7 Books About Martial Law in the Philippines

7 Books About Martial Law in the Philippines

A number of materials have been published about the Marcos regime. Most of these materials are historical while others are analytical and anecdotal. This article lists down and describes some of the books written and published about the Martial Law in the Philippines. Arguably, these carefully curated titles provide students and other interested readers with both a primer and supplementary references about one of the pivotal periods in Philippine history.

1. Marcos Martial Law: Never Again

Published on the 30th anniversary of the People Power Revolution of 1987 that overthrew the Marcos regime, investigative journalist Raissa Robles references documents, official records, and books, as well as her own interviews with government officials to recount the systematic way former President Ferdinand Marcos used martial law not as an instrument to reform the society but to grab and stay in power.

The book won the 2017 National Book Award in the category of Non-Fiction Prose. It does not simply provide a general historical account of the events that transpired during the Martial Law era but instead focuses on the excesses of the regime, particularly the systematic corruption and the use of force and violence to control the people and subjugate the dissenters.

2. The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos

First published in 1976, a year after the declartion of Primitivo Mijares, a pressman under the Marcos administration wrote what has now become the first tell-all book of the Martial Law era. As a close confidant of the Marcos family and member of the inner circle, the author provided details of the alleged excesses of the regime, as well as the private lives of Ferdinand and Imelda, and their cronies.

The book also served not only a firsthand testimony to the alleged offenses of the Marcos regime but also a confession to the role Mijares played. He explained that as the chief propagandist, his job was to convince the people that martial law, an executive order announced under Proclamation No. 1081, was a needed instrument to reforming the Filipino society and battling the communist insurgency.

3. The Marcos Dynasty: The Corruption of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos

Sterling Seagrave, an American historian and investigative journalist renowned for investigating the biographical accounts of historical figures and the clandestine aspects of the political history in some Asian countries, focused his accounting of the Martial Law era on the rise and fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos, as well as on the political connections and influences of the Marcos family

The strength of the books lies on the fact that it is both a dramatic biography of Ferdinand and Imelda, and a historical account of the Marcos regime. Interestingly, Seagrave provided a detailed examination of the connection of the former president with the Yamashita Treasure, as well as his ties with top CIA officials, the Mafia, and political and business leaders in the United States, Japan, and several European countries.

4. Ferdinand Marcos and the Philippines: The Political Economy of Authoritarianism

In a lengthy analysis that spanned an entire book, Albert F. Celoza, a professor of social science and international studies explained how former President Ferdinand Marcos maintained an authoritarian rule through the support of the military, businesspersons, and bureaucrats, as well as through the assistance of the United States government. He specifically argued that the sociopolitical connections of Marcos created a patron-client system with a centralized bureaucracy as its primary source of power.

Although the book examines the political economy of the Philippines during the Marcos regime, it serves as a case study that presented the country as a model for other countries placed under an authoritarian rule. Its merits center on explaining to the readers how the government of Marcos worked through a web of social, political, and economic affiliations that ultimately provided the regime with a seemingly unchallenged power.

5. The Anti-Marcos Resistance: Personalistic Rule and Democratic Transition in the Philippines

The Martial Law period also marked the conflict between the Marcos regime and some of his opponents who belonged to the political and economic elite. In his book, Mark R. Thompson, an expert on Southeast Asian politics, explained the roles these elites play in assisting the Philippines to transition from an authoritarian rule to democracy. The discussion was substantiated by 150 interviews and unpublished documents that the author collected and analyzed during his five trips to the country.

An interesting point discussed in the book is that the anti-Marcos politicians initially backed a terrorist campaign by armed communist insurgents. However, when this plan failed, the elites formed a united front with the communist party. The assassination of opposition leader Benigno S. Aquino, Jr. further enabled the anti-Marcos elites to draw and capitalize on public outrage that challenged Marcos at the polls.

6. Tibak Rising: Activism in the Days of Martial Law

Edited by history professor Ferdinand T. Llanes, the book is a collection of stories and experiences of the generation of activists who played a role in setting up movements and mobilizing the communities that collectively lead to the People Power Revolution of 1987. Readers are drawn not only to the lives of these activists during the Martial Law Period but also to their political ideologies.

The book is essentially about the secretive nature of activism during the Marcos regime. It provides accounts of detention, torture, and killings in the middle of patriotism and adventurism. Furthermore, it is also a story of friendships and camaraderie, not only with fellow activists but also with the soldiers, built amid the hardships.

7. Subversive Lives: A Family Memoir of the Marcos Years

For the Quimpo family, the Martial Law period is both a historical event and a personal experience that have profound effects on their lives. Authors Susan F. Quimpo, Nathan Quimpo, and Vicente L. Rafael draw their readers to the first-hand experience of a family that dedicated themselves to the anti-Marcos resistance by becoming activists and members of the prevailing communist group of that time.

Undeniably, the book is a historical account and a family memoir. It reads as a series of short stories compiled by the Quimpo siblings that collectively tell the experiences of the authors during the Marcos regime, their gains and losses, and the story and inner conflicts of the Communist Party of the Philippines. It also represents the struggles of activists, as well as the internal conflicts that the younger ones had to address during the Martial Law period.

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