History is NOT just like gossip: Historians take actress Ella Cruz to school over controversial comment

·4 min read

The internet was up in arms over the weekend after actress Ella Cruz proclaimed in an interview that “history is just like tsismis (gossip),” in relation to her upcoming role as Irene Marcos, the third child of former president Ferdinand Marcos and former first lady Imelda Marco, in the upcoming film Maid in Malacañang.

Even before its premiere, the film, which tackles the last 72 hours of the Marcoses in the Malacañang Palace before fleeing to Hawaii at the height of the People Power Revolution, has stirred controversy for its subject matter. Its equally controversial director Darryl Yap, who recently made headlines after being declared persona non grata by the Quezon City government for allegedly defacing the city’s seal in a parody video, also helmed Senator Imee Marcos’ sarcasm-laced video telling Filipinos where to migrate — a video netizens believed was a jab at supporters of former Vice President Leni Robredo’s presidential campaign.

In an interview with The Philippine Star, Cruz, 25, reacted to criticism that the film would perpetuate historical revisionism around the heavily documented Martial Law era, as well as the events that preceded and followed the 1986 People Power Revolution that toppled the dictatorship of former President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

“History is like tsismis (gossip). It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so hindi natin alam what is the real history. Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga. As long as we’re here alive at may kanya-kanyang opinion, I respect everyone’s opinion,” the actress was quoted as saying.

(History is like gossip. It is filtered and added on to as well, so we don’t know what real history is. The idea is there, but there really are biases. As long as we’re here alive and with different opinions, I respect everyone’s opinion.)

Cruz’s quip received backlash from historians and even netizens who believed that conflating history with gossip was an insult to those who dedicate their careers to carefully documenting the past.

University of the Philippines Manila professor Alvin Campomanes said in Filipino, “If BA, MA, and PhD programs in History exist, certainly those don’t just tackle gossip, right?”

Historian Ambeth Ocampo wrote on his Facebook page, “Don’t confuse history and chismis (gossip). History may have bias, but it is based on facts, not opinion. Real history is about truth, not lies, not fiction.”

Columnist and academic Richard Heydarian wrote on Twitter, “HISTORY — as in narrative based on VERIFIABLE FACTS and PEER REVIEW — is exactly the OPPOSITE of what all this MARITES folks are talking about.” (Marites is social media slang that refers to gossipmongers.)

In a separate tweet, he added, “When TRUTH is dismissed as TSISMIS, you know that the worst of so called “POST-MODERNISM” has teamed up with AUTHORITARIAN denialism and REVISIONISM!”

Meanwhile, online users believed that Cruz’s comment was symptomatic of poor history education in the Philippines, with some clamoring to “open the schools.”

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