LOOK: Batasan prepares for SONA 2016

MANILA, Philippines – The Batasang Pambansa, the headquarters of the House of Representatives, is gearing up for President Rodrigo Duterte's first State of the Nation Address (SONA).

Staff members began cleaning the plenary hall on Monday, July 18, a week before Duterte delivers his speech in front of the nation.

NOTHING TO BE MISSED. A maintenance staff member says they will be cleaning all of the chairs inside the plenary hall, even the ones found at the bleachers area. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

NOTHING TO BE MISSED. A maintenance staff member says they will be cleaning all of the chairs inside the plenary hall, even the ones found at the bleachers area.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

House Secretary General Marilyn Barua Yap, head of the task force in charge of the SONA preparations, said the plenary hall has a maximum seating capacity of 1,650.

REARRANGING. A man rearranges the chairs and tables usually used by lawmakers during the cleaning preparations at the Batasang Pambansa. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

REARRANGING. A man rearranges the chairs and tables usually used by lawmakers during the cleaning preparations at the Batasang Pambansa.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

The SONA, where Duterte will tell Filipinos about the state of the country and his plans for the year ahead, is a red carpet affair. 

FOR THE ENTRANCE. The red carpet in front of the plenary hall is being vacuumed by a maintenance staff member. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

FOR THE ENTRANCE. The red carpet in front of the plenary hall is being vacuumed by a maintenance staff member.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

Past SONAs have been dubbed as the "Oscars of Philippine politics" because guests often dress in their best, showing off creations by prominent Filipino designers.

Presumptive House Speaker Pantaleon "Bebot" Alvarez, however, prefers that guests dress simply this year.  

DIREK MENDOZA. Director Brillante Mendoza discusses his plans for Duterte's SONA. Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

DIREK MENDOZA. Director Brillante Mendoza discusses his plans for Duterte's SONA.

Photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

On Monday, internationally-acclaimed director Brillante Mendoza did an ocular inspection of the Batasang Pambansa. He is directing the President's SONA pro-bono.

He was joined by Palace Communications Office chief Martin Andanar, lawyer Paola Alvarez, daughter of Bebot Alvarez and member of the SONA preparations team, as well as representatives from the Presidential Broadcast Staff Radio-Television Malacañang (PBS-RTVM).

PLANNING THE SONA. Brillante is pictured with Paola Alvarez and Andanar during their meeting. Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

PLANNING THE SONA. Brillante is pictured with Paola Alvarez and Andanar during their meeting.

Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

Mendoza said his role as SONA director is to capture Duterte's message and to show how he connects with the Filipino people.

INITIAL PLANS. Mendoza reveals the tentative positioning of cameramen and Duterte's for the SONA in a meeting at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office of the Batasang Pambansa. Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

INITIAL PLANS. Mendoza reveals the tentative positioning of cameramen and Duterte's for the SONA in a meeting at the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office of the Batasang Pambansa.

Photo by Ace Morandante/PPD

According to Yap, the task force is set to hold its final meeting on Wednesday, July 20, to "fix loose ends" for their preparations at the Batasang Pambansa.

But they expect to have all details for the SONA – from the security measures to the food to be served to the guests – to be finalized by Thursday, July 21. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda writes about politics and women’s rights for Rappler. She covers the House of Representatives and the Office of the Vice President. Got tips? Send her an email at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or shoot her a tweet @maracepeda.

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