Editorial: ‘Historically distorted’ mahjong scene

·3 min read

THE film about the Marcos family’s last days in power, “Maid in Malacañang,” will be released Wednesday, August 3, 2022. Before its full-scale theatrical release, the public was able to peek at the movie’s second trailer on Monday, August 1, and it attracted scorn.

A portion of the trailer shows the character playing Corazon Aquino and the nuns of the Order of the Carmelites busying themselves with mahjong just after the People Power Revolution broke out. This depiction in the film, which Martial Law victims expect to be an effort at historical revisionism, appalled the Carmelites, with one official saying that it’s “totally fake news.”

A Carmelite official interviewed by SunStar Cebu on August 1 was among the nuns who sheltered the late president on February 22, 1986, the first day of the revolution, which ended on February 25 after the Marcoses hurriedly left Malacañang and flew to Hawaii. She recalled that Aquino was brought to the monastery by anti-Marcos politicians after attending a series of rallies in Cebu City, and the widow of the assassinated senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino III only slept as she was very tired. Aquino then left the monastery in the morning of February 23 to fly back to Manila.

Cebu Archdiocese spokesperson Msgr. Joseph Tan has urged people planning to watch the film to not treat it as an accurate rendition of past events, saying the director-writer Darryl Yap’s film is “historical fictionalization.”

Yap released a statement on his Facebook page defending the mahjong scene, which the Carmelites said was made without consultation and was “historically distorted.”

The director said there was no need to consult the Carmelite nuns, and he even poked fun at them by saying that he would rather consult the demon nun in the horror flick, “The Conjuring.”

Here’s the question, now: Why did the young director not ask the Carmelite nuns about Corazon Aquino’s stay in their monastery 36 years ago? Writing a biopic entails lots of interviews and research for the film to achieve accuracy. Several biopics made in Hollywood have been panned for their inaccuracies.

A diligent filmmaker should not resort to using his poetic license (read: inserting fictional scene/s in the movie) if the narrative is verifiable through research or interviews.

Yap said in a Daily Tribune interview streamed last July that he was able to talk with the relatives of the former maids serving the Marcoses in the Malacañang. He even claimed in the interview that the Aquino government destroyed the tradition of the domestic servants.

“Since na-establish yung Malacañang parang, ano yan, eh, minamana ng mga anak ng kasambahay yung pagiging kasambahay sa loob ng Malacañang,” he said. One of the interviewees, Goddes Hope Libiran, butted in: “That’s a trivia, ha? Meron pa lang ganun?”

The director was able to interview the relatives of the former Malacañang helpers. But he was unable to interview the Carmelite nuns? How’s that?

Another interesting fact to note: The second trailer was released on August 1, the 13th death anniversary of Corazon Aquino. The timing of the trailer’s release is not a class act.

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