Sangil: Luis Taruc: His years of living dangerously

KA LUIS Taruc was a tailor before the Second World War. He was born in San Luis in Pampanga and spent his growing years there. In the thirties, people acknowledged it as the time of countryside tranquility and people termed it as peace time. He had a small shop in barrio Batasan, San Miguel, Bulacan. His shop was located on the ground floor of a small house. Life seems so easy.

The meager income from the shop was good enough to raise a family. The upper floor was where he and his wife lived. The couple had a son whom they named Romeo. But loneliness intervened when his wife died and Romeo was only two years old. And it was at this time when war was permeating in the whole of Europe as Adolf Hitler rose to power and began invading neighboring countries.

War spread and Japan invaded our country a day after Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor in December 8, 1941. And in those three years of Japanese occupation guerrilla movements spread all over the country, and the Hukbalahap (Hukbo Laban sa Hapon) was one of them. Ka Luis was at the forefront in fighting the Japanese invaders.

The turning point in his life was the disappointment he and his group got from the United States government after the war and liberation came. Many guerrilla units were recognized and were recipients of back pays and the Hukbalahap was excluded.

To make matters worse, now Ka Luis who had a socialist leanings because of the influence of Pedro Abad Santos, a socialist leader from San Fernando, won in the first congressional elections together with Amado Yuzon of Guagua, a poet laureate and an English professor in the Far Eastern University. Five other socialist reformers including Jesus Lava of Bulacan formed the minority group in the House of Representatives.

This group of seven congressmen gave the biggest headache to then President Manuel Roxas reportedly who in blind faith followed the barked orders of the US government. The controversial RP-US Agreement, Bell Trade Act and Parity Rights law were items and were subjected to long debates in congress. All those laws heavily favors the American interests, and they met strong resistance with intimidating noise from Taruc and the six others. As a result, the socialists leaning members of the House were expelled.

Out of Congress the former guerrilla unit Hukbalahap became the HMB (Hukbong Mapagpalaya Ng Bayan), and Ka Luis became the supremo. It became the dissident movement that lasted for years until in 1951 the HMB forces were already on the doorstep of Metro Manila, with some units already spread around Marikina town.

Things changed when Ramon Magsaysay, a former congressman of Zambales defeated incumbent President Elpidio Quirino. Magsaysay was known as man of the masses and wanted nothing more in his incumbency but peace in the country. He sought for Taruc and tasked a young journalist, Benigno Aquino of Tarlac to convince the Huk leader to lay down his arms.

(More next issue)
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