LOOK: Batasan prepares for SONA 2016
MANILA, Philippines – The Batasang Pambansa, the headquarters of the House of Representatives, is gearing up for President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Staff members began cleaning the plenary hall on Monday, July 18, a week before Duterte delivers his speech in front of the nation.
House Secretary General Marilyn Barua Yap, head of the task force in charge of the SONA preparations, said the plenary hall has a maximum seating capacity of 1,650.
The SONA, where Duterte will tell Filipinos about the state of the country and his plans for the year ahead, is a red carpet affair.
Past SONAs have been dubbed as the "Oscars of Philippine politics" because guests often dress in their best, showing off creations by prominent Filipino designers.
Presumptive House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, however, prefers that guests dress simply this year.
On Monday, internationally-acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza did an ocular inspection of the Batasang Pambansa. He is directing the President's SONA pro-bono.
He was joined by Palace Communications Office chief Martin Andanar, lawyer Paola Alvarez, daughter of Bebot Alvarez and member of the SONA preparations team, as well as representatives from the Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio-Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM).
Mendoza said his role as SONA director is to capture Duterte's message and to show how he connects with the Filipino people.
According to Yap, the task force is set to hold its final meeting on Wednesday, July 20, to "fix loose ends" for their preparations at the Batasang Pambansa.
But they expect to have all details for the SONA – from the security measures to the food to be served to the guests – to be finalized by Thursday, July 21. – Rappler.com