals. I liked watching those parts the most. 💛'
Preparing for the 2015 SONA at PNoy’s official residence at Bahay Pangarap. “One week before the SONA, pwede na kaming umupo sa gilid at para mag-abang ng structural changes sa speech para masabayan ng slides. Mag-aabang kung may bagong set ng photos or videos na kailangang hanapin. High stress yung mga ganitong meeting lalo na para sa SWG pero sa mga ganitong pagkakataon talaga nakikita yung talino ng mga principals. I liked watching those parts the most. 💛”

 

A screenshot of the RTVM broadcast of the 2015 SONA. 'Masaya na nakakastress yung buong experience na di ka hihinga for 2 hours (or for us, 200+ slides long) para di ka maboba at mamali ng click o malate ng timbre kung kailan dapat may visuals.Ngarag pero iba talaga yung sense of pride pag narinig mo na si Sir magdeliver.'
A screenshot of the RTVM broadcast of the 2015 SONA. “Masaya na nakakastress yung buong experience na di ka hihinga for 2 hours (or for us, 200+ slides long) para di ka maboba at mamali ng click o malate ng timbre kung kailan dapat may visuals.
Ngarag pero iba talaga yung sense of pride pag narinig mo na si Sir magdeliver.”

 

 

'Few hours before P’s last SONA — Daming ganap! May nakapila for lunch, may scramble pa for edits, may double checking, etc.Laging halong takot at excitement itong last few hours before the speech para sa akin kasi usually, may ilan pa ritong pending edits pero dapat kumain ka kasi dinner na yung next kain. Kaso sobrang kaba so dapat saktong kain lang para di masuka.
Few hours before P’s last SONA — Daming ganap! May nakapila for lunch, may scramble pa for edits, may double checking, etc. Laging halong takot at excitement itong last few hours before the speech para sa akin kasi usually, may ilan pa ritong pending edits pero dapat kumain ka kasi dinner na yung next kain. Kaso sobrang kaba so dapat saktong kain lang para di masuka.”

 

 

'Pero naaalala ko na high stress ito kasi sobrang traffic sa Marikina tapos naka-chopper si Sir. Baka mauna siya sa venue. HAHAHA Ito rin ata yung SONA na nagpababa na lang kami sa may bungad ng Batasan para tumakbo papuntang tent para makapagsetup agad dahil parating na si P. 😂 #Klazz'
“Pero naaalala ko na high stress ito kasi sobrang traffic sa Marikina tapos naka-chopper si Sir. Baka mauna siya sa venue. HAHAHA Ito rin ata yung SONA na nagpababa na lang kami sa may bungad ng Batasan para tumakbo papuntang tent para makapagsetup agad dahil parating na si P. 😂 #Klazz”

 

 

All photos used with permission from Smile Indias

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