Nothing to apologize for, says 'Maid in Malacañang' director on 'mahjong' scene

·5 min read

THE director and writer of the controversial film "Maid in Malacañang" said he had nothing to apologize for despite some people taking offense at a scene in his film.

Darryl Yap, who was in Cebu with the cast on Saturday, August 6, 2022, for the film's local premiere, also urged his critics to watch the film first before judging it.

"For the people asking for boycott and for sorry, for them that are waiting for me to apologize to them, I’m sorry but I cannot apologize for the hurt that was taken voluntarily," Yap said during a presser held at the Bai Hotel in Mandaue City.

Yap said despite the calls from critics to boycott the film, people still went to see the film.

"It (earned) P63 million in three days. I don’t think the people, naririnig nila ang pag-boycott (heard the calls for a boycott)," Yap said.

No misinterpretation

As for the film's controversial scene showing the late President Corazon Aquino playing mahjong with nuns, Yap said he considered it unbelievable that the late president and democracy icon and nuns were not seen playing the game.

"I don’t believe na misinterpret ko. Former president Cory has Chinese blood, with the closest din naman niyang nun friend na may Chinese din na blood. Tapos ang sabi doon ni Ms. Anne (Nelson), lagi silang magkasama, exposed sa mahjong. So kahit pagalitan ako ngayon ni Senator Imee, hindi ako naniniwalang hindi sila nag-mahjong," Yap added.

(I don’t believe I misinterpreted it. Former president Cory has Chinese blood, with her closest nun friend also having Chinese blood. And then what Ms. Anne (Nelson) said was that they were always together, they were exposed to mahjong. So even if I were to be scolded now by Senator Imee, I don’t believe that they didn’t play mahjong.)

Yap was referring to the 1988 Mother Jones Magazine story "In the Grotto of the Pink Sisters" written by American journalist Anne Nelson which he had presented as proof that nuns play mahjong after furor over the mahjong trailer erupted.

However, in a tweet earlier this week, Nelson clarified that there was no mention in her 1988 story of the late president and Sr. Christine Tan, the nun Nelson had mentioned as being close to Aquino, or any other nuns for that matter, playing mahjong.

Yap said Saturday that Nelson’s comment was sought out by the detractors of the film. He earlier emphasized that Nelson’s article was not the reference for his story.

Aquino’s daughter also shot down insinuations that her mother played mahjong in the monastery.

Ballsy Aquino-Cruz, eldest daughter of the democracy icon, told Joanne Ramirez of The Philippine Star Wednesday, that Aquino never played mahjong during Edsa or her presidency.

During the press conference, Yap stressed that if they had featured another Filipino pastime in the movie such as Aquino playing "tong-its" with the nuns, it would have been a different story.

Yap claims that the issue on the nuns playing mahjong was blown out of proportion as he didn't specifically mention the Order of the Discalced Carmelites in Cebu in his film.

Other religious supportive

Despite criticism he received from members of the Order of the Discalced Carmelites in Cebu, who called their portrayal in the film “malicious” and a “reprehensible attempt” to distort history, Yap claimed that the Carmelite nuns in Iloilo were very supportive of him as they did not feel alluded to in the film.

On Tuesday, before the film's premiere on August 3, 2022, Yap had defended the teaser of the movie showing Aquino playing mahjong with nuns.

Yap said there was nothing wrong with the depiction of nuns playing mahjong to pass the time or as a game between friends.

Mahjong is a tile-based game of three or four players that originated in China.

That teaser, however, earned the ire of the sisters of the Carmelite Monastery in Mabolo, Cebu who said that far from playing games on the night of Feb. 22, 1986 when the Edsa People Power Revolution broke out, forcing Aquino to seek refuge in the monastery, the nuns were “praying, fasting and making other forms of sacrifices for peace in this country and for the people’s choice to prevail” and that they were in constant fear that the military would come to know of Aquino’s whereabouts.

The film is about the last 72 hours of the family of dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. inside Malacañang before Marcos was ousted in the Edsa revolution that ended his 20-year rule that had been marked by corruption and human rights abuses.

Aside from Yap, Sen. Imee Marcos, who served as the film's creative producer, and members of the cast such as Ruffa Gutierrez, Cesar Montano, Christine Reyes, Ella Cruz, Diego Loygaza and Karla Estrada, graced the premiere of the film in Cebu.

Imee and President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. are children of the late dictator, and fled the country along with him on Feb. 25, 1986, the last day of the revolution.

Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of the Diocese of San Carlos in Negros Occidental has called on the public to boycott the “shameless” movie.

Alminaza said the "producer, scriptwriter, director and those promoting the movie should publicly apologize to the Carmelite nuns, to President Cory Aquino’s family and to the Filipino people."