SONA guests asked not to wear long dresses

Pia Ranada
SONA guests asked not to wear long dresses
'It will not be a fashion show,' says Paola Alvarez, a member of the SONA 2016 preparations team

MANILA, Philippines – The dress code for President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address has just gotten more specific.

Ladies attending the SONA who plan to wear dresses have to make sure their dresses are not longer than knee-length, at least, according to Paola Alvarez, member of the SONA preparations team and spokesperson for the Department of Finance.

“For the ladies, it will not be more than knee length. Yes, it was specifically asked of us to require the ladies not to have long dresses,” said Alvarez during a Malacañang press conference on Monday, July 18.

The dress length restriction is one way the SONA team is making sure the event is a simple affair.

“We will downplay the event. It will not be a fashion show,” said Alvarez.

Guests have been asked to come in business attire, with the option to wear Filipiniana as long as it follows the length restriction. (READ: SONA guests told: It’s not a party, dress simply)

If all guests abide by the dress code, it’s going to be a very different SONA. The red carpet event has become a yearly fashion spectacle with politicians and their spouses coming in designer Filipiniana gowns and barong tagalog.

As for President Duterte himself, Alvarez said he’ll most likely wear a barong. What type of pants he’ll pair it with is anybody’s guess, but he has attended formal ceremonies in khaki pants or jeans.

Pared down formalities

One other way the SONA team is tweaking the SONA to reflect Duterte’s tastes is a simplification of the event’s traditional formalities. (LOOK: Batasan prepares for SONA 2016)

For instance, the President’s entrance is typically attended by a large group of congressmen aside from the Senate President and the Speaker of the House.

This time around, only the Senate President and the Speaker of the House will welcome Duterte at the entrance. Duterte will then be escorted just by the Majority Floor Leaders of the two Houses, said Alvarez. 

Award-winning film director Brillante Mendoza, who has volunteered to direct the SONA for free, said earlier that day that he wanted to capture the true Duterte.

On Monday morning, Mendoza, Alvarez, and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar went to Batasang Pambansa for an ocular inspection. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at