Martial law survivors ready vs ‘Maid in Malacañang’ whitewash | Inquirer News

Martial law survivors ready vs ‘Maid in Malacañang’ whitewash

/ 05:35 AM July 04, 2022
Malacanang Palace entrance

The facade of the Malacañan Palace. FILE PHOTO CONTRIBUTED BY VAL HANDUMON

MANILA, Philippines — Barely a week after the Marcos family returned to Malacañang, an upcoming film about them may prove to be the latest challenge to martial law survivors and historians in their fight against historical revisionism.

The soon-to-be screened “Maid in Malacañang,” by filmmaker Darryl Yap, a known supporter of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., depicts the last 72 hours of his family in the Palace amid the tumult of the 1986 Edsa People Power Revolution. A press release on the film said it is based on “a reliable source.”

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But for martial law survivors, who endured human rights violations that were since well documented by historians and human rights groups, “Maid in Malacañang” may yet be another of the family’s efforts to whitewash the killings, torture, and enforced disappearances committed by martial law enforcers on their behalf.

Playwright-activist Bonifacio Ilagan, who was tortured and detained during the martial law regime in the 1970s, said the film “signals the making of more ‘artistic’ concoctions aimed at the official rehabilitation of the Marcos family in the tradition of [former first lady] Imelda [Marcos]’ sickening ‘the true, the good, and the beautiful.’”

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“I will not be surprised if the movie will depict the family as the pitiable victims of the Edsa uprising — mining the sympathy of the public — who now have justly been rendered justice,” Ilagan said.

History vs gossip

Historian Xiao Chua cautioned the public against accepting the broad narrative of historical films, which “should never be taken as history but as the filmmakers’ interpretation of the past,” he said.

“Of course [a movie] takes a perspective and has creative licenses,” Chua said.

A member of the cast, Ella Cruz, drew controversy after she likened history to gossip in her remarks defending the Marcoses.

“It is filtered and dagdag na rin (there are embellishments to the narrative), so we don’t know what is the real history,” said the 25-year-old actress, who portrays the president’s younger sister Irene.

“While the idea is there, there really is bias… As long as we’re here alive and with differing opinions, I respect everyone’s opinion,” she said.

Cruz said the first family, as depicted in the film, was simply “facing so much pressure [in their] last three days” at the Palace.

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But she drew flak on social media for her comments, with historian and Inquirer columnist Ambeth Ocampo saying “Don’t confuse history and chismis (gossip). History may have bias but it is based on fact and opinion. Real history is about truth, not lies, not fiction.”

Chua said: “You can say that she has a point. There is only one [thing] missing. Everything should be based on evidence.”

Ilagan said Cruz’s comments were “very Imeldific: ‘Perception is real and truth is not.’”

“I pity Ella Cruz for shooting her mouth off. Now we all know the kind of mind that she has. When someone aims to distort history, she first denigrates the discipline, and then comes forth with her own version,” he added.

A Wikipedia entry on Cruz, as of Sunday, reads: “Ella Cruz likens history to ‘tsismis,’ or gossip.”

The Marcoses in cinema

Ilagan said martial law survivors already have plans to counter that film project, “but because we are unable to find a producer to make a new one, we will do screenings of what we already have.”

“Maid in Malacañang” is just the latest in many films about the Marcoses, a number of them complimentary, but several others critical of their rule, particularly the 14-year dictatorship of the president’s father.

The older Marcos relied on the power of the movies when he launched his presidential candidacy in 1965, the same time “Iginuhit ng Tadhana,” a biopic about him, was screened in theaters, starring the popular tandem of Luis Gonzales and Gloria Romero.

But there have been many films as well about the martial law era, notably Mike de Leon’s “Sister Stella L” and Lino Brocka’s “Bayan Ko: Kapit sa Patalim,” both from 1984, and Behn Cervantes’ “Sakada” (1976). Brocka’s film was banned by the censors but this decision was reversed by the Supreme Court in a landmark 1985 ruling.

Amid the restoration of other classics by these directors, all three films have yet to be restored for presentation to a new audience.

Among the more recent films about the Marcoses is the 2019 documentary “The Kingmaker,” by American filmmaker Lauren Greenfield.

Ilagan said he and other activists, artists, educators, and historians will conduct a three-month campaign — about the same time as the president’s first 100 days — to help enlighten the citizenry about the dictatorship.

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TAGS: Darryl Yap, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Maid in Malacañang, Martial Law Victims
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