Penguin Classics Edition of Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70 Is in the Works

lualhati bautista

( According to the government agency Human Rights Violations Victims' Memorial Commission, there are a total of 11,103 victims of human righs violations during the Martial Law period from 1972 to 1986. More than 2,000 of them were killed, almost hundreds were raped and tortured, and thousands were imprisoned for no reason—and investigation of claims are still ongoing. Amnesty International in addition has comprehensive reports and first-hand accounts about incidences of arbitrary detention, torture, abuse, and killings during the Marcos regime. Data from the human rights group were published in 1976 and 1982, both of which can be found online. Aside from these publications based on facts, a number of filmmakers, artists, and writers have also produced creative works to shed light on the atrocities of the period, including Lualhati Bautista's critically acclaimed Dekada '70. Almost four decades after it was first published, Penguin Classics has reached out to her for what's possibly a global distribution of the Filipino classic's English translation.


This was revealed by Bautista herself through a Facebook post on Wednesday, January 27. Elda Rotor, vice president and publisher of New York-based Penguin Classics, reached out to the Filipina writer on January 5 regarding the international publication's interest to publish Dekada '70 as a Penguin Classics edition.

"I had learned about your modern classic Dekada '70 from my International Sales colleagues and was intrigued by the work and its impact and study in Philippine classrooms. I read your English translation of Dekada '70 and found the Bartolome family’s story in the era of Martial Law, especially from the mother Amanda’s perspective, very moving, timely, and propulsive and see the potential for your classic for a wider English-language audience, especially students, outside the Philippines," Rotor wrote.

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Dekada '70 follows a middle-class family caught in the middle of the tumultuous decade of the 1970s. The female protagonist, Amanda Bartolome, witnesses a series of events that not only shackled the Filipinos but also gave birth to a generation that has become more radical—including her sons who quickly turn to activism. It was made into a film in 2002, starring Vilma Santos and Christopher De Leon; and into a musical directed by Pat Valera in 2018.

Penguin Classics, an imprint of worldwide Penguin Random House, publishes new editions and English translations of classic works of literature from around the world. Part of their roster are English versions of Jose Rizal's Noli Me Tangere (1887) and El Filibusterismo (1891), which were released 2006 and 2011, respectively. They also have Nick Joaquin’s The Woman with Two Navels and Tales of the Tropical Gothic, Jose Garcia Villa's poetry collection Doveglion, aand Carlos Bulosan's America Is in the Heart. These five Filipino books in English join the ranks of Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Confucius' The Analects, Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, Robert Frost's The Road Not Taken and Other Poems, and Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy—all in black-spine glory no less. And soon, Lualhati Bautista's Dekada '70.


Bautista also self-published the English translation (by Clarisse B. de Jesus), The '70s, in June 2021. You can order online by sending her a private message. (Price depends on number of orders.)

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