Dekada '70 (novel)

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For the movie adaptation, see Dekada '70 (film)

Dekada '70 (Dekada '70: Ang Orihinal at Kumpletong Edisyon), translated into Filipino as the '70s decade, is a Filipino novel written by Lualhati Bautista.[1]

Dekada '70 is the story of a family caught in the middle of the tumultuous decade of the 1970's. It details how a middle class family struggled with and faced the new changes that empowered Filipinos to rise against the Marcos government. These series of events all happened after the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus, the proclamation of Martial Law, the bombing of Plaza Miranda, the random arrests of political prisoners. The oppressiveness of the Marcos regime made people become more radical. This shaping of the decade are all witnessed by the female character, Amanda Bartolome, a mother of five boys. While Amanda's sons grow, form individual beliefs and lead different lives, Amanda awakens her identity to state her stand as a Filipino citizen, mother and woman. 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.It is the story about a mother and her family, and the society around them that affects them. It is a tale of how a mother becomes torn between the letter of the law and her responsibilities as a mother.

A defining but not subversive Filipino novel, Dekada '70 was one of the two grand prize winners for the 1983 Palanca Awards for the novel.[2] It was adapted into a film by Star Cinema in 2003, starring Christopher de Leon and Vilma Santos.



For more information, see also Philippine History - Martial Law

Dekada '70 is set in the turbulent Martial Law era in Philippine history. In the 1970's, the Republic of the Philippines was under the rule of then President Ferdinand Marcos. On September 21, 1972, Marcos declared Martial Law which placed the country under the rule of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, but kept himself in power. Under the Martial Law era, Marcos consolidated control of the armed forces, freedom of the press was severely limited and opponents of Marcos were detained.

Plot summary

Amanda Bartolome is a mother of a middle-class family who has five young sons. Her eldest son, Jules, had a normal upbringing. Being the eldest in the family, he was already old enough during the declaration of martial law President Marcos. He became exposed to rebellious reading material, and inevitably molded his mind into that of guerilla. Jules grew up to become a member of the communist New People's Army.

Amanda and her husband, Julian, had suspicions of their son's inclination to become an anti-Government winger but became convinced when they find copies of rebellious pamphlets lying around the house. They confronted their son about them, and he had to admit his decision. At first, conflict ensues in the family. Eventually, the parents learned to accept their son's decision, and eventually became proud of him. Since then, their home became a constant place of recreation for Jules who often brought a friend along with him.

One of these friends of Jules is Rene who stayed with the family for some time while recuperating from an injury. The family became close to the young man because, among other things, he reminded them of their son Jules. Unfortunately, it was already late when they realized that Rene was an operative of the government all this time and that the friendship was all a front. Rene exposed Jules participation and involvement in the NPA movement. And Jules was subsequently sent to prison.

Isagani, the second child, grew up to become a sailor, and became the family's cream of the crop. Gani, however, quickly became the goat of the family because he had made the simplest mistake of getting a girl, his girlfriend Evelyn, pregnant. Naturally, being a Catholic country, the parents insisted on marriage. Alas, their lives were nothing but hollow imitations of couples in love, without enough of the very essence that keeps two people together. Their separation was inevitable; Gani never lived the shame down.

The third Bartolome offspring that provided himself with the most secure future. Emmanuel lived the same life as his elder brothers, but knew that the extreme left and the extreme right had no place in society. He called for peaceful evolution, change in the form of expression. He wanted to become a writer, a noble profession, one exceptionally crafted for someone of Emmanuel's ability. His problem was, his father violently objected to his son's decision, due to practical reasons. There is no good pay for a writer.

Jason was Julian's favorite among his children. He was also the opposite of Emmanuel. While Emmanuel was studious and hardworking, Jason was a typical teenager. He joined rallies to make noise, not express a message. He was a constant failure in school, albeit his problems were self-inflicted. He stole from his parents. He lied to them. However, in the midst of the first three brothers' hardships, it was Jason's happy-go-lucky demeanor that provided Amanda and Julian with a well-needed dose of happiness. Unfortunately, in the end, it was Jason's felonious tendencies that caused hm his life; it wasn't his fault, but he was out with his usual round of pecadillos that the police accidentally killed Jason.

Sometime before he was sent to prison, Jules himself met a girl he wanted to marry. And unlike Gani, he truly loved this woman, Marah, and also got her pregnant. While in prison, he married Marah, and so there was the first addition to their family.

The youngest son was Benjamin. After all had come to pass, he was in the middle of his teens. Template:Endspoiler


  • Bartolome family
    • Amanda - main character; wife of Julian and mother of 5 sons: Jules, Isagani, Jason, Emmanuel, Benjamin
    • Julian - husband of Amanda and father of her 5 sons
    • Jules - eldest son of Amanda and Julian
    • Isagani - the second son
    • Emmanuel - the third son
    • Jason - the fourth son
    • Benjamin - the youngest son
  • Minor Characters
    • Mara - Jules' wife
    • Evelyn - Isagani's girlfriend and later wife
    • Willy - Jules' bestfriend
    • Rene - Jules' comrade. Informant of METROCOM
    • Evelyn's Father
    • Dr. Rodrigo
    • Evelyn's Mother


  1. ^ Dekada 70 Ang Orihinal at Kumpletong Edisyon at Retrieved 18 December, 2006.
  2. ^ A Handful of Gems National Commission for Culture and the Arts (Philippines) Retrieved 8 December, 2006.

External links

Original Source

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