When the son of the dictator announced he was running for the highest office in the country, I decided to add this book to this year's reading list. The reason was to be better informed about what life was like during the early years of Marcos' martial law regime and in the years leading up to it. The Marcos reign was a dark chapter in our nation's history and reading about it and knowing more about it can help us fight back against the forces that want to revise that history to make themselves look better, all for the sake of political power.
The book was published in 1976, 4 years after the martial law declaration in 1972. The author Primitivo Mijares was formerly a media man and propagandist in service to the dictator, who later turned on his master and testified before the US congress about the evils of the martial law regime. Mijares and his son were later found murdered after being brutally tortured and dropped from a helicopter. The book is often cited as must-read material to learn more about the martial law years and what led up to it.
The book covers in detail topics such as the author's own history with Marcos, how Marcos managed to escape a murder conviction and fake his war records and built a political career to become President, what went down on the day of the actual martial law announcement (Sep 22, although the proclamation was dated Sep 21), how Marcos treated his political enemies, the corruption of Marcos and his cronies, human rights abuses, the complacency of the US in supporting the regime through foreign aid, and so on.
The main problem with the book is that it reads a lot like a boring history book, and the author's verbose and flowery prose tends to make him keep repeating certain facts to hammer home his point. I found each chapter difficult to get through as a result. This is unfortunate because there are a lot of good historical facts in the book; the text is information dense and the reader will recognize familiar names and places in our nation's history (many of whom I only recognize from modern-day street names!) and the parts they played in the lead up, declaration, and early years of Marcos' martial law regime.
The content would actually be quite useful for educating future generations about the evils of the Marcos regime, if only it had better presentation. The text's difficulty level is an obvious disadvantage in the fight against Marcos-related revisionism, misinformation and propaganda that is prevalent on modern-day platforms such as Facebook, Tiktok and such.
In the spirit of fairness, I read up a bit on the author and the book. The Wikipedia entry mentions that some of the claims in the book have been contested, though none categorically so. Nonetheless, even if only half or even less of what Mijares writes about turns out to be true, it still paints a dire picture of a man, or actually a couple, hell bent on plundering this country and staying in power for their own personal gain.
If you want to read this book, a copy is freely available online. My only regret is that I used the iPad Books app to read it and not the Kindle app; the books app doesn't seem to have any easy way for me to export the passages I've highlighted from the text.
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