11 ‘Philippine Independence Day’ Reads

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Yesterday was my country’s Independence Day — this day commemorates the Philippines’ freedom from the Spanish colonization. But with everything that has been happening in my country recently, I think it is best that we remind ourselves more of our history. The Philippines was not only colonized by Spain, Japan, or the US. The country has also suffered from tyranny and betrayal from its own government who made the nation believe in their lies and promises of a better life and a better country.

It’s very disheartening that we neglect and take for granted the freedom and democracy that the generations before us have fought so hard for. It’s terrifying how I see a lot of people calling those years the golden era of the Philippines when the whole world refers to it as the darkest days of the Philippines in recent years.

With that, I would like to read the following books to remind and further educate myself on what has transcribed in the past for us, my generation and the next, to achieve the democracy that we now take for granted. Some of the books mentioned below are also about present-day atrocities by the outgoing administration. I am sharing it with all of you as you might also want to learn from these books:


Press Freedom Under Siege: Reportage That Challenged the Marcos Dictatorship by Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

Edited by veteran journalist Ma. Ceres P. Doyo, the book is a compilation of more than 30 magazine and newspaper articles written by bold and daring journalists during the waning years of the Marcos dictatorship and for which the writers bore various consequences.

Media shutdown, arrests, detention, forced resignations, interrogations, “scurrilous” libel cases—and death for some—were the lot of many writers and publishers during the Martial Law years. The stories in the book are those mostly written in the 1980s when emboldened journalists, mostly women, rose to wield and wave the pen against the dictatorship.

Read the pieces by Letty J. Magsanoc, Jo.Ann Q. Maglipon, Sheila S. Coronel, Rene O. Villanueva, Mila Astorga-Garcia, Arlene Babst, Mauro Avena, Chelo Banal, Domini Torrevillas, Lorna Kalaw Tirol, Ninez Cacho Olivares, Leonor Aureus Briscoe, Sylvia Mayuga, Recah Trinidad, Roberto Z. Coloma, Melinda Q. de Jesus, Alex Dacanay, Alex Magno, et al.

Read about the murder by the military of Kalinga chief Macli-ing Dulag, the plight of the Atas of Mindanao, the Las Navas massacre, the killing of a country doctor. Read the pieces that exposed and challenged the conjugal dictatorship. Learn about the aftermath of the writers’ boldness, how the dictatorship and its minions tried to intimidate them. Some articles that were banned are included in the book.

The book is dedicated to the late Letty Jimenez Magsanoc and the Filipino journalists who were slain in the line of duty. It is a reedited, resurrected version of two small volumes “The Philippine Press Under Siege vol. 1 and 2” published in 1984 and 1985 and edited by Leonor Aureus Briscoe.

Doyo (who writes for the Philippine Daily Inquirer) says in her Preface: “This compilation is a testament to the courage and outrage of the writers who dared, defied, and exposed, through the written word, the excesses of the fourteen-year-long dictatorial rule (1972-1986) of Ferdinand E, Marcos…a resolve so that history does not repeat itself, get rewritten or revised, so that NEVER AGAIN will tyranny subdue this nation, so that NEVER AGAIN will voices be silenced, so that NEVER AGAIN will the hand that writes be stilled.”


Five Hundred Years Without Love by Alex Lacson

It’s a gripping story of love, pain, tragedy and misery of a family suffering from the social cancer plaguing Philippine society today.

“This is my humble attempt to write a modern version of Jose Riza’s Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, both of which talk of the country’s social cancer during the time of Rizal, more than a century ago.

Rizal’s Noli and El Fili are required reading for all Grades 9 and 10 junior high school students in the country.

While I agree that our youth need to study our country’s social ills during the Spanish era, I also feel quite strongly that it is equally, if not more, important for our youth today to study and understand our present-day social cancer in its comprehensive and wholistic manner, not only in a piecemeal or one-dimensional view.

That’s why I wrote this book.

Our youth need to understand what keeps the country weak, and what keeps most of the Filipino families poor and miserable. Perhaps while they are reading or studying the book, our youth can think of ways how to solve or find cure to the social cancer. Perhaps this book would help in cultivating in them a deeper sense of love, sacrifice and discipline for our country and people.

I hope they would dream big dreams not only for themselves and their families, but also for our country, especially for the millions of poor families.

It is my hope that this book would help, even in some small measures, in raising a great generation of Filipinos among our youth today.

I hope that in their time, the Philippines would truly become a world-class country, and the Filipino a truly great and respected citizen of the world.”


Twice Blessed by Ninotchka Rosca

The story of the Basbas fraternal twins as they burrow into the integument of power in Philippine politics, their rise accompanied by catastrophes big and small, to themselves, to the people around them and to the nation they aspire to dominate.

A brilliant roman a clef, fast but lyrical, conferring a mythic dimension on even the banal and the putrid, as only the wondrous prose of Ninotchka Rosca can.

Like most of her works, Twice Blessed is a narrative palimpsest, with an older timeless way of life glimmering through the words and events of the Basbas twins’ contemporary tale.


The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos by Primitivo Mijares

This book reports on the best laid plans that paved the way to the Philippines’ dark history: the imposition of martial law in 1972 and the schemes that built and held its infrastructure.

Drawing data from his work as Marcos’s media adviser before his defection in 1975, Primitivo Mijares exposes the massive corruption and military abuses under the regime, which has left the nation in ruins.

Forty years after its first publication, the book, in this revised and annotated edition by the Ateneo de Manila Press, reminds Filipinos of their past that remains a present threat.


Marcos Martial Law: Never Again – Raissa Robles

On September 1972, Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, plunging the Philippines into 14 years of a brutal dictatorship that only ended when he was chased out of the country.

The hallmark of his dictatorship was repression: the systematic use of terror, torture and murder.

Thousands were killed, tens of thousands more suffered torments in “tactical interrogation” sessions conducted by the military, particularly the Philippine Constabulary.


Culture and History by Nick Joaquin

Who is the Filipino? What makes him so?

National Artist for Literature Nick Joaquin answers these questions in Culture and History, a groundbreaking treatise on Philippine history and Filipino identity, and how the tools of our native and adoptive cultures have shaped both.

With profound, thought-provoking, timeless essays that take Filipino readers back in time to rediscover their roots, as well as challenge preconceived notions on the meaning of culture and history and the intricate makings of the Filipino psyche, Culture and History exhibits Nick Joaquin’s vivid, nostalgic, ingenious prose and keen insight that only a brilliant writer and perceptive historian can deliver.


Gapo by Lualhati Bautista

Sa Olongapo lumaki si Michael Taylor, Jr. — isang GI baby na hindi na nakilala ang ama. Kung anong galit ni Mike sa Amerika, siya namang pagkahumaling dito ng hostess na si Magdalena, na walang nang ibang hangad kundi makapangasawa ng kano.

Nariyan rin si Ali na nagkukumahog makahanap ng mapapangasawa para lang magkaroon ng ama ang batang nasa pangangalaga niya.

At si Modesto, isang manggagawa sa loob ng base-militar ng mga Amerikano na araw-araw dumaranas ng pagkaapi sa kamay ng mga puti.

Ito ay kuwento nina Mike, Magda, Ali, at Modesto. Pero higit pa, ito ay kuwento ng ‘Gapo. Lupa ng Pilipino, batas ng Amerikano.


Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth by Jovito R. Salonga

Presidential Plunder: The Quest for the Marcos Ill-Gotten Wealth is a detailed account of the history of the ill-gotten wealth of the regime of Ferdinand Marcos, who was the Philippine dictator from 1972-1986.

Based on primary accounts and documents collated by Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG), Salonga discusses the story of tracing the offshore accounts, properties and assets held by Marcos, his family and his business associates and attempts by the Philippine Government in recovering these assets totaling to an estimated $10 billion.


The Public Has the Right to Know by Bienvenido A. Tan Jr.

The reports of the Board and of its counsel, set out to official account of its proceedings.

The testimonial, documentary, and real evidence presented before it, the facts thereby established, and the process of reasoning by which conclusions were derived from the facts.

Atty. Bienvenido A. Tan, Jr. has undertaken in this book this task of narrating what took place behind the scenes.

This is the behind-the-scenes story of the investigation into the facts surrounding the murder of Benigno S. Aquino, Jr.


Some Are Smarter Than Others: The History of Marcos’ Crony Capitalism by Ricardo Manapat

“Some Are Smarter Than Others irrefutably exposed the political and economic infrastructure of plunder supporting the Marcos dictatorship. Yet these are now denied and the unrepentant Marcoses in their manipulation of current politics have led the country again to Martial Law (in Mindanao) and to appalling impunity.

Ric Manapat exercised not only intellectual passion in research, but always raged at the poverty caused by government-sponsored greed, witnessing its effects on particular persons–urban poor and farmers who were his deep and life-long friends. In producing this book and other projects, he would have been guided by Thesis 11: the point of understanding the world being to change it.

A new generation reading Some Are Smarter Than Others can connect the dots to many of the persons and events of today, and more wisely take the actions needed.”

—Karen N. Tañada

“Written 40 years ago in 1979, “Some Are Smarter Than Others” began its life as a 40-page pamphlet that slowly grew in size, and spread, by photocopy and by hand, during the Martial Law years. Today. It remains a living, burning example of how the plain and simple truth can and must become the most potent, persistent, and amplifiable tool against the powerful structures of oppression.”

—Angelo R. Lacuesta


The Philippines Is Not A Small Country by Gideon Lasco

This book is an exploration of the Philippines as a beautiful land, a home to a diversity of peoples, a nation-in-the-making, and a country at the heart of the world.

Drawing from anthropology, history, contemporary events, popular culture, and the author’s field experiences and travels, the essays draw connections between nature and culture, self and society, the local and the global, as well as the past and the present in order to arrive at a deeper, fuller, critical, yet hopeful view of a country that is larger than many imagine it to be.

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