Rule of Martial Law

Last September 21 was the 40th anniversary since the declaration of Martial Law. In line with this, I will relate two books that depicted the martial law era with specific experiences and different voices entailed in the stories they told. Because of what my dad always tells us, my view on Martial Law is quite different from what our professors in school tell us (which almost everyone is angry at Marcos). I don’t think I would like to experience that part of the history, but I do agree with the slogan, “Sa ikauunlad ng bayan, disiplina ang kailangan.” A lot of landmarks has been put up during that time, like the LRT, CCP, etc. Until now, we still hear dad say during the time of Marcos…

  1. Tutubi, Tutubi, Huwag Kang Magpapahuli sa Mamang Salbahe

I enjoyed reading this novel are a lot of insights I can relate to even when it’s set in Martial law era. When stating the title of the book, people seem to want to say the whole title. Like when the asked me, ‘what are you reading?’ I’d say, ‘Tutubi, Tutubi…” and before I finish they have already said the whole thing.

The inner thoughts of the narrator is always struggling with the society’s norm and the events taking place. We somehow live in a subversive world where things are dictated, and we should comply with the rules, wants and needs of the society. This book depicted the experiences of young people during the Martial Law and how they went into hiding while trying to escape getting caught by the authorities. It is filled with witty lines and truths about life during the beginning of the rule of iron fist; a satirical way of presenting what happened then. The lines caught my attention because it reflected a lot of how the world works even today in a democratic world. You are not given the permission to think what the government doesn’t agree on. It’s as if conjuring up a memory is already punishable. I remember reading a part about roadwork that take too long to finish and saw how it is still reflected today. Not much has changed.

I got the chance to be under Sir Jun Cruz Reyes’ class and I learned a lot about creative writing, of sketching of characters, plot building, writing techniques. The class might not be totally interested in his way of discussing things, and at some part might have slipped away from the classroom and came back. But in general, once he started speaking, he continues to tell a story after another until the bell rings. And that you cannot deny the fact that he is a great storyteller. Glad to finally have the chance to read one of his books.

  1. Mondo Marcos by Frank Cimatu and Roland B. Tolentino

This book compiled short stories, essays and poetry of the Martial Law babies. It marked individual experiences, perspectives and weavings of stories that etched out from the Martial Law period. The entries revolved around different feelings that people had gone through, and creatively putting them into writing, some also included fictional stories. Some emphasized on the bitter truths that happened then, being put into prison camps for rallying against the current rule. Some shared what they were doing the time that the announcement of Martial Law was made. Still some also showed how Imelda Marcos paved the way for the development of arts and culture. And then some developments that took place at the expense of people. There are also forms of criticism at the governments even after Marcos’ rule, the abuse of power for the people who hold the position.

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