How do we deal with Chismis in our history?

July 22, 2022

When we study history, we are not providing answers to definitive scientific problems.

The argument is interesting. 

Do chismis contribute to how we tell history and preserve it?

Can you imagine if the chismis was started by a major player in the event? In the face of such a situation, how can we, as historical observers and researchers, possibly deal with it?

Many spread rumors (around the time of Malolos Congress formation) that Apolinario Mabini was paralyzed by a sexually transmitted disease. It has been somewhat retold as though it were true.

The rumor even made its way into Philippine literature, as the late F Sionil Jose alluded to it in his novel “Poon”.

Polio caused Mabini’s paralysis. 

I believe the great Filipino author regretted writing about the rumor. Imagine the harm it has done to Mabini’s honor, an already not highly regarded hero–chinismis pa na may tulo!

Remember that Mabini’s contemporaries spread this rumor. Today, many of them are considered heroes.

In the case where the source of the rumor is historical actors themselves, what should we do with the information?

Narratives are planted using rumors. History is not exempt from being weaponized. 

I don’t believe that we should just believe established historians, their writings, and their claims. Reading and discernment are important, so be open to other viewpoints, even if they differ from the official text.

Why? Some stories are told as historical truths, but in reality, they are just chismis.

Boy Abunda (dubbed the King of Talk in Philippine showbiz) and Rappler journalists discuss historical chismis in an interesting conversation. 

Abunda made some good points. The two interviewers didn’t seem to agree with him, but he’s a formidable talker.

In his statement, he refers to chismis as part of how Filipinos tell history. In addition, he mentions the importance of communicating versions of historical narratives.

Many woke liberals in the media do not welcome competing views. 

Yet, this is what is happening today, with many believing they alone are the source of truth.

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