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Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ’70: A Novel and a Film about the Martial Law Era

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Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ’70: A Novel and a Film about the Martial Law Era


Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70: A Novel and a Film about the Martial Law Era

Lualhati Bautista is one of the most acclaimed Filipino writers of our time. She is best known for her novels that depict the social and political realities of the Philippines during the Marcos dictatorship. One of her most popular works is Dekada ’70, a novel that won the first prize in the Palanca Awards in 1983. The novel tells the story of the Bartolome family, whose lives are affected by the events and movements of the 1970s, especially the declaration and implementation of Martial Law.

The novel was adapted into a film by director Chito S. Roño in 2002, starring Vilma Santos as Amanda Bartolome, the mother and narrator of the story. The film was an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) and received critical acclaim and commercial success. The film faithfully follows the novel’s plot and themes, while also adding some cinematic elements and artistic touches.

Both the novel and the film are considered as classics of Philippine literature and cinema, as they portray the struggles and aspirations of ordinary Filipinos during a turbulent period in history. They also explore the roles and rights of women, as Amanda gradually awakens to her own identity and agency as a wife, a mother, and a citizen.

If you are interested in reading or watching Dekada ’70, you can find various sources online that offer free or paid downloads of the novel or the film. Here are some links that you can check out:

I hope this helps you learn more about Lualhati Bautista’s Dekada ’70. Enjoy reading or watching!

Dekada ’70 is divided into ten chapters, each corresponding to a year in the 1970s. The novel chronicles the changes and challenges that the Bartolome family faces as they witness and experience the social and political upheavals of the decade. The novel also focuses on the personal and collective growth of the five sons of Amanda and Julian Bartolome Sr., who represent different aspects and perspectives of the Filipino youth during that time.

The eldest son, Jules, becomes a radical activist who joins the underground movement against the Marcos regime. He suffers torture and imprisonment for his beliefs and actions. The second son, Isagani, is a poet and a journalist who also sympathizes with the opposition but chooses a more moderate and legal approach. He falls in love with Evelyn, a fellow writer and activist. The third son, Emmanuel, or Em, is a law student who initially supports Martial Law but later realizes its flaws and abuses. He becomes involved in the student movement and joins his brothers in their protests. The fourth son, Jason, is a carefree and adventurous teenager who loves music and girls. He becomes a victim of a military checkpoint and is killed by soldiers who mistake him for a rebel. The youngest son, Benjamin, or Bingo, is a smart and curious boy who grows up witnessing the turmoil and tragedy that befalls his family and his country.

Amanda, as the narrator and protagonist of the novel, undergoes a transformation from a traditional and submissive housewife to a more assertive and enlightened woman. She struggles to balance her duties as a mother and a wife with her own desires and opinions. She also questions her role in society and her relationship with her husband, who is a conservative and authoritarian businessman. She eventually finds her voice and her purpose as she supports her sons in their causes and joins a women’s organization that advocates for democracy and human rights.

Dekada ’70 is not only a novel about a family but also a novel about a nation. It depicts the realities and complexities of life under Martial Law, as well as the hopes and dreams of the Filipino people for freedom and justice. It also celebrates the courage and resilience of women, who play an important role in shaping history and society.

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