A Thousand Little Deaths: Growing Up Under Martial Law in the Philippines

ABOUT Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein

Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein
Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein left the Philippines for the United States to work as a member of an international team for a research project on the roles of women as portrayed on television across five countries.  She holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and has worked for organizations such as th More...



On an otherwise normal morning at a private school for girls, a 15-year-old student is picked up by soldiers and sent to a military camp, becoming one of the thousands of political prisoners arrested under Ferdinand Marcos' repressive regime in the 1970s. A year earlier, Marcos had declared martial law and a military government effectively took over the Philippines. After her release, author Vicky Pinpin-Feinstein was required to report to camp, her probation lasting five years. She was never charged and was never told why she was arrested. The effects of prison and the long-term probation makes Vicky’s story an authentic representation of the pernicious effects of dictatorship and tyranny, effects that pervaded a life for decades to come. This is a historically vital memoir, not only moving in its rendition of what life was like for a young innocent girl, but also for its incisive analysis of the political forces that wrecked democratic ideals in a country where politics and violence have always worked together for the benefit of the few.

A riveting story of a young girl of fifteen who was one of the thousands arrested when then President, Ferdinand Marcos, declared martial law in the Philippines and installed a dictatorial and repressive regime. Hers is a story of innocence lost, of incarceration without being charged and of the pernicious effects imprisonment had on her.

This true story of a young innocent girl brutalised by a despotic regime is a despairingly common story. Her own government betrayed her youthful ideals and aspirations.  While it is an account of one life among many that endured such upheaval, it is a compelling warning.

I saw the best and worst of Filipino society while working as a journalist in the Philippines' during Marcos' reign.  That dark era showed how politics can devastate democratic ideals.  Sadly in such a beautiful country, politics and violence have traditionally been combined and distorted to always benefit a select few.    

                                                                 - Mark Toohey 


                                                                  Sydney, Australia