Carmelite sisters cry foul over mahjong scene in ‘Maid in Malacañang’

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2022 04:54 PM | Updated as of Aug 02 2022 09:38 PM

Screengrab from VinCentiments' YouTube page
Screengrab from VinCentiments' YouTube page

Cebu guv condemns 'malicious attempt to malign' nuns

The sisters of Carmelite Monastery in Cebu have broken their silence over the mahjong scene in the upcoming movie “Maid in Malacañang” which supposedly narrates the story of the Marcos family before they went into exile.

In a teaser released on social media, the movie directed by Darryl Yap appeared to allude that the late President Corazon Aquino, played by Giselle Sanchez, was playing mahjong with the nuns in February 1986 in the midst of a political crisis in the country.

In a statement, Sr. Mary Costillas of the Carmelite Monastery made it clear that no one from the production consulted them about what happened in 1986, noting that the characters were not wearing their brown religious habit.

“Let it be known that no one responsible for the production of the movie came to us to gather information on what really happened,” Costillas said.

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“Any serious scriptwriter or movie director could have shown such elementary diligence before making such movie. After all, many of those nuns in Carmelite Monastery of Cebu 1986 are still very much alive and mentally alert.”

They also called out the mahjong scene as malicious, explaining that they were praying for peace in the country at the time.

“The attempt to distort history is reprehensible. Depicting the nuns as playing mah-jong with Cory Aquino is malicious. It would suggest that while the fate of the country was in peril, we could afford to leisurely play games. The truth was that we were then praying, fasting and making other forms of sacrifices for peace in this country and for the people's choice to prevail,” the statement added. 

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Reports revealed that Aquino went to the monastery on February 22, 1986 to hide after receiving a tip that the Marcoses allegedly had a shoot-to-kill order against her. 

The Carmelite sisters stressed this in their recent statement, saying they vowed to protect Aquino “at all costs.”

“We knew the dangers of allowing Ms. Cory Aquino to hide in the monastery. But we also prayerfully discerned that the risk was worth it, as our contribution to put an end to a dictatorial regime. Indeed, we were ready to defend her at all costs,” the statement said. 

Costillas also said the scene in the film would trivialize the contributions of the religious group to the restoration of democracy in the Philippines. 

“If these pictures would be taken as authentic representation of what really happened, they would put into doubt the trust that people have placed in us,” she said. 

Garcia

The Carmelite sisters got the support of Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia, who said she is standing with the religious group. 

According to Garcia, who backed the candidacy of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. in the May elections, she condemns "any malicious attempt to malign them."

Darryl Yap finds no need to consult Carmelite sisters

Photo from VinCentiments' Facebook page
Photo from VinCentiments' Facebook page

Meanwhile, Yap was quick to react to the statement from the nuns through the VinCentiments Facebook page. 

“I would like to invite our Sisters to watch the film; if they are ostentatious about details, I don’t think there is a need for this ‘ouch’ and ‘involvement,’” Yap said. 

He said he sees nothing wrong about playing mahjong as a past time or friendly game. 

He also pointed out that there was no mention of the Carmelite sisters in the clip. Hence, there is no need to consult them.

“Hindi ko po kasi naisip na kailangan. Gaya po ng sinabi nila, hindi naman po naka-brown, at walang binanggit na ‘huy mga Carmelite sisters, ano na?” Yap said. 

He said that if he needed to consult people for the film, he would ask for advice from the fictional demonic nun character, Valak. 

“Hihingi ako ng advise kay Valak, kung paano, kailan at kanino siya kumunsulta,” Yap said.

Giselle Sanchez verifies script from Imee Marcos

Photo from Giselle Sanchez's Facebook page
Photo from Giselle Sanchez's Facebook page

Sanchez also spoke about her role in “Maid In Malacañang", although she declined to name the character “for legal purposes.”

According to the comedienne, her heart pounded when she read the line “Get them out of the Philippines” in the script.

“In my mind, this was something I did not know, I haven't read, this was something new. And anything new will receive only two reactions, positive reactions and negative reactions. I had to physically prepare myself. I was one hundred percent sure I will be bashed for performing ‘her character,’” Sanchez wrote.

This prompted her to personally message Sen. Imee Marcos to confirm the supposed remark made by her character, she said.

“I wanted to know if what was written in my script was the truth. So I personally texted Senator Imee Marcos and she texted back in Filipino, ‘Yun daw ang sabi ng mga Kano.’ (That is what the Americans told us),” Sanchez said. 

After the reply from Marcos, the actress said she began to realize that all she had been reading from historical books and media during the 1980s to 1990s was “the other camp’s side of the story because they were the ones sitting in the administration.” 

Some netizens have debunked the scene, saying it was an inaccurate depiction of what really transpired when Aquino had a conversation with then Prime Minister Cesar Virata.

Amid the growing criticisms, Sanchez believed that it is fair to look at both sides of the coin before casting any judgment.

She also reiterated Yap's description of the film that it is not a biopic but a story of a family. 

The comedienne said she had always wanted to do a project with Yap, whom she considers as “the most brilliant director of his time.”

According to her, Yap told her that the film needed “an intelligent and educated lady to portray her role”, which convinced her to accept the offer.

“And that was the selling piece - Direk Darryl Yap plus the requirements to play ‘her character,’” Sanchez said.

“Maid in Malacañang” stars Cesar Montano and Ruffa Gutierrez as the late President Ferdinand Marcos and former First Lady Imelda Marcos, respectively. 

The movie is said to be about the supposed details of the last three days of the Marcos family at the Palace at the culmination of the EDSA 1986 revolution.

Described also as a family drama-comedy, the film also stars Cristine Reyes as Imee Marcos, Diego Loyzaga as Bongbong Marcos, and Ella Cruz as Irene Araneta.

The Philippines marked on Monday the 13th death anniversary of Aquino, who served as president from 1986 until 1992. Her husband, the late Sen. Benigno "Ninoy" Aquino, was a staunch critic of the late dictator Marcos and was assassinated upon his return from the US in 1983. They have been hailed as democracy icons.

-- with reports from Annie Perez