Backstory on the Huk Rebellion

pyrolynx asked:

Hi again! About the latest RP, thank you so much for going through with her even though she broke a couple of your criteria. Filipinx veterans have been labouring for years to have their contribution to world war 2 recognised, so it was moving to see representation here. One thing I noticed, there was no definition of what Huks is short for in the entry. Could you please add one for the benefit of those who don’t know?

This was addressed on the main site, in footnotes, since explaining the finer details of the Huk rebellion would have taken up a bit of time on an already long-running entry. I figured if people wanted more info they could click over to the main entry.

The TL;DR version is that the Huks – initially short for Hukbo ng Bayan Laban sa Hapon (anti-Japanese army) – were a primarily peasant force who started out as rebels against the Japanese during WW2. However, the postwar Philippines government wasn’t much better to them (due, my main source claims, in no small part to US influence), and so many continued their guerilla warfare – this time against the Philippines government. They then changed their name to Hukbong Magpapalaya ng Bayan (People’s Liberation Army). Calling them Huks, as you can see, is a lot easier.

They were labeled traitors and terrorists, charges they strenuously denied (this was a lot of what Liwayway was saying when talking back to the president). The Huks lost after several years of fighting, as exhaustion set in and the new government ramped up its security measures.

Wikipedia has a good summary of their reasons for fighting:

Life for the Huks did not return to pre-war conditions even after World War II. Most of the landowners were collaborators during the Japanese occupation and were no longer interested in tenant-farming. Furthermore, most of them had already moved to Manila during the war.

Not only was life economically unsustainable for the Huks, their hardships were aggravated by the hostility and repression they experienced from the USAFFE soldiers, Philippine Constabulary, and landlords. Former Huks were hunted down and arrested under orders of disarmament from the United States. Even the villagers were victimized: their properties were looted, food stolen and houses even burned in search of Huks who were possibly hiding in them.

The Massacre of Squadron 77 was seen as a major act of hostility against the Huks which occurred in Malolos, Bulacan in February 1945. Consisting of 109 Huks, Squadron 77 was surrounded by American and Filipino soldiers, shot, and buried in a mass grave.

From what I gather from some some other reader messages, they’re still portrayed as criminals in many history books, which makes me sad.

  • Harry Ticonderoga

    You’re not wrong is saying that. But you also have to take into account that the Huks had, by that time, became a very violent communist guerrilla army. This was, in part, because of the brutality of the Imperial Japanese Army. They also attacked the American-backed Filipino guerrillas in WW2, which would also play into their “hated status” as well.

    By the Huk Rebellion, they were not above pillaging and terrorizing the local populace that even other guerrillas did not like them.

    It’s kinda hard to deny that you’re a terrorist when your organization is gleefully massacring villages, even when the government is doing it too. This is not to throw dirt on the contributions of the Huks, especially during WW2 or Commander Liwayway’s actions, but that’s history for you.

    Another issue that is rarely talked about regarding the dwindling support for the Huk Rebellion was the comprehensive reform of literally everything in the Phillipines. From land reform to better training of the armed forces and the Phillipines Constabulary to even granting amnesty to the Huk leaders (to the point of giving them the rights and benefits they deserved as citizens of the Phillipines), once those rolled in, the image of the Phillipine govenrnment and Armed Forces was rehabiliated and the Huks eventually… disbanded. Their name and the organization still lives on as another entity, but that’s another issue.