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Ballsy Aquino-Cruz: ‘Mom never played mahjong during EDSA or her presidency’

By JOANNE RAE M. RAMIREZ, The Philippine STAR Published Aug 04, 2022 12:22 pm Updated Aug 04, 2022 1:43 pm

The late former President Corazon Aquino “never” played mahjong during the EDSA Revolution or during her presidency, Ballsy Aquino Cruz, Mrs. Aquino’s oldest child, said Wednesday.

“Mom NEVER PLAYED MAHJONG during EDSA — I can’t imagine how she could have — and her presidency,” stressed Ballsy, who was her mother’s private secretary and confidante, providing capital letters for emphasis in a text message to this writer when asked to react to reports of a scene in Darryl Yap’s movie Maid in Malacañang. The scene reportedly shows Cory playing mahjong with some Carmelite nuns during EDSA.

The Carmelite Monastery in Mabolo, Cebu City called this a “reprehensible” attempt to distort history, according to a report from PhilSTAR L!fe.

“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,” Ballsy recalled. Her Lola Metring died in 1985 after a lingering illness, also from complications from colon cancer, the same disease that claimed Cory in 2009. “I would think, even before 1985, they had stopped playing mahjong.”

The unity espoused by the administration of President Bongbong Marcos brings hope; but there are some quarters that are already attempting to reshape the past without valid basis for the revisions. Journalists speak up because they are trained to ferret fact from fiction.

In her memoirs on a speech to the business community in June 1992, very shortly before she stepped down from the presidency after democratic elections, Cory recalled: “I felt I could make jokes without offending anyone. The matter of my so-called ‘mahjong cronies’ was finally addressed. I had not paid much attention to this piece of gossip until a senator reported that a journalist had once boasted that he (the journalist) was one of my mahjong cronies during my presidency. I learned to just laugh off those stories when reported to me.”

“I felt I could make jokes without offending anyone. The matter of my so-called ‘mahjong cronies’ was finally addressed.

After reporting her administration’s economic gains, she tackled the issue of cronyism, especially, “mahjong cronyism.”

“One of the most amusing stories that have been circulating these past six years is that about my mahjong cronies…” she began. “At exactly 5 p.m. every day, I’m supposed to stop working and begin playing mahjong. The story became so rife that Sister Christine Tan, observing that I was staying late at the guesthouse (her Malacañang office) after a meeting with her, told me that perhaps I should relax and play mahjong (with the two supposed mahjong cronies).”

Cory recalled she just smiled and told Sister Christine, “Well, Sister. Taking a break with these two very good women is fine. But neither of them know how to play mahjong so they cannot be my mahjong cronies.”