The Rhetoric of PNoy

Image, Myth, and Rhetorical Citizenship in Philippine Presidential Speeches

by Gene Segarra Navera (Author)
©2018 Textbook X, 178 Pages


Political speeches don’t just mirror what transpires in the world; they have the potential to change people’s minds, move them into action, reinforce existing assumptions, and reshape cultures. They define public participation and are the ‘nexus points’ of disparate discourses, both nationally and globally. Because of their power to sustain the status quo or effect change, speeches warrant public attention and careful study. To examine them is to understand how they are crafted, what elements they possess, and how these elements come together to affect their audience.
This volume analyzes selected speeches delivered by Benigno ‘Noynoy’ Simeon C. Aquino III, President of the Republic of the Philippines from 2010 to 2016. They are speeches that have been used to shape public perception, gain support, and build identification between Aquino’s presidency and his audience.
By mobilizing the concepts of presidential image, myth, metaphors, and rhetorical citizenship, readers are guided through a process of examining the rhetorical trajectory of the Philippine presidency, how a president’s discourse has attempted to shape Philippine socio-political reality, and how the evolving milieu the president has found himself in shapes his discourse. The essays in this volume will hopefully generate a discussion not only on the place of President Benigno Aquino’s rhetoric in Philippine presidential history, but also of how rhetorical practices in an evolving democratic society in Asia can extend and expand theorizations of presidential rhetoric and political communication at large.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: Reading Philippine Presidential Rhetoric: Image, Myth, and Rhetorical Citizenship
  • PNoy and his ascension to the Philippine presidency
  • The rhetoric of post-dictatorship presidencies
  • Image, myth, and rhetorical citizenship as conceptual guides
  • Image, presidential power, and public trust
  • Myth, metaphors, and political speeches
  • Presidential discourse and rhetorical citizenship
  • The rhetoric of PNoy: an overview
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 2: Metaphorizing Good Governance: PNoy’s Daang Matuwid
  • PNoy’s daang matuwid
  • PNoy as Christ and the people as active coparticipants
  • The roadmap to daang matuwid
  • Government’s role in daang matuwid
  • The inaugural address and rhetorical citizenship
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 3: Presidential Talk and “Truth-Telling”
  • Rhetorical functions of truth-telling
  • Untangling the SONA of 2010
  • Setting national standards
  • Surfacing national problems
  • Laying the presidential agenda
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Anti-wang-wang and National Rebirth
  • Subversion, purification, and rebirth
  • Anti-wang-wang as subversion
  • Anti-wang-wang as purification
  • Anti-wang-wang as rebirth/renaissance
  • But what after the rebirth?
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 5: A National Frame that Sounds “More of the Same”
  • Layering the frame
  • “More of the same”
  • Rehearsing the past and the challenge to rhetorical citizenship
  • References
  • Chapter 6: The Presidency as Style
  • The “least exciting” presidential speech
  • Rehearsing the presidency
  • A meditation on values
  • Accounts, excuses, apologies
  • Rearticulating the straight path
  • The necessity for criticism
  • Style and the tradition of Philippine presidential rhetoric
  • References
  • Chapter 7: PNoy and his Assertion of Legitimacy
  • The pork barrel system in the Philippines
  • PNoy’s July 14 national address
  • SONA 2014 and the reframing of “heroic expectations”
  • References
  • Chapter 8: The Limits of Candor: Presidential Oratory in a Time of Crisis
  • Speech during the papal visit
  • Speech following the Mamasapano clash
  • Eulogy for the slain soldiers of Mamasapano
  • The president as fair game
  • References
  • Chapter 9: Still Metaphors: Daang Matuwid and the Enduring Political Myth
  • The Philippine political myth
  • Displacement appeals
  • Multivocal appeals
  • Transcendent appeals
  • Daang matuwid as a reproduction of the myth
  • A self-effacing PNoy and the possibility of subversion?
  • Speech criticism as civic engagement
  • References
  • Chapter 10: Speech Criticism as Rhetorical Citizenship
  • Making sense of the rhetoric of PNoy
  • Enacting citizenship through speech criticism
  • Presidential rhetoric and the rhetorical citizen
  • References
  • List of Selected Speeches by President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III (PNoy)
  • Index
  • Series index

| vii →


The initial ideas for this book spawned from a genuine desire to make sense of contemporary Philippine presidential rhetoric. They were first shared in a couple of my social media accounts in the hope of participating in ongoing conversations on presidential speech and behavior in particular and the national leadership at large. I am indebted then to individuals—friends and friends of friends—who shared words of affirmation or unleashed cutting criticism of my raw ideas on the rhetoric of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III, or PNoy, while I juggled teaching and research at the National University of Singapore. Their congregation of voices that agreed, disagreed, challenged, extended, complicated, praised, and rejected my ideas was instrumental in sharpening my arguments and building a collection of essays that I thought would be better communicated when consolidated in a volume like this.

This book project would not have been possible if not for the guidance and invaluable support of Professor Mary Stuckey, who facilitated the political communication workshop I attended during the 2015 Rhetoric Society of America Summer Institute in the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her sincere desire to help and mentor scholars beyond the United States had been a guiding light throughout the process of writing this book. She has been a very encouraging mentor whom I wish to give much credit for suggesting that I submit a book proposal for the Frontiers in Political Communication Series of ← vii | viii → Peter Lang Publishing. Vital to the completion of this project were the acquisition editors for Media and Communications of Peter Lang Publishing, Mary Savigar and Kathryn Harrison, who had been more than kind to extend their invaluable assistance and to accommodate requests that I had had to make as I managed my teaching duties in Singapore while writing this book. I also wish to extend my gratitude to Peter Lang’s production team especially to Sophie Appel for the cover design and Jennifer Beszley who patiently guided me through the production process.

I am grateful to the National University of Singapore for its support and for the resources it had made available to me even before I decided to push through with this project. This book is not entirely based on my doctoral thesis, but it draws lessons, insights, and inspiration from that earlier work. I thank the members of my doctoral thesis committee—Professors Michelle Maria Lazar, Lionel Wee, and Ismail Talib—who saw potential in my earlier work and who have since encouraged me to publish my work for international readers.

I share the joy of completing this project with my friends and colleagues at the NUS Centre for English Language Communication. Their effusive words of encouragement kept me focused and hopeful even during difficult moments of writing. Fellow scholars and friends from language and rhetoric studies—Ruanni Tupas, Aileen Salonga, Beatriz Lorente, and Maria Luisa Sadorra—had also been unwavering in their support.

My deep gratitude goes to my family in the Philippines who offered me much inspiration as I embarked into the process of writing and rewriting the chapters of this book. My parents, Estrella and Glenn, have especially been my sources of strength and tenacity throughout the completion of this project.

The task of writing critical analyses of speeches by Filipino political rhetors has been ongoing in the Philippine academia for some time and I derive much inspiration from the efforts of Filipino scholars who have contributed significantly to this endeavor. I am most indebted to the late Professor Emeritus Edelwina C. Legaspi of the University of the Philippines, who, as my adviser during my undergraduate and graduate studies in the same university, sparked and sustained my interest in the field of rhetoric and public address. She remains an inspiration to me and I wish to dedicate this modest work to her memory.

Gene Segarra Navera

| ix →


4 Ps Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program

AFP Armed Forces of the Philippines

ASEAN Association of Southeast Asian Nations

BBL Bangsamoro Basic Law

BIFF Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters

BPO Business process outsourcing

CCT Conditional cash transfer

CDF Country-wide Development Fund

CHED Commission on Higher Education

CPP Communist Party of the Philippines

DAP Disbursement Acceleration Program

DOST Department of Science and Technology

DOTC Department of Trade and Communication

DPWH Department of Public Works and Highways

GDP Gross domestic product

GOCC Government-owned and controlled corporation

IMF International Monetary Fund

LGU Local government unit

MILF Moro Islamic Liberation Front ← ix | x →

MNLF Moro National Liberation Front

MRT Metro Rail Transit

MWSS Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System

NAPOCOR National Power Corporation

NCR National Capital Region

NDF National Democratic Front

NFA National Food Authority

NGO Nongovernment organization

NPA New People’s Army

PCIJ Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism

PDAF Priority Development Assistance Fund

PDP Philippine Development Plan

PNCC Philippine National Construction Corporation

PNoy President Noy or President Benigno C. Aquino III

PNP Philippine National Police

PPP Public–private partnership

PRA Philippine Reclamation Authority

SAF Special Action Force

SC Supreme Court

SLDP Support for Local Development Projects

SONA State of the Nation Address

SUC State Universities and Colleges

TESDA Technical Education and Skills Development Authority

WB World Bank

| 1 →

· 1 ·


Image, Myth, and Rhetorical Citizenship


X, 178
ISBN (Hardcover)
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (January)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2018. X, 178 pp.

Biographical notes

Gene Segarra Navera (Author)

Gene Segarra Navera is a lecturer at the National University of Singapore (NUS), where he teaches ideas and exposition modules on Oratory and the Public Mind and Discourse, Citizenship and Society. He holds a PhD in English Language Studies from NUS as well.


Title: The Rhetoric of PNoy
book preview page numper 1
book preview page numper 2
book preview page numper 3
book preview page numper 4
book preview page numper 5
book preview page numper 6
book preview page numper 7
book preview page numper 8
book preview page numper 9
book preview page numper 10
book preview page numper 11
book preview page numper 12
book preview page numper 13
book preview page numper 14
book preview page numper 15
book preview page numper 16
book preview page numper 17
book preview page numper 18
book preview page numper 19
book preview page numper 20
book preview page numper 21
book preview page numper 22
book preview page numper 23
book preview page numper 24
book preview page numper 25
book preview page numper 26
book preview page numper 27
book preview page numper 28
book preview page numper 29
book preview page numper 30
book preview page numper 31
book preview page numper 32
book preview page numper 33
book preview page numper 34
book preview page numper 35
book preview page numper 36
book preview page numper 37
book preview page numper 38
190 pages