Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ka Luis M. Taruc (June 21, 1913 - May 4, 2005)

I was deeply saddened to receive a text message from the phone of Ka Luis Taruc. He had just passed away and his assistant had informed me of the sad news using his phone. This biographic sketch was taken from the Aldo ning Kapampangan 2001 Souvenir Program. December 10, 2001 was the first time I got to meet Ka Luis. We were both Most Outstanding Kapampangan Awardees that year, he for social justice and I for youth leadership. Despite our close to sixty-six years age difference, I learned a lot from Ka Luis during the few times we met or spoke with each other on the phone. The last time we met was when he asked me to speak at a gathering for the anniversary of the Hukbalahap where I spoke about reconstructing the house of Pedro Abad Santos. Sadly, we never got it done. We have indeed lost a great part of our history.

Luis Taruc
Social Justice

The great patriot and former Huk Supremo Luis Taruc at 88, is a picture of a man who never yielded to foreign aggression.

Luis Taruc of San Luis, Pampanga is not only an important historical figure in the province but of the nation as well. Accounts of his contribution to the Filipinos' endless fight for freedom and his achievements in promoting social justice, as champion of the common man, are countless, if not unequaled.

As the founder of the Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (Hukbalahap) who fought the Japanese invaders, he helped the smooth and speedy liberation of the country from the alien forces.

History reveals that the great majority of Philippine people mounted a remarkably effective resistance to the Japanese occupation, particularly through the leadership of Luis Taruc.

Investigations after the war showed that 260,000 Filipinos had been actively engaged in guerilla organizations and an even larger number operated covertly in the anti-Japanese underground.

The largest guerilla organization, Hukbalahap (People's Anti-Japanese Army) had armed some 30,000 guerillas who controlled most of Luzon.

The cornerstone of Luis Taruc's movement was land reform, as well as industrialization.

A US Army study corroborated this idea, saying that Huks' "main impetus was peasant grievances, not Leninist designs."

According to Leslie E. Bauzon during her (sic) delivery of the conceptual framework for the study and teaching of history at the 2nd National Conference on the Teaching of Philippine and Asian History and Culture in UP Diliman on April 12 to 16, 1999, the Huk revolution from 1947 to 1954 led by Luis Taruc had been a great catalyst to Filipino elites and anti-peasant groups.

"I am referring to the Huk revolution - even if it failed I would still classify it as a revolution since it aimed at fundamental social change - led by Luis Taruc. The Huk revolution stemmed from the age-old problem of caciquism or landlordism in the Central Plain of Luzon, from deterioration of tenancy conditions, from usurious moneylending practices that reduced landless tenants to debt peonage, and from the impoverishment that tenant farmers wanted to do away with," Bauzon said.

Due to his effective clamor for social change, Luis Taruc, and several other reformists were later elected to the newly-formed Filipino Congress (three to the Senate and seven to the House). But they were not allowed to take their seats due to unsupported allegations that coercion had been used to influence votes.

He went back to the mountains as a rebel, fought for democratic ideals, and advocated a new deal for the masses that remained under an exploitative socio-political system.

Then President Ramon Magsaysay convinced him to lead his Huk forces to a new way of life, with promises of social reforms, peace, and a vision for the poor.

Taruc left the hills, joined Magsaysay and from then, never stopped his original patriotic advocacy, his love of freedom and independence, and his hatred of colonial exploitation and oppressive policies.

He is a Pampanga hero in his own right, no less patriotic and proud than the Abad Santos brothers, Ninoy Aquino, and those who fought foreign oppression and justice.
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