History lesson: A SONA from a hospital bed and other SONA facts


Posted at Jul 24 2017 12:58 PM | Updated as of Jul 24 2017 02:13 PM


President Elpidio Quirino delivers his 2nd State of the Nation Address from his hospital bed in Baltimore, Maryland, USA, January 23, 1950. This is the only SONA delivered via radio broadcast to Congress. Photo from Presidential Museum and Library

Did you know that a Philippine president once gave his state of the nation address while recuperating in a hospital in the US? 

This happened in 1950 when then President Elpidio Quirino had to deliver the SONA from his hospital bed in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Maryland and broadcast via radio. 

Historian Xiao Chua, a professor of De La Salle University, said the very first SONA was delivered by President Manuel L. Quezon in 1936. The SONA, which is patterned after the State of the Union Address of the United States, was institutionalized in the 1935 Constitution. 

Chua said Sergio Osmeña delivered only one SONA during his short stay as president (1944-1946) while Jose P. Laurel did not deliver a formal SONA. 

Mass protests during the time of President Ferdinand Marcos also started the "practice" of having 2 SONAs - one delivered by the President and one by activist groups. 

Chua said today's SONA is markedly different from past addresses because of live media coverage and the use of graphs, PowerPoint presentations and videos. 

"When Marcos did his SONA, he was just describing his points but now we have audiovisual presentations. Na ha-highlight yung mensahe ni Pangulo," he said. 

The historian also refuted reports that there was a "State of the Katipunan Address" or SOKA during the time of Andres Bonifacio. He said the 1897 Tejeros Convention only sought to unite the warring factions of the Katipunan and did not tackle the state of the nation. 

"Wala pong SOKA, na parang SOCO ni Gus Abelgas," he said. 

RADIO DZMM, July 24, 2017