Luis Taruc
Luis Taruc was a Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

 political figure and communist insurgent
Insurgent, insurgents or insurgency can refer to:* The act of insurgency-Specific insurgencies:* Iraqi insurgency, uprising in Iraq* Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, uprising in India* Insurgency in North-East India...

. He was the leader of the Hukbalahap
The Hukbalahap , was the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines , formed in 1942 to fight the Japanese Empire's occupation of the Philippines during World War II. It fought a second war from 1946 to 1954 against the pro-Western leaders of their newly independent country...

 rebel group between 1942 and 1954. His involvement with the movement came after his initiation to the problems of agrarian Filipinos when he was a student in the early 1930s. During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Taruc led the Hukbalahap in guerrilla operations against the Japanese occupiers of the Philippines
Japanese occupation of the Philippines
The Japanese occupation of the Philippines was the period in the history of the Philippines between 1942 and 1945, when the Empire of Japan occupied the previously American-controlled Philippines during World War II....

, for which the Hukbalahap received little recognition from the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 government. After the war, the Hukbalahap turned their attention to resisting the government of Manuel Roxas
Manuel Roxas
Manuel Acuña Roxas was the first president of the independent Third Republic of the Philippines and fifth president overall. He served as president from the granting of independence in 1946 until his abrupt death in 1948...

, and along with seven of his colleagues, was elected to the House of Representatives
House of Representatives of the Philippines
The House of Representatives of the Philippines is the lower chamber of the...

 but were not allowed to take their seats in Congress, driving them back to the hills. The Taruc faction opposed the parity rights that the U.S. wanted to enjoy from post-independence Philippines. In the next five years, Taruc would give up on the parliamentary struggle and once more take up arms. At the height of its popularity, the Hukbalahap reached a fighting strength of 10,000 to 15,000.


Luis Mangalus Taruc was born of peasant folk in the farming town of San Luis, Pampanga
San Luis, Pampanga
San Luis is a 4th class municipality in the province of Pampanga, Philippines. According to the latest census, it has a population of 47,517 people in 7,321 households.-Barangays:San Luis is politically subdivided into 17 barangays...

. He went to the University of Manila
University of Manila
The University of Manila is a university located in the heart of Sampaloc in Manila, Philippines, more commonly known as the University Belt area. It was founded in 1913 by five young college students, the three de Los santos siblings and two of their friends.-External links:*...

 for two years (1932–1934) but returned to his hometown without getting a degree to set up a haberdashery. At this time, he came under the influence of Pedro Abad Santos
Pedro Abad Santos
Pedro Abad Santos was a Filipino doctor, lawyer, Marxist and politician who later became a leader of the first of two Philippine communist rebellions from the 1930s to the 1950s.-Early years:...

, a wealthy intellectual, and Juan Feleo, a peasant leader. They were the two leading lights of the emerging communist movement in the 1930s. Aged 22 in 1935, he became officially a member of the Communist Party of the Philippines, to which he would devote his life for the next two decades.

In 1938, the socialist and communist parties united and would later pledge loyalty to the government's anti-Japanese crusade in 1941. Following the Japanese invasion, Taruc formed the Hukbalahap (Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon or the "People’s Army Against the Japanese” in English), along with Casto Alejandrino and other guerillas, in central Luzon on 29 March 1942 and became its commander-in-chief. The guerrilla force would be later demonized by the United States at the start of the Cold War in 1946.

Taruc was elected to the Philippine House of Representatives in 1946 as a member of the Democratic Alliance. He, along with five other winning Democratic Alliance candidates, were barred from taking office by the Commission on Elections due to them allegedly committing election fraud and terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...


Taruc then went underground in late 1946 following failed negotiations with President Manuel Roxas. Succeeding negotiations with President Elpidio Quirino
Elpidio Quirino
Elpidio Rivera Quirino was a Filipino politician, and the sixth President of the Philippines.A lawyer by profession, Quirino entered politics when he became a representative of Ilocos Sur from 1919 to 1925. He was then elected as senator from 1925–1931...

 between June and August 1948 were without success, paving way for the recreation of the Huk movement, becoming the HMB ("Hukbo Magpalaya ng Bayan" or "Army to Liberate the People"). By the presidential elections of 1949, the Huks had abandoned mainstream politics altogether in favor of underground insurgent resistance. The Huks would control most of central Luzon
Luzon is the largest island in the Philippines. It is located in the northernmost region of the archipelago, and is also the name for one of the three primary island groups in the country centered on the Island of Luzon...

, the “rice basket” of the Philippines, including two provincial capitals by 1950. Being a major threat to the central government, Quirino assigned Ramon Magsaysay
Ramon Magsaysay
Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay was the third President of the Republic of the Philippines from December 30, 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1957. He was elected President under the banner of the Nacionalista Party.-Early life:Ramon F...

, minister of national defense, to combat the Huk insurgency. The Huks would then be undermined by Magsaysay's strategy of gaining peasant support and reforming the army and constabulary. In early 1954, Benigno Aquino, Jr.
Benigno Aquino, Jr.
Benigno Simeon "Ninoy" Aquino, Jr. was a Filipino Senator and a former Governor of Tarlac. Aquino, together with Gerry Roxas and Jovito Salonga, formed the leadership of the opposition to the Marcos regime in the years leading to the imposition of martial law in the Philippines...

, then a news reporter, was appointed by president Ramon Magsaysay
Ramon Magsaysay
Ramón del Fierro Magsaysay was the third President of the Republic of the Philippines from December 30, 1953 until his death in a plane crash in 1957. He was elected President under the banner of the Nacionalista Party.-Early life:Ramon F...

 to act as personal emissary to Luis Taruc. After four months of negotiations, Taruc surrendered unconditionally to the government on 17 May 1954, effectively ending the Huk rebellion. In 1985, Taruc would tell F. Sionil Jose
F. Sionil José
F. Sionil José or in full Francisco Sionil José is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language. His novels and short stories depict the social underpinnings of class struggles and colonialism in Filipino society...

 that one of the reasons of the insurgency failure was that dissent warranted being killed. He would also add that dogmatic fundamentalism scared away many potential allies. The Huk movement commanded an estimated 170,000 armed troops with a base of two million civilian supporters at the apex of their power in 1952.

Taruc was brought to court for revolt and terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. He was rebuffed when he petitioned President Diosdado Macapagal
Diosdado Macapagal
Diosdado Pangan Macapagal was the ninth President of the Philippines, serving from 1961 to 1965, and the sixth Vice President, serving from 1957 to 1961. He also served as a member of the House of Representatives, and headed the Constitutional Convention of 1970...

 for executive clemency and amnesty to political prisoners in exchange for support for the President's social welfare program. Taruc would be pardoned on September 11, 1968 by President Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Marcos
Ferdinand Emmanuel Edralin Marcos, Sr. was a Filipino leader and an authoritarian President of the Philippines from 1965 to 1986. He was a lawyer, member of the Philippine House of Representatives and a member of the Philippine Senate...

, who thereby gained the former Huk leader’s support. After his release, he continued to work for Agrarian reforms. His struggle on behalf of the poor farmers encouraged local and national leaders to push for changes in relations between landlord and farm workers and the equitable distribution of farm lands. Many of the issues that drove him and fellow Huk members to rebellion still prevail in many parts of the Philippines.

Taruc wrote Born of the People (1953) and He Who Rides the Tiger (1967). Luis Taruc used Alipato, meaning “spark that spreads a fire,” as his pseudonym. Leon Pomeroy is believed to have ghostwritten Taruc’s autobiographical “Born of the People,” which was Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999, and was the first South African president to be elected in a fully representative democratic election. Before his presidency, Mandela was an anti-apartheid activist, and the leader of Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing...

's reference on guerrilla warfare when he was the commander in chief of the Umkhonto We Sizwe
Umkhonto we Sizwe
Umkhonto we Sizwe , translated "Spear of the Nation," was the armed wing of the African National Congress which fought against the South African apartheid government. MK launched its first guerrilla attacks against government installations on 16 December 1961...

 (Spear of the Nation).

It is to be noted that several Huk veterans organizations dispute the credit heaped on Taruc for organizing the Hukbalahap during WWII. Some critics contend that Taruc only joined the movement when several prominent Huk leaders were captured and executed by the Japanese. According to some, Taruc was not among several Huk movements operating in concert, under Castro Alejandrino, Eusebio Aquino and Mariano Franco among others.


On May 4, 2005, Luis Taruc died of a heart attack in St. Luke's Medical Center
St. Luke's medical center
St. Luke's Medical Center is a Tertiary referral hospital located in Quezon City and Taguig City, Philippines. It has a bed capacity of 660. It is the first in the Philippines and second in Asia to be accredited by the USA-based Joint Commission International , one of the leading international...

 in Quezon City
Quezon City
Quezon City is the former capital and the most populous city in the Philippines. Located on the island of Luzon, Quezon City is one of the cities and municipalities that make up Metro Manila, the National Capital Region. The city was named after Manuel L...

 at the age of 91. Different political figures went to Luis Taruc's wake to pay respect and give support to his family.

Further reading

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