Last year Mrs. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo issued what amounted to an in-your-face, say-what-you-will, I-dare-you-to contradict-me challenge in response to what were then already record lows in her approval ratings. Mrs. Arroyo declared that she would rather be right than popular — as if one were possible only without the other, and which presumes that what’s popular is necessarily wrong.
The occasion was that yearly ritual called the State of the Nation Address. Like Oscar awards night in Hollywood, the SONA has its own red carpet moments, when our presumptive betters alight from their limousines into the glare of TV lights and public attention. In the Batasan hall itself, Mrs. Arroyo usually delivers her SONA in a sea of congressional matrons, cabinet ladies, and congresswomen showing off their latest P200,000 gowns and most recent purchases from the ritzy jewelry shops of Manila, Sydney, New York, London, Rome and Paris.