In this environment, the actress’ statement proves incredibly dangerous. Her comment cannot be construed as offhand. In the Philippines, politicians seek to erase what happened during the Martial Law era.
MANILA CITY, Philippines ꟷ When famous actress Ella Cruz said history is gossip, I spent the entire day feeling irritated. As a public historian, I thoroughly research and provide evidence-based accounts of real events that happened to real people in the past. These are not simple stories from long ago, nor am I an academic.
In July, as I scrolled through my Facebook feed, Cruz’s comments appeared. [At the time, Cruz took a role as Irene Marcos, child of former president Ferdinand Marcos, in the film Maid in Malacanang, touted as a pro-Marcos film.]
While promoting the film, Cruz said, “History is like gossip. It is filtered and added on to as well, so we don’t know what real history is. The idea is there, but there really are biases. As long as we’re here, alive, and with different opinions, I respect everyone’s opinion.”
I witnessed an actress involved in a controversial movie, saying controversial things to get attention. I wanted to ignore her, but so many historians already experience belittling forces. We will not be diminished further.
What Ella Cruz said, struck the very core of where I work and spend my life. To take our efforts, grounded in evidence, and compare it to gossip infuriated me. My irritation continued throughout the day, considering how cavalierly she spoke about a subject for which I invest with great passion.
It did not take long for the historical community to issue a swift and severe response. They slammed Cruz for her comment. The hashtag #HistoryNotChismis took hold and some historians like Ambeth Ocampo still use it.
I try to see where Cruz was coming from. To the untrained eye, history does represent stories we tell about events which transpired. To the trained eye, however, we use artifacts, recordings, photographs, and all other forms of evidence, spun together to prove events through research. Included are the stories people tell.
What Ella Cruz does not understand is that historical research reaches beyond what dead people said about each other. Each piece written by a historian includes sources, written examination of sources, and a thorough outline of research. We do not deal in “he said, she said.”
Months later, we continue to talk about the comment made by Ella Cruz. Though obviously wrong, why do we continue to entertain it? Today, historians race to keep the history of Martial Law in the Philippines from being painted over by the new Marcos regime.
In this environment, the actress’ statement proves incredibly dangerous. Her comment cannot be construed as offhand. In today’s climate in the Philippines, politicians seek to erase what happened during the Martial Law era. We must make clear to the world that history is not gossip. History remains real and under attack.
When people ask how we fight back, I say the solution is simple. We must study history and remember it to keep it alive. As historians, we must preserve the stories of real people who experienced Martial Law and support institutions like museums which bring material history to the people.
History is not gossip. Gossip proves fluid. It mutates and changes with every re-telling. We must ensure history does not devolve into something like that.
Translations provided by Orato World Media are intended to result in the end translated document being understandable in the end language. Although every effort is made to ensure our translations are accurate we cannot guarantee the translation will be without errors.
Pledge to be a #ConsciousCitizen today and demand #GlobalCooperationNow! by signing this petition. Sign Our Petition.