Book review: Dekada ’70, Lualhati Bautista

No, this is not in my TBR list for this quarter, but I squeezed it in unannounced. I wasn’t even planning on reading it, but after seeing the musical which gained a lot of positive response (including me), I just knew I had to experience this story in its original form of art.

dekada 70 book review

What is it about

Dekada ’70 is written in Amanda’s POV, a mom of five kids and a wife to Julian, a traditional, patriarchal husband. They’re in an upper middle class family, just one of the many families of different social statuses that felt the unjust wrath of dictatorship. The book presents a perfect illustration of what the Philippines was like during the ’70s, in terms of social, political, and economical aspects, just to name a few.

What I think about it

I was having second thoughts in writing a review of this book – it was published in 1986, and the author has a first-hand experience of what it was like during the martial law in the Philippines which makes this book a credible alternative source of history albeit being fiction (or is it?). It has its movie adaptation and, last year its musical adaptation was launched. Someone even told me it was his required reading in high school (circa 1996). With all of these being said, I feel like my thoughts aren’t much needed anymore. But, maybe for the sake of those handful of people who may or may not have chosen to read it, well, here’s what to expect: Amanda is just like one of your neighbors, whose kids  can be a pain in the ass sometimes but lovable overall. The book made me feel like I was talking to her as-a-matter-of-factly over cups of coffee on the table in her backyard on a lazy, gossipy Thursday afternoon, when all of her sons were at school and Julian was at work. There were times when it made me feel intrigued and at the same time intrusive, as if I was reading a diary of a stranger I bought off of eBay through an auction. It was raw and vivid, and full of different emotions only a mother can feel. All. At. The. Same. Time.

The ’70s is one of the darkest time in Philippine history. But maybe this could the most painful. Filipinos against the Filipinos. Countrymen against its government. It’s like you’re at war with the very people who were supposed to protect you and that’s unfair. I’ve never been a fan of this part of Philippine history, and I want to keep it that way. But that doesn’t mean I am ready to forget. History books may lie, but first-hand experiences cannot be taken away and will always be the verifying truth.

In conclusion

Like Insurrecto, this is a great, alternative source to finding out the truth in history.

Where to get the book

I suppose you can still get them at National Book Stores, but the last time I checked (2020, March 1st) customer service said the book is being pulled out. I got my copy from Mt. Cloud Book Shop in Baguio.

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