Imee Marcos’ malicious lie

“We will not revise anything. All we will do is to also make known our side of the story,” Imee Marcos said in an ANC interview last June 1.

But she did revise. And so a Marcos has lied again.

The backlash over the Carmelite mahjong scene in the movie ‘Maid in Malacanang’ was so severe that the director had to give the lamest of excuses that it was neither researched nor consulted with the nuns. Key people behind the production underestimated public sympathy for the popular monastic nuns and their sacrifices living inside strict enclosures.

Social media apologists of Imee’s movie production had to do damage control and say the film is not a documentary. But this runs counter to the initial public relations campaign that it had charmed the public with which promoted the film as a biopic of the last 72 hours of the Marcos family in Malacañang. The lie began to emerge when a clumsy cast member offered the angle that all history

 is chismis.

It was a costly mistake.

As the dominoes fell one after the other, it was too late to alter the movie’s trailer   which proudly carried in the opening credits the line that the film is “based on an untold truth.”  If the project was meant to be a biopic, it lacks the research and factual details to bolster its narrative.

The source of that untold truth of course is Imee, daughter of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.   She has as much as admitted it when she said, “I wasn’t at Edsa. I was at Malacañang.”

But if this is Imee’s eyewitness history, how did the production people make the mistake of including the Carmelite nuns playing mahjong?  It was based on chismis, as revealed by the bit player who took on the role of former president Cory Aquino. “Yun daw ang sabi ng mga Kano (That is what the Americans told us),” she said.

These people should hear themselves talk in front of a mirror.

Another eyewitness later came out to correct the Imee Marcos chismis: no less than Ballsy Aquino Cruz, the eldest Aquino sibling and private secretary to her mother for decades. Notice the caps in her statement: “Mom NEVER PLAYED MAHJONG during EDSA — I can’t imagine how she could have — and her presidency.” 

“Mom didn’t play mahjong after her mother passed away in 1985. She and her sisters played with their mother who had lost her hearing, to entertain her. I would think, even before 1985, they had stopped playing mahjong,” Ballsy said.

Demetria Sumulong Cojuangco died in 1985 after lingering complications from colon cancer, the same disease that took Cory Aquino’s life in 2009.

Branches of knowledge are called “disciplines” because as important fields of study in higher education, they stand on two inseparable systems: teaching and research. If the basis of history are first-person eyewitness accounts, it also requires corroboration – an attestation of statement.

My point in this essay is precisely corroboration. Our family had a paternal aunt, the widow of our father’s brother, who lived right next door to the Sumulong-Cojuangco matriarch inside a gated Makati village that I shall not mention. Visiting my aunt one day, she brought me to her terrace to show the vantage view of the neighbor’s terrace, the house of Mrs. Cojuangco.

“Cory and her sisters would visit their mother each Sunday and entertain her with a game of mahjong,” my aunt said.

Ballsy’s account is confirmed. Cory played mahjong all right —  to entertain her ailing mother. Disclaimer: I do occasionally play mahjong too, with family, without bets and  just for fun.

Why was it portrayed in the movie so badly as to falsely include contemplative monastic nuns? The raison d’etre of Imee’s movie project is clear: it is meant to revise history using disinformation. Read troll comments on social media and one would be alarmed at how many have succumbed to lies and hate speech. We have before us a damaged culture that may take tons of efforts to correct in the next generations to come.

And the Marcoses are benefitting from it.

“It is a sub-program of the Marcos family’s technology of disinformation,” said Edward delos Santos Cabagnot, film professor at the University of the Philippines and De La Salle University.

The disinforming director of “Maid in Malacanang” did conduct research in the end, but belatedly claimed after the backlash became widespread. His team made a keyword search on the Internet: Cory + mahjong + nuns. That is research for them.

Through this search,  they resurrected an old article about the late Sister Christine Tan RGS – which was not about mahjong. They could not make out the compound sentence that had dangling modifiers in the article. And these are people posing as arbiters of our national consciousness.

In her grand revisionist scheme with this movie, Imee Marcos hit us with one of the most malicious lies in Philippine history.

The views in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.