Reportage that challenged Marcos rule

Features Philippines Mar 22, 2019 at 3:20 pm


“Press Freedom Under Siege: Reportage that Challenged the Marcos Dictatorship” (University of the Philippines Press) will be launched on March 23, 2019, Saturday, at 4:30 p.m. at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani in Quezon City.

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.”

A couple of chapters in the book deal with the stories’ consequences. Many pieces have footnotes on what their authors went through as a result of what they wrote.

The book is for both journalists and non-journalists, also for lovers and practitioners of law especially where freedom of the press is concerned. The names of several writers who have died and whose articles are included in book are etched on the Wall of Remembrance of Bantayog ng mga Bayani (the venue of the launch). So are the names of some persons who were written about.

The book is both timely and timeless. Jo-Ann Q. Maglipon, whose article is included in the book, says in her back cover blurb: “To see a gathering of literature produced during martial law as no more than dormant literature for picking up, or not, is to miss the point to looking back. As we speak, a Strongman rises again. To look back is to move forward with fewer mistakes, and the literature has already been written to get us there.”

From the Foreword by Sheila S. Coronel, Dean of Academic Affairs of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism: “We witnessed The Fall and survived that Dark Age. As we look back to that era now, we can say that we stared at the dark heart of power and tried our best to shine a light, no matter how faint or how fleeting. This book reminds us of those flashes of light.” A 1982 piece by Coronel is included in the book.

The launch is sponsored by the Human Rights Violations Victims Memorial Commission, Eugenia D. Apostol Foundation, Commission on Human Rights, Bantayog ng mga Bayani and Women Writers in Media Now.

The book is available at the UP Press Bookstore at the UP campus, and UPper Shelf Bookstore at the UP Town Center Mall on Katipunan Ave., QC. To order online, contact or through the UP Press website. Launch price is P800. Regular price is P1,000.