Fashion, Protest, and Art: These Lawmakers Continue the Tradition for SONA 2022

Amid a ban on wearing "clothes with political message."

sona 2022
PHOTO BY L: Facebook/Kabataan Partylist; R: Twitter/Gabriela Partylist

( Over the years, some members of the Congress and their guests have treated the State of the Nation Address as an opportunity to dress up in Filipiniana or formal attire and walk the red carpet as if it were the Met Gala. Other lawmakers see it as a chance to make a statement by wearing protest barong and advocacy sashes. But for this year's State of the Nation Address (SONA), happening today, July 25, a certain ruling was issued. A memo issued by House Secretary General Mark Llandro Mendoza on July 19 explicitly stated that "Wearing of clothes with political messages shall not be allowed." And while that was followed, a few found ways to be heard. 

Also read:
"We Live in Difficult Times": Words to Remember From Bongbong Marcos' First SONA
"Baka May Hinahanap na Daga?" Stray Cat Walks the SONA 2022 Red Carpet


These lawmakers' OOTDs during SONA 2022 made a point:

ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro

ACT Teachers Partylist Representative France Castro, according to a report by the Inquirer, had sent a letter to Mendoza, urging him to withdraw the said restriction. Makabayan bloc, which ACT Teachers is part of, always had the tradition of donning protest wear on the day of the SONA.

She said that "no such rule has ever been imposed in either [chamber] in recent history, given its intrusion into the personal freedom of dress [...] and, more importantly, the violation of the civil and political rights of the people on whose behalf the House member sits [in] the joint session." Lawmakers in the past, according to her, had "worn their advocacies to the SONA," whether it's indigenous clothing, the hijab, or ribbons.

A post on social media on July 23 revealed that Castro is set to wear a handsewn and handpainted shawl by an ACT Volunteer Roja. "[She] will wear a black shawl representing the darkness brought by the return of a Marcos in Malacañang and the proliferation of disinformation and historical distortion. Painted on the shawl is a teacher holding a handsewn brooch of a torch representing the role of teachers to deliver truth and hope," the post said.

watch now

Kabataan Partylist Representative Raoul Manuel

Kabataan Partylist Representative Raoul Manuel, likewise, is wearing a "specially prepared outfit." In a post by Kabataan Partylist, it was explained that "in creating the outfit, the Barong Filipino is turned into a canvas for a mural painting depicting the continuous flow of energy, hope, struggle and optimism of youth in forwarding education, livelihood, health, and human rights among other issues portrayed."

Elements include clasped hands in front of the barong "to symbolize a genuine national unity for justice (the left hand) and social progress (the right hand)." This extends all the way to the back, where the two hands converge into an illustration of the phoenix, which symbolizes the "never-ending rebirth of generational struggle towards genuine social change." The piece was made by Kabataan Partylist National Office member Albert Raqueño.


Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas

Gabriela Representative Arlene Brosas is wearing a skirt handpainted with protest art by Mico Selo. It features an illustration of Filipina revolutionary Gabriela Silang surrounded by sketches portraying current national issues: oil price hikes, inflation, and other economic struggles.

Protest Art in the Streets During SONA 2022

In a Twitter post by Manuel on July 22, he made a comment on Mendoza's instruction.

"This is the first time in recent history that an explicit prohibition is issued. Bawal ang protesta, bawal din ang mensahe sa damit kasi takot na takot sa art? Martial Law yaaarn?", he quipped.

This was, of course, in reference to the Martial Law imposed by the current president's father and late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Apart from signing Proclamation No. 1080, which declared Martial Law, Marcos also issued six general orders and one letter of instruction to implement martial rule.

General Order No. 5, s. 1972, effectively prohibited Filipino citizens "from doing certain acts or undertaking certain activities such as rallies, demonstrations, picketing or strikes in certain vital industries, and other forms of group actions which would cause hysteria or panic among the populace, or would incense the people against their legitimate Government, or would generate sympathy for the radical and lawless elements, or would aggravate the already critical political and social turmoil now prevailing throughout the land."

On Monday morning, the day of SONA 2022, protesters from Southern Luzon gathered as early as 6 a.m. along Elliptical Road before marching towards Philcoa. Bayan, Karapatan, Anakbayan, and Alliance of Health Workers converged at the University of the Philippines Diliman. They all joined protesters on Commonwealth Avenue at 9:30 a.m.


The Quezon City government denied the application of Bayan to hold a rally along Batasan Road, which were previously venues of protest during the first two SONAs of former president Rodrigo Duterte. The LGU, however, later decided to "allow progressive groups to conduct their march and assembly along Commonwealth Avenue (eastbound) up to the corner of Tandang Sora Avenue on Monday, July 25," they said in a statement on Friday.

The President’s supporters, on the other hand, were allowed to hold a gathering and a concert right in front of the Batasang Pambansa along Batasan Road.

Hey, Spotters! Check us out on Viber to join our Community and subscribe to our Chatbot.

Share this story with your friends!

Help us make better!
Take the short survey

Read more stories about

More Videos You Can Watch

Latest Stories

Load More Stories