The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos is known as one of the most important literary works written on the Marcos regime. Penned by journalist and former Marcos chief propagandist Primitivo Mijares (know as Tibo by friends), the book presents an insider account of the internal goings-on of the Marcos administration, from a man who once held the privilege of being able to enter the former president’s personal chambers. An essential to your personal library, basically.
The book, which was released in 1976, has been out of print for a few years now. You would’ve been hard-pressed to find a copy at your nearest book store, but that’s soon going to change. The Mijares heirs, with Ateneo de Manila University Press, will launch a new edition of TCD in anticipation, fittingly, of the 31st anniversary of the EDSA People Power Revolution.
An excerpt from the preface of the new edition: “Considering not only the possibility that we may be returning to a state of martial law, but also the current administration’s rash attitude toward the media, this story by a journalist-whistleblower seems particularly relevant.” This preface was written by JC Gurango, grandson of Mijares, who has worked to spearhead the relaunch of the book in light of the country’s current political situation.
“There is obviously an ongoing effort to take that history and tell it differently,” says JC, who also mentions the near-victory of Bongbong Marcos as VP and the burial of the late despot in the Libingan ng mga Bayani. “What I wanna do is make sure that that part of history, that truth, gets told accurately.”
In line with this, the new edition of TCD now includes over 200 pages worth of new annotations, to clarify to a contemporary audience what may have been common knowledge in the time of the book’s debut. The team of editors handling this have also edited the book to make the language more accessible to today’s readers.
“It just boils down to educating the people who can still be educated, who are still open to new information,” JC says.
For JC, the responsibility falls to the youth to keep history from being erased and preserve the accounts of those who were around during martial law. Those going to the book launch can expect lawyer and senator Rene Saguisag, professor Jo-ed Tirol, Maria Serena Diokno — who stepped down as chair of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines following the Marcos burial — and Miriam Lacaba, daughter of the late warrior poet Emmanuel Lacaba. It’ll be a cross-generational affair.
Kevin Ansel Dy, who has helped edit the new edition and publicize its launch, agrees. “The reason the Marcoses have an opening in the first place is because people are more ignorant than we’d like to believe about the Martial Law regime. This book is just one step, one piece of the puzzle,” he says. “It’s not the answer to everything. There are actually other books that discuss other aspects of the Martial Law regime in more detail. But what this contributes is an insider account.”
In a country where the contributions of historians and journalists are constantly being discredited, a new edition of TCD would certainly help push Filipinos in the right direction. Saguisag says it best in the new edition’s foreword: “Kindly read the book and tell me why Tibo does not deserve to be memorialised in the Libingan ng mag Bayan, where Marcos, to be sure, does not belong.” Somebody get some aloe vera for that burn.
The book launch will be held on February 21, Tuesday 4-7 p.m. at the Yuchengco Auditorium, Bantayog ng Mga Bayani, Bantayog Road, Diliman, Quezon City. For more information, go to their website.