The name Hukbalahap, translates to "the people's army against the Japanese". The group was founded as a political interest group for the communist party, but it will play an important role in Philippines' resistance against the Imperial Japanese force.
The founders and party members of both the Socialist and Philippine Communist Party throughout the 1930s, prior to the Japanese occupation, served as active nationalists and revolutionaries who sought an independent communist Philippine state. The leader of the Philippines first official communist organization, the Worker’s Party, was Crisanto Evangelista.
It wouldn’t be until after the Japanese capture and executions of Evangelista and his head deputy, Abad Santos, that Evangelista’s communist and socialist guerrillas would come to call themselves officially the Hukbalahap in 1942. Evangelista’s political goals included creating a financially independent Philippines free from American governance and capitalism, while most importantly, liberating the Filipino peasant and working classes.
By December 10, 1941, the Huks finally agreed to officially align themselves with the Allied forces and the Philippines' Commonwealth headed by Quezon. Evangelista’s forces were successful not only in their raids across Luzon’s northern landscape but also were able to provide the underground resistance with the much needed ammunitions and promote a successful image of Filipino resistance to the Japanese forces winning the support of some Filipino communities of Luzon. Evangelista and his guerrillas’ successful raids helped to prompt more Filipino civilians and peasant farmers to join the guerrilla movement throughout the war.
With the Japanese execution of Evangelista in 1942, guerilla socialist leader Luis Taruc became the Huk Commander. Under his leadership, the Hukbalahaps would continue to compete, absorb, fight, or collaborate with other American and Filipino guerrillas. But for a number of their missions where the Huks would collaborate with Allied forces, such as the liberation of the POW and civilian camps throughout Luzon (i.e. the Raid of Cabanatuan and the Raid of Los Banos), Huk units would offer their soldiers as reserves to the U.S. 11th Airborne Division.
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