Marcos, martial law and memory: The past in our future in the Philippines

Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture

  • Sheila S. Coronel Columbia School of Journalism, New York
Keywords: democracy, dictatorship, Ferdinand Marcos, human rights, investigative journalism, martial law, media freedom, Philippines, repression, torture


I was a martial law baby. My generation grew up watching the unending spectacle of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Remember this was the 20th Century, long before YouTube and Netflix. I would have preferred to watch  Zombie Apocalypse but that wasn’t an option. There were only five TV channels and three newspapers, all owned by Marcos cronies.  We didn’t call it 'fake news' then but it was vintage 1970s propaganda—obvious and crude. I was in first grade when Marcos was first elected president. I studied across the street from Malacañang, in a school for girls run by the Sisters of the Holy Ghost. I remember that in the 1960s,  the streets around the presidential mansion were busy, filled with traffic and commerce. On Thursdays, hundreds  flocked to the church nearby to pray to St. Jude, patron of hopeless causes. I was barely in my teens when martial law was declared. Suddenly the streets were silenced. The palace gates were shuttered. Barbed wire barricades kept people away. The neighborhood—the entire country—was hushed. Marcos was still president when I finished high school. He continued to issue decrees from his barricaded palace while I went off to college, graduated, and got my first job. My generation had reached adulthood with no memory of any other president. 


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Author Biography

Sheila S. Coronel, Columbia School of Journalism, New York

Toni Stabile Professor of Professional Practice in Investigative Journalism
Director, Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism
Columbia School of Journalism


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How to Cite
Coronel, S. S. (2022). Marcos, martial law and memory: The past in our future in the Philippines: Adrian E. Cristobal Lecture. Pacific Journalism Review : Te Koakoa, 28(1 & 2), 54-66.