Carmel nuns expose lies in movies – Manila Bulletin


Sister Mary Melanie Costillas, OCD, and her congregation of Carmel nuns in Cebu spoke about what they believe was a malicious lie in the film Maid in Malacañanginvolving them and the late President Cory C. Aquino.

The scene in said film shows the Carmel sisters playing mah-jongg with Cory during the height of the dissident coup by Juan Ponce Enrile and General Fidel Ramos taking place in Manila.

The truth is that Cory along with his youngest daughter Kris, Ramon Mitra (later to become Speaker of the House), his brother Peping Cojuangco (now deceased) and his best friends from Cebu, Tony and Nancy Cuenco, sought refuge with the partisans of the time. President Ferdinand Marcos in the sanctuary of the Carmel convent. Cory felt safe with the nuns and this was the first time the convent had allowed men to stay within their sacred walls! The prioress at that time was Sister Aimée Ataviado.

It was also a dangerous situation in which the nuns placed themselves. They were also “targets” to house Cory, but they held their ground and took her and her group into the convent.

“The attempt to distort history is reprehensible. Depicting the nuns playing mah-jongg with Cory is malicious,” says Sr Costillas. “It would suggest that while the country was in peril, we could afford to play games quietly. The truth was that we prayed, fasted and made other forms of sacrifice for peace in the land and for the people’s choice to prevail.

After his presidency, Cory visited the Pink Sisters (Carmel) Convent in Tagaytay and my husband and I were blessed to be invited to accompany him. It was a lovely visit and she gave a talk to the congregation, reiterating her gratitude for their prayerful support.

It’s so disheartening that some people have to resort to lies to diminish some people’s reputation for their own intentions. I remember the late columnist for another newspaper (who was disabled) bragging in his column that he often played mah-jongg with President Cory in Malacañang during her presidency.

It was a lie because Cory never played mah-jongg at the Palace. His daughter Ballsy just released a statement to put this fairy tale to rest and the saddest thing is that this particular columnist never recanted his lie.

In the case of the Carmel nuns, the lying about them and Cory is deliberately wrong. As they also pointed out, most of the nuns are still alive. The least the filmmaker could have done was ask them if such a scene had ever happened.

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The death of former President Fidel V. Ramos earlier this week marked the end of an era. The FVR helped change the course of Philippine history by breaking with Marcos and later refusing to join in the plotting against President Cory by rebel RAM soldiers encouraged by Juan Ponce Enrile.

Fidel V. Ramos supported his president and this was a key factor in his subsequent decision to appoint who would succeed him – then Speaker of the House Ramon Mitra, a staunch ally, one of Ninoy Aquino’s close friends, or General Ramos ?

Against the advice of many of his seasoned political allies, Cory chose the general and campaigned for him as much as his schedule allowed. She made it clear to her close media that she expected us to do the same for “Eddie stable.”

“We need a president like Ramos after our term,” she told those around her. Well, FVR won and delivered a good government and emerged after his presidency as a statesman.

FVR was a jovial gentleman and friend. He was strict in his work and called on all members of his team to work to his standards. We will miss him. My family has a special bond with him and his predecessor as he and Cory were godparents in our daughter Sandee’s marriage to Andrew Masigan.