Maid in Malacañang: The Marcos perspective

HISTORY MATTERS - Todd Sales Lucero - The Freeman

If you watched ‘Maid in Malacañang’, you’ll realize that all the hullabaloo and hoopla about the movie were brought about by people’s knee-jerk reaction to the trailer showing President Cory Aquino playing mahjong with three nuns. The moment the trailer went online, those against it immediately went on a slew of attacks and reactions and the terms “historical revisionism” and “historical distortion” became trending. So, let’s get down right to it. MiM was supposed to be the “side of the Marcoses”, their experiences and emotions in their last 72 hours in Malacañang. I must admit that seeing those touching and sometimes tear-jerking scenes really did humanize the family. Let’s be honest; we have only read and heard nothing but the negative about the Marcoses. So, if the film’s purpose was to tell their side, then the movie achieved this goal. Whether their version as told in the film is the complete truth, well, that’s another thing.

The Marcoses were portrayed as an embattled family about to be deposed because, as shown in the film, they were ‘not part of the country’s prominent clans and they were simply from the province,’ clearly a simplistic view of what was happening in the country at that time. There was more to EDSA than just them not being part of the elite, that much I am sure of. It was also said in the movie that EDSA was peaceful not because of the people in the streets, but because President Marcos chose not to use force against the protesters. I have seen enough actual coverage of EDSA, not to mention the dozens of eyewitness accounts, to know that while Marcos definitely contributed to the bloodlessness of the movement, the military themselves played a key role because thousands were deserting their posts and defecting to the protesters.

Finally, while the scene at the end still showed Cory playing mahjong, she was in fact not playing with nuns. So, either the version shown here in Cebu was changed to refrain from offending Cebuanos since the nuns supposedly were Pink Sisters, or most likely the trailer released was a sort of Trojan Horse to generate controversy and attention, thereby doubling or even tripling people’s interest to watch the movie. I personally think any mention and depiction of Cory playing mahjong was irrelevant and should not have been included as it just provoked her supporters and did nothing to add to the Marcos story.

The most touching moments in the film were the scenes with the maids. Not only did the three maids give comic relief all throughout, but their central role in the movie showed the Marcoses in the best light possible. As a Filipino, I was touched by the devotion that the family had for their helpers, and how the helpers were extremely loyal to them. Aside from the perspective of the Marcoses, the inputs shared by the maids added a fresh side to the EDSA story. We may not agree with what they claim in the film, but unless we were there in any of the moments with the family and the maids during those last 72 hours, then we cannot say that this is revisionism and distortion.

The movie tickled my curiosity and I am now reading not just established histories, but also the other side of the story as told by reputable writers, historians, and journalists (and not bloggers and vloggers and Tiktokers whose sources are other bloggers and vloggers!). The movie still has a lot of unanswered questions, but for me, it has started the dialogue into the reexamination of our history. Instead of getting triggered by MiM, let us see it as a challenge to reinforce the truths of our established histories, and correct the biased interpretations.

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