Arts and Culture

History vs gossip: Historians react to Ella Cruz controversy

Kathleen A. Llemit - Philstar.com
History vs gossip: Historians react to Ella Cruz controversy
Ella Cruz as Irene Marcos (left) in 'Maid In Malacañang' (right)
Ella Cruz, Viva Films via Instagram

MANILA, Philippines — Some Filipino historians agree that Ella Cruz may have a point when she said that history is biased and filtered.

They, however, pointed out that the actress missed key points in her opinion. Unlike the favorite hobby of many Internet "Mariteses," historians use a scientific methodology, critiques sources, and verify pieces of evidence that many gossip mongers fail to employ in their bid for instant fame or notoriety.

Filipino public historian Ambeth Ocampo succinctly said on his social media accounts: "Don't confuse History and chismis. History may have bias but it is based on fact not opinion. Real History is about Truth, not lies, not fiction."

Another Filipino public historian, Michael Charleston "Xiao" Chua, reacted to the controversial statement.

"Tama naman 'yung sinabi niya. 'History is parang tsismis.' It is opinion, may bias, filtered. Lahat ng statement na 'yun, totoo lahat 'yun. Pero may nawawala na pinaka-importante. Ito ay ang metodo," he said.

Chua was a guest in the daily morning show of Radyo Singko 92.3 FM on July 4.

University of the Philippines faculty member and Filipino public historian Alvin D. Campomanes shared his sentiment on Cruz's viral interview.

"Ani Ella Cruz, maaaring 'sinala' o 'nadagdagan' na ang history na alam natin. Kung ang pinupunto niya rito’y may mga kakulangan at pagbabaluktot sa dominanteng naratibong historikal, ayos lang sana. May ganoon naman talaga. At maláy (aware) ang mga historyador sa kalikasan ng larangan nila. Ang hindi katanggap-tanggap, kaya may mga umalma sa hanay ng mga historyador at guro ng kasaysayan at araling panlipunan, ay ang paghahalintulad ng kasaysayan sa tsismis," Campomanes said.

He stressed that History is part of the social sciences. It may have a subjective aspect but Historical Research is considered a science.

Historians use a rigorous methodology to deem information as history. This includes research for sources, review/critique of sources/literature, and synthesis. Sources and data are corroborated, meaning, there are different sources whether primary or secondary that are being examined and analyzed. A historian collates these information and puts these into record in books, academic journals, and websites. These will be reviewed by their peers.

Historians spend decades studying and mastering their field to even earn a graduate, post-graduate and doctorate degree. This is evidence that studying History is a discipline.

Chua cited the process that his and Lourd de Veyra's show "History" was presented.

He is aware that the show was used in memes related to this current issue because of its tagline, "Tsismis noon, kasaysayan ngayon."

While he and co-host de Veyra admitted that the tagline served as a come-on for the show, its format showcased how historians vet the information they get before these are deemed historical and factual.

"Para manood kayo kasi 'pag walang tagline, hindi interesting 'di ba? And also, it tells us of the process. Information na hindi verified ay pwede pa lang ma-verify ang tsismis based on sources at hindi na siya tsismis. Ganoon kasimple 'yun. May proseso. At syempre dahil may salitang tsismis, eksplosibo. Mag-aabang ka ngayon," Chua said.

Both Campomanes and Chua said that historians are trained to check on biases and prejudices. This is where fairness and impartiality are practiced.  

"Walang akdang 100% obhetibo ngunit maaaring maging imparsyal ang historyador. Ibig sabihin, kailangan niya ring isaalang-alang ang mga kontra-ebidensya, salungat na opinyon, alternatibong pagtingin bago magbigay ng  kanyang interpretasyon at posisyon," Campomanes explained.

Chua reiterated the difference between history and chismis (gossip).

"Kung ang isang opinyon ay walang ebidensya, kung ang isang bias ay walang ebidensya, kung isang limitation ay walang ebidensya, ito ay nananatiling tsismis. Hindi siya history," he said.

It can be recalled that Cruz became controversial when she said during the recent press conference of her new movie "Maid In Malacañang," a movie about the last 72 hours of the Marcoses before they fled Malacañang for Hawaii, that “History is like tsismis. It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so, hindi natin alam what is the real history. Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga. As long as we’re here alive at may kanya-kanyang opinion, I respect everyone’s opinion.”

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