‘No mention’: ‘Grotto of the Pink Sisters’ author corrects film director on mahjong claims

August 4, 2022 - 1:29 PM
Giselle Sanchez as Cory Aquino in a scene in “Maid in Malacañang.” (Viva Films)

(Updated; Aug. 5, 2:18 p.m.)  Two individuals reportedly corrected the team who released an article to defend a dramedy’s controversial mahjong scene featuring the character of former president Cory Aquino and some monastery sisters.

The Facebook page of the “Maid in Malacañang” director on August 1 shared an article from a January 1986 issue of Mother Jones magazine in response to the statement released by the Carmelite Sisters through its prioress.

“WALANG MADRENG NAGMAMAHJONG?” a post of “VinCentiments” page reads. It is associated with Darryl Yap.

The page added that its team supposedly did a research, attaching photocopied images of the article titled “In The Grotto of the Pink Sisters” by Anne Nelson.

“In this 1988 Magazine (from Page 19), mababanggit po ang pangalan ng pinakamalapit na Madre kay President Cory, her name was SISTER CHRISTINE TAN, mababanggit din po dito na siya ay nagmamahjongg. ‘Mah-jongg’ and ‘Pink Sisters,” the page said.

The page highlighted the words “Pink Sisters” and “mah-jong” as well.

Article by Anne Nelson from Mother Jones magazine’s January 1986 issue.

Facebook user Elmer Leyson Baldesanso, who shared that he is not a “Kakampink” or a supporter of former vice president Leni Robredo, said he emailed Nelson to clarify the matter, citing “VinCentiments'” post.

Nelson then reportedly responded that the director appeared to have “read the piece too hastily, and conflated two sentences.”

“There is nothing in it that says that the nuns played mah-jong, with Cory Aquino or anyone else,” she said.

Nelson also warned against an “unauthorized Tagalog translation of the piece published in the Philippines” that “misrepresented” her reporting.

Nelson also clarified the issue in a tweet, saying she wrote Aquino had “visited Pink Sisters for prayer,” that the former president “was a friend of Christine Tan,” and that “Christine Tan gave talks to ladies who sometimes played mah-jongg.”

“It said nothing about Aquino or Tan playing mah-jongg,” she said, attaching images of her article.

Baldesanso also reportedly e-mailed a language expert for another reference, asking about which subject the “mah-jong” term was referring to.

The particular part in the article reads:

Although Sister Christine was a vocal critic of the communist insurgency, she also understood the conditions from which it had spring. She had worked for years in the worst slums in Manila, and made something of a vocation out of revealing their horrors to women from her own comfortable background. Her tranquil voice would take on a slightly chiding tone as she’d try to convince the perfumed ladies, taking the afternoon off from the mah-jongg circuit, that the breeding grounds for such misery in their country ultimately could threaten their own well-being, too.

Linguist Elly Van Gelderen answered that the dangling modifier in the article “could modify either of the two, ‘sister’ or ‘ladies.'”

“It makes more sense to go to the closer antecedents, i.e. ladies,” she wrote.

The Carmelite Sisters on Tuesday decried how Yap’s movie had depicted the nuns who were with the character of Aquino, saying that the portrayal was “malicious.”

Stills from the movie showed Aquino playing mahjong, a social gambling game, with nuns.

Although the color of their habit was different from the Carmelites, history notes that Aquino had stayed in their monastery in Cebu after the 1986 snap election.

At that time, her companions said that there were threats against her life.

“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 Carmelites said.

A religious organization backed up their statement and said that the nuns are “contemplative or cloistered” in real life.

RELATED: Carmelite nuns, religious group respond to viral movie’s mahjong scene

Yap responded by saying that there was nothing wrong with playing mahjong.

“Pampalipas-oras man o pangmagkakaibigang-laro,” he added.