In SONA 2018, Joyce Bernal to capture ‘how much Duterte loves the PH’

Mara Cepeda
In SONA 2018, Joyce Bernal to capture ‘how much Duterte loves the PH’
The director, famous for romcom films, explains her plan in directing President Rodrigo Duterte's 3rd State of the Nation Address

MANILA, Philippines – Director Joyce Bernal will make it her mission to show President Rodrigo Duterte’s love for the country as he delivers his 3rd State of the Nation Address (SONA) on July 23. 

Bernal inspected the Batasang Pambansa plenary hall on Thursday, July 12, to study Duterte’s route in the venue, the possible camera and lighting placement, and other details for the President’s 3rd SONA. (READ: Joyce Bernal to direct Duterte’s third SONA

Gusto ko sana ‘yong ano, magandang sequencing ng shots niya, na in 3 shots, makukuha ‘nyo na paano ‘yong pagmamahal niya sa Pilipinas,” said Bernal. (READ: Duterte says his SONA will last ‘not more than 35 minutes’

(I want a good sequencing of his shots, so that in just 3 shots, you will immediately get just how much he loves the Philippines.) 

The director said she met with Malacañang officials for the first time on Wednesday and was informed of their requests for the SONA direction.  

[Gusto nila] kung puwede kung paano siya magsasalita sa nation, [‘yon ang ipakita ko] – ‘yong pakiramdam na ‘yon kung paano magsasalita sa nation as mayor, as a father, and as the President. Gusto nilang maramdaman ‘yon at parang ibigay ‘yong feeling na ‘yon para sa Presidente paglapag niya sa Congress,” said Bernal.

(They want me to show the manner how he wants to address the nation – they want the audience to know how he will speak to the nation as a mayor, as a father, and as the President. They want my direction to convey that feeling to the President when he steps inside Congress.)

How does she plan to make the 3rd SONA unique compared to the first two SONAs directed by Brillante Mendoza?

Para sa akin, para kay Presidente, let’s get into the psyche kung papaano niya ibibigay, ire-report ‘yong mga nagawa niya or gagawin niya para sa Pilipinas. Gusto ko lang na medyo patriotic lang ‘yong [mood ng SONA],” she said.

(For me, I want to get into the psyche of how he plans to report what he has done or what else he plans to do for the Philippines. I want the mood to be quite patriotic.) 

Bernal, who had directed blockbuster movies like Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad, Bakit Hindi Ka Crush ng Crush Mo?, and the Kimmy Dora series, said she is “very honored” to direct the SONA. 

“Very honored ako. First time ko. ‘Di ‘to pagdi-direct ng romcom. ‘Di ‘to pagdi-direct ng traffic. Pagdi-direct ito ng SONA. May sasabihin ang ating ama para sa atin, para sa Pilipinas,” said Bernal.

(I am very honored. This is my first time. This is not directing a romantic comedy. This is not directing traffic. This is directing the SONA. Our father has something to tell us, has something to say to the Philippines.) –

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Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at or tweet @maracepeda.