Not ‘chismis’: How historians define history after Ella Cruz likened it to gossip

July 4, 2022 - 1:20 PM
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Image by Henryk Niestrój from Pixabay

Historians and academics argued that history cannot be equated to gossip after actress Ella Cruz likened it to such in an interview about her upcoming film.

The 25-year-old artist talked about her role as Irene Marcos-Araneta in Viva Film’s “Maid in Malacañang” where she plays the role of the late dictator’s third child.

“History is like tsismis. It is filtered and dagdag na rin, so, hindi natin alam what is the real history. Andoon na iyong idea, pero may mga bias talaga. As long as we’re here, alive at may kanya-kanyang opinion, I respect everyone’s opinion,” she said in her interview.

“Kasi struggling na, e, last three days! Kahit naman sila struggling even right now, ‘di ba?” Ella added, referring to the Marcos family at that time.

“So, paano kaya iyon na there [was] so much pressure on their side during those times?” she further said.

The movie, called a dramedy, supposedly gives a glimpse of the last 72 hours of the Marcos family in the Palace before being exiled to Hawaii after the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Ella’s comments expectedly launched conversations, including remarks from historians.

Public historian-academic Ambeth Ocampo disagreed with the actress’ comments and said that history and gossip shouldn’t be “confused” with one another.

“History may have bias but it is based on fact, not opinion. Real History is about Truth, not lies, not fiction,” he shared in a viral Facebook post.

Another public historian, Xiao Chua, said that history is “evidence-based.”

“History can also be opinion. Puwede ‘yon, pero may nakakalimutan. At ‘yung nakalimutan, ‘yun ‘yung pinaka-importante. Ano ‘yun? ‘Yun ‘yung metodo. Method,” he said in an interview.

“And because history is evidence-based, that’s why hindi puwedeng chismis. Kapag na-verify na ‘yung chismis, hindi na siya chismis. Ganon ho ‘yon. So ‘yung ginagawang metodo, ‘yun po ‘yung verification,” Chua added.

Historian Alvin Campomanes also disagreed with Ella and said that history cannot be equated to gossip.

“Mariin ang pagtutol sapagkat may tinatawag tayong metodo o kaparaanang pangkasaysayan (historical method). Ang history o kasaysayan ay nakapaloob sa mga agham panlipunan (social sciences). Bagama’t may aspetong subhetibo, siyentipikong maituturing ang historikal na pananaliksik,” he said on Facebook.

“Kabilang sa mga hakbang nito ang pagpili ng paksa, pangangalap ng mga batis, kritisismo ng mga batis, at sintesis. Napakahalagang hakbang ng kritisismo ng mga batis,” Campomanes added.

“Ayon kay Navarro, sinusuri rito ang awtensidad (kritikang panlabas) at kredibilidad (kritikang panloob) ng batis. Sa sintesis naman, inoorganisa ng historyador ang mga datos, inilalatag ang kanyang mga argumento, at isinusulat ang naratibo. Napakahalaga rito ng masusing koroborasyon ng datos. Panghuli, iniuulat ng historyador ang mga natuklasan niya sa mga libro, akademikong journal, website, at iba pa. Sumasailalim ang mga akdang ito sa masinsing pagpuna at pagtatasa ng mga kapwa nila iskolar,” he further said.

Campomanes added that history, having programs in the academe, indicates it is a discipline. He referred to individuals majoring in history during their baccalaureate studies, graduate studies and doctoral studies as proof.

Historian Kristoffer Pasion shared a podcast that brought up one of its episodes about the topic in light of the conversations about it.

For history professor Jose Victor Torres, there is such a thing as “historical gossip” but added that “it is not the entire lesson of history.”

“One thing I sometimes explain is that the ‘Tsismis’ shows the generations of Filipinos how human our historical figures are. BUT IT IS NOT THE ENTIRE LESSON OF HISTORY. AND SOME OF THESE RUMORS ARE LIES (LET US NOT FORGET THAT),” he said on a Facebook post.

History major student Flory Joy Alvarez also gave her two cents on the discussion and said they do not go to campus and talk about gossip.

“We study really hard everyday thru reading and authenticating data to give the rightful information and preserve history,” she wrote in a viral tweet.