Art in Revolt : 5 Artistic and Literary Works banned during Martial Law

Published on February 25, 2019


Thanks to the creative liberty we enjoy today, Philippine artists and authors can freely exercise artistic expression no matter how radical and provocative this expression is. Three decades ago, however, this wasn’t the case. As we celebrate the 33rd anniversary of People Power Revolution today, let’s look at the authors and works that were denied that same freedom during the Martial Law period.


The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos (Book)


by : Primitivo Mijares

Photo from |


Among the most scathing publications on the Presidential couple, “The Conjugal Dictatorship of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos” was published in 1976 in the US amid growing demand for unsanitized information on the administration. Prior to defecting from the government, the author Primitivo Mijares was a Marcos propagandist and reporter for the government-backed ‘The Daily Express’. Months after its publication, Mr. Mijares disappeared, and copies of the book were allegedly stripped from book stores in the US. The publication was banned in the Philippines.

Manila by Night (film)



by : Ishmael Bernal

Photo from |



A stark depiction of Manila’s underbelly and the characters that operate in it, Manila By Night gained critical acclaim (and pressure) for the bold move to portray the capital city as anything but ’true, good,and beautiful’. While not fully censored, facing pressure from the government the film was heavily edited and distribution was limited. The word ‘Manila’ was also dropped from the title, and barred from entering the 1981 Berlin Film Festival.

The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos (Biography)


by : Carmen Navarro Pedrosa

Photo from |



Once Martial Law took effect in 1972, Carmen Navarro Pedrosa’s the Untold Story of Imelda Marcos was immediately banned, understandably considering the substance of the publication. The ‘unauthorized biography’ allegedly revealed the magnitude of the former First Lady’s extravagance during the ML period.

Voltes V



Photo from |



This hit Japanese cartoon may not be provocative and radical in the traditional sense but its story does carry with it the same idea on which many great movies, graphic novels, and literature are hinged on : revolution and resistance. This was the suspected reason why, in 1979, just as the cartoons was reaching its peak in popularity, Voltes V was suddenly pulled by from broadcast. The Voltes V fanatics would not see the last four episodes until after the 1986 People Power Revolution.

Bayan Ko (song)


by : Freddie Aguilar

Photo from Manila Bulletin, by Pau Aguillera |


The quintessential anthem of a suppressed nation, ‘Bayan Ko’ popularised by folk singer Freddie Aguilar in the 70s, became the rallying song of protest groups, from particular advocacy organisations to student-led groups. Due to the popularity it found in the revolutionary set, the song was banned from the airwaves. This would only spur the song’s popularity, and would later be used by the opposition party for their own campaign.