Martial Law in the Philippines, 47 years hence

A round-up of materials on Martial Law's actual anniversary

Manila, 23 September—For a change, I thought of posting this year’s round-up of Martial Law reportage on this day instead of Sept 21, which is the date of the document as preferred by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos, who held power and put the country under his martial law dictatorship for two decades. When remembrances recall that silent morning without TV nor radio, they actually refer to Sept 23, 1972.

Everything I know about martial law and that dark period in Philippine history, I learned during my decade-long stay with the Inquirer Research department, which has been often tasked to take care of historical research for the martial law-themed commemorative issues year after year. Every year, we scoured old books for stories we’ve never told before or to double-check facts in retellings. Many of my favourite past works were made in the service of this remembrance. In fact, I felt the most useful in my position as a researcher whenever I had to do something for these commemorations.

Why is commemoration important? I suppose in the same way that we think birthdays or anniversaries are important to celebrate. I feel that it’s important to always be aware of how far we’ve gone, to celebrate all our accomplishments or the adversities that we’ve overcome.

I understand how frustrating it is to take stock and to come at a disappointing realization and other harsh truths. Maybe we haven’t gone as far as we think we had, or maybe in fact we’re just going around in circles.

I suppose we can transition into a fitness metaphor: Is not hitting the desired goal, time and again, reason enough to stop remembering to train altogether? I am perhaps the last person you’d expect to employ this metaphor, but I am hoping this strikes both the literal and metaphoric chord.

It’s time to get off our asses and start moving. Maybe it’s not yet too late.

Related readings

📊 Manolo Quezon shared this comprehensive timeline of Martial Law—in Excel form. A blessing for all dataviz nerds.

✒️ CNN Philippines turned the spotlight on Martial Law survivors and their accounts

📋 Some figures about Martial Law as rounded up by Inquirer Research this year

📚 Inquirer also featured an award-winning teacher who is teaching martial law in high school to counter ‘historical distortion’

📚 Speaking of efforts from the academe: Martial Law will be taught in UP as PS 21 and I am so envious. (via OneNews)

🔊 PumaPodcast has a Martial Law episode: Golden age ba talaga ng ekonomiya ang Marcos years?

📖 For your digital shelf: Primitivo Mijares’ Conjugal Dictatorship.

Happy reading,