A malicious depiction of Carmelite sisters

STRAIGHT TO THE POINT - Atty. Ruphil Bañoc - The Freeman

“A lie repeated a hundred times will become true,” goes a popular quote.

That was simply too much. I am referring to the trailer of the movie “Maid in Malacañang” that depicted the Carmelite sisters and the late president Corazon C. Aquino playing mahjong.

As a lawyer, I know there are two sides to every story, and each story deserves to be heard. But this does not also mean that a brazen lie is to be tolerated simply because two sides must be heard. The truth must be pursued and the lie must be exposed.

Indeed, truth knows no political alliances. This is exemplified by Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, the woman credited for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s overwhelming win in Cebu, when she wasted no time to defend our dear Carmelite sisters, saying, “I stand with the Carmelite nuns of Cebu. And I condemn any malicious attempt to malign them.”

As expected, the Carmelite sisters took the higher ground, responding without a tone of anger but with compassion amidst an apparent attempt to diminish the regard of the people towards them.

But let me examine the defense of the makers of the film. In a lame endeavor to put a veneer of truth to the depiction they made, they now say that it was culled from an article “In the Grotto of the Pink Sisters” written by Anne Nelson. Nothing is further from the truth.

A careful reading of the article reveals no proof that Cory played mahjong with the nuns.

Caught in the web of their own lies, some now shift their argument to this: There is no claim that the depiction is factual. We know this is jumping from the frying pan into the fire. If we give this reasoning the currency it does not deserve, we will be allowing people to malign anyone and any group in the guise of art.

The overly imaginative among them say the depiction is just to stress a point. But what point is being stressed? You have to make a claim first before you can say you are stressing a point. And that point must be based on truth.

There are those who make light of the movie’s depiction, saying, “Who does not play mahjong, anyway?” or “What’s wrong with playing mahjong?” The answer to this is in Gwen’s succinct statement: It was a “malicious attempt to malign them (the nuns)”.

With all due respect to non-Catholics, many Catholics know that our Carmelite sisters have been praying for us for decades now. “With the grace of God, we take this vocation to pray for and with the people in all seriousness,” said Sr. Mary Melanie Costillas, OCD, prioress of the Carmelite Monastery.

“But the pictures would imply,” she continued, “that while the country’s fate was in the balance, we mindlessly were simply playing games.” This was exactly the ultimate objective of whoever masterminded the depiction.

But the real mindlessness for me is the depiction that is bereft of truth.


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