Five books that tackle the truth and injustices of the Marcos regime

Five books that tackle the truth and injustices of the Marcos regime

Don’t let the historical revisionists fool you.

Last week, Imee Marcos made headlines when she claimed to have been “too young” to be linked to the 1977 death of Archimedes Trajano, a student activist who had raised concerns regarding the then-presidential daughter’s appointment as head of the Kabataang Barangay. Many were quick to point out that Marcos was already 21 years old, by all accounts an adult, at the time. And timing, in this case, is everything, as this all occurred during her father’s ruthless dictatorship.

It’s worth noting as well that Marcos has recently been elected senator. For anyone who’s ever had to study martial law in elementary school history classes, especially anyone who had actually lived through it, it should be puzzling, if not outright troubling and maddening. With ill-gotten wealth, censorship, the complete disregard of human rights, and other crimes and tragedies too heavy to name, the memories and lessons of the Marcos regime shouldn’t have led us here.

In the five books listed below, you’ll find stories both fictional and true-to-life about what life was like during martial law from many different points of view. Seek them out and take them to heart — it’s important that we keep educating ourselves and each other and reflecting on what we learn.

Mondo Marcos: Writings on martial law and the Marcos Babies, edited by Frank Cimatu and Rolando B. Tolentino

Mondo Marcos compiles 50 pieces of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry on martial law, written in both English and Filipino by the babies born and raised during that time from all over the country. From accounts of strong-willed rebels, to recollections of those who had connections to the Marcoses, to the experience and aftermath of the People Power Revolution, this anthology highlights the distinct perspectives of those who had to live within and struggle against a world where you had to grow up too fast.

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

Written by a pair of siblings, Subversive Lives is about loss and heartbreak in the midst of uprising. The authors recall visceral tales of imprisonment and torture at the hands of the military, as well as alienation and broken ties from what had been familiar and dear to them, all in the name of revolution and liberation from an abusive government. The memoir is a searing reminder of the sacrifices so many people, even the youth, had to make to fight for what’s right.

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

In this novel, protagonist Noel Ilustre Bulaong returns home to the Philippines from the United States to attend his father’s funeral. Through his journey, he finds himself looking back on his younger years, during which the Marcos regime was in full swing. Noel recalls the supposed safety of homes, his time in jail as a student activist, the Diliman commune, and a running current beneath it all, the loss of innocence — plenty of which the author had experienced himself. Killing Time in a Warm Place captures the frustrations, convictions, and even guilt of one generation: disillusionment versus idealism versus compromise, and the fine line between fighting for your beliefs and fighting for survival.

Dekada ‘70 by Lualhati Bautista

Published in 1984, Dekada ‘70 focuses on the Bartolomes, made up of mother Amanda, father Julian, and five sons. In the midst of political unrest, Amanda struggles to keep her family together as her sons turn to activism and other acts of rebellion and they find themselves in increasingly violent and desperate situations. The novel, which was adapted into a film in 2002, is notable for its strong feminist themes, with ruminations on agency, what it means to be a woman and a mother, and what role either or both have in society.

The Conjugal Dictatorship by Primitivo Mijares

Primitivo Mijares was Ferdinand Marcos’ media adviser and propagandist, the self-described “the sole conduit between the military government and the practicing media.” In 1975, he defected and eventually published The Conjugal Dictatorship, using his own data and firsthand experience to expose the path that led to the declaration of martial law as well as the corruption and abuse that went on. It was an act of sacrifice that may have led to the death of Mijares and his son; however, despite the dictator’s efforts to censor Mijares and put a stop to the book’s publication, it has since become a crucial document of our history that continues to remind us to be fearless and vigilant.

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