A new book, Martial Law Jokes atbp, will be launched Thursday morning, March 23, at the Bantayog ng Mga Bayani on EDSA-Quezon Avenue, Quezon City, back to back with a Roundtable of Martial Law claimants, titled Untold Stories and Unpaid Debts.

The twin events are a joint undertaking of the Bantayog ng mga Bayani Foundation and Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication Student Government.

The 60-page book, spiced by cartoons and with full color glossy paper cover, is the 34th by widely published writer Crispin C. Maslog, former journalist with Agence France-Presse and professor of mass communication at Silliman University and UP Los Banos. It will be available at New Day Publishers, bookstores and at the student government office of the Asian Institute of Journalism and Communication.

Professor Maslog explains why he wrote the book: “Martial law jokes became a fad after the declaration of Martial Law by President Marcos in 1972. It reached the height of its popularity after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino on August 21, 1983, when people started believing that the Marcos government was responsible for the killing.

“Unable to take up arms to oust the dictator, people expressed their indignation in the form of jokes and satirical songs and rhymes. The jokes proliferated and were passed from mouth to mouth to become the people’s emotional release, their way of venting their emotions to hit back at the dictator.”

Dr. Maslog collected these jokes, told and re-told them among friends. He stored them in filing cabinets until the dictator was kicked out at the EDSA People Power Revolution on Feb. 21-25, 1986. He forgot about them until one day, long after the dictator was gone, he came upon them by accident as he ransacked his files while researching for a paper he was writing. That was when he decided to publish them on the 31st anniversary of the People Power Revolution.

“Filipino millennials who just graduated from college and those still in college today were not yet born when the dictator ruled the country with an iron hand and these jokes were whispered from ear to ear. Some of the context in which these jokes were told and retold is now lost on the younger generation, but to those who lived through the Martial Law years they are still funny,” Dr. Maslog says in the Preface to his book.
Many of the jokes in the book express extreme negative feelings about President Marcos and the First Lady Imelda Marcos. Maslog did not tone them down, to show how deeply Filipinos at that time hated the dictatorship.

In his acknowledgements, Maslog adds that the “authors of the jokes in this book are the Filipino people who shall remain nameless. The jokes were invented by people who remained anonymous as their stories passed from mouth to mouth. This joke book therefore is for the Filipino people. To them we owe a debt of gratitude for these stories, which helped us retain our sanity as we suffered under the long years of the Marcos dictatorship.”
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Dr. Crispin C. Maslog, the first director of the then School of Journalism and Communication (1966-1982) and now College of Mass Communication.