By: Michael David Sy
Last January 2018, I had been helping my father clean when I discovered that he had Marcos propaganda with him. I was inspired by the discovery to read everything that Marcos had written, and then collate my insights about them through a short book. Of course, I also had to properly situate myself, so I also sought books that were a more sober analysis of the Martial Law era.
My father had a copy of Today’s Revolution: Democracy, and it was the first book I read from his oeuvre. It was Marcos’s attempt to leaven the idea of Martial Law to Filipinos, and I thought it was decent.
The first book I purchased, however, if I remembered correctly, was one volume of Marcos’s Tadhana (It was Volume Two, Part Two). I thought that it was serviceable as a history book (and found out later that year that UP scholars wrote it). However, I also discovered that it was leading toward a sort of synthesis, presumably the inexorability of Marcos’s rule. It was sold to me by a history teacher, Sir Marlon Riobuya — and we’re still friends to this day. He sold it to me at an affordable price because I was upfront with him: I told him that I sought to write about the pervasiveness of Marcos’s fraud, because it seemed to me that people had already forgotten about what he had done. In my little way, it was how I planned to pay my dues to history.
I had started my readings with Mijares’s Conjugal Dictatorship: it seemed to be the most popular book that exposed Marcos’s shortcomings during Martial Law. However, Mijares also had reason to besmirch Marcos’s name: to the analytical reader, the work might have been him sour graping. After all, prior to the exposé, Mijares was Marcos’s press relations man. I buttressed this with Belinda Aquino’s Politics of Plunder, and noticed similarities.
These were similarities that arose from James K. Boyce’s Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era, Mark R. Thompson’s Anti-Marcos Struggle, Raymond Bonner’s Waltzing with a Dictator, William Rempel’s Delusions of a Dictator, and Charles McDougald’s Marcos File. All these books confirmed through copious evidence that Marcos was a thief, although he was smart enough to use his cronies to steal.
Back in October 2018, however, I was still starting my research. Because I accompanied my younger sister to a K-pop concert, I took the extra time I had to go around Recto and purchase whatever Marcosiana I could find. I had been very fortunate with one seller, because she was clearing out her shop and sold Five Years of the New Society and Notes on the New Society II at cheap prices.
I planned a chronological analysis on Marcos’s bibliography, and started reading and annotating his books that I gradually obtained. I used my salary to fund my research, and gradually obtained most of his penned works (except the other Tadhana books). I used Jacques Ellul’s Propaganda as the launching point of my work: he had, after all, written that “He who intends to establish a dictatorship always insists that his adversaries are bent on dictatorship.”
This was definitely the case with Marcos.
Last 2019, I was able to complete collecting nearly all book-length works attributed to Ferdinand Marcos (with the sole exception of The UN: 40 Years After).
I was also able to write short exegesis on the books that I had. Had there been no COVID-19 pandemic, I would have been able to publish a short tract.
Last week, however, I conversed with Ma’am Sibyl Jade Peña whose stepfather had worked with Adrian Cristobal in a think tank. It was from her that I was able to realize that Marcos didn’t even write his books! One of his last works, The Filipino Ideology, she stated, was written by Nilo Tayag.
Through her guidance, I was able to come across Miguel Paolo Reyes’s article Producing Marcos, The Scholarly Author. This article was published in Philippine Studies, and is an even more thorough exegesis of the books I had gradually collected over these past two years.
I had presumed that I would be able to attack Marcos’s words through a close exegesis of what he had written. My tragedy was that the books weren’t even written by Marcos in the first place!
Reyes’s article, backed by copious evidence, research, and interviews, pointed out that the author of both Today’s Revolution: Democracy and Notes on the New Society of the Philippines was Adrian Cristobal. In my unpublished work, I also noted of the repetitive nature of the works succeeding those two (i.e. everything after Notes on the New Society of the Philippines). Reyes further divided “Marcos’s” oeuvre into the Marcos Bibles (the two books mentioned in this paragraph), rehashed combinations, accomplishment briefers, The Filipino Ideology books, and books that were “bonus material.” While his categories were apropos and illuminating, he was unable to include Marcos Notes on the Cancun Summit, The New Philippine Republic, Dream of a Reformed Society and Other Speeches, and The UN: 40 Years After. (I’d say Cancun Summit and The UN belong to “bonus material,” while The New Philippine Republic belongs to the “accomplishment briefers” category.)
He made an excellent point regarding the publishing of these books: they often came as accompaniments to “major” occurrences within the regime (as The New Philippine Republic) was.
Anyway, the following are “Marcos” books written in chronological order (barring the few that I do not have).
- New Filipinism: The Turning Point
This was simply Marcos’s SONA on January 27, 1969.
He was running for re-election on November that year. This was an earlier foray of Marcos in written media (with more obviously propagandistic works as Benjamin Gray’s Rendezvous with Destiny and Hartwell Spence’s Marcos of the Philippines). Like the rest of “his” works, this was written by his speechwriters and not by Marcos himself. At 118 pages, one knows that it was quite a prolix SONA. This could be categorized as the earliest example of Reyes’s “accomplishment bearers.”
It’s a rare book, which is why I am very grateful for Sir Christopher Bonoan for providing me his only copy. (He’d been kind in letting me purchase his Marcosiana, and he has been pivotal toward letting me have a more comprehensive understanding of Martial Law.)
2. Today’s Revolution: Democracy
This book is the most popular and well-circulated among all his propaganda. Reyes wrote of it as one of the Marcos bibles. It was Marcos (Adrian Cristobal, really) trying to float the idea of Martial Law as a recourse to “unbridled democracy.” Marcos had, after all, used his significant political and financial capital to buy many of the members of the 1971 Constitutional Convention to side with him. The massive bribery was exposed by Eduardo Quintero, who, due to his old age, really did not have much need for money. This book simply set the tone that would recur, not only through the later published books, but throughout Marcos’s reign: Marcos would say one thing, and often do another.
The First Quarter Storm of 1970 had already adumbrated Marcos’s lust for power: when Edgar Jopson and Portia Ilagan came to Malacañang, Marcos told them that he was uninterested in a third term. However, when he was dared by them to “put that down in writing,” Marcos called Jopson “a son of a grocer.”
3. Notes on the New Society of the Philippines
In Notes of the New Society, “Marcos” wrote: “The old society was, in the first place, the social and political elite manipulating what I called a precarious democracy of patronage, privilege, and personal aggrandizement.”
The novelty that Marcos had implemented in the “New Society” were Citizens’ Assemblies which were a “government of the people” through a show of hands. It didn’t matter that “Are you in favor with Marcos staying in power?” was replaced with the question “Are you hungry?” as long as the answer was yes. After all, all that was recorded were a show of hands, and people were hungry. These assemblies were prone to abuse, especially with Marcos having the backing of the military.
(I didn’t include Revolution from the Center since it was a rehash of this book, and I also no longer have a copy.)
4. Democratic Revolution of the Philippines
Aside from Sir Marlon Riobuya and Chris Bonoan, one of the people who supported me in my attempt to create an exegesis of Marcos’s texts was Sir Ruel Farol. He bequeathed me his first edition, hardbound copy of Democratic Revolution of the Philippines.
To my disappointment, however, the book was just a combination of what was written in Today’s Revolution and Notes of the New Society of the Philippines. This was still, clearly, Adrian Cristobal’s brainchild.
5. Notes on the New Society of the Philippines II: The Rebellion of the Poor
Reyes pointed out in his article one of the best examples regarding Marcos’s works being ghostwritten. After all, why would you erase your own work after it has already been typed? Further, these changes didn’t even end in the final work! If that’s not suspect, then it’s quite schizophrenic.
This book was another one of those “accomplishment bearers.” Reyes explained that it was just another one of Marcos’s re-written SONAs and attributes that Yen Makabenta was one of this book’s authors.
6. Five Years of the New Society
This was another one of his “accomplishment bearers” or apologias. In this book “he” wrote that: “What was promised and pledged by the presidency at the start of the crisis government — that our fundamental goal is the promotion of greater democracy and national unity — we now redeem.”
This was, of course, blatantly untrue. The Citizens’ Assemblies were a sham, and the judiciary was threatened by Marcos when he asked them to submit resignation letters. In essence, if Marcos disapproved of a judge’s decision, he could “accept” their resignation. He held the judiciary by their throats.
This book’s claim, thus, that “one of the most telling manifestations of civilian supremacy under crisis government was the continuing and independent operation of the Judiciary,” was thus a joke.
7. The Philippine Experience: A Perspective on Human Rights and the Rule of Law
While this is the rarest “Marcos” book, it’s really nothing more than an extension of one chapter of Democratic Revolution in the Philippines. This was released when Jimmy Carter’s officials went to the Philippines to assess the human rights situation as there had been international complaints. Through statistics, Marcos claimed that there were little human rights violations occurring in the Philippines, and that deviant members of the police and the military were already being punished.
Reyes showed that these errant policemen rose in number through “Marcos’s” later books.
An Introduction to the Politics of Transition and The New Philippine Republic were herald works similar to this one. These works presented to the world the façade of Martial Law being progressive and productive.
8. An Introduction to the Politics of Transition
This book was released concurrently with Marcos’s attempt at legitimizing his regime. In 1978, he allowed the elections for representatives of the Interim Batasang Pambansa, which was mandated in the 1973 Constitution he passed through his Citizen’s Assemblies. The result was expectedly rigged in favor of the Marcos’s party, the KBL.
However, Region VII (where Cebu belonged) showed promise, as it was swept by the Pusyon Bisaya party. Reuben Canoy (author of the brilliant Counterfeit Revolution in the Philippines) won one seat in Region X while representing Mindanao Alliance, and Ernesto Roldan won one seat in Region XII.
Reyes noted that this book was, outside of an introduction to parliamentary systems written by an undergraduate, made up of appendices. Personally, I liked reading portions of this book, because effort was actually made by the writer to come up with excuses for Marcos’s regime.
9. Towards a Filipino Ideology / An Ideology for Filipinos
These two books are almost alike. In my unpublished work, I only wrote a short chapter for both books, since An Ideology for Filipinos was merely a repackaged Towards a Filipino Ideology.
Reyes believed that these books were also Adrian Cristobal’s works. Towards a Filipino Ideology contained “Marcos’s” comments that “the right of free speech is meaningful only for the literate and the well-informed, just as the right to travel is meaningful only to those who have the means to travel.”
This was funny to me because media and the written word were heavily censored during the Martial Law regime. Celso Al. Carunungan was imprisoned because of his satirical Satanas sa Lupa. Finally, why was even such an enlightened mind as Jose Diokno not allowed free speech? Diokno was one of the people who had a higher score at the bar examinations than Marcos: he was also recognized to be a highly intelligent person. Why was he incarcerated instead?
10. In Search of Alternatives: The Third World in an Age of Crisis
This was “Marcos’s” attempt to distance his “constitutional authoritarianism” from being recognized as a dictatorship. By the early 1980s, inflation had rapidly risen because of the institutionalized corruption led by Marcos himself. The “smiling martial law” was to be the alternative from capitalism and communism: it was to be the Philippine alternative.
“Marcos” wrote: “Ours is the only authoritarian state, the only regime under Martial Law that has allowed its policies and programs to be questioned in open court … The Supreme Court has not been suppressed or dissolved.”
I previously mentioned that the Supreme Court during the Marcos regime was a stamp-pad court. Whatever Marcos decided, his lackeys in the judiciary would follow.
11. The New Philippine Republic: The Third World Approach to Democracy
This was the penultimate Marcos book I obtained (I had only obtained The UN: 40 Years After one month ago). I bought this copy from Sir Danilo Meneses, who also happened to support my pursuit of Martial Law history. This was not mentioned in Reyes’s article, but I would classify both as a “herald work,” and as an “accomplishment bearer.”
In 1981, under the guise of a sham election, Ferdinand Marcos defeated a retired general, Alejo Santos. Most of the opposition boycotted the elections due to the fraudulent turnout of the 1978 Interim Batasang Pambansa elections (as mentioned in a previous paragraph, the KBL won nearly all of the seats).
Marcos actually “ended” Martial Law on January 17, 1981. He called the termination of Martial Law as the inauguration of the New Republic, but retained presidential decrees and legislative power. The writ of habeas corpus was still suspended. Like Imelda Marcos’s whitewashed walls, the termination of Martial Law was a mere charade.
Funnily, one former Marcos supporter, Simeon del Rosario (who wrote How Martial Law Saved Democracy in the Philippines) ran against Marcos in the 1981 elections. Perhaps he too was disillusioned.
12. Progress and Martial Law
This was, among all the Marcosiana I’ve read, the one with the most amusing text.
It fabricated a reality where Aquino won in 1973 but struggled with communists and the economy — as he was not Marcos.
Like a horrible film, this book had “so bad, it’s fun” vibes. According to Reyes, this was released during the 1981 elections as supplementary campaign material.
James K. Boyce’s Political Economy of Growth and Impoverishment in the Marcos Era described the economy during the Marcos regime as creating “immiserizing growth:” basically, all infrastructure created through debt financing didn’t alleviate the suffering of the poor. In contrast, the gap between the rich and the poor got even wider.
13. Towards a Filipino Partnership: The Filipino Ideology
This book surprisingly came in different sizes. When this book was published, Ninoy Aquino had already been assassinated, and the economy suffered from massive inflation. One of the reasons was Marcos’s insistence of being inflexible with the price of copra. As a result, the world market searched for alternatives, and left the Philippines in the lurch.
I think this was Marcos’s last-ditch attempt to create legitimacy. He asks for patience, as “positive changes have already started.” The Philippines has yet to have inflation as bad as Marcos’s final years of dictatorship.
14. The Filipino Ideology
When I started writing my unpublished work, I planned to write individual chapters on each of the books I’ve read. It turned out that I had a short tract instead, because most of what “Marcos” published was recycled material. For instance, instead of writing a different chapter for Toward a New Partnership: The Filipino Ideology, I realized that there were few changes with this book to merit individual chapters.
In essence, this was just an edition of Adrian Cristobal’s work. As mentioned above, Sibyl Peña says that Nilo Tayag was an author of this edition, because her stepfather worked with Cristobal’s think tank.
15. The UN: 40 Years After
This book is more or less a straightforward explanation of UN’s evolution. This was not mentioned by Reyes in his article, but like most of his other works, this was definitely not written by Marcos himself. At the time this book was published (1985), Marcos was dying from lupus.
He would try to cheat one last time in the 1986 Snap Elections.
I have other books that were edited by Gregorio Cendaña or Kit Tatad (The Marcos Wit), but these are more obvious examples of ghost writing.
I sought to write an exegesis of all works that I believed were penned by Ferdinand Marcos, and was able to complete it. (In case you’re wondering, yes, I’m quite masochistic. While I haven’t finished The UN: 40 Years After yet, and don’t think New Filipinism should be included in Martial Law literature, I did read and finish the thirteen other books).
Reyes’s article, however, was so illuminating that I realized I had given Marcos too much credit!
The works pictured here were not even written by him. It was another one of his pretensions: Marcos wanted to be seen as superhuman. He wanted people to see that he was an extremely busy yet extremely capable man: over the span of his dictatorship he’d churn out one book a year on average.
To many people, this productivity was nothing sort of prodigious. After all, he had to balance governing the Philippines with his scholarly work!
I admit, I was also fooled. In my myopia, I sought to debunk the words that “he” had written by comparing what he wrote with sources that disagreed with the rosy picture he had painted. To do this, I consulted works from many authors, both local and foreign, to congeal a picture that I felt was closer to the truth. The consistency of the reportage of these other authors made me realize that the Marcos regime was thoroughly corrupt.
“Ferdinand Marcos the scholar” was merely a fraud perpetuated by a person who wanted to be seen as a demigod. Perhaps this is the reason why it is also so easy for his offspring to lie as well. After all, parents set examples for their children to emulate.
I spent tens of thousands of pesos looking for each book in his oeuvre, and hundreds of hours reading all his works. I was, indeed, able to complete an exegesis of his books only to realize much later that he never even wrote any of them in the first place!
My premise was inherently wrong. Nevertheless, I wanted to channel the time I spent to show people that Martial Law during the Marcos era wasn’t a pleasant time to live in. Although there was indeed lesser crime during its first few months, there was also a corresponding rise in human rights abuses and a severe curtailment of freedom. The law was biased towards those who had close ties with the Marcoses, because Marcos was the law.
We have been taught in school that plagiarism should never be done, and that we should always mention our preferences. Why should a corrupt dictator be excused?
Not only was Marcos one of the world’s biggest thieves — he was also actually one of the world’s worst plagiarists!
(Thanks go to Tinky Cruz, Prof. Danton Remoto, Janice Chiongson, Katherine Soledad, Mon Castigador, Kenneth Idio, Ernest Nufuar, Eleazar Galanto, and Rechelyn Abenoja for their support. Thanks also go to my siblings and parents.
For the moment, this is the best I could do. )