New book urges youth to prevent martial law sequel | Inquirer News

New book urges youth to prevent martial law sequel

By: - Desk Editor / @ruelsdevera
/ 05:25 AM September 11, 2023

The book launching of 'Serve' of campus writers during martial law at Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Sept. 9, 2023.

The book launching of ‘Serve’ of campus writers during martial law at Fully Booked, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City, Sept. 9, 2023. (Photo by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)

MANILA, Philippines — “We write to remember. We write to fight.”

These are the last words in the epilogue of “Serve,” the new anthology of essays by and interviews of 20 martial law-era campus editors, but they might as well serve to represent what these individuals have been doing since, essentially, 1969, when then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr. began clamping down on civil liberties.


Edited by veteran journalist Jo-Ann Maglipon and published by Ateneo de Manila University Press, “Serve” was launched last Sept. 9 to a very packed house at Fully Booked in Bonifacio High Street, Taguig City.


The contributors who attended included top-level academicians, extraordinary entrepreneurs, successful writers, activists still at it after all these years — all joined by the common theme of being members of the College Editors Guild of the Philippines before and during martial law: Former Health Secretary Manuel Dayrit, former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, writer Sol Juvida, lifestyle editor Thelma Sioson San Juan, Manila Bulletin publisher Sonny Coloma, Mapúa University president Reynaldo Vea, e-banking pioneer Senen Glorioso, overseas worker advocate Elso Cabangon, award-winning author Jose “Butch” Dalisay, monetary policy strategist Diwa Guinigundo, Starbucks Coffee exec Mercy Corrales, among others.

There was also a heartbreaking 21st addition. In educator Derly Magcalen’s essay, she recalls her friend Evelyn Pacheco and her husband Ricardo Mangulabnan — who both were never seen again after going underground.

Magcalen instead lets their daughter Earnest Zabala — a generation younger, with no memory of her mother—write: “I will tell them both that I am honored to be their daughter, that I stand in awe of their personal sacrifice… and I love them very much.”

What the book is not

The book also serves as a sequel to “Not on Our Watch: Martial Law Really Happened. We Were There,” also edited by Maglipon and published by Anvil Publishing Inc. in 2012.

Guest speaker Karina Bolasco, who had not only published “Not on Our Watch” while she was at Anvil but also “Serve” as director of Ateneo Press before her retirement earlier this year, said Anvil had published many martial law-themed books during her more than 20 years there.

“It is not true, therefore, that we did not write and publish books on this period of our history, but maybe not enough,” she said.


Why the 11-year gap?

“After 2012, we wanted to do more books, but then someone came up with a brilliant idea to do a film,” Maglipon told the Inquirer. “We did the works about three-years’ worth of research, but you see, everyone here is engaged in some full-time activity, so we’ve shifted our focus to once again do books.”

Last year, Bolasco reminded Maglipon that if she wanted “Serve” out by September, she needed to get to work immediately. So, Maglipon said she had worked “nonstop” since January, “jumping through hoops” and the best part “was simply getting to the end.”

In her speech, Maglipon would point out what “Serve” was not — a book of denial, a self-congratulatory book, an angry book, a book of irrationality and harangue, or sentimentality for these seventy-somethings.

The first point of “Serve” was to point out that these college editors who survived did not stop living lives of resilience or excellence after the 1986 People Power Revolution. They used the same focus and dedication in whatever fields they were in, even, or maybe especially, those who were not in journalism.

But the result of the 2022 election, ushering in the return of the Marcoses to power, was another impetus for “Serve.”

‘Defining point’

In his prologue, Dalisay, writing on the eve of the Marcoses’ return to the Palace, describes how he inscribes “these words with sadness edging on sorrow. I find it hard to tell another generation of young Filipinos that the patrimony of peace, freedom, justice and prosperity they thought they would inherit from us has been lost, and that they would have to fight to recover it for themselves, as we did in our time.”

That is the warning of this book. San Juan said: “Well, it’s about time.” Taguiwalo said, “The young want to know why we need to still stand up for the truth and justice 50 years after martial law was imposed, then I think this book would be very helpful for them.”

Today’s campus journalists have the same responsibilities as the ones in “Serve,” but with more platforms available. Dalisay said, “I think it’s very important because somebody has to make sense out of everything we’re getting on social media. But I think a campus journalist has to be the adult in the room, among his or her peers, who can give meaning to all of these experiences, not necessarily just politically but culturally. A campus journalist has to see ahead of the others and the same what he or she sees out there on the horizon. This country is still very much in flux. And there may come a defining point that will call them to assume roles they never imagined.”

‘The signs are all there’

Bolasco said campus journalists need to be vigilant: “They continue to be agents for social change.”

Maglipon admitted to being irked by one thing: “I do not like it when people keep gaslighting all these activists like us because the Marcoses have made a comeback. Wow.” She recalled the comrades who gave up their lives, who were never found—and sometimes, she felt the familiar cold shadow of martial law even today.

“It’s scary because the environment is not quite show[ing] its fangs,” she said. “It hasn’t really taken off the gloves. And people aren’t even aware that an antiterror [law] actually can function like a martial-law presidential edict. So the signs are all there. But right now, you think that there was some kind of… a selective way of Red-baiting those outright coming out with their use. But it’s happening, it’s happening, and it can be more systematic as it goes on. We don’t know how evil, how deceptive it will be.” INQ

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“Serve” will be available at all Fully Booked shops and online at;;; [email protected].


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TAGS: Ateneo de Manila University Press, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., Jo-Ann Maglipon, Marcos martial law, Serve essay anthology

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