Memorable quotes from past SONAs

Rambo Talabong
Memorable quotes from past SONAs
(UPDATED) Rappler compiles some memorable lines from the state of the nation addresses of the country's presidents

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – No other document perhaps encapsulates a president’s legacy than the State of the Nation Addresses (SONA).

Aside from being an opportunity to present facts and figures to the citizenry, it also serves as an avenue for presidents to tell the story of the nation through their eyes.

From a nation seeking “independence” to a nation aiming for the “straight path”, Rappler compiled some memorable lines from the State of the Nation Addresses of the country’s presidents.

Manuel Quezon

Quezon was the first to deliver the address because he was the first to be mandated to do so under the Jones Act. The Malolos Congress, on the other hand, did not require it. (READ: SONA trivia)

1935 SONA in the Legislative Building

“The refusal to grant us immediate and complete independence has been due, in large measure, to our present inability to cope with a general revolt or to offer any kind of resistance to an invading force…What, I ask, would be the use of seeing our country free one day, with its own flag standing alone and flying against the sky, only to see ourselves the subjects of another power the following day, with its flag the sovereign in and of our country?

…National freedom now stands before us as a shining light – the freedom that for many years gleamed only a fitful candle in the distant dark. We shall make ourselves ready to grasp the torch, so that no predatory force may ever strike it from our hands!”

1937 SONA in the Legislative Building

“If it is our resolve to be an independent nation, this is the time, for every year lost is to our evident disadvantage.

Our duty –the duty of the Executive and Legislative branches of the government- is plain. Under the Independence Act and the Constitution, the Government of the Commonwealth has been established to prepare the country for complete independence. Our people alone, by their own choice and direction, can command us to take a different course.”

1940 SONA in the Legislative Building

“We hope for the best. We shall promote friendly relations with other nations and be mindful of their rights. We shall endeavor to protect and defend our national integrity and independence to the limit of our means… We cannot falter in the at­tainment of our long-cherished Ideal. We must secure a place, however modest, in the concert of free nations.”

Sergio Osmeña

1945 SONA at Lepanto Street, Manila

“There are many serious problems ahead of us. But we who have so long and ardently clamored for self-government must prove to the world that we are equal to the most exacting tasks of public administration…

… Only in unity can there be strength. To the experienced, I turn for advice. From the youth of the land, I ask for its enthusiasm and energies. My faith in our people is unbounded. Over the ruins of our cities and barrios we shall build anew. In this most crucial hour of our history, I look forward to our destiny unafraid, confident that, God willing, ours will be a happy, progressive and prosperous land.”

Manuel Roxas

During his leadership, Roxas addressed the Philippines as a Commonwealth (in his 1946 SONA) then later as the Third Republic (in his 1947 SONA)

1946 SONA at Lepanto Street, Manila

“We are faced first of all by the fact that our Government is without financial means to support even its basic functions, not to speak of the great projects in rehabilitation and economic development, which we contemplate and which are, indeed, vital to our continued existence…We must see in the ruins around us the vision of a great national capital rising in resplendent beauty from the ashes and rubble of destruction.”

1947 SONA at Lepanto Street, Manila

“Six months ago we became a Republic. That development was the most transcendental of our history. You have assembled in the second regular session of the First Congress of the Republic. I can report today with deep satisfaction that this nation has ceased to retreat in disorder and confusion; it is moving courageously and confidently forward on the road to national health. We are well into a period of progress…The future is ours..”

Elpidio Quirino

In his 1950 SONA, Quirino became the only Philippine president to deliver his SONA via broadcast. He was recovering at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in the United States.

1949 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“I call on every man and child of this nation to share in the privilege of the great tasks before us. I appeal for the utmost courage, wisdom, vision and dedication in taking up the challenge of our common objectives.

When I assumed office, my only pledge was what I recited in my oath. I meant every word of it. My policy has been simple. I have had only two main immediate objectives: the restoration of peace and order, and the strengthening of the morale of the people and their faith and confidence in the government.”

1952 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“This, gentlemen of the Congress, is what I understand by national unity. Not the expedient unity of the polls, but that unity which brings to us the recognition of common problems, common tasks, common honor, and the need for common struggle. It is unity to face and foil the dangers which continually arise to harass us as a people.”

Ramon Magsaysay

1954 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“I must remind you of an all-important fact: that what we have set out to do can be realized only through concerted action and unity. More than ever, we must think, plan, and work as one, with only one supreme goal in mind – the promotion of the welfare and happiness of our people.”

1955 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“I am aware of our people’s desire to see quick results in punishing the guilty and ridding the Government of those who would pull it down by their greed and dishonesty. We are pledged to satisfy that desire by every legitimate means…Respect for basic human rights must continue to be one of our prime concerns. We must live up to our pledge to act as guardians of the dignity and worth of the individual.”

Carlos Garcia

1959 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“…[The] faith of this nation is deep and abiding; the spirit of this nation is mighty; the determination of this nation is invincible. On this rock of faith, and with this spirit and this determination, let us build the House of the Nation so that it may be said: ‘And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, but it did not fall because it was founded on rock.’”

1960 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“Nothing will satisfy our people less than a total war against corruption.”

1961 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“The Filipino youth fired with ardent patriotism and raring to do something for their beloved fatherland should be rallied and organized for civic service…They can wield a tremendous influence for good in moral regeneration and in many other undertakings requiring mass action.”

Diosdado Macapagal

1962 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“The Government takes the initiative and provides the inducements necessary in terms of suitable policies and measures needed to foster economic growth and stability.

The people, on the other hand, must realize that economic development involves, particularly during transitory stages, sacrifices of magnitude and the subordination of personal ambition and interest to the general welfare.

I say then with candor and emphasis that our people must be ready to undergo sacrifices.”

1963 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“In truth, our seeming impatience over fruitless wrangling is but a reflection of the impatience of our people to be given the chance to enjoy the good life to which they are entitled. Legal issues must be debated. But while we debate, the people feel the pangs of hunger and demand that their problems be solved before it is too late…

On our part, we ask for the continued faith and confidence of the people in our labors and assure them that ail that we do is for their sake and for their well-being. It is not easy to lift our masses out of poverty but we will do what can humanly be done within the period of our mandate to succeed.”

1965 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“The Filipino way of life consists of three minimum elements, namely, the system of freedom, the love for peace and the sustenance of the rule of law. As long as these essential ingredients of Filipinism are safeguarded, the country, whatever its problems, is safe and the future of our posterity is secure.

As we perform our duty of rendering an account of our trust to our people, we are gratified that we have strengthened these fundamental tenets of our national life and destiny.”

Ferdinand Marcos

1967 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“The state of the nation must be seen against this vista of past experience and contemporary objectives. The challenge of greatness is in continuing the national epic on a new stage and to a new climax – the successful development of our country within the framework of democratic institutions. This is asserted to be impossible. But it is our duty and our historic privilege to attempt the impossible. This entails a thousand difficult tasks. But wisdom consists in attending to the problems at hand.”

1968 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“ ..May our people achieve their own development and write their own story of nation-building.

From a race despondent, weak, vacillating, resigned, and helpless, groping for salvation, to a nation confident, bold, and resolute, seeking not survival alone but progress. From a nation of the ningas cogon to a nation of achievers.

Let this be our epic of nation-building.”

1969 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“ This spiritual and intellectual transformation is the New Filipinism. The New Filipinism represents the discipline and the ethic of independence…The New Filipinism is a call for innovation…The New Filipinism is the courage to open up new worlds of opportunity and fulfillment for this and future generations.

The New Filipinism is, ultimately, a call to greatness.”

1970 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“Discipline will move us, surely and steadily, into the future. It is the fountain from which purposefulness and unity spring.”

1971 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“We, who lead this nation, must now recognize the roots of our disappointments. We are a developing nation in a world divided between rich and poor. And all our dreams and sacrifices have been mocked by a system which permits the few to exercise irresponsible power over the many.

If this observation of our society be true – and I believe it is true – we can no longer achieve so much merely to survive. This brutal pattern in which time and circumstance make a mockery of our heroic efforts must now be broken. For survival is no longer enough for our people. They want – and they deserve – more.”

1972 SONA in the Legislative Building, Manila

“We must make democracy work for our people – in terms of equality and fraternity, but also a wider sharing of opportunities, a more energetic commit­ment to justice, with genuine and unmistakable priorities for the welfare and well-being of the very poor.”

1973 SONA – also known as Report to the Nation after One Year of Martial Law – at the Malacañang Palace

“We have dared to make new beginnings – because the old paths have proved to be dead ends. We have exchanged the poor certainty of the status quo for the dynamism of a new society.

Now we must move from where we are – to new heights.”

1978 SONA – titled, ‘A Bold Experiment’ – at the Batasang Pambansa

“The history of our nation indelibly etches for us the crucial tie between the struggle for national survival and stability and the challenge to create an effective and representative lawmaking body.

At crucial points in our history, when we had achieved at long last a strong sense of national cohesion and vitality, we have had to face the test of erecting a legislature that would serve the test of crisis and adversity.

Time and time again we faced this test. Today, we face it again.”

Corazon Aquino

1987 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“The source of the new vigor and energy in the land is the sense of pride and renewed self-confidence of our people; pride in their unmatched political achievements. And flow­ing from that pride, the renewed confidence that we can improve things given the will and the courage to do what is right.

That pride and that confidence rest, however, on their continuing faith in the one solid and undeniable achievement of the great moral exertion of our people: the establishment of a democratic government under an honest and dedicated leadership.”

1990 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“And always, our people would rise from the rubble. We would shake off the dust and wipe the tears. And while we mourn our losses, our hope for the coming of a new day never dies.

Earthquakes can destroy the strongest man-made structures; but they can never shatter the faith of the Filipino.”

1991 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“From Ninoy’s burnt-out candle, and thousands like it in cells throughout the garrison state, we gathered the melted wax and made more candles. To burn – not as long in such loneliness – but much more brightly all together, as to banish the darkness, and light us to a new day.”

Fidel Ramos

1992 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“You and I can act separately – and achieve very very little. Or you and I can act together – and achieve much, much more. The time is short and our responsibility is clear.”

1994 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“Today we are struggling to catch up with our vigorous neighbors in economic and technological growth. But, perhaps, we are more than abreast of them in one key component of modernization. We Filipinos have already won our democratic revolution. History has made our culture of freedom proof against tyranny. Of course, freedom by itself does not bring about progress. But it provides the most enduring foundation stone for the good society we are trying to build – for ourselves and for those who will come after us.”

1996 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“Today our country calls us, not to die but to live for it. The patriotism borne of revolution and war must give way to citizenship for peace and development, which means personal commitment, social obligation, civic responsibility. If each of us pulled his or her weight, then we as a nation can be bound together not only by the common memory of our past sufferings but by the progress we can enjoy together.”

Joseph Estrada

1998 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“I have neither pretensions nor further ambition, only the sincere desire to serve, to help the least of our people.”

1999 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“Let all doubts be erased. Democracy, freedom, and the Constitution are alive and well in this country…According to the surveys, millions of Filipinos are saying I am right. Between Lincoln’s ten angels and the millions of my own countrymen, I choose to believe my countrymen.”

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

2001 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“For I know that the greatest obstacle we as a nation must overcome is inside us. The enemy to beat is ourselves: when we spread division rather than unity; when we put ourselves above country and profit above fairness; when we think the worst of those with whom we should be working for the common good, and when we wallow in despair rather than rise to achievement–indeed, when we make politics replace patriotism in our country’s hour of need.”

2002 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“For a country to be as good as it can get, many of the right decisions are tough decisions. I have made some of the toughest. And I will make even more tough decisions in the year to come…The tough decisions are the right decisions, because they serve the people, and are the source of our hope for the future.”

2003 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Nasa giyera tayo. giyera laban sa terorismo. giyera laban sa katiwalian. giyera laban sa kasakitan. giyera laban sa droga. giyera laban sa destabilisasyon. Sa ating sama-samang pakikipaglaban at pagtutulungan, tayo ay mangingibabaw at magwawagi.” (We are at war. War against terrorism. War against corruption. War against pain. War against drugs. War against destabilization. In our united stand and cooperation, we will overcome and triumph.)

2007 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“I stand in the way of no one’s ambition. I only ask that no one stand in the way of the people’s well-being and the nation’s progress.”

2009 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“I did not become President to be popular. To work, to lead, to protect and preserve our country, our people, that is why I became President.”

Benigno Aquino III

Aquino is the first Philippine President to deliver his SONA entirely in Filipino. (READ: Aquino’s firsts)

2010 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Iba na talaga ang situwasyon. Puwede na muling mangarap. Tayo nang tumungo sa katuparan ng ating mga pinangarap.” (The circumstances are different. We can dream again. Let us go to the realization of our dreams.)

2011 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Tama pong may agam-agam din ako kung minsan. Pero wala po akong alinlangang tumahak sa tuwid na daan: Buo ang loob ko dahil alam kong nasa likod ko po kayo.” (I also have my doubts sometimes. But I have no doubts in taking the straight path: I am confident because I know that you are behind me.)

2012 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Humaharap po ako sa inyo bilang mukha ng isang gobyernong kayo ang boss at kayo pa rin ang lakas. Inuulat ko lamang ang mga pagbabagong ginawa ninyong posible.” (I am standing in front of you as the face of a government with you as the boss and source of strength. I am merely recounting the things you made possible.)

2014 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Sa bawa’t Pilipinong nagtitiwala sa kapangyarihan ng maliliit na anyo ng kabutihan: Kayo nga po ang gumawa ng pagbabago. SONA po ninyo ito.” (For every Filipino who believes in the strength of small acts of kindness: You made this transformation possible. This is your SONA.)

2015 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

Simula pa lang ito. Nasa unang yugto pa lang tayo ng dakilang kuwento ng sambayanang Pilipino. Sa gabay ng Panginoong Maykapal, at sa patuloy nating pagtahak sa Daang Matuwid, lalo pang tatayog ang mga pangarap na maaabot natin. Lalo pang lalawak ang kaunlarang tinatamasa natin. Nasasainyo pong mga kamay ang direksiyon natin.” (This is only the beginning. [Applause] We are only in the first chapter of the great story of the Filipino people. Guided by the Almighty, as we continue to tread the Straight Path, we will fulfill even greater aspirations. We will open the doors to even greater progress. Our direction is in your hands.)

Rodrigo Duterte

2016 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“We are imbued with resiliency that has been tested and proven. More difficult times As in the past. We have a bond to act together. We have to help each other. For then and only then can we truly prevail. And the Filipino, disciplined, informed, involved, shall rise from the rubbles of sorrow and pain. So that all the mirrors in the world will reflect the face of a passion that has changed this land.”

2017 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“Believe me, it is easier to build from scratch than to dismantle the rotten and rebuild upon its rubbles. Nevertheless, let us work together and lay a new foundation upon which a better Philippines can be reconstructed. Help me build a better tomorrow.”

2018 SONA at the Batasang Pambansa

“You worry about the present; I am concerned (about) both the present and the future. I worry about the future because I know what crimes can do to the youth of this country. If not stopped, crimes can make human cesspools of succeeding generations. I will not allow it to happen. Not during my term.”



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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.