The Philippines. Paradise to some, a battlefield to others. It has stunning beaches, rich cultures, and a history that would make even the hardest of hard-boiled detectives notice. 

And no, we’re not talking about the War on Drugs this time, although the parallels are enough to make you take a step back. This time, let’s talk about a different kind of war–one deeply embedded in the roots of this island nation. It’s called the Hukbalahap Rebellion.

SOFREP original art

Officially known as the “Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon,” which translates to “The Nation’s Army Against the Japanese.” It was a revolutionary movement that became prominent during the Second World War.

They were a group of peasants who banded together, faced a ruthless enemy, and fought for the rights of their people.

The Hukbalahap Rebellion isn’t some forgotten footnote in history. It’s a pivotal chapter that shook the Philippines to its core, shaped its future, and echoed its impacts across the Pacific and beyond. And it’s about time we gave it the attention it deserves. 

Forming the Resistance

It all started back in 1942. The Japanese had taken over the Philippines, and a few brave or crazy folks – depending on who you ask – decided they’d had enough. 

The Hukbalahap formed thanks to a ragtag group of peasants. These weren’t seasoned soldiers or trained tacticians. They were farmers and field workers trying to survive in an upside-down world.

Luis Taruc, a socialist leader born to poor peasants, teamed up with other regional leaders. Together, they sparked a fire of resistance. On March 29, 1942, in the barrio of Cabiao in the province of Nueva Ecija, they officially established the Hukbalahap or the “Hukbong Bayan Laban sa Hapon.”