Martial Law

#NeverForget: Revisit the dark era of Martial Law through these books

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#NeverForget: Revisit the dark era of Martial Law through these books

Photos from Anvil Publishing, Adarna House, and Ateneo Press

Here are eight books on Martial Law to furnish your knowledge on one of the darkest periods in Philippine history

When we speak of the past, it’s easy to shrug off many dates and events, and to question their relevance to our daily lives. But forgetting is simply not an option to those who had to endure the worst of the worst and had to carry the trauma of living through Martial Law under the late ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Almost 49 years after the declaration and amid widespread disinformation, Filipinos are still called to educate themselves on the victims’ stories of struggle and endurance.

Here are eight books on Martial Law which you can add to your cart.

Dekada ’70′ by Lualhati Bautista

What is a list of books on Martial Law without a Lualhati Bautista read? You might have watched the film and musical adaptations of Dekada ’70, but the book is a completely different experience on its own.

In this award-winning novel, the author captures the dynamics of the middle-class Bartolome family, as they suffer from the ruthless and oppressive rule of a dictator while trying to keep the family from crumbling apart. Beyond its exploration of the bigger themes of freedom and struggle, Dekada ’70 probes the role of a woman in the time of Martial Law, what it means to be a mother and a wife, through its main character, Amanda.

Get it from Anvil Publishing or get your own signed copy directly from the author.

Desaparesidos’ by Lualhati Bautista

Another Lualhati Bautista masterpiece is the Desaparesidos, which is a Spanish word referring to the “disappeared” people. The story details how Anna’s involvement in the revolution against the Marcos dictatorship forced her to leave her child Malaya under someone else’s care. True to its title, the book takes on the challenge of vividly narrating Anna’s journey in finding her missing child afterwards.

Desaparesidos deals with Martial Law’s brutal and traumatic impact on families and how the nightmares of the past continue to reveal itself in various, unpleasant forms.

Get it from Anvil Publishing or get your own signed copy directly from the author.

Killing Time in a Warm Place’ by José Y. Dalisay Jr.

Killing Time in a Warm Place tells the story of Noel Bulaong, who is coming home to the Philippines from America after his father’s death. 

The story revolves around a mature Noel reminiscing about his younger years. Noel was an innocent child who grew up to be a student-activist during the Marcos era. After his years of struggle and idealism, he later turned into an adult just trying to live an ordinary life.

José Y. Dalisay Jr’s award-winning book is about a man caught between the clashing ideologies of the past and his changing milieu, haunted by guilt and remorse.

Get it from Anvil Publishing.

12:01′ by Russell Molina and Kajo Baldisimo

If you want some visuals to accompany your reading experience, this comic book is the right choice for you. With Russell Molina as its author and Trese artist Kajo Baldisimo as its illustrator, 12:01 tells the story of what it was like on the streets after curfew hours during Martial Law, hence the book’s title. 

In just 48 pages, the comic book is able to encapsulate the horrors of Martial Law by narrating the circumstances surrounding a group of teenagers who got stranded on the road past midnight. What happens upon their encounter with uniformed officers along their way is another story.

Get it from Adarna House.

‘Si Jhun-Jhun Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar’ by Augie Rivera

Si Jhun-Jhun Noong Bago Ideklara ang Batas Militar is a great pick for those who are looking for a children’s book to introduce kids to the events that transpired before Martial Law.

This book delves into the story of Jhun-Jhun when he seeks to find out where his older brother goes when he leaves home. Through author Augie Rivera’s grasp of children’s sensibility and illustrator Brian Vallesteros’s rich and vibrant drawings, the story successfully tackles a rather serious matter in a way that can easily be understood by children.

Get it from Adarna House.

‘Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage: The First Quarter Storm and Other Related Events’ by Jose F. Lacaba

Jose F. Lacaba’s Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage is the way to go if you prefer reading nonfiction. 

Days of Disquiet, Nights of Rage is a compilation of Lacaba’s firsthand reports on the First Quarter Storm. The book offers a more personal look into the turbulent events of Martial Law while remaining objective in his reportage, therefore giving its readers a more engaging reading experience.

What sets this apart from other real-life accounts is that it falls under the genre Literary Journalism or New Journalism – which uses literary techniques and combines them with the approach of traditional journalism.

Get it from Anvil Publishing.

‘Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years’ by Susan F. Quimpo and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo

Subversive Lives is a collection of the Quimpo siblings’ individually written and self-reflective essays on Martial Law, where they explore personal narratives of uprising, imprisonment, exile, disappearance, torture, and murder.

Although the book sheds light on the varying anecdotes of the siblings, one thing that binds their narratives is their collective story of resistance against the Marcos dictatorship.

Get it from Anvil Publishing.

‘The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ by Primitivo Mijares

What better way to end this list than with Marcos’ own “media czar” and propagandist who, upon his defection in 1975, revealed out in the open the carefully plotted schemes that eventually led to the declaration of Martial Law. 

The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos lays bare the corruption and the despicable abuse of power in Marcos’s time.

Following the book’s publication in 1976, the author Mijares and his son Boyet disappeared and eventually died.

Get it from Ateneo Press. – Angelo Justin Barraca/

Angelo Justin Barraca is a Creative Writing student at University of the Philippines-Diliman. Other than being a Digital Communications volunteer at Rappler, he often whiles away the day reading books, watching films, or simply scrolling through social media sites while having a good cup of coffee.

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