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'History is like tsismis'? Historians weigh in on Ella Cruz's now-viral claim

By NICK GARCIA Published Jul 03, 2022 12:57 pm

Is history just like tsismis or gossip as actress Ella Cruz claimed? Filipino historians took to social media to weigh in on the already viral and contentious pronouncement.

Ambeth Ocampo, popular author of history books who also teaches at the Ateneo de Manila University, told Cruz to not confuse history with tsismis.

"History may have bias but it is based on fact not opinion," Ocampo wrote in an animated text superimposed on a quote card posted by The Philippine STAR.

"Real history is about Truth, not lies, not fiction."

Historian Alvin Campomanes of the University of the Philippines Manila, meanwhile, bumped his 2016 post, where he lamented that history programs offered by universities should already be discontinued because of the proliferation of disinformation and historical revisionism on Facebook.

"Balewala na ang mga ito dahil napapag-aralan na ang history sa Facebook," Campomanes wrote in 2016. "Kaya kayong lahat na gusto maging historian, mag-enroll na kayo sa Facebook University (Fac-U)!"

In another Facebook status, he rhetorically asked whether it's only gossip that's being taught in bachelor of arts, master of arts, and doctor of philosophy degrees in history.

But for author and history professor Jose Victor Torres of the De La Salle University Manila, there's such a thing as historical tsismis through snippets of information whose veracity has yet to be determined.

"And what makes these gossip interesting is that our minds are tickled in studying history whether they are true or not," Torres said, adding that historical tsismis "colors our history" and that it "shows the generations of Filipinos how human our historical figures are."

"And Time, unfortunately, has erased sometimes the means to confirm if these tsismis is true," Torres noted. "And so they remain what they are: Rumors."

Torres pointed out that historical tsismis are just "grains and kernels of facts in the entire pot of history," and that rumors are not the entire lesson of history since other accounts are lies.

"The bad tsismis are weapons that should be condemned," he said.

Cruz made the headlines last July 2 when she made the bold statement in an interview with TV reporter MJ Marfori.

“It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so, hindi natin alam what is the real history," she claimed. "Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga."

Cruz will portray Irene Marcos in the upcoming movie Maid in Malacañang by controversial director Darryl Yap.

Yap said the Viva Films-produced movie will give Filipinos a look at “the last 72 hours of the Marcoses inside the Palace through the eyes of one reliable source.”

The Marcoses, who held on to power for 20 years through Martial Law, were booted out of Malacañang through the EDSA People Power Revolution in 1986.

During Martial Law, Amnesty International data showed there were over 3,200 extrajudicial killings, 35,000 tortures, 70 “disappearances” or desaparecidos, and 70,000 imprisoned.

According to the World Bank and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the Marcoses siphoned as much as $10 billion (P521.8 billion) from the government coffers during their two-decade rule.

Critics have sounded the alarm over supposed historical revisionism in Maid in Malacañang, but during a press conference for the movie, Ferdinand and Imelda's daughter Imee said there won't be any, as the movie only seeks to give additional information to the public.

“We’re not revising anything. It’s totally inaccurate to say that," Imee said. "We’re simply explaining in this film, to some degree, kung ano yung mga pangyayari nung huling tatlong araw."