Palace: Aquino shed real tears at SONA
Palace: Aquino shed real tears at SONA
A Palace official explains the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in response to questions on President Aquino's teary-eyed SONA delivery

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang said on Tuesday, July 29, that a truly “emotional” President Benigno Aquino III shed genuine tears while delivering his 5th State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Responding to reporters’ questions,  Palace Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr said in a statement that Aquino’s tears were just as “spontaneous” as the closing part of his speech, which was not in the text prepared by presidential speechwriters.

Coloma cited the extemporaneous portion of the SONA leading to the Chief Executive’s rare display of emotion, where Aquino explained why he accepted the challenge of seeking the presidency, likening it to the love for and dedication to country of his late parents. 

“If I had turned my back on the opportunity, then I might as well have turned my back on my father and mother, and all the sacrifices they made for all of us; that will not happen. On our journey along the straight path, you have always chosen what is right and just; you have been true to your promise, and I have been true to all of you,” Aquino had said.

There was a noticeable change in his tone and demeanor, Coloma said, when Aquino spoke “from the depths of his personal commitment to live up to his parents’ noble legacy.”

Aquino quoted his father’s – the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr’s – famous words, “The Filipino is worth dying for,” and added,  “The Filipino is worth fighting for.”

“His firm belief, derived from his parents’ philosophy of service, that ‘The Filipino is worth fighting for’ underscores his firm determination to fulfill a mission to serve, acknowledging that his emergence from that 1987 event with a new lease on life was providential. This is the context for understanding his rare public display of emotions,” Coloma said.

Aquino’s emotional intelligence

Coloma took exception to observations that the President showed his emotional, vulnerable side in an attempt to win public sympathy amid impeachment complaints over the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) and the PH-US Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA), and his lowest-ever approval ratings.

He also said that Aquino’s display of emotion is not a show of “weakness” and briefly explained the concept of emotional intelligence (EI).

“There is now a widely-accepted concept of emotional intelligence (EI).  According to Salovey and Meyer, EI ‘includes the abilities to accurately perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth,’” Coloma said.

The only time the public witnessed an emotional Aquino was when his mother, president Corazon C. Aquino, passed away in 2009. 

Since he assumed the presidency, Aquino had been criticized for having little or no EI. In the aftermath of the botched Quirino hostage crisis in August 2010, where 8 Hong Kong tourists were killed, angry Hong Kong residents lambasted Aquino for even “grinning” while fielding questions at an impromptu news briefing just hours after the tragedy. –

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