Philippine religious leaders express ‘deep concern’ over nuns’ gambling scene in movie

The Church leaders said they are "profoundly disturbed and deeply concerned" with how the film “Maid in Malacañang” put the nuns in a "bad light"

Leaders of men and women religious congregations in the Philippines decried the portrayal of Catholic nuns playing mahjong, a social gambling game, in a movie that tries to depict the last days of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in power in 1986.

The Church leaders said they are “profoundly disturbed and deeply concerned” with how the film “Maid in Malacañang” put the Discalced Carmelite Nuns of Cebu City in a “bad light.”

“Portraying the nuns playing mahjong with the late President Cory Aquino at the height of nation’s political crisis is indeed reprehensible,” read the statement released by the Conference of Major Superiors in the Philippines – CMSP (formerly the Association of Major Religious Superiors in the Philippines – AMRSP).

The organization said the movie scene is a “malicious attack on the integrity of the nuns” and an “affront to all consecrated women and harms the unity of the Church at large.

The statement, which was signed by CMSP’s co-chairpersons — Father Elias Ayuban, CMF, and Sr. Cecilia Espenilla, OP — also expressed its “solidarity with the maligned nuns, who are our fellow consecrated persons, in their cry for truth and fairness.”

The CMSP criticized the movie, which was produced by Senator Imee Marcos, for “misrepresenting the truth.”

“We are one with the Church and the nation in building unity based on truth. Thus, we call on each one to be discerning and critical not just about this film, but in all aspects of communication media,” said the religious leaders.

“To tell the truth, to stand for the truth, and to defend the truth is a moral imperative in a society where fake news, disinformation, misinformation, and peddling of lies become normal and natural,” they added.

Earlier, Bishop Gerardo Alminaza of San Carlos in the central Philippines called for a “boycott” of the controversial movie.

The prelate described the movie “Maid in Malacañang” as “shameless.”

The Carmelite nuns also decried what they described as the “malicious” depiction of nuns in the movie, saying the film “attempt(s) to distort history.”

“The attempt to distort history is reprehensible,” read a statement signed by Sister Mary Melanie Costillas, OCD, prioress of the Carmelite Monastery in Cebu City, on Tuesday, August 2.

“Depicting the nuns as playing mahjong 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,” added the nun’s statement.

A trailer of the movie, which was set in the aftermath of the 1986 Philippine elections, shows nuns playing mahjong with the character of former president Cory Aquino.

The movie “Maid in Malacañang” supposedly reenacts the last 72 hours of the family of the deposed dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in the Philippines before fleeing to Hawaii.

A scene in the movie shows the character of Aquino ordering to let the Marcoses leave the country through a phone call and then playing mahjong, a social gambling game, with nuns.

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