Seares: Only one photo – Mrs. Malou Rama talking with dept. heads – was used to show she was presiding over meeting. Mahjong is harmless, says ‘Maid in Malacañang’ director who apparently doesn’t fear deluge of Cebu nuns’ prayers.

·4 min read

A FACEBOOK post Sunday, July 31, 2022 ran a photo, with Cebu City Mayor Mike Rama seated at the head of the table and his wife of less than a year, Malou Jimenez Mandanat, standing beside him to his right. It was a meeting of City Hall department heads.

The comment that goes with the photo asks if it is OK (“puwede ba diay”) for the mayor’s spouse to preside over a meeting of City Hall officials. “Conjugal diay ang administration ni Mike Rama?” If he’s physically weak, with hoarse or feeble voice, let him rest, the critic asks in effect.

On the surface, the comment is valid inquiry, often raised to mayors whose spouses are publicly spotted at City Hall. But the wife is the First Lady of the chief executive and doesn’t have to explain her presence unless it’s clearly shown she’s meddling into government affairs not within the realm of the FL’s job.

A cluster of three photos released the previous day, Saturday, July 30, 2022, by the City Hall news site (Cebu City • News & Information) include the one the FB post used. The CCNI news release showed Mayor Rama talking in the lead photo, Koko Holganza, traffic coordination chief, talking with the mayor in the second photo, and Mrs. Rama in the last photo. In the two photos, Mayor Mike can be seen and it’s only in the third photo that he shuts up while his wife talks.

The FB user apparently picked only the photo with Mrs. Rama talking and the husband seated quietly to prove his point that the mayor himself was too “weak” to talk. City Hall’s lead photo, which would’ve disproved that and given the post some context, was not used.

What CCNI omitted was what Mrs. Rama talked about; the caption only mentions her presence. That gave the FB post the excuse to say she was presiding over the meeting when most likely she was not.

How Facebook critics can help

The line in the FB post that says Mrs. Rama is presiding over the meeting would’ve been belied by (a) the two other photos, which show Mayor Rama actively leading the discussion, and (b) a caption that tells what she actually said.

Facebook critics can help the work of traditional media if it would point out, fairly and honestly, lapses and discrepancies in the conduct of public officials . But in a community where the election fever rages almost non-stop, that may be too much to expect.

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'Not amused,' 'devastated.'

Carmelite nuns in Mabolo, Cebu City were reportedly “not amused” by a scene in the trailer of the film “Maid in Malacanang,” which shows a number of nuns playing mahjong with Cory Aquino at the Carmelite Monastery just after the Edsa revolt in Manila broke out. An understatement that’s demolished by the next line that said they were “devastated” by the depiction. Fake news, they said of the scene in the film trailers.

The problem is that a movie based on a historical fact does not have to be historically accurate. To most film makers, historical accuracy is impossible because of film production realities. And because all that matters to them is entertaining the audience. From the start, the director’s purpose is to create an illusion of the past, not reproduce it.

Entertainment; Nuns' prayers

“Maid in Malacanang” though has a motive other than to entertain. It also aims to give the “bright side” of the flight of the Marcoses and their trusted supporters from the Palace. In effect, the movie seeks to shine light on a facet of history -- and yet must use some falsehood for the purpose. So it’s no longer just for entertainment but makers may still use the justification for inaccuracies.

The nuns reportedly said they’d pray for the film makers. Pray for what, specifically? Some years ago, a congressman who wanted to build a skywalk –- which Carmelite nuns said would’ve enabled commuters to invade their privacy -- abandoned the plan. Why? He feared the nuns’ deluge of prayers. All the nuns could pray day and night and bad luck might come his way. He couldn’t take the risk, he said. Apparently, the “Maid in Malacanang” director isn’t scared of the entire Carmelite community storming the heavens with petitions.

Meantime, the noise from the Carmelite nuns is helping feed the fire of public interest in the movie. Would they have something to foil that?

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