Relentless assault on history            

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Distorting or revising history is the heart of the insidious scheme of the Marcoses to rehabilitate themselves. This explains the relentless assault on history by the Marcos family. The attack on Philippine history has been going on for decades and is mainly waged in the digital world.

Now the assault on history is going mainstream with the Marcoses back in power. The upcoming movie “Maid in Malacañang” is just the beginning. The film is packaged as a dramedy but in reality a Marcos propaganda. It ostensibly tells the last 72 hours of the Marcoses in the palace before they were driven out of power by the People Power revolt in 1986 from an anonymous source.

The actress playing the young Irene Marcos in the movie created a firestorm when she dismissed history as mere “tsismis” or gossip, reducing or worse degrading history to “rumor-mongering.”

“History is like tsismis. It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so hindi natin alam what is the real history. Naro’n na yung idea, pero may mga bias talaga. As long as we are here at may kaniya-kaniyang opinion, I respect everyone’s opinion,” said Ella Cruz.  Her remarks drew flak from historians, academics, teachers and the general public.

Prominent historian Ambeth Ocampo who has done extensive research on Philippine history and published several books on the subject quickly corrected the young actress.  “Don’t confuse history and tsismis.  History may have bias but it is based on fact, not opinion.  Real history is about Truth, not lies, not fiction.”

Ocampo was subjected to vile, ferocious and nasty online assault by pro-Marcos influencers and trolls for defending history.  He was called “yellow historian,” “paid historian,” “gago,” “tanga” by his attackers.  “I never thought that I would see this day when people question things that we hold true,” Ocampo told online program Facts First.

The highly coordinated online strike on Ocampo indicates the attempt to promote history as “tsismis” is a well-orchestrated effort.  Why would pro-Marcos trolls target a prominent historian if the incident is spontaneous?

Stung by strong public backlash, Ella Cruz tried to backtrack a bit but stayed on course. In a recent public conversation with Sen. Imee Marcos she tried to explain her side. “Hindi ko naman sinabi na matalino ako, ‘di rin naman ako nagmamagaling. Pero Sen, nagbabasa naman ako no, nag-aaral naman ako. At totoo naman na ang kasaysayan ay tsismis na napatunayan dahil sa ebidensya at sa research,” she said.

Imee Marcos then seconded the actress position.  “History is tsismis with methodology, analysis, and proof,” she emphasized.

Both Cruz and Marcos contradicted themselves.  Their crude and pathetic bid to extricate themselves from the mess only exposed their deceit.

Gossips and facts are not the same.  History is based on facts, hard evidence.  Tsimis or gossip on the other hand is “casual or unconstrained conversation or reports about other people, typically involving details that are not confirmed as being true” textbook definition says.

Ella Cruz and Imee Marcos are wrong in lumping together “tsismis” and history.  If there is evidence and researched-based, it is no longer tsismis or gossip.  If there is methodology, analysis and proof, it is a fact and not tsismis or gossip.  What makes history a social science discipline is the rigorous methodology applied in evaluating evidence.  Methodology separates fact from fiction, truth from lies.  History cannot be equated with tsismis or gossip.

Linking or comparing history with tsismis or gossip is part of the wicked design of the Marcoses to destroy history by sowing confusion and putting a huge question mark on this branch of social science.  It would be easy for them to revise history and make their lies acceptable once the integrity of history is damaged.

If the Marcoses succeed in mixing history and tsismis, it is no longer hard for them to rehabilitate themselves.  If history is tsismis, then the human rights violations during the dictatorship of Marcos senior are hearsay, mere buzz.  If history is tsismis, then the 2003 Supreme Court decision finding Ferdinand Marcos senior had amassed ill-gotten wealth is mere rumor and should be dismissed.

It is clear why the Marcoses are desperately assaulting history and relentless in attacking it.  History is the biggest stumbling block to their ultimate goal: to rehabilitate themselves.  Imee Marcos on May 25 revealed to CNN what her family wants.  “A physical return to Malacañang Palace was not that important (“hindi masyadong mahalaga”) to the family anymore.  What’s most important to us is, of course, our name, the family name that has become so controversial, and so difficult at times to bear.  The legacy of my father is what we hope will be clarified at last.”

Standing in the way of the Marcoses is history.  History as a social science is fact-based, evidence-based and this prevents the Marcoses from peddling their lies, especially in the mainstream.  They have succeeded in polluting social media with their lies and falsehoods but not mainstream media and academia.

Expect more assault on history under the BBM regime.  Imee Marcos admitted that what the Marcoses truly desire is “we can restore (maiahon namin) our name, our family name.”  This they can only do by slaying history, distorting and equating it with tsismis or gossip or rumor-mongering.  If history is tsismis or gossip, then the high crimes the Marcos family committed against the Filipino nation are only juicy tattle.

It is more urgent now than ever that history must be protected and defended.  If the nation’s past is in peril, so is its future.