ABOUT

The past is always alive, and we must never forget.

September 23, 1972 was a pivotal moment in the modern history of the Philippines when the late President Ferdinand Marcos announced Proclamation 1081 (signed on September 21, 1972) and declared Martial Law, leaving the country and its people in a state of shock and fear. As Marcos and his cronies took over businesses from his political rivals, his military established a looming presence, and political opposition was silenced by detention, torture, and murder.

The Marcos legacy is demonstrated by these (conservative) figures from Amnesty International and other organizations:

Martial Law lasted for years. Even though Martial Law was “officially” lifted in 1981, Marcos was able to retain all his powers as an authoritarian dictator until he was ousted in 1986, and the effects and legacy of Martial Law long outlived Marcos. Yet, much of what happened during those years has been forgotten. Now the Marcoses are back in power. Neither the late President Marcos nor his wife, Imelda Marcos, spent a day in prison for the corruption and crimes they committed against the Filipino people, and much of their ill-gotten wealth has been retained by the family and their children, including Imee (or Imelda, Jr.) who is now a Senator, and her brother Ferdinand, Jr. who is now the President of the Philippines.

Although it may be widely forgotten, the years of Martial Law are well documented. The aim of this website is to highlight this documentary record, and to make documents, scholarship, and visual materials from this period available to scholars, students, researchers, librarians, the Filipino public, and people all over the world. By preserving this digital library and archive we hope that Filipinos and many others will #Neverforget.

Our vision

Martial Law was declared and enforced not just by Ferdinand Marcos but with the complicity of his family, relatives, friends, and high ranking members of the Philippine military, many of whom benefited from the corruption of the Martial Law period and the lack of accountability that flowed from government control of the media and the political system. The failure to hold Marcos, his cronies, and his family accountable has led to a lack of public awareness about their abuse of political power and their plunder of public money. In the current climate of historical revisionism, it is necessary to remind everyone, especially in the Philippines, of the dark years of Martial Law. This digital library and database of documentary and visual materials relating to the Presidency of Ferdinand Marcos and its aftermath (from the late 1960s until the early 1990s) aims to ensure a sense of historical accountability. With the resources this digital library provides, readers will be able to inform and educate themselves about the events, consequences, and legacy of Ferdinand Marcos and the Martial Law period.

We believe it is vital to defend and preserve the history of this period from those currently in power who seek to deny and rewrite the past in pursuit of their own political and material interests. Denying this history is a betrayal of Filipinos in the present, who have a right to know about and to understand their own history, and of those Filipinos who experienced the violence and injustice of Martial Law at first hand. Obliterating the past, condemns us all to a continuous cycle of ignorance, injustice, and abuse.

Good museums and libraries should not limit themselves to providing access to their collections but should do everything they can to involve and reach out to the public. We want to use this website to start a public conversation about Martial Law and the legacy of Marcos, and to provide talks and forums for discussion that go beyond the academy but engage the general public. We hope this archive will become not just a record of the past but a stimulus for discussion and communication about the history of the Martial Law period, one that will reach and inspire the widest possible circle of students and researchers, and indeed all those committed to the freedom of the Philippines.

What the Library is for

On September 23, 1972, the late President Ferdinand Marcos publicly declared Martial Law in the Philippines. Using as justification the threats posed by the Communist Party (much of it orchestrated by himself and his administration), Marcos imposed martial and authoritarian rule and within a few days arrested his staunchest critics, including Senator Benigno Aquino, Jr., suspended Congress, denied the rights of assembly and free speech and writs of habeas corpus, imposed a curfew on all citizens, and imposed censorship on all forms of media and the press. Within weeks, the country descended into a state of shock and fear as the military established a looming presence everywhere, and as Marcos and his cronies took over the businesses of his political rivals. As political opponents and opposition movements were forced into silence and hiding, legal opposition to Marcos’s rule evaporated, a situation that lasted for many years.

What happened during the years of Martial Law in the Philippines was neither a fiction nor inconsequential. And it was well documented. The aim of our project is to preserve and revitalize this history, and to provide documents, scholarship, and visual materials so that all the world can see, understand, and learn from the experiences of the Martial Law period at a time when, once again, there is a rising tide of political authoritarianism around the globe.

We want to make these materials available to students, scholars, researchers and librarians, and to the general public in the Philippines and the rest of the world. By creating this digital library and archive we hope to ensure that Filipinos and others will #Neverforget.

On September 2022, the 50th Anniversary of the declaration of Martial Law in the Philippines, we initially launched the digital Martial Law Museum and Library.  While many sources of information about the Martial Law period are already available on the internet, there is no one source or site for those who want to know and research this critical period in the history of the Philippines. We hope this website will become a crucial source for information related to the Martial Law period.

The ML Digital Library Team

The project is a collaborative effort between the Ateneo de Manila University, the Rizal Library, and the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. A core group composed of faculty from these institutions, as well as independent scholars and academics, spearheaded this project and has sought to cooperate with various groups and institutions who are dedicated to preserving the documentary and visual archive of the Martial Law period.

PRINCIPAL INITIATORS

Dr. Vina Lanzona, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Miguel Paolo P. Rivera, Ateneo de Manila University

Dr. Vernon Totanes, Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University

THE CORE TEAM

Veronica Alporha, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Tommy Dela Cruz, Rizal Library, Ateneo de Manila University

Francisco Jayme Paolo Guiang, University of the Philippines

Lorenzo Jose Martinez, University of the Philippines

Oliver John Quintana, Ateneo de Manila University

Dr. Vicente Rafael, University of Washington

Dr. Mark Sanchez, Vanderbilt University

Lila Ramos Shahani, International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS)

Aaron Viernes, University of the Philippines

COLLABORATORS

Cherie Audrey Alfiler, Ateneo de Manila University

Karl Castro, Ateneo de Manila University

Elena Clariza, Hamilton Library, University of Hawaii-Manoa

Dapat Studio (Formerly Works of Heart)

Smile M. Indias, Ateneo de Manila University

Elvira Lapuz, University of the Philippines

Our collaborators belong to the following institutions and organizations

Suggestions, questions, or concerns