Ghostwriting the Nation’s Destiny

Luis Bienvenido Foronda
2 min readFeb 16, 2021

This article was published in OnlyFacts on February 12, 2021

Okay, one more Marcos fact for our OnlyFan before we get back into our pre-colonial series, hihi!

The two-volume history book series Tadhana: History of the Filipino People is often attributed to the byline of the former dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, but Tadhana was never written by him.

It was written for him by a generation of the country’s brightest historians.

Illustration by Félix Javier (2020).

Tadhana was a convoluted state-sponsored project meant to ‘rewrite’ Philippine history and cement Marcos’ rule, and later, Martial Law, into the books.

In his PhD dissertation, Filipino historian Rommel Curaming discovered that ghostwriters, apart from their ambitions to write an extensive history of the country, were limited by a sphere of influence from the state. Making them less liberal than their conservative counterparts.

“I often wonder what I will be remembered in history for. Scholar? Military hero? Builder? The new constitution? He brought light to a dark country? Strong rallying point or a weak tyrant?” (Marcos Diary, 8 October 1970).

Curaming also revealed that this entry from Marcos’ personal diary made evident the dictator’s fears of ‘bad media’ from historians and journalists that ensued to stringent censorship.

Apart from Tadhana, Ladaoan (1977), a minor work dedicated to Marcos was ghostwritten by historian Marcelino Foronda for General Fabian Ver.

Ver, who served directly under Marcos, was said to have visited Foronda in his home and forced him to write the short work in exchange for his freedom.

Former Senator and Human Rights Lawyer Jose W. Diokno, who was later interviewed by students of Foronda, said that these harassments from military personnel were common. In more severe cases, torture.

Torture, for Diokno, was time spent in Laor — a military installation in Nueva Ecija that forced political prisoners in various forms of physical and psychological maltreatment.

This suggests the tremendous costs of the Marcos administration to human rights abuses that continue to be blotted out in the ink of history.


Curaming, R.A. (2006). When Clio meets the Titans: Rethinking State-Historian Relations in Indonesia and the Philippines. [PhD dissertation, Australian National University].

Curaming, R.A. (2018). “Official history reconsidered: the Tadhana project in the Philippines.” Palgrave Handbook of State-Sponsored History After 1945. DOI: 10.1057/978–1–349–95306–6_12.

Batario et al. (1984, November 10). Nostalgia: A Longing for the Old La Salle; An interview with Dr. Marcelino A. Foronda, Jr. [Tape recording and transcript]. Biographical Histories. Foronda Oral History Collection. De La Salle University Libraries, Manila.

Atayde et al. (1979, February 28). An interview with the former Senator Jose W. Diokno. [Tape recording and transcript]. Martial Law Projects. Foronda Oral History Collection. De La Salle University Libraries, Manila.