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ANALYSIS OF LATEST SONAS:

PRESIDENT CORAZON AQUINO VS. PRESIDENT GLORIA ARROYO

A Research Paper

Presented to

Mrs. Rosemarie G. Pastores

St. John Berchmans High School

In Partial Fulfillment

Of the Requirement for English IV

By Gheeric Rose Salibio

December 19, 2009


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I. Introduction

Last July 27, 2009 many people once again stayed in front of their televisions and besides

their radios, just to see and hear what Madam President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo will say in her

9th SONA or State of the Nation Address. The teachers of St. John Berchmans High School even

aired her SONA in the school campus in the afternoon; they even let the students go home early.

The reason why these people are listening to the President’s SONA because they want to

know the status of the country and what are the things she did that benefits the countrymen but

mostly all of the viewers wanted to know if she’s going to do the same thing as former President

Corazon Aquino did, saying that she will go down from her presidency as her term ended. After

her SONA, many are dismayed because they were left hanging by President Gloria Macapagal

Arroyo, because she didn’t directly answered the question being thrown towards her regarding

the succession of the position of the Presidency.

The researcher adds these facts in the introduction because this research paper will talk

about the SONA as a literary work, meaning it could be an art. This research paper will tackle on

the speeches given and grammar proficiency of the two women-presidents, President Gloria

Macapagal Arroyo and former president, President Corazon Aquino.

A. Significance of the Study

This study was conducted to verify if speeches are considered as a literary work and to

validate if it is really an art. This is also conducted to compare the styles of the two presidents,

President Corazon “Cory” Aquino and President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, in writing their

speeches in their last SONA, and how they prepare their speeches. The researcher also aims to
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see the components in making a good speech that is worth listening and will move the audience.

This paper also aims to verify if the SONAs are considered to be Rhetorical.

B. Statement of the Problems

This paper aims to answer the following questions:

a.) What are the different styles of structures of the speeches of the two

presidents in their SONAs?

b.) Who has more impact to her audience?

c.) What are the preparations being done to make a speech on SONA?

d.) Are SONAs considered as literary work?

e.) Are SONAs considered to be rhetoric?

C. Definition of Terms

1. Anecdote - It is a short amusing account of incident.

2. Cartography – it is the skill or practice of making maps and charts.

3. Communication - It is a means to impart one’s thought or solicit the other’s idea which

may eventually lead to an exchange of opinions or a discussion of certain issues.

4. Conviction – A firmly held belief or opinion.

5. Discourse – It simply means conversation.

6. Endeavor - It is an effort to do something.

7. Fictional - It is an invented story or explanation.

8. Medium - It is an intervening substance or agency for transmitting or producing an

effect.

9. Pander - It is to indulge (a person or his desire).

10. Pussyfoot – it is to move about stealthily or to avoid committing oneself.


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11. Rage – It is an intense fury or anger.

12. Rhetoric - It is one of the arts of using language as a means to persuade. It calls for one’s

sensibility to see the relationship of a word to the entire paragraph. The author or writer

selects appropriate words to make the speech more effective and to move audiences to

action with arguments or the importance of adequate vocabulary is felt.

13. Scrutinizes – It is to examine carefully or in minute detail.

14. Speech - This refers to the piece or material the speaker is going to share. This tells about

the content, the idea, the message the writer wants to convey.

15. SONA or State of the Nation Address - It is an annual event in the Republic of the

Philippines in which the President of the Philippines states or report on the status of the

nation in the field of economy, government and other aspects that involve the state and its

people. This is a duty of the President as stated in Article VII, Section 23 of the 1987

Constitution.

II. Body

Speaking is one of natural or basic human process, knowingly and unknowingly, when

somebody talks he shares his ideas, his attitudes, and he reveals himself. It is a process because it

needs gradual and long period of time to improve the way of one’s speaking. Example, when a

person is still a baby, the way of his communication is through crying or simple words, but as he

grows up he learns new things like new words that he adds up to his vocabulary that makes his

communication became higher in level and more complex.


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Speaking is a part of communication in which considered to be verbal, because the idea of

the speaker is realized through talking which is opposite to non-verbal because the idea was not

spoken out by somebody but only realized through signs or body language.

In communication, a medium is needed to have the message to be properly conveyed or

received and that refers to the speaker, and it is up to him to catch the attention of the audience

and listen to the speech.

Speech is the material that tells about the content, the idea, and the message the writer, or

the speaker, wants to inject in the audience and it is commonly used in public speaking. But

when does speeches get involve to public speaking? According to Arsenia Tan, public speaking

is a direct communication with an audience involving a display of oratory and eloquence.

One of the known public-speaker are the presidents because they speak or have their

speeches to convince the audience or the people that they are worthy of the position and that they

have done many things. In fact the president should state his / her actions and proclamations

publicly and known by the people, that is why media networks commonly televised the

president’s public and private life.

As a public-speaker, the president always create a speech in every occasion he / she attended

to, either for public service or he / she is just invited as a guest speaker, and one of the speeches

being done by the president are the State of the Nation Address or SONA.

In the SONA the president of the Philippines states everything about the country’s status

about the economy and other aspects concerning the people of the Philippines. The president can

also add anything he / she wanted to, like President Corazon Aquino, in her fifth SONA she

started with a small anecdote concerning her husband, Senator Ninoy Aquino, and his sufferings

during March 1973, six months after the proclamation of Martial Law. She also wrote in her
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SONA a poem made by Ninoy about the anguish of the people because they were blinded by the

fear implemented by the harsh laws of President Marcos.

SONA seems to be a long and boring speech according to the students; they don’t even

watch it in television unless the teacher said it because there’s an activity concerning it. Even

some adults grown tired of listening to it because they can’t understand a thing the speaker is

saying due to the way the speaker speaks. The speaker uses vernacular words that are foreign to

the other Filipinos and the accent is not familiar. The other reason is that they are grown tired of

the lying and fictional statements, also the empty promises, of the presidents because the people

already see the truth but they still deny the facts. The researcher said that because, while

searching the full transcript of the last SONAs of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and

President Corazon Aquino, she came to stumble upon different reactions about their SONAs,

some are harsh words against them but some are saying that the reason why the Philippines is not

still improving because there are many people that wants “good-life” in an instant and stops

working for their selves and just waits for some miracle to happen. In this case, it is really

needed for the speaker to have the following elements to make the delivery of their speech more

successful, because if the delivery of the speaker is good, the listeners will be moved by the

speech, if not, then this will not invite the listeners to move and picture the image, the speaker

wants to convey. The deliverance is dependent to the voice of the speaker because it helps to

project the emotion of the speaker through the volume, pitch and tone of his voice. Postures are

also one factor to make the deliverance successful because it shows that he has conviction to the

things he said, and to ensure the audience that he is serious in what he is saying. The gestures are

used to best illustrate what the message is because it emphasizes an idea, reinforce a verbal

accusation or to identify a thing. Facial expression is also used in delivering the speech because
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it clarify the meaning, call and sustain attention; it creates empathy, generate motivation and

solicit support from the audience.

Under these things the most important in the public-speaking is the speech. But how did

these two presidents prepare their SONAs? The two presidents prepared their SONAs by

studying and scrutinizing the facts and reports given to them by the different sectors of the

government and include them in their speeches. They study it detail by detail, that is why it is

done for days or weeks. Another problem being tackled in preparing the speech is choosing the

right words because they will be in the television, and people all around the nations will be

watching and it is really hard to commit mistakes because critics will have something to throw

against you, and the public image will be put in jeopardy because other nations might think that

if the president, who is very prestige, commits mistakes what else do you expect to the people

under his constitution, then they might start degrading the people here in the Philippines.

Besides from the factual reports, they also add something in their speeches like poems or

anecdotes to commemorate someone or somebody, like the style of President Cory that is proven

by her last SONA. President Gloria, on the other hand, being always criticize by many because

of the corruptions of her administration, also attacked these critics through her SONA, by

proving them wrong in judging her. On her 2009 SONA, she slapped there in their face all the

achievements of her administration through the year; she even challenged them not to be

pussyfoot, to stop pandering and to stop their bad-mouthing, even in public, to show their rage to

the president, instead they must see their faults before they misjudged others. Here, President

Gloria seems to be strong, it shows the conviction and her toughness that is why many pictured it

clearly. Now, the reader can see how the voice, the gestures, and the posture of the speaker affect

the people. The other thing the reader might notice in President Gloria’s SONAs is the boasting
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of the achievements and successes of her administration and even tells the financial status of any

sectors in her administration, and commonly she is saying that it is in good terms, she also states

the money to reassure the people that what she’s saying is true.

A speech is not effective if there are no listeners. Just as Robert Louis Stevenson said “all

speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer” and

one of the questions of the researcher is that, which of these two presidents has more impact to

their audience? During the last SONA of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, you will notice

that in the end of every paragraph, senators and other people around the president claps their

hands, but no one knows if they’re clapping because they are moved in her SONA or they’re

only doing that because they want to get a bonus from the president besides there are more

people in the congress who is in favor with the president but this doesn’t mean that she has more

impact with the audience than President Cory because there are still people outside the hall and

SONAs are televised so there are still audience sitting in their home.

In the present, many still remember the Martial Law and how the family of President Cory

and the people during those times suffered. Many can also remember a strong woman and has

full of courage that she finds the will to put Marcos’ regime down, even in her mourning because

of her husband’s dead that is why many felt sad when she declared in her SONA that she will go

down from the presidency. In her last SONA, you can see sympathy and humility run through it,

and people can relate because they have experienced what she have experienced. This is the

reason why there is still a greater impact in the Filipinos that until today people still remembers

the times where they were released from the clutches of the Martial Law. The other proof that

President Cory touched the lives of the people and put an impact to it, through her speeches,

aside from the fact that she is a good president, is that when she got sick many offered her a
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prayer to let her feel better and helped her ease the pain she is suffering from her cancer, and

while the researcher came to see her SONA in the internet, she read comments that isn’t against

her, unlike President Gloria, that many of the comments are show of their hatred towards the

corruption.

Due to the nature of the SONAs, that it argues and the styles of the president to affect the

people, it is often describe as rhetorical.

Rhetoric is an art using language which means to persuade, and one of the three ancient art

of discourse alongside with grammar and logic (dialect). Rhetoric is commonly used in wide

variety of domains and these are natural and social sciences, fine art, religion, journalism, fiction,

history, cartography, and architecture, along with the more traditional domains of politics and the

law, due to its nature and that is to persuade and concern in human discourse. According to

Aristotle, there are three steps or offices of Rhetoric – invention, arrangement and styles and

these are three different types of rhetorical proof: 1.) Ethos: how the character and credibility of

a speaker can influence an audience to consider him/her to be believable. Today, this is still an

effective means of persuading an audience. 2.) Pathos: the use of emotional appeals to alter the

audience's judgment. This can be done through metaphor, amplification, storytelling, or

presenting the topic in a way that evokes strong emotions in the audience. Come to think of it

this is how President Cory delivered her last SONA. 3.) Logos: the use of reasoning, either

inductive or deductive, to construct an argument. Inductive reasoning uses examples (historical,

mythical, or hypothetical) to draw conclusions and Deductive reasoning uses generally accepted

propositions to derive specific conclusions. Logos appeals include appeals to statistics, math,

logic, and objectivity. Example of it is when President Gloria states in her ninth SONA that the

government increased indigenous energy from 48% to 58%, thus saving dollars and oil
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consumption. Aristotle also identifies three different types or genres of civic rhetoric: Forensic,

also known as judicial, was concerned with determining truth or falsity of events that took place

in the past and issues of guilt. Deliberative also known as political, was concerned with

determining whether or not particular actions should or should not be taken in the future and

epideictic, also known as ceremonial, was concerned with praise and blame, values, right and

wrong, demonstrating beauty and skill in the present. That means SONAs are not rhetoric,

because it doesn’t persuade. Rhetoric in the politics is only used when a certain politician wants

to draft a certain law, and in order to make it legal, long process of deliberating is done by the

executive, legislative and judiciary. Everyone will ask what is the significance of this action,

why it should be implemented, and what is its importance in the country, and it will be a

seemingly endless debate between the sectors, and in order for that draft to be implemented as a

law, that politician will do everything to persuade his colleagues and vote for that law. Rhetoric

is used to improve one’s competence in communication by choosing the correct choice of words

and its proper combination to other words, in fact this is only used to bring clearer meaning a

writer / speaker has to use effective ways in order to bring out the intended message or idea.

There are three ways to best explain the material or the prepared speech. One is by using

examples. Oftentimes sets of words or phrases are given to better explain the idea. Second is

through definition of words. The meaning is best illustrated by defining the terms. Lastly,

through Comparison or Contrast, here ideas are presented in such manner that the similarity or

the difference in degree is clearly presented.

All in all Rhetoric is only used in the SONAs, or any speech in that matter, to project more

effectively the image that the president wants to convey.


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III. Conclusion

After studying the concept and structure of the speeches of the two-women-president, the

researcher therefore conclude that SONA is a literary work because it is not merely reporting or

telling the audience what needs to be said according to the computed percentage of the

decreasing and increasing of the problems of the nation, but these two presidents also take their

chances to add beauty to these speeches by adding some of their way of expressing their selves

as well, like President Cory, she always added in her SONA something about her husband like

his poem or anecdote, that makes people move sympathetically towards her. On the other hand

President Gloria’s way of expressing herself is through using Vernacular words that makes the

audience understand more because this is a native language. Because of that, President Corazon

Aquino has more impact to the audience because they can picture what she is saying and feel the

message of the speech being delivered, and until now, people still remember her humility and

simplicity that is pictured through her SONAs.

SONA is not “just a speech” because it takes days or weeks to finish it, and a bulk of papers

is being thrown in the trash can. The president scrutinizes and study the reports given to him and

put it all in one speech, which is not easy because he will choose first the best report to add in his

speech. It is up to the president if he will add something not related to the reports but related to

the message he wants to convey, and make his speech more interesting because if it is a full

report, people will not understand because it is boring due to the confusing statements that

common people cannot understand.

The researcher also proven that SONAs are not considered to be rhetoric, because the main

point of SONA is to inform the people about the state of the nation, and it is not to persuade.
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People only mistook SONA as rhetoric because the styles being implemented to make the SONA

are the same as the rhetoric. Like how the character and credibility of a speaker can influence an

audience to consider him/her to be believable. Example is the president, many believes her

SONA because he is the most powerful due to her position, which is the highest position in a

country. Some speaker also uses emotional appeals to alter the audience's judgment and evokes

strong emotions in the audience like President Cory’s last SONA. Another similarity between the

SONA and the Rhetoric is the of use reasoning, either inductive or deductive, to construct an

argument. Example of it is when President Gloria states in her ninth SONA that the government

increased indigenous energy from 48% to 58%, thus saving dollars and oil consumption. Another

reason why they are mistakenly the same is that one of the domains where the rhetoric is

discussed is the politics, wherein rhetoric is helpful to implement or making the law of the nation

better.

In the end SONA is still a speech that opens the eyes of the countrymen of what is truly

happening in the country even though sometimes, some of the presidents tends to lie because of

personal agendas, the readers can’t still deny the fact that somewhere in that vast lie, lies

something truthful. It now depends on the people living in the country what to believe, the lies or

the truths, the only thing that matters now is that what the people can do and will do to make the

Philippines be on top.
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