Philippines: Buy books to defend the truth about the Marcos regime

Filipinos living abroad are looking to buy books about the late Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, not only to read about the history but to preserve it.

The rush to buy books chronicling Marcos’s destructive 21-year reign came when his son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., assumed office following a landslide election victory in May.

Marcos Jr has never publicly acknowledged or apologized for the human rights abuses, corruption and theft that historians say took place under his father’s leadership.

And there are fears that now that he is in power, he will try to rewrite history.

Journalist Raissa Robles, author of the book “Marcos Martial Law: Never Again,” said that after Marcos Jr’s win, she received emails from readers around the world with requests to reprint additional articles detailing the story. victims of martial law.

“The price of books has almost doubled, but people are still buying books in batches. They’re not just buying one or two books. They’re buying five or 10 at a time,” Robles said.

The main cause of concern comes from the president himself.

Back in 2020, when Marcos Jr was preparing to run for president, he made clear his desire to revise the textbooks documenting his parents’ corrupt and brutal regime.

“We’ve been calling for that for years,” Marco Jr said in a forum hosted by the National Press Club, as he accused those in power since his father’s death of “teaching children.” lie”.

Human rights groups say that during the Marcos regime from 1965 to 1986, tens of thousands of people were jailed, tortured, or killed for genuine awareness or criticism of the government. Marcos Sr., who died in exile in 1989, and his wife, Imelda, 93, were also found guilty of widespread corruption including stealing an estimated $10 billion in public money.

The family has repeatedly denied using state funds for their personal purposes – a claim made in multiple court hearings.

CNN has reached out to the new Marcos government for comment but has not received a response.


Marcos Jr had previously asked the “world” to judge him by his actions, not by his family’s past. But in his inauguration speech on June 30, he praised his father, the late dictator, saying he had accomplished more than previous administrations since independence in 2014. 1946.

“He got the job done. Sometimes with the necessary support, sometimes not. With his son too – you won’t get any excuses from me,” he said.

In his speech, he also addressed the issue of revising learning materials in schools, but said he was not talking about history.

“What we teach in schools, the materials that are used, have to be re-examined,” he said. “I’m not talking about history, I’m talking about the basics, science, aptitude training,” he said. theory and imparting vocational skills”.

But those assurances will be empty for those who suffered under his father’s dictatorship, and others who are skeptical of Marcos’ new leadership.

One sign of that is through book sales.

Almira Manduriao, head of marketing for Ateneo de Manila University’s publishing press agency, said the Philippines’ buying craze for history books began shortly after Marcos Jr won the 9th election. /5.

“People were suddenly afraid that literature critical of dictatorships would be banned,” says Manduriao. “Therefore, the need to buy and protect books (when) they still can.”

According to Manduriao, at least 10 books dealing with martial law and the dark past of the Marcos dictatorship are still sold out in the university press.

Several of the best-selling books at the campus bookstore have been reprinted – specifically “Some Smarter Than Others: A History of Marcos Crooked Capitalism” by Ricardo Manapat, “Die. combined dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos” by Primitivo Mijares and “Canal de la Reina” by Liwayway Arceo Bautista.

On May 11, Adarna House, a publishing house founded by Filipino artist Virgilo Almario, offered 20% off the #NeverAgain Bundle of 5 titles on Marcos mode.

In the days that followed, sales skyrocketed and pre-orders grew, and the company announced it could take up to eight weeks for orders to ship.

The offer resonated with customers, but it also caught the attention of the government.

Alex Paul Monteagudo, director general of the National Intelligence Coordination Service, accused Adarna House of “radicalizing Filipino children.”

“Adarna Publishing has published these books and they are being sold to subtly radicalize Filipino children against our government right now!” he wrote on his official Facebook page on May 17.

Monteagudo said in the post that when topics like martial law and Human power revolution – a nationwide uprising that toppled the Marcos regime in 1986 – is taught in schools, it will “sow the seeds of hatred and dissent in the minds of these children.”

Adarna House declined CNN’s request for comment on the statements.

One of Adarna’s customers, Vanessa Louie Cabacungan-Samaniego, who lives and works in Hong Kong, placed a group order for about a dozen Filipinos in the city to find books about the Marcos dictatorship.

She told CNN she worries the election will allow the Marcos political clan “to work to clear their names and modify the history books or target the media.”

“Buying books to educate ourselves and the next generation is just our little way to fight injustices,” she said, as the first batch of orders shipped in June.


In recent years, politicians and government officials have belittled publishers and journalists, denying their credibility on social media and in public statements.

The day before Marcos Jr took office, Nobel laureate Maria Ressa said the government had ordered her news organization, Rappler, to close.

She said she had been harassed repeatedly over the past six years and was targeted for legal action for alleged libel, tax evasion and violations of foreign media ownership rules.

“This is intimidation. These are political tactics. We do not yield to them,” she said.

Michael Pante, a history professor at Ateneo de Manila University, said he was concerned Marcos Jr would continue former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to authorize the work of historians, scholars and journalists – and capable of moving to rewrite history books.

Reporters Without Borders says that since Duterte’s election in 2016, the media has been subjected to verbal and judicial threats because of its work seen as overly critical of the government.

“The devastation of historians, scholars (and journalists) will continue,” says Pante. “And an attitude of denial (to them) will be enough to create fear of speaking out and being arrested or censored.

Filipino archivist Carmelo Crisanto, head of the Memorial Commission for Victims of Human Rights, is racing to digitize case files and testimonies of 11,103 dictatorship survivors, in time to commemorate 50 years since martial law was declared in September.

He worries that if the stories of martial law survivors are forgotten, people will once again be vulnerable to political violence.

His team of about 30 people plus 1,500 college student volunteers – most of whom are half his age and have not lived through martial law – have been chosen to protect the truth for the next generation. .

“I want to make part of this digital archive available to the public, in a way that is (possibly) easily accessible, to be sent to universities here in the country and some partner institutions. abroad, so that memory and evidence will never run out. be lost,” he said.

“If there is one lesson that state authorities have learned from the martial law era, it is that no one (must) go to jail, even if they commit serious human rights violations,” he said.

Robles, the author, said people have told her they want to give copies of her books to loved ones, while others want to keep supplies in case the new government bans reprints.

“They said they wanted to hide it so that after Marcos is president, then they can take it out and keep the memory alive,” she said.

Robles said she is determined to continue writing and critique the nation’s political landscape, despite concerns about censorship – but she admits, “I’m not only afraid of censorship, but also afraid of being caught.”

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