Filipinos buy books to keep the truth about the Marcos regime

The rush to buy books documenting Marcos’ devastating 21-year reign comes as his son Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr takes office after a landslide election victory in May.

Marcos Jr. 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 he is in power, he will try to rewrite history.

Journalist Raissa Robles, author of Marcos Martial Law: Never Again, said that after Marcos Jr.’s victory, she received emails from readers around the world asking for a reprint of a detailed account of martial law victims.

“The price of a book almost doubled, and yet people were buying books in batches. They didn’t just buy one or two. They were buying five or 10 at a time,” Robles said.

Author Raissa Robles has seen a surge of interest in her book on the Marcos regime.

The main cause for concern came from the president himself.

Back in 2020, when Marcos Jr. preparing to run for president expressed a desire to revise textbooks it documented the corrupt and brutal regime of his parents.

“We’ve been calling for this for years,” Marco Jr. said. said at a forum hosted by the National Press Club, accusing those in power after his father’s death of “teaching children lies.”

Human rights organizations say that during the Marcos regime from 1965 to 1986, tens of thousands of people were imprisoned, tortured or killed for perceived or actual criticism of the government. Marcos Sr., who died in exile in 1989, and his 93-year-old wife, Imelda, were also found guilty of widespread corruption including the theft of approximately $10 billion in public money.

The family has repeatedly denied using public funds for personal gain, a claim that has been challenged in several court cases.

CNN reached out to the new Marcos government for comment but received no response.

Demand for books about the Marcos regime skyrockets

Marcos Jr. It has previously asked “peace” judge him by his actions, not by his family background. But during his inaugural speech On June 30, he praised his father, the late dictator, saying that since independence in 1946 he had achieved far more than previous administrations.

“He did it. Sometimes with the necessary support, sometimes without. So it will be with his son – you will not get any excuses from me,” he said.

During his speechhe also raised the issue of revising teaching materials in schools, but said that it was not about history.

“What we teach in our schools, the materials used, must be relearned. I’m not talking about history, I’m talking about the basics, the sciences, honing theoretical abilities and instilling professional skills,” he said.

But those assurances seem empty to people who have suffered under his father’s dictatorship and to those who are skeptical of Marcos’ new leadership.

One of the signs of this is the sale of books.

Almira Manduriao, head of marketing at Ateneo de Manila University Publishing House, said the hype around Philippine history books began shortly after Marcos Jr. won May 9 elections.

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

At least 10 titles dealing with martial law and the dark past of the Marcos dictatorship are still sold out in the university press, Manduriao said.

Some of the bestsellers in the campus bookstore have been reprinted, namely “Some Smarter Than Others: Marcos’ Story of Clan Capitalism” by Ricardo Manapata, “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos” by Primitivo Mijares, and “Canal de la Reina” by Liwayway Arceo Bautista.

The book
On May 11, Adarna House, founded by Filipino artist Virgilo Almario, offered a 20 percent discount on #NeverAgain set of the five book titles on the Marcos regime.

In the days that followed, sales skyrocketed and the pre-order waiting list grew, with the company announcing orders could take up to eight weeks to ship.

The proposal was a success with customers, but it also attracted the attention of the government.

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

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

Monteagudo said in his post that when topics like martial law and People power The revolution – the nationwide uprising that toppled the Marcos regime in 1986 – is taught in schools that “sows the seeds of hatred and dissent in the minds of these children.”

The Popular Power Revolution overthrew the dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.  in 1986.

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

One of Adarna’s clients, Vanessa Louis Kabakungan-Samaniego, who lives and works in Hong Kong, placed a group order with about a dozen Filipinos in the city for books about the Marcos dictatorship.

She told CNN that she fears the election will allow the Marcos political clan to “work to clear their name and revise the history books or target the media.”

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

Preserving the truth

In recent years, politicians and government officials have demonized publishers and journalists by denouncing their authority on social media and in public statements.

The day before Marcos Jr. took office, Nobel Prize winner Maria Ressa said. the government ordered her news organizationRappler to close.
She said that she had been harassed and prosecuted repeatedly over the past six years. alleged defamation, tax evasion and foreign media ownership violations.

“This is intimidation. This is a political tactic. We refuse to give in to them,” she said.

Maria Ressa, journalist, at the Deutsche Welle Global Media Forum in Bonn, Germany in June 2022.

Michael Pante, professor of history at Ateneo de Manila University, said he was wary of Marcos Jr. will continue former President Rodrigo Duterte’s campaign to delegitimize the work of historians, scientists and journalists, and possibly rewrite the history books.

Reporters Without Borders said that since Duterte’s election in 2016, media outlets have been subject to verbal and legal intimidation for work deemed overly critical of the government.

“The demonization of historians, scientists (and journalists) will continue,” Pante said. “And a snub[of them]will be enough to cause fear to speak up and be arrested or censored.

Filipino archivist Carmelo Crisanto, head of Memorial Commission for Victims of Human Rights Violationsis rushing to digitize the case files and testimonies of 11,103 survivors of the dictatorship for the 50th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in September.
Filipino archivist Carmelo Crisanto, head of Human Rights Violations Victims & # 39;  The Memorial Commission hopes to digitize the martial law survivor account.  (Source: Memorial Museum of Victims of Human Rights Violations)

He fears that if the stories of martial law survivors are forgotten, people will once again become victims of political violence.

His team of about 30 plus 1,500 student volunteers, most half his age and survivors of martial law themselves, were chosen to defend the truth for the next generation.

“I want part of this digital archive to be made available to the public in a way that (can be) easily accessed so that it can be sent to colleges here in the country and also to some partner institutions abroad, so that memory and evidence never disappeared. get lost, he said.

“If there is one lesson that government agencies have learned from the martial law period, it is that no one (should) go to jail, even if they commit gross human rights violations,” he said.

Robles, the author, said people told her they wanted to give copies of her books to relatives, while others wanted to stash a supply in case the new government banned reprints.

“They said they wanted to cover it up so that after the Marcos presidency, they could reveal it and keep the memory alive,” she said.

Robles said she is determined to continue writing and critiquing the country’s political landscape despite fears of censorship, but admits, “I’m not just afraid of censorship, I’m afraid of being arrested.”