Cabaero: ‘Historical trueness’

·3 min read

The term “historical trueness” sounded like a redundancy error but recent efforts to distort history make it an apt description of aspirations for the truth to prevail over malice and falsity.

Senator Nancy Binay posted on Twitter last Friday, August 5, 2022, this message: “Imaginary events can never be history. Historical trueness will always prevail over historical fiction. The path to healing a nation begins at truth-telling.” History is the study of past events as documented in public records, individual accounts, media reports, testimonies, and other documents on what happened. Historical documents record what transpired, so the term “historical trueness” seemed to be a redundancy that should be avoided in speech.

The film “Maid in Malacañang,” according to its synopsis, is about the family of Ferdinand E. Marcos at the time of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution. A snippet showed a character who looked like the late President Corazon “Cory” Aquino, an opposition leader at that time, playing mahjong with the nuns inside their Cebu monastery as the popular revolt in Edsa in Metro Manila erupted.

Senator Binay was one of many who have issued statements criticizing the historical distortion of what transpired that night inside the Carmelites monastery in Mabolo, Cebu City. The reality was that the situation was tense and no one was in the mood to play mahjong to pass the time. There was an atmosphere of uncertainty as people wondered what protesters in Manila faced and if opposition leaders were to be hunted and arrested.

I was a witness to the tense situation the night of February 22, 1986, when the Edsa Revolution erupted. I was at the rally at Fuente Osmeña that afternoon as Aquino and other opposition leaders launched a civil disobedience movement against Marcos’s cronies.

I was a SunStar reporter covering the political opposition. Cebu was known then as “opposition country” where opposition leaders could count on a following and the public’s support. Rumors spread at the Fuente rally site about what was happening in Metro Manila and the call of Jaime Cardinal Sin for people to gather at Edsa.

The Fuente rally was cut short and we saw how Aquino and the rest hurriedly left in separate vehicles. A friend knew where Aquino was going and he drove me to the Quisumbing house. It was off-limits to all, including the media, and I could only watch from afar. Even from my position, I sensed the agitation and I saw the late Antonio Cuenco walk into a glass sliding door. I heard the smack and saw him rub his forehead, then turn around.

I found out later about Cuenco’s crucial role in bringing Aquino to the Carmelites monastery for shelter and to the airport the next day for her flight back to Manila. Cuenco could have nursed his hurt nose and forehead but he worried more about Aquino and the need for her to safely leave Cebu.

No one was in a mahjong-playing mood.

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