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Against Forgetting

A notebook on the fiftieth anniversary of martial law being declared in the Philippines

On September 23, 1972, Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr., then president of the Philippines, set up a one-man authoritarian regime, ushering in one of the darkest times in Philippine history. As Noel Pangilinan writes in an essay written for this collection, Marcos “abolished Congress, dissolved the vice presidency, canceled the 1973 presidential election, shut down mass media, and jailed critics of his administration, including senators, congressmen, print and broadcast journalists, labor leaders, church leaders, and student activists, among others.” 

Here in this notebook, titled Against Forgetting, are essays, poems, narratives, short stories, and excerpts by Filipino and Filipino American writers that tell stories about the nightmare that was martial law.

As coeditors of this notebook, we represent two different generations of people who do remember martial law. To remember is to refute the all too-pervasive idea that this moment in history has been forgotten or whitewashed. The writers who have so readily contributed to this notebook—themselves representing multiple generations—strengthen our claim. We are among the many Filipinos who have kept the knowledge of martial law alive all this time, despite rampant disinformation campaigns and online troll armies deployed by the dictator’s family. Writers and artists are truly the repository of society’s memories. And they proved ready and willing to go to battle for the truth and fight for the people’s collective memory.

—Noel Pangilinan and Soleil Davíd, coeditors

Read the full list of pieces below.

Pieces from top to bottom, left to right:

  1. Against Forgetting: Editors’ Note” by Noel Pangilinan and Soleil Davíd

  2. Our Memories, Our Souls” by Eric Gamalinda

  3. A Country in a Dictator’s Sleep” by Gina Apostol

  4. Why Did Marcos Declare Martial Law?” by Noel Pangilinan

  5. But I Had Always Been a Bad Comrade” by Anna Cabe

  6. Martial Law and Its Aftermaths: A Personal History” by Gato del Bosque

  7. Mula sa Kanayunan Tungo sa Kalunsuran | From the Countryside to the Cities” by Noel Pangilinan, translated from Filipino by Jhong C. Delacruz, RN

  8. Three Poems” by Soleil Davíd

  9. Because of You, Queen Kong” by Luis H. Francia

  10. Ka Vernon” by Alma Domingo

  11. Clowns in a Time of Repression” by Joi Barrios

  12. Mula Kay Tandang Iskong Basahan: Tagpi-tagping Alaala | From Old Man Isko the Ragseller: A Patchwork of Memories” by Pedro Cruz Reyes, Jr., translated from Filipino by John Bengan

  13. Children of the Sunflower Revolution” by Vina Orden

  14. The Bionic Boy and the Ten Billion Dollar Man” by Sheila S. Coronel

  15. Songs Against the Dictator: ‘Walang Hanggang Paalam | Neverending Farewell’ and ‘Pagbabalikwas | To Break Free’” by Rene, Cristy, and Marx Rivera, and the Bicutan Political Detainees

  16. This Will Be the Day That I Die” by Ninotchka Rosca

  17. Against Forgetting: About the Art” by Noel Pangilinan