'Hindi chismis': Historian says history is 'evidence-based'

Raffy Cabristante, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 04 2022 10:13 PM

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MANILA — A public historian on Monday debunked actress Ella Cruz's viral remark likening history to gossip, explaining that the discipline of history is heavily dependent on verification.

De La Salle University history professor Xiao Chua told ABS-CBN TeleRadyo that Cruz's remark seemingly overlooked the important process of verification that goes with analyzing historical accounts.

"History is evidence-based. That's why hindi puwedeng chismis. Kapag na-verify na iyong chismis, hindi na siya chismis. Ganoon po iyon," Chua said.

(It can't be gossip. If a gossip is verified, it is no longer gossip. That's how it works.)

The verification process, Chua noted, is similar to what journalists do when reporting news stories.

"Ang journalist kasi will report the facts of an event today. Kaming mga historian, we will report what happened in the past but not only that... we will interpret and look at the implication and make meaning to it in our lives today. So analysis na iyon."

Over the weekend, Cruz went viral on social media for claiming that "history is like chismis."

She is playing Irene Marcos in an upcoming movie that retells the Marcos' family's last 72 hours in 1986 before fleeing to Hawaii amid the EDSA People Power Revolution.

A notable account from the same perspective, Chua said, can be read in a published book titled "Malacañang to Makiki" written by Arturo Aruiza, the aide-de-camp of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

He said that a discussion of the last days of the Marcos family in 1986 may be opened if told from a different point-of-view.

But he also cautioned that movies based on historical events are not necessarily history, as film is an art form where creative licenses can be exercised.


Meanwhile, progressive groups called out Cruz for her remark.

In a statement, Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Rep. France Castro urged the incoming leadership of the House of Representatives to prioritize a bill mandating the inclusion of Philippine History as a subject in the high school curriculum in response to Cruz's pronouncement.

"Pinatunayan lamang muli na kailangang kailangan talaga na ibalik ang Philippine History bilang asignatura sa high school dahil ngayon, tinuturing na lamang itong 'tsismis' ng iilan upang baluktutin ang kasaysayan ng ating mamamayan," Castro said. 

"Hindi 'kwentong barbero' ang pag-aaral ng kasaysayan dahil ito ay may siyentipikong paraan ng pagpapatunay at fact-checking," she added.

Kabataan party-list Rep. Raoul Manuel said they are open "to have a friendly chat or dialogue" with Cruz " to reach a common understanding and appreciation of history."

"Though history may be analyzed and verified with evidence from town gossip they are by no means the same," Manuel added.