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LIST: Local novels about PH's martial law you must add to your library

By Melanie Uson Published Sep 12, 2023 11:55 am

One of the inexpensive ways to unwind and “travel” is by reading books. Not only you can escape the fast-paced world, but you also get to learn, especially when it's about history and culture. 

As we commemorate the 51st anniversary of Martial Law—one of the most significant and darkest days in Philippine history—these local novels give you a glimpse of what it was like growing up and living under a dictatorship, all while exploring the themes of war within self, love, betrayal, injustices, compromise without losing the lessons from the past that are deemed relevant up to this day.  

If you’re looking for something different to read, here are some of the local novels you must add to your library and where you can access them. 

Dekada '70 by Lualhati Bautista

Lualhati Bautista’s award-winning novel tells the story of the Bartolome family who find themselves trapped in atrocities during the Marcos regime. As they go through one of the darkest periods in Philippine history, Amanda, the mother, does her best to keep her family together while also battling the struggles and finding her purpose as a wife, mother, and woman during the time. 

Dekada '70  was also adapted into film. It was directed by Chito S. Roño, starring Vilma Santos-Recto as Amanda with Christopher de Leon as her husband, Julian Bartolome, alongside Piolo Pascual, Marvin Agustin, Danilo Barrios, and Carlos Agassi as their children.  

Purchase this online via Anvil Publishing for P295 or through Goodreads. 

Killing Time in a Warm Place by Jose Y. Dalisay Jr.

This novel by Jose Dalisay Jr. tells the story of the protagonist, Noel Ilustre Bulaong, from the familiar territory of coconut groves from his childhood to his rebellion days during the Marcos regime, from the Diliman commune, martial law prisons to the homes of the petty- bourgeoisie. The reader can explore the landscape of betrayal, compromise, guilt, and more. 

Killing Time in a Warm Place is available on Amazon for $33 (over P1,800) and eBook via Goodreads.  

The Jupiter Effect by Katrina Tuvera

The Jupiter Effect narrates martial law from the perspective of two martial law babies, Kiko and Gaby. As they grew up in a time of turbulence and uncertainty, the two explore the history depicting the struggles and perks of belonging to a privileged family during the Marcos regime. The story also contains situations and questions that are still deemed relevant in today’s time. 

The Jupiter Effect is available on Amazon in its Kindle edition for $8 (P488) and eBook on Goodreads. 

Empire of Memory by Eric Gamalinda

Eric Gamalinda’s novel follows the story of two friends who were tasked to rewrite Philippine history by making the dictator, Ferdinand Marcos Sr., appear that he was fated to “rule the country in perpetuity.” As they work on the project, they find themselves on a grueling journey of the Philippine landscape, including mythological sultans, the Beatles, faith healers, spies, torturers, generals, and communists, a war between their moral beliefs and ideology, and more.  

Empire of Memory can be read online via Goodreads. 

Gun Dealers’ Daughter by Gina Apostol 

This novel tells the story of a student, Soledad Soliman or Sol, who comes from a wealthy family and transforms herself from being a bookish, studious girl to being a communist rebel alongside her two love interests, Mao and Jed.

Gun Dealers' Daughter is available on and Amazon, price ranges from $15 (P850) to $17 (P964). 

Kung Wala na ang Tag-araw/Ano Ngayon, Ricky? by Rosario de Guzman-Lingat

The book features two novels in one. Kung Wala na ang Tag-araw tells the story of Victor’s quest for passionate love during the prewar and postwar Philippines. While Ano Ngayon, Ricky? tells the story of a man, named Ricky and his journey to joining political activism of the 1970s.  

This book can be purchased online via the Ateneo de Manila University Press at P390, or via eBook on Goodreads.