Dekada 70 by Lualhati Bautista – Student’s Corner

Image result for Dekada 70 by Lualhati BautistaTitle: Dekada 70
Author: Lualhati Bautista

Dekada 70 is a Filipino novel that can be classified as a political and historical novel. The novel was written by Lualhati Bautista, a woman who first-handedly witnessed the situation during martial law. The book was originally by Carmelo & Bauermann Print Corp in 1983, two years after Martial Law was lifted in the Philippines. In the same year of publication, the novel won one of the two grand prize winners for the 1983 Palanca Awards for the novel.

Dekada 70 was later adapted into a film by Star Cinema in 2002, which was starred by Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos.

The author of the book, Lualhati Bautista, was born in Tondo, Manila on December 2, 1945 to parents Esteban Bautista and Gloria Torres. She took up Journalism in the Lyceum of the Philippines, and eventually stopped schooling because all she wanted to do was write. She started writing while she was still 16 years old, and was mainly influenced by her parents who were into composing and poem-writing.

Her first stories were published in the magazine, Liwayway.

In addition to being a novelist, Lualhati Bautista is also a movie and television scriptwriter and a short story writer. Her first screenplay is Sakada (Seasonal Sugarcane Workers), a story written in 1972 that exposed the plight of Filipino peasants. Copies of the script were even confiscated by the military because the government didn’t like the contents of the book.

Dekada ’70 is a story about a middle-class family that experienced a chaotic life during the Martial Law Period in the history of the Philippines.

The mother of the family named ‘Amanda’ is a typical type of a wife who is dependent to the decisions of his husband even though she has her plans in her life too. It shows how a mother becomes torn between the letter of the law and her responsibilities as a mother. Amanda is also a mother of five boys. Jules, her eldest son is a part of an organization that advocates democracy and because of that, his family experienced a horror like story.

Amanda is a persistent mother that even if the struggles in her family was beginning to reach its peak point, she continued to be a caring mother to her sons.

The Philippine society was involved in the story because Jules was fighting for the rights of the Filipino citizens under the administration of President Marcos. Jules and some of his companions were punished because of their rebellious act towards the government.

The book was written in Filipino language to easily spread the knowledge of the story to other Filipino citizens which focuses on how one family within the Martial Law Period deal with their problems and struggles.

Dekada ’70 introduces the new generations of Filipino readers to a story and a family of a particular time in Philippine history. Its appeal lies in the evolution of its characters that embody the new generation of Filipinos. The plot of the book was apprehensible.

Read the book and one will gain knowledge about the system of politics that enraged the Filipinos to stand for their rights.

Beside the story of the family, the book also focuses on how government in this period of the history rules the Philippines by dominance which causes some Filipinos to revolt against their way of governing such that the administration have discriminated the rights of the Filipinos. The freedom of speech and expressing one’s advocate was suppressed within this period.

In the administration freedom of the press was severely limited and opponents of Marcos were detained.

The book Dekada ’70 reminds us to fight for our freedom that even if the government continues to degrade us, we must be persistent to stand for our freedom. In the book, it was mentioned “it’s a man’s world” but in the end it was stated that “…it’s a woman’s world, too.” Like the story was conveyed, Amanda is the model of women’s world. She is a woman who wants to be a useful citizen to our country.

The book also lets us understand that men are not the only ones who can work and do something for a change, but also women.

All in all, the book is made with the combined series of Amanda’s experiences as a wife and the journey of her sons battling with the situations during the Martial Law. It is not focused in the character itself and the flow of the story, and that factor makes it more interesting to read the book.

Another factor that captured the readers interest is political relevance of this book.

It is not just written to tell a story but it is written to make the readers realized that everything is affected by the politics even our personal lives and our family matters.

Comparison of novel and film

As expected, the Dekada ’70 film summarized the novel with the same title. In the book, what the characters feel and think are clearly depicted that the readers can truly feel their emotions—as if the emotions were their own.

Unlike the film, the scenes in the novel were vivid, raw and in detailed.

The narrative followed no rules, because it was anchored on what truly transpired. In the movie version, many changes had been done, perhaps to comply with the regulations of the movie board or to appeal to the audience. In addition to that, many crucial chapters from the book were omitted in the film adaptation. This affected the essence of Lualhati Bautista’s story.


The grounds upon which Lualhati Bautista’s novel has garnered the 1983 Palanca Award for Literature was fully realized after reading the book.

Lualhati Bautista’s firsthand experience on the horrors of Martial Law could also be attributed to the success of this classic because readers get a clear background on the said event.

Her account on Martial Law is different from the ones often read on textbooks, because Bautista’s narration is set in specifics. In other words, Martial Law is told by a mother who endured the hardship that comes with the said happening while fulfilling her responsibility in her family.

Aside from that, Bautista also considered the standpoints of the other people involved: protesters, soldiers, and the youth.

Through her style, readers were able to relate themselves to the situation of the characters.

The most unforgettable part of the novel, perhaps, is when Jason was missing. Although it was already expected, it was an emotionally-charged event. The readers can feel the pain of losing a child. It is really heartbreaking when one starts to imagine the situation of Amanda and Julian.

Martial Law in Marcos’ era was truly a devastating and a catastrophic event, and the last thing that most would expect is to look at it from a perspective that forgives.

What makes Bautista’s writing style in Dekada ’70 outstanding is that she let readers experience Martial Law—through the eyes of Amanda, a mother.

Dekada ’70 by Lualhati Bautista is truly a worthwhile read and the reviewers would readily recommend this novel to anyone who would like to study Philippine history, specifically during the Marcos era.

The reviewers think it is crucial for more students to become aware of the events during Martial Law in order to understand how this event shaped the Philippine society in which they are part of at present. For this reason, the reviewers give the selection five out of five stars.

About the Writers and How Do they See Themselves 10 years from Now

Garcia, John Cristopher A. , Student – Pasig City Science Highschool

Ten years from now, I can see myself serving the country in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, particularly in Philippine Air Force. Since I was a child, it has been my dream to defend the country from its enemies. I’m willing to offer my life for the sake of my fellow Filipinos. As long as blood is running through my veins, my life belongs only to my country, the Philippines.

Alvarez, Cristine Anne A., Student – Pasig City Science Highschool

Ten years from now, I can see myself working in my parent’s hospital and serving people that are in need. My family is inclined with the field of medicine that is why I chose to be a doctor. My parents are my inspiration to be a doctor that despite the hardships in studying, they still manage to achieve their dream by not giving up. As for my parents, being a doctor is serious job that needs compassion and patience. I will persistently strive harder to achieve my dreams and to help people.

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Trixie Ricablanca Angeles, RN

Chief Blogging Officer at Books in My Baggage
Chief Blogging Officer, Books in My Baggage and The Book Geek Wannabe "Readers and Book Geeks are the next generation's coolest bunch of kids"

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