Sunday, September 19, 2010

*214. Rebel with a Cause: LUIS M. TARUC, Huk Supremo

AND JUSTICE FOR ALL. Huk Supremo Luis Taruc was a militant rebel leader who helped found the Huk movement in Central Luzon and became a leading fighter for peasant rights, agrarian and social reforms. His skirmishes with the government led to his imprisonment in the turbulent 50s.

A leading figure in the campaign for social justice, Luis Mangalus Taruc was born of peasant stock in San Luis on 21 June 1913. Just like his father before him ,he became a farmer. After high school in Tarlac, he enrolled at the University of Manila, but did not finish; he opted to become a tailor in San Miguel, Bulacan.

He was already deep into Marxism in 1935, forcing him to leave his haberdashery business to his wife so he could go full time with his pro-peasant advocacies. Influenced by Pedro Abad Santos of San Fernando, Taruc joined his Aguman ding Maldang Tala-pagobra (AMT, Union of Peasant Workers) and in 1938, the Partido Socialista. When the latter evolved into the Partido Komunista ng Pilipinas, Taruc became an officer of rank.

During the 2nd World War, Taruc, together with Casto Alejandrino, Felipa Culala (Kumander Dayang-Dayang) and Bernardo Poblete (Kumander Banal of Minalin), founded the Hukbalahap movement (Hukbong Laban sa Mga Hapon) in a barrio of Concepcion, Tarlac on 29 March 1942. He was chosen to lead a 30,000-strong guerrilla group against the Japanese invaders, with order to harass and attack them at every opportunity.

When the Philippines was liberated, Taruc and his group refused to surrender, as they were not recognized by the U.S. Army as real guerilla fighters. In 1946, he ran for a seat in Congress, which he won together with 6 other Communists. Charged with terrorism, he was unseated, fled to the mountains and vowed to defy the American-supported Roxas government.

In 1948, Tarc agreed to surrendered to then Pres. Elpidio Quirino. In return, Quirino was promised to grant amnesty to all surrendering Huks and reinstate Taruc as congressman. Talks collapsed with the government accusing the Huks of violating the terms of agreement. Once more, Taruc hied off to the mountains and continued his siege.

It was only in 1954, during the term of Ramon Magsaysay, that Taruc gave himself up to Benigno Aquino Jr., then a young reporter of the Daily Mirror and a secret government emissary to the rebel leader. Taruc was brought to Manila and was sentenced to 12 years in prison. After being denied clemency by Pres. Diosdado Macapagal, he was pardoned by Pres. Ferdinand Marcos in September 1968. Finally released, Taruc continued to work for social and agrarian reforms.

Taruc’s written works include “Born of the People” (1953) and “He Who Rides the Tiger” (1967). He passed away on 4 May 2005, of heart attack at the St. Luke’s Hospital at age 91. Attempts by several Huk veteran associations to discredit him as a Hukbalahap founder have not diminished Luis Taruc’s stature among the working peasant class, remaining an icon, or even a folk hero-- in the campaign against social injustice in the trying, turbulent 50s.


Glenn said...

Gud pm po. I'm a regular reader of this excellent blog. Do you have any background information po kay Lino G. Dizon, a contemporary of Pedro Abad Santos? Hope you can feature him in your blog one of these days.

God bless po!
Glenn De Guzman

alex r. castro said...

I believe we have information about him at the Center for Kapampangan Studies. I just don't have a picture though. I'll send you some info about him soon. Many thanks for visiting, Glenn.

Glenn said...

Thanks a lot po. I have scant information about him. From what I gathered from my mother, he was executed during the war by the Japanese. I was able to secure a copy of his "Pasion". But aside from being a poet and a socialist, i was in the dark po about his background.

Many thanks in advance po.
God bless!

glenn de guzman (