Defining Martial Law

What do we talk about when we talk about Martial Law?

A Law

Martial Law refers to the replacement of civil rule by military rule.

This may be characterized by:

Martial Law is a power of the President as Commander-in-Chief of all Philippine armed forces meant for times of crisis and for the security of people and expediting justice.


A Person

Martial Law in the Philippines is usually equated to a person: President Ferdinand Marcos. Some people talk about what Marcos was like and about what he did such as achievements and abuses.


A Historical Event

Martial Law in the Philippines is often thought of as a historical event to learn about in Araling Panlipunan class. It is often asked: What are the important dates? How did it begin? How did it end?


The Problem

When people talk about it in just one way, it can oversimplify the issue. If it’s just a law: Legal or illegal? If it’s just a person: Good or evil? If it’s just a historical event: Stuck in the past?

All these aspects are important, but they don’t give the whole picture. History is not just about picking sides or memorizing facts.


The Call

The call is to honor our national memory by remembering Martial Law in the Philippines in all its complexity. We want to empower students and teachers to learn and teach the lessons of Martial Law in a way that leads towards an engaged citizenship in our present society.

Here are the topics can explore in this museum:



Martial Law in Data
Download the spreadsheet here. Some argue that though abuses were indeed committed during Martial Law, life was good ...
The Heroes Who Fought Martial Law: Macli-ing Dulag
Macli-ing Dulag was a respected elder of the Butbut tribe in the mountain village of Bugnay in the Cordilleras. He wa...
A Day in a Life of an Imeldic Shopaholic
On October 13, 1977, in New York, Imelda Marcos spent $384,000, buying a platinum bracelet with rubies for $50,000; a...