SONA guests told: It’s not a party, dress simply

Mara Cepeda
SONA guests told: It’s not a party, dress simply
It's a red carpet affair, but expect more modest outfits at President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address

The “Oscars of Philippine politics” no more? 

The public can expect guests attending President Rodrigo Duterte’s first State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July to come in simple outfits.

Davao del Norte First District Representative Pantaleon “Bebot” Alvarez, the presumptive Speaker of the House, urged his fellow lawmakers to dress simply for the annual event that has, in years, somehow evolved into a fashion show.

Tama ‘yan. Simple business attire lang, kasi hindi naman party ‘yung pupuntahan,” Alvarez told Rappler in a text message. (That’s right. They should wear just simple business attire because they are not going to a party.) 

Mayroon pa rin red carpet,” he said. (They will still walk on a red carpet.)

AKO Bicol Representative Rodel Batocabe said this instruction is being circulated among legislators.

“The [incoming] Speaker informed us that we should come simple and wear business attire, meaning clothes that we use in going to work every day,” said Batocabe. 

“For the men, barong will do. For the women, it could be a short Filipiniana. They can even wear slacks,” he added.

House rules require congressmen and congresswomen to wear Filipiniana during the SONA. Guests may opt to do the same or wear business attire instead.  

Designers said that the SONAs in recent years have become giant fashion events in politics. Guests often dress in their best, with several showing off designs by prominent Filipino designers. (IN PHOTOS: SONA 2015 fashion

Duterte, however, is known to dress more casually than his predecessors. He paired his Mindanao silk barong with khaki pants during his inauguration day. 

It seems change is also coming to the Batasang Pambansa red carpet. –

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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.