Saturday, August 01, 2015

The unmentioned

MUCH has been said about the last State of the Nation Address or SOCA of President Benigno Aquino III.

For one, it was more than two hours long. There were 85 applauses, we heard. We downloaded the English translation and there it was: 45 pages and more than 17,000 words. It was already a novella or the equivalent of Bob Ong’s novel.

Would President Aquino have written the whole thing? Hardly. It took a village to make that speech and it was done for more than a week. It was his valedictory address. His report card. It was his crowning glory.

But as it turned out, it was a speech known for what were not mentioned. Minutes after the speech, it was the consensus among the so-called pundits in the social media. There was no mention of this, no mention of that. At 17,000 words, he could have created the whole weekly newspaper but there was no mention of many that were bugging our local papers.

So we did what most decent journalists now would have done. We downloaded the whole speech (something you can’t do with Marcos, even if there already was an Internet at that time) and relied on the “find” feature.

These were the initial words not mentioned: "Baguio", "Cordillera", "autonomy". There were three matches of "NCIP" but all because it was inside "priNCIPles" and NCIP and principle are sometimes strange bedfellows. These were the same problems with the last SONA. So is it safe to say that Cordillera autonomy will not push through? There was no mention of FOI either and only one of freedom (freedom from corruption) and three mentions of information. There was no mention of Ilocos either or Cagayan and one mention of the vote-rich province of Pangasinan but only under TPLEX. So our neighbors did not fare as well too. There was one mention of Cebu but only in the context of its earthquake. There were four mentions of Manila.

There was no mention of human or mankind. There was one mention of animal but only in relation to Moros. And the Church would not like the SONA either because there was no mention of religion or Catholic. There was nothing on politics but two mentions of politicians. Binay was mentioned but it was in the first part when Aquino acknowledged the bigwigs. Roxas was mentioned but it was a whole paragraph honoring him. There was one mention of Yolanda relating to the life-changing typhoon and one Yoly for Yoly Ong who is part of the Aquino cabinet. There was, of course, a paragraph for dear Yolly, who is the yaya of P-Noy.

There were two mentions of energy but one was on solar energy and another for the Energy Minister. No mention on environment, pollution or trees, which is reflective (we thought) of his non-emphasis on nature. Nature was mentioned once but only as “not my nature to brag”. So there.

But so who and what groups were treated well by the SONA? Not the Christians because they were not mentioned either. Nor INC or Iglesia. God was mentioned only twice. ASEAN was not mentioned.

The terms frequently mentioned then were poverty (eight times), poor (6), love (5) and peace (4). Health was mentioned 17 times but nine times with PhilHealth. Economy was mentioned eight times but OFW only twice. There were 31 matches for help, 17 for deliver and seven serves. The most frequent were country with 54 mentions, Philippines with 27, and Filipino with 40.

We cannot list all the words but you get the drift. It was all about the country, which is OK. We can always say it’s not the number of mentions but the actions on them. And how can you work on something unmentioned? Unless the president is a silent worker which, at 45 pages, he wasn’t. He mentioned selfie once but no Facebook.*


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