I. Hukbalahap Movement: The Hukbalahap Movement is important to the Philippines,
not only in the past but up to today.
1. To identify the origins of the Hukbalahap Movement, its leaders, members and
the important events that happened during their reign in Philippine history
2. To determine their mission and the reason why the movement was made
3. To distinguish their importance in Philippine history and today
III. BASIC FACTS:
The Hukbalahap Movement has its deep roots in the Spanish encomienda system which
developed into system of exploitation. The numerous abuses, injustices, and cruelties perpetrated
by the encomenderos upon the Filipino peasants led to uprisings that failed because of lack of
unity and leadership. The seeds of revolt were planted in the minds of the peasants. With political
consciousness, the peasants were untied by educated but poor leaders.
The Hukbalahap began as a resistance organization against the Japanese and ended as
a movement against the government. High taxes, coupled with unspeakable abuses connected
therewith, led to widespread discontent among the people. Such a feudal setup led to the
widening of the gap between the ruling class and the people.
The Spanish officials and friars bestowed little favors on the descendants of the Filipino
rajahs and nobles by making the latter a sort of middlemen between the rulers and the ruled.
The friar estate, legally and illegally acquired, grew to such an extent as to swallow up
the parcels of land belonging either to the public domain or to small planters who were too
ignorant to secure legal rights over their property. After the abolition of the encomienda, the
peasants remained illiterate and were burned with heavy taxes and other unjust and iniquitous
impositions which made life unbearable for them.
The life of the peasant during the Spanish period was characterized by absolute penury
and degradation. The customary division of the crops was 50-50, with the peasants furnishing the
tools and work animals. The peasants were compelled to borrow money from his landlord at an
exorbitant interest. The result was that the peasant became heavily indebted to the children and
children’s children, thereby pinning them down, including the unborn generation, to the land
without any hope of release from servitude.
This inhumanity to man was compounded by making the peasant work for the landlord
without pay. Under such conditions, the peasant had no other recourse than to gamble.
GAMBLES OF THE PEASANT
The peasant’s fatalism made him take a chance a cockfighting to increase his income.
Losses in the cockfights meant more borrowing from the landlord. The net result was the
increased dependence of the peasant on his landlord, continued loss of self respect and income,
and an abject life.
AGRARIAN UNREST UNDER THE AMERICANS
In the last two decades of the nineteenth century, the Filipino middle class rose to
reminiscence and initiated the reform movement. Such a movement necessarily resulted in a
social tension, for the Spanish ruling class, highly suspicious of any movement that would curtail
their vested interests, refused to live in to the demands of the Filipino reformist group. The
tension snapped when, in 1896; the masses, led by Andres Bonifacio, took to the field against the
Socially and economically, however, the Revolution was a failure. While it dislodged the
Spanish ruling class and drove Spain’s prestige to the precipice, the Filipino upper class rushed
into the vacuum created by the disappearance of the Spanish rulers. The peasants continued to
play their role of the exploited after the Revolution and through the American period. The
Americans, it is true, somewhat softened the hard core of the system of exploitation, but the basic
conditions remained: poverty, ignorance, tendency to gambling, lack of self-respect, and religious
Usury (the lending of money at an exorbitant rate of interest), which thrived during the
Spanish regime, continued to exist under the American rule. The landlords improved upon the
techniques of their former Spanish masters and invented ways of circumventing the anti-Usury
Law. Several techniques were employed to exploit the peasant, the most notorious being the
TAKIPAN which consisted in paying 100% interest, and another being the TALINDUWA
consisted in the peasant paying what he borrowed in kind, say, palay. In the Talinduwa, if a
peasant borrowed, say, fifty pesos and the cost of a cavan of palay at the time the loan was made
was two pesos, he had to pay his landlord twenty-five cavans at the time of harvest even if the
cost of the palay had risen to five pesos per cavan. If the price cavan dropped, the original two
pesos per cavan was put into effect. In either case, the peasant was the loser. In the pasunod,
the peasant was forced to borrow from his landlord whether he liked it or not. In the baligtaran,
the palely was converted into money at, say, one pesos per cavan at the time the loan was made.
At harvest time, the value of the palay was increased or decreased so as to favor the landlord.
Such practices added to the misery of the peasants.
THE RISE OF SOCIALISM AND COMMUNISM
The freedom that the United States brought to the Philippines led to a political
consciousness which seeped through the minds of peasants and workers. The awakening of the
exploited class came during the first decades of American rule when labor and peasant unions
sprouted. In this awakening, tagalog novels played a significant part: there came “Banaag at
Sikat” of Lope K. Santos in 1906, followed by Faustino Aguilar with “Busabos ng Palad” in 1907
and “Nangalunod sa Katihan” in 1911. In 1936 Servando de los Angeles published his novel “Ang
Huling Timawa” which was obviously an anti-landlord work
In 1922, the peasants banded themselves into the Confederacion de Aparceros y
Obreros Agricolas de Filipinas (Phil. Confederation of tenants and Agricultural Workers), under
the leadership of Jacinto Manahan. Two years later, it was re-named Katipunang Pambansa ng
mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas. This union and the Philippine Labor Congress became the most
powerful weapons of the lower class.
In 1928, representatives of the Phil. Labor Congress (PLC) attended a trade conference
in Canton, China which was sponsored by the communists. Upon their return, they founded the
Labor Party. And in the same year, the PLC affiliated itself with the Red International
Organization of Labor Unions, thereby making the PLC a communist union. The following year,
1929, the conservative end of the communist leaders of the PLC disagreed on matters of policy.
So Crisanto Evangelista a former PLC leader and a communist, founded his Katipunan ng mga
Anak Pawis ng Pilipinas, while other leaders; Ruperto Cristobal and Antonio Paguia remained in
Under the leadership of evangelista and manahan, the communist party was founded in
1930. The purpose of new party was:
To work for the improvement of living and working conditions of workers and peasants;
To overthrow the American colonial government and the establishment of an independent
Philippines patterned after Soviet Russia; and
To unite all workers.
In 1932, The Supreme court declared the Communist party an Illegal association. Though
outlawed, the Communist Party worked secretly among the peasants and laborers, particularly of
In 1929, Pedro Abad Santos, a wealthy and cultured landlord of Pampanga, Founded the
Socialist Party. Unlike the Communist party it was not that famous and widespread. The Socialist
party however was not outlawed for it did not advocate the overthrow of the existing government.
The following year, he founded the Aguman Ding Maldang Talapagobra (AMT). Together with
the Socialist party, they both became aspects of the same movement whose purpose was to
secure better conditions and increase pay for the workers and peasants
In 1938, when the Communist leaders were pardoned, the two parties- the Communist
and Socialist- merged. This affiliation of peasants and workers of Central Luzon with a communist
organization made them the most politically sophisticated working class in the Philippines.
THE FOUNDING OF HUKBALAHAP
The socialist-communist orientation of central Luzon peasants led to a more militant
peasants and labor movements. The years immediately preceding the outbreak of the war in the
Pacific and numerous strikes was recorded. Then war came to the Philippines on December 8,
1941. In the latter, USAFFE retreated to Bataan and eventually the Filipino-American arms
collapsed. Instinctively, the peasants of Pampanga reacted sharply by forming home guards for
protection and security.
Because of these series of events, the necessity of unity came to them. And this led to a
meeting of peasant leaders early in February, 1942. The meeting was held at barrio of Bakwit,
Cabiao, Nueva Ecija, This meeting was attended by: Luis Taruc, Juan Fele Casto Alejandrino,
Matelo del Castillo, F. Sampanga, Jose de Leon, Lino Dizon, EusebioAquino and Mariano
Franco. “Anti-Japanese Above All” became the battle cry of the underground movement. The
peasant organizations were then dissolved in order to carry out their main policy, namely, to work
for a free and democratic Philippines. To carry out this policy, the peasant leaders adopted a
three point platform: economic, political and military:
The Economic phase is consisted in the development of all means of providing the
people with sustenance and at the same time to sabotage Japanese efforts.
The Political phase consisted in discrediting the “puppet regime” and in destroying its
The Military aim was to harass the Japanese and collect all sorts of arms in preparation
for a vast resistance movement
The men unanimously agreed to call it Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon or
HUKBALAHAP, for short. After the meeting, a Military Committee was formed with the following
as members: Taruc, Banal (Bernardo Poblete, Casto Alejandrino and Felipa Culala (Dayang-
Dayang). Taruc was chosen as the chairman of the committee, with Alejandrino as second in
command. Thus the birth of Hukbalahap.
THE HUKBALAHAP SOVEREIGNTY
The high command of the Hukbalahap imposed an iron discipline on all it members. That
this discipline was real can be gauged from the execution of Dayang-Dayang (Felipa Culala)
when it appeared that she was endangering the movement by her own deviation from the rules of
the organization. There was no accurate list of men liquidated by the Huk in the name of unity but
it is probably safe to assume that hundreds were killed. Among them were non-members who
were suspected of giving aid and comfort to the enemy.
WHEN THE WAR BROKE OUT
The landlords and their families evacuated to Manila. The peasants took over the land of
the absentee landlords. This was the beginning of a new era for them: they had freedom and
there was plenty of food. One who had lived in Central Luzon during the enemy occupation
cannot fail to observe the effectiveness of the Huk resistance movement Thus the central plains
became a Huk preserve, and while outwardly the Japanese were in command, actually the area
recognized Huk sovereignty.
LIBERATION AND IMPRISONMENT
January 1945, the Americans landed in Lingayen, where the guerillas had already
cleared out the Japanese obstacles. By mid-January, the Huks liberated much of Tarlac, and on
the 20 they captured the capital of the province. Some squadrons attacked the towns of
Pampanga, including San Fernando, and placed them under their administration
January 28, 1945, Casto Alejandrino was “elected” provisional governor of Pampanga. In
Nueva Ecija, Juan Feleo was “elected” governor.
February 5, the Huks were focibly disarmed by American MP’s. Squadron 77, while
passing through Malolos on their way to Pampanga, was waylaid by the men under Colonel
Adonais Maclang of Malolos, Bulakan, seized, thrown to jail, and shot to death with the
knowledge of the American MP’s. Americans arrested Huk leader “Linda Bie” (Silvestre Liwanag)
who had, with his Squadrons, helped the Americans in the capture of Floridablanca airfields. The
Philippine Civil Affairs Unit (PCAU) of the American Army proceeded to remove all municipal
leaders elected by the Huks and replaced them with USAFFE guerillas. American Counter-
Intelligence Corps (CIC) imprisoned the Huks, but Gwen G. Atkinson, an American Air Corps
Colonel, who was once saved by the Huks, went to MacArthus to defend his benefactors.
THE ARREST OF TARUC
February 22, 1945, the CIC arrested the members of the Huk General Headquarters and
jailed them in San Fernando, Pampanga, but on March 8, Taruc was released. On April 8,
however, Taruc and GY (Casto Alejandrino) were rearrested and jailed. Neither MacArthur nor
the rival guerilla units though were able to file charges of crimes against Taruc and his men.
Thus, the Huks accused the USAFFE guerillas of poisoning the minds of the Americans against
them and of actually intriguing to have them liquidated by the Americans. Taruc accused the
landlords of having instigated the move against the Huks in order to wreak vengeance on them,
and primarily to disorganize the Huk movement for their (landlords’) benefit.
On September 23, 1945, some 50,000 peasants and workers marched to Malakanyang
and demanded the release of Taruc and his companions. Taruc was then released on September
ROXAS AND THE HUKS
The Huks and the Democratic Alliance (a new party composed of intellectuals, workers,
and peasants) supported President Osmeña. Roxas wooed Taruc and promised him almost
everything if Taruc and the Huks would side with him in the coming political struggle, but Taruc
refused to truckle Roxas, thus started Roxas’ hostility towards the Huks. Roxas raved against
them, accusing them of lawlessness and of being communists.
When Roxas won the presidency, he instituted a campaign against the Huks. Pilipino
MP’s and civilian guards hired by the wealthy landlords of Central Luzon (to protect them and to
fight the Huks) made a series of raids on the Huk bastions.
It gotso bad that during the Masico Affair in Laguna, a group of old and young men and
women suspected of being Huks were machine-gunned by the MPs without any warning or
investigation. Also, at Maliwalu, Bacolor, Pampanga, a group of men and women holding a party
at night were fired upon and killed by the MP’s
THE PACIFICATION CAMPAIGN
Taruc, Juan Feleo, Mateo del Castillo went from barrio to barrio to explain to their
followers the importance of peace and order in national rehabilitation and reconstruction. Taruc
and del Castillo received an intelligence report that they would be liquidated by their enemies,
among whome were allegedly high government officials. On August 24, 1946, Juan Feleo, the
peasant leader of Nueva Ecija, was kidnapped right under the noses of his MP guards and killed.
Then, on August 29, Taruc wrote a stinging letter to Roxas, practically accusing the latter of
instigating the campaigns against the Huks
OUTLAWING OF THE HUKS
The sharp and constant fighting between the huks on one hand, and the MP’s civilian
guards on the other, wrought havoc on the agricultural economy of Central Luzon. For two years,
the Roxas administration tried its best to quell the Huk dissidence to no avail. Tens of millions of
pesos were spent to hunt down Taruc, but the millions and the MP’s together failed to track down
even the shadow of the peasant leader.
Then finally on March 6, 1948, President Roxas issued his proclamation declaring the
Hukbalahap and Kaisahan ng mga Magbubukid as “illegal associations organized and maintained
to commit acts of sedition and other crimes for the purpose of overthrowing [the government
present at that time] under the Constitution. He ordered the arrest of all members of the
THE AMNESTY PROCLAMATION
On April 1948, Roxas died at Clark Field, thus Elpidio Quirino’s first task was the
establishment of peace and order so that the administration could proceed with economic
mobilization and the restoration of the people’s faith and confidence in the government. Quirino
sent former Judge Antonio Quirino to the field to contact Taruc in order to know what the Huks
wanted. By June 6, Judge Quirino and I.P. Soliongco met Taruc at a barrio between the towns of
San Miguel and Baliwag, Bulakan. On une 21 then, President Quirino issued a proclamation in
the presence of Taruc at Malakanyang, granting amnesty to all leader and members of the
Hukbalahap and the PKM. Amnesty was absolute and covered crimes of rebellion, sedition,
illegal association, assault, resistance and disobedience to persons in authority. The Huks agreed
to present their arms within 50 days.
THE BREAKDOWN OF AMNESTY
Taruc resumed his seat in the Lower House and collected his three years’ back salaries.
On August 12, Pres. Quirino ordered the Philippine Constabulary to disarm the abusive and hated
civilian guards. Just two days after, on August 14, Taruc left Manila on a “mission of peace and to
confer with his leaders over the eleventh hour registration”. Three hours after the 50-day period,
the first clash between the 507 MP company and 50 Huks at Kabanatuan resulted in the
resumption of the hostilities between the MP’s and the Huks.
CAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF THE AMNESTY
Taruc accused the Quirino Administration of bad faith and of failing to implement the
“secret agreement” with Judge Quirino. Judge Quirino denied any such agreements and
promised to make public the details of his negotiations with Taruc. The “secret agreement”
according to Taruc consisted in Scrapping of the Bell Trade Act, No resumption of trade with
Japan, Division of large estates fro distribution of tenants, Release of all Huk prisoners,
Industrialization, and No military bases agreement with the US.
Judge Quirino denied any such agreements and promised to make public the details of
his negotiations with Taruc. When Judge Quirino failed to keep his promise, Taruc released to the
press the details of the negotiations, together with photostatic copies of the documents,
containing the items mentioned by Taruc and Taruc’s and Judge Quirino’s initials. According to
Taruc, the failure of the government authorities issue certifications to the individual Huks to the
effect that they could, after presenting their arms, continue to hold on to their weapons.
THE MURDER OF MRS. QUEZON
On APRIL 28, 1949, Mrs. Aurora Quezon(Chairman of the Philippine National Red
Cross), her daughter Baby, and ten others were waylaid past Bongabon, Nueva Ecija and shot
dead mercilessly to their deaths. GENERAL RAFAEL JALANDONI accused the Huks of doing the
crime. On the other hand, GENERAL ALBERTO RAMOS, Chief of Constabulary, said that
bandits were responsible for the murder and not the Huks.
APRIL 29,1949, Taruc made a letter to the Manila Chronicle, denying that the Huks were
responsible for the crime. He accused the government of “creating national hysteria that would
call for further repressive measures” against the Huks. He also admitted for the first time that the
Huks objective was to “overthrow the government”.
The continuing condemnation prompted the Huk leaders to adopt the name “PEOPLE’S
LIBERATION ARMY” in 1950.
FALL OF HUK POLITBURO
The unified and widespread Huk movement posed a real danger to the government.
Rumors were spread, such as the Huks could take Manila any time they wanted, and it wouldn’t
be long before the Malakanyang would be in the hands of the Huks. Thus, strict security
measures taken by the government were: Searches were made in domiciles of suspected Huks
and liberal intellectuals; Arbitrary arrests were made; Suspects were taken to Camp Murphy; and
They were punished bodily.
RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Secretary of National Defense., adopted a policy of attraction in
order to win over the Huks to the side of the government. PRESIDENT ELPIDIO QUIRINO gave
Magsaysay the necessary funds to carry out the administration’s program of rehabilitating the
surrendered Huks. MILITARY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE OF THE AFP worked day and night to
track down the nerve center of the Huk Politburo, the body that executed the decisions of the Huk
BEFORE DAWN OF OCTOBER 18,1950, 22 organized units of the Armed Forces, aided
by the Manila Police, raided several places simultaneously and caught the brains of the Politburo.
CAPTURED: Atty. Jose Lava-member of the well-to-do and cultured Lava family of
Bulakan. Federico Bautista, Simeon G. Rodriguez (a former newspaper man), Salome Cruz,
Ramon Espiritu, Angel Baking, and others. The Politburo members were charged of REBELLION
with MURDER AND ARSON. THE MANILA COURT OF FIRST INSTANCE, presided by Judge
Oscar Castelo, Sentenced them to life imprisonment.
IN 1954, Amado V. Hernandez, the labor leader, was charged in the lower court with
rebellion with murder and arson. But, the Supreme Court ruled that there was no such crime.
The arrest and incarceration of the member of Politburo led to the demoralization of the
Huk rank and file. Many surrendered and sent to Mindanao for rehabilitation. Others were
imprisoned for sedition and rebellion and serving sentence in National Penitentiary.
THE SURRENDER OF TARUC
RAMON MAGSAYSAY, An avowed lover of the “little people”, was Elected President on
1953. He toured the barrios, kissed children and old women, and heartily pumped the hands of
peasants. He continued his policy of attraction, and resorted to mailed first policy in an attempt to
break completely the Huk movement. BENIGNO AQUINO, JR was secretly appointed by Pres.
Magsaysay in early 1954 as his personal emissary to Taruc.
Finally, on MAY 17, 1954, after months of negotiation, Taruc surrendered to the
governments. He unreservedly recognized the authority of Pres. Magsaysay and the sovereignty
of the Republic of the Philippines. He was brought to court and sentenced to serve years in
prison. TARUC’S SURRENDER further demoralized the Huk Movement, and many of his men
surrendered or were captured. DR. JESUS LAVA was now the Chief of the Communist Party of
the Philippines and Supreme Commander of what remained of the Huk Squadron continued to
defy the government.
In MAY 1964, Jesus Lava was captured in a house on P. Leonicio St., Manila. The Huk
movement lost its “BRAINS” and what remained were strugglers.
IV. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE HUK MOVEMENT
The Hukbalahap, or the "Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa mga Hapon" (meaning "People's
Army Against the Japanese") is the military arm of the Communist Party of the Philippines (PKP),
formed in 1942 to fight the Japanese Empire's occupation in the Philippines during World War II.
Lead primarily by Luis Taruc, it fought a second war from 1946 to 1954 against the pro-Western
leaders of their newly independent country. More commonly known as the Huks, it is culmination
of the centuries of peasant degradation, loss of self-respect of the poor peasants, and abject
The predecessors of the Huk movement, such as Confederacion de Aparceros y Obreros
Agricolas de Filipinas or Katipunang Pambansa ng mga Magbubukid sa Pilipinas and the
Katipunan ng mga Anak Pawis ng Pilipinas, were formed as a result of the prolonged exploitation
of foreign forces and landlords on the poor peasants, which was elaborated further by literary
works born thanks to the new-found freedom of expression during the American occupation. The
importance of these is that the organizations gave rise to communism and socialism, and
provided a chance for the Hukbalahap to come into existence. The exploitations on the peasants
and the literary works served as the driving force to inspire the peasants to seek improvement.
After the break-out of the second world war, their desire for justice and a better life
nourished by all these exploitations, the farmers recognized the need to unite against another
oppressor—the Japanese. Intending to free the country, with “Anti-Japanese Above All” as their
battle cry, they chose to call themselves the Hukbalahap. Having good intentions (which were in
general to alleviate the state of the Philippines, by improving the economic, political and military
conditions), the organization had an iron grip on its members though. For the sake of unity, this
austere tactics eventually lead to several assassinations of members not following the policies;
and the eventual labeling of the Hukbalahap as a communist party.
History-wise, the Hukbalahap’s significance is foremost the cliché that without it, history
would be incomplete and the world we live in today would be far from how we know it today. But
how is that so?
The Huks primarily gave rise to the poor but educated class who lead the masses in the
struggle for “rice and fish”. The masses began to think and feel, and the resulting “thinking and
feeling” led to militancy. The Huk movement led to the empowerment of the peasants and to the
recognition that unity equals power, a power which could be enhanced by the use of arms.
They were very important during their time since they were one of the forces who
liberated the country from the Japanese. They liberated several regions of the Philippines at that
time from the Japanese and placed it under their control. Aside from that, they had also saved,
protected and treated kindly at least one American Air Corps Colonel, Gwen G. Atkinson.
The assassination of Mrs. Aurora Quezon and others was an important turning point in
history. Events eventually led to the revelation that the Huks were against the government and
aiming to overthrow it. Even after the leaders were captured, the remaining Huks united and
formed what is known today as the New People’s Army.
The Hukbalahap’s (and its present descendant’s) importance is that it is a sort of
pressure applied to the government—a constant reminder that our country is far from okay, and
that there are people out there desperate enough to take up arms to effect change by
themselves. It is both a lesson and a fair warning to the government. It can forestall the
resurgence of dissidence only if it initiates genuine reforms in the Philippine land system. It also
serves as a reminder that when there is still inequality in the government, there will still be a
resistance asking for proper governance.
Ironically enough, the Huk movement suggests that power is in the people, or in the
masses. Nowadays, though, the “Huks”, in the form of the NPA, are not feared by the Japanese,
but by their fellow Filipinos themselves. They differ very little from terrorists nowadays, posing a
nuisance to the government and to people in areas where their recruits dwell. They were
responsible for kidnapping people and major attacks on rural areas. In a way, the significance of
these events is that it led to the investment if the government in its army and police force. But still,
even if they’re for the betterment of the country, not a lot of people are supporting them since they
chose the difficult road of using force, not realizing that fighting nowadays is not that applicable
anymore to settle issues.