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ML@50: Book Purge

Now You Know PH


ML@50: Book Purge

Is history repeating itself? Let’s take a look at some parallels in Philippine history — familiar occurrences during the Martial Law era that seem to mirror modern day headlines.

Book purge then:

The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos by journalist Carmen Navarro Pedrosa — This controversial biography of Imelda Marcos failed to make it in bookstores amid a pushback from the government and was outright banned when Martial Law came into effect in 1972.

The Conjugal Dictatorship by Marcos’ own “media czar” Primitivo “Tibo” Mijares who defected in 1975 — This controversial tell-all book about the Marcos dictatorship was published in the US where Mijares fled.

A few months later, Mijares disappeared, while his youngest son, Luis Manuel, who was just 16 years old was abducted. Luis Manuel’s body was found in 1977 with clear signs of brutal torture.

The book was stripped from U.S. stores and banned in the Philippines. It was relaunched by the Ateneo de Manila University Press in 2017 and they’ve put up a digital version available for download online, too.

The Philippine Press Under Siege by the National Press Club and Committee to Protect Writers –Though these two volumes first published in 1984 and 1985 were not banned per se, they do contain stories and press reports from the Martial Law era that “show the kind of ‘dangerous writing’ that has brought about the forced resignation, firing, blacklisting, arrest or detention of journalists, the padlocking or sequestering of a newspaper’s printing plant and equipment, and the filing of multimillion-peso libel suits or subversive charges against writers, editors, and publishers.”

Book purge now:

In October 2021, CHEd Cordillera issued a memo calling on higher education institutions to take part in the “region-wide removal of subversive materials both in libraries and online platforms.”

Students, academics, and rights advocates likened the order to Nazi tactics of pillaging public libraries, universities, and bookshops for materials written by ‘subversive’ authors that preceded the mass murder of Jews in what is now known as the Holocaust.

In August 2022, the Commission on the Filipino Language (KWF) issued a memorandum calling for the removal of books containing “subversive, anti-Marcos and anti-Duterte contents” from public libraries and schools.

Among the works banned is the published research of Dexter Cayanes titled “Tawid diwa sa pananagisag ni Bienvenido Lumbera: Ang bayan, ang manunulat at ang magasing sagisag sa imahinatibong yugto ng batas militar 1975-1979” about the literary works of the late National Artist during Martial Law. Lumbera was imprisoned during this era.

Other books included in the list are the “Teatro Political Dos” by Malou Jacob, “Kalatas: mga kuwentong bayan at kuwentong buhay” by Rommel Rodriguez, “May Hadlang ang Umaga” by Don Pagusara, “Labas: Mga Palabas ng Sentro” by Reuel Aguilla.







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