|Born||June 21, 1913
San Luis, Pampanga, Philippines
|Died||May 4, 2005
Quezon City, Philippines
|Occupation||communist insurgent, politician|
|Known for||leadership of the Hukbalahap|
Luis Taruc (June 21, 1913 - May 4, 2005) was a Filipino political figure and insurgent during the agrarian unrest of the 1930s until the end of the Cold War. He was the leader of the Hukbalahap or Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon 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, Taruc led the Hukbalahap in guerrilla operations against the Japanese occupiers of the Philippines.
After helping the win the war against Japan, the Hukbalahap continued their pre-war activities of seeking agrarian reform. They wanted "justice from the landowners". The government of Manuel Roxas failed to understand their history and plight fully, and although Taruc along with seven of his colleagues, was elected to the House of Representatives, they were not allowed to take their seats in Congress. They were victimized not only by the USAFFE but unfortunately also the Philippine government which drove 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. He went to the University of Manila 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, a wealthy intellectual, and Juan Feleo, a peasant leader. They were the two leading leaders of the emerging peasant 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. 
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.
Taruc then went underground in late 1946 following failed negotiations with President Manuel Roxas. Succeeding negotiations with President Elpidio Quirino 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, the “rice basket” of the Philippines, including two provincial capitals by 1950. Being a major threat to the central government, Quirino assigned Ramon Magsaysay, 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., then a news reporter, was appointed by president Ramon Magsaysay 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 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. He was sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment. He was rebuffed when he petitioned President Diosdado Macapagal 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, 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. William Pomeroy is believed to have ghostwritten Taruc’s autobiographical “Born of the People,” which was Nelson Mandela's reference on guerrilla warfare when he was the commander in chief of the Umkhonto We Sizwe (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 World War II. 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 in Quezon City at the age of 91. Different political figures went to Luis Taruc's wake to pay respect and give support to his family.
- Luis Taruc (Filipino political leader) - Britannica Online Encyclopedia
- F. Sionil Jose: Our Murdered Peasants « Land Watch-Philippines
- Manuel L. Quezon III: The Daily Dose » Luis Taruc
- Farewell to a life-long advocate of social change: Luis Taruc, May 9, 2005, Manila Bulletin.
- Jay Taylor (1976). China and Southeast Asia: Peking's relations with revolutionary movements. Praeger. p. 322. ISBN 978-0-275-56830-6.
- Aliases - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
- American socialist in the Philippines - INQUIRER.net, Philippine News for Filipinos
Further reading 
- Zaide, Sonia M. (1999). The Philippines: A Unique Nation. All Nations Publishing.