Interview with Child Witnesses of the Huks

In this group interview, Victoria Donato Paladan, Juliana Dionisio Paladan-Cusilit, Rufina Gabriel Paladan-Cusilit discuss the Huk Rebellion which occurred in their childhood in the 1940s and 1950s.

Tags & Keywords

The various interviewees, born between 1935 to 1955 begin by discussing their experiences during the Japanese Occupation. Civilians hid in foxholes or even under the abdomen of their buffaloes during Japanese air raids. They also briefly discuss the pro-Japanese group, Makapili, characterizing them as rapists who abducted women. All interviewees concur that they were afraid of the Imperial Japanese Army during WWII.

    Comparing them to the Huks, the interviewees generally consider the Huks as a lesser threat than the Japanese. They also highlight that there was significant diversity in the personalities of Huk rebels. While they largely feel that the Huks and their movement was unwelcome, they also acknowledge that there were both kind and cruel individuals in the organization. As fellow Filipinos, the Huks did not steal from families they knew personally, unlike the Japanese. In contrast, they do not express a strong opinion about the government soldiers, but note that, similarly, there were soldiers who were kind and others who were feared. However, they do recall an anecdote of government troops fatally shooting a civilian woman by accident.

    The respondents also had different relationships and connections to the Hukbalahap movement. They discuss various such individuals from their personal networks; with Juliana having a stepfather who was a Huk, while another respondent had brothers in the Temporary Police, which arrested rebels. Her brother’s unit arrested prominent Huk commander, Luis Taruc. Another whose father served as a lookout for the Huks was later arrested and imprisoned when he provided a false confession admitting to his boss’ crimes of illegal gambling. 

    Despite their personal connections to real and suspected Huk members, none of the interviewees are able to explain the movement’s objectives. They surmise that the Huks might have been communists, but suggest that they might have been opposing the corruption in the Philippine government at the time.

Interview with the Children of the Huks

Respondents: Victoria Donato Paladan, Juliana Dionisio Paladan-Cusilit, Rufina Gabriel Paladan-Cusilit

NOTE: Due to audio quality issues, it was not always possible to distinguish which interviewee was speaking. “R” is used as a placeholder, and it is not always certain that the same individual is speaking when it appears consecutively.

VS: Good morning. I’m Veronica. I’m researching about the hukbo, HUKBALAHAP.   All: Ayyy, hmmm.   VS:  Yes. If you remember the HUKBALAHAP, they were the soldiers that were here in Nueva Ecija during the Japanese Occupation. Then when the Japanese left, they took over. Then, the Americans waged war against them. Lola, is it ok to get your name and birth date?   Lola: September 2.

VS: Happy Birthday! [laughs] What year?

R: I use 1944.   VS: 1944. Lola how about you, what is your name?   LJ: Juliana. VS: How old are you?   LJ:  75, no 85. [laughs]   VS: When is your birth date? 
LJ: I forgot.

R: [To Lola Juliana] When were you born?   LJ:  1935. VS: 1935.   LJ:  I was born in August.   VS: August.   R: (inaudible) was able to witness the Japanese Occupation.   VS: How about you Lola, what is your...?   R: Ayyy...

R:  Did you come from the farm? LT:  I was born in 1943.   VS: 1943. What is your name?   LT:  Tina   VS:  Basilit? [Cusilit] Ahhh. How about you, Lola? Were you together with---   [noise in the background]   R: I was born in 1954.   VS: Ayy 1954---   [man talking in the background]   R: I was born in 1955.   VS: Lola is a bit late like... I want to ask this to all of you, what do you remember about the Huks while you were growing up?]   [crosstalk]   R: They were able to witness the Japanese during that time. [laughs]   R:  So we see that, they were... dupes (inaudible).   R:  All of us did not evacuate when (inaudible).   R:  There’s Satur! It’s like that. [laughs]   LJ:  Run! The Japanese are there!

R:  They were used to (inaudible) they were not able to run.   R:  Carried on the shoulder?   R:  Yes, they carry them on their shoulders. They used to live in our house.   LJ: During the Japanese Occupation, when we evacuate, and there’s the Japanese airplanes, we… we would hide under the belly of the buffalo---   VS: Stay--- stay here.   R:  It’s fine.   R:  That’s how the Japanese were.   VS: How about the---   R: Today, it’s the opposite. When the Japanese comes, “Children, come outside!” [laughs]

R: The--- the Japanese---   LJ: We hide from them. When we walk, we hide under the belly of the buffalo. We also hide when there are Japanese airplanes.   VS: What would the Japanese do to you?

LJ: We’re scared because we might get bombed.

[talking in the background]   VS: Lola come here so that you are--- come here. Yes. Stay here.   LJ: That’s our style during the Japanese Occupation.   VS: When the Japanese left, the Huks took over, do you have any---

R: Well, the Huks took over.   VS: How were the Huks back then?   R: I think they were bandits (inaudible).


R: [inaudible] robbers. [crosstalk]

R: Yes. They were rapists [referring to the Makapili]. That’s how they are. It’s true.

LJ: It’s true.

R: (inaudible)

LJ: They capture and bring the maidens that they wanted.

Niece of Lola Tina: Our neighbor, Ate Sumeng, she continuously screamed when she was brought down. I was this big during that time. They were not able to remove her from the floor as she clung. When they tried to, the floor also came off.

VS: [laughs]

R: Ayy. The people were HukVet [Huk veterans]

R: Your brothers were TP [Temporary Police] back then. They were...

R: “Satur is here!” That’s the cry back then. [All interviewees agree.]

VS: Who is Satur?

R: We don’t know who that is.

R: Maybe it’s the Japanese.

R: Their leader.

Grandson of Lola Juliana (GS): They’re Makapili.

R: Makapili.

GS: Satur.

VS: The Makapili is---

GS: They’re Makapili.

VS: Ahh.

GS: They were afraid of them because (inaudible).

R: What about the grandma of Sister Ica?

GS: (inaudible) interrogate them regarding the location of the Yamashita treasure. [laughs]

R: That’s what I remember. I was already becoming more conscious back then.

LJ: Well, for me, I’m afraid of the Japanese.

VS: Ahh. But the Huks were Filipinos, right?

R: The Huks? No, they’re not scary.

VS: Why not?

LJ: Because I have a stepfather who was a Huk.

VS: Ahhh. [All interviewees laugh]

R: That’s why.

LJ: They would go to the house for my older brother and tried to recruit him. My mother doesn’t want to. That---that’s why (inaudible) my mother curses (inaudible) in her head.

R: (inaudible crosstalk) Sister Lucing.

R: Lucing?

R: That one Hukbo...

R: The Lucing that’s....?

R: The Lucing that was here in Pugo. What is her surname again?

R: I forgot.

R: Her sibling through her brother-in-law Ateng Masang? Who was the husband of Ate Lucing?

R: Ahhh he’s dead.

LJ: Boyong. It’s Boyong [was a Huk].

VS: How---how do you know the Hukbo? Were they good?

LJ: There’s kind, there are some who're damned. That’s how they are.

[All interviewees agree]

LJ: Not all of them were kind.

VS: What were they fighting for back then?

R: I don’t know.

R: (inaudible) they do back then.

VS: Why did your stepfather join? What was he fighting for?

LJ: I don’t know. We’re far from each other. I am here, they are in Sabana. When they’re trying to recruit my older brother, my mother would say that he’s with his father. That’s what we do.

[talking in the background]

LJ: But when it’s getting dark, the town hall would start shooting (using a gun). We would run to the fox hole, through the underground, as there is a way there.

[talking in the background]

LJ: Yes.

VS: Lola and (unnamed) were talking at the same time. But my question is, the Hukbo back then, were they from here in Zaragosa or from another place?

R: I guess, other members.

R: There were Huks from here, other members were from another place---not all (inaudible).

VS: Do you remember Luis Taruc?

R: Luis Taruc?

All: Ahhh.

R: The one from Arayat.

VS: Yes.

R: The group of my older brother caught him.

LJ: Your older brother was with them---

R: Because... they did something...

LJ: Cowards.

R: A hammock, it was hung there. They carried Taruc on their shoulders.

VS: Why---how did you see Luis Taruc in (inaudible).

R: No, just in picture. My sibling---siblings were the one who---

VS: So, they have a picture with Luis Taruc?

R: (inaudible) like that.

VS: Mm. How about the soldiers---how were the army here, were they cruel?   LJ: They’re not the same [comparing them to the Huks]. There’s one that you fear, one that you hide from, one that you face. We---   VS: Did you hear the Nenita Unit? Valeriano, Napoleon Valeriano.   LJ: I don’t know that.   VS: They were the soldiers who stole crops, like that, or chickens.   [talking in the background]   LJ: Eh what are they (inaudible)? They stole eggs...   VS: [laughs]   LJ: In---in the basement, they just take everything.   VS: Who?   LJ: The Japanese.   All: The Japanese.   VS: Ayy the Japanese. Ahhh. It’s a bit...   LJ: Mmm [agrees].   VS: But the way you understand it, the Huks are fighting fighting the... soldiers...   LJ: Yes. In the past.   VS: Why do you think the Huks were captured back then?   LJ: Because the Huk then does not choose.   R: The Hukbo are like NPA.   LJ: Mmm [agrees]. LJ: They were like the NPA back then.   VS: Were they called bandits or communists? What is it?   GS: Yes, like those. NPA is similar to Huks.   VS: The Huks.   GS: The Japanese in the (inaudible).   VS: Your view of the Hukbo then is that they were communists?   R:  Maybe.   LJ: It may be...   R:  Did you see a Japanese?   R:  No.   VS: No. Huk is different from Japanese.   R:  Yes.   VS: Yes. The Hukbo were Filipinos.   LJ: The Hukbo are Filipino. Your neighbor, you have a neighbor who is a Hukbo.   Niece of Lola Juliana: They have...laws that they follow...those NPA. They have their own management. They also have their own something... right?   R:  Maybe I witnessed the (inaudible).[crosstalk] they are against the wealthy… Hukbo used to capture thieves in the community.   LJ: Every afternoon back then, there’s a gunfight in the sitio, they know if they need to go underground. They know---yes, it was Hukbo at that time.   R:  I hide there. (inaudible).

R: I hide too there.   R:  It has foxholes for hiding. There’s a foxhole.   LJ: They just keep on shooting in the---   R:  We hide under the ground.   LJ: Yes yes.   R:  That’s the Huks.

LJ: Mmm [agrees].

VS: Why are they shooting? Who are they shooting?

LJ: Because (inaudible) they---the Huks suddenly enter here, that is why the high school over there, near the church, they also enter there. (inaudible).

R: Those Hukbo, they won’t be able to see us from the underground.

LJ: A woman just passing by was killed there---but the killer’s bullet was from the town hall.

VS: A soldier?

LJ: (inaudible) soldier.

VS: How about the army, were the army nice to people back then?

LJ: That’s what I do not know. Those were the ones who shoot [referring to the soldiers stationed in the town hall who accidentally killed the woman]. When it’s four o’clock, we would hide. [laughs].

R: When it’s afternoon, there’s shooting, my mother and okiya Bernard would pass my sister (inaudible). Bridge is the only way.

VS: Why were they shooting?

R: I don’t know. Why were they shooting---

R: What time was it when we would hide in the house of Mama (inaudible). In the house (inaudible).

LJ: Yes, there. The Hukbo were there.

R: That’s it.

R: Is that it?

R: Yes.

VS: She said your neighbor was Hukbo.

R: Yes, in the big house.


R: It should be there; we were hiding there.

LJ: My in-law was called [Huk] commander.

VS: Eh?

R: Commander...?

LJ: Isyo. [phonetic]

All: Ahh it’s Isyo. [crosstalk]

R: Ahh, is it Agustin?

LJ: Mmm [agrees]

R: Maybe it was Isyo.

LJ: He was also a Hukbo. (inaudible)

R: Yes, the (inaudible).

R: Isyo? He already said goodbye to the world.

VS: [laughs].

R: Who is Isyo?

R: Ayy no.

R: Isyo (inaudible).

R: Ahhh.

R: Maybe Ado was also Hukbo. Ado and Tagasa.

VS: What were the kind---when the Hukbo was here, what were they fighting for?

R: That’s what we don’t know.

VS: You don’t remember. But when Magsaysay came, do you remember Magsaysay?

R: He said, “I shall return.” That’s what (inaudible).

LJ: I don’t remember any of his words.

R: (inaudible) MacArthur.

[crosstalk]   VS: You don’t remember Magsaysay, when he came...   LJ: I remember that but I don’t remember any words he said.   VS: [laughs]   LJ: It’s---   R: Magsaysay might not have said that.   R: Was MacArthur the one who said that?   VS: It was MacArthur who said, “I shall return.”   R: Magsaysay was busy with the Hukbo.   VS: Yes. He was the... the one who fought the Hukbo, it’s Magsaysay.

R:  (inaudible) it’s Magsaysay.   R: That’s why he was killed.   R: Yes.   R: It’s them. The ones who fought the Hukbo.   R: Killed.   R: Magsaysay might have been killed in the airplane.   VS: Yes. The airplane crashed. But the Hukbo here in... Zaragosa back then, how do you know them---were they bad to you or kind?   R:  Maybe.   VS: [inaudible].   R: [inaudible].   R: There were bad but...   VS: There’s bad, there’s kind.   R:  Yes.   R:  When the shooting starts, the (inaudible) becomes noisy.   R: Oh my God, I was able to witness the (inaudible).   VS: [laughs].   R: When there’s (inaudible).   LJ: I was more nervous during the Japanese Occupation.   [talking in the background]   R:  How about with the Huks?   LJ: When it comes to Hukbo, if they know you, they won’t bother you.

R:  The Hukbo?   LJ: Yes. We used to feed them. they’re not mean to everyone. They do not bother everyone.   R: But the (inaudible) I can remember that my father was the look-out for Hukbo.   R:  Yes. [laughs]   R:  Your father?   R:  Yes.   R:  Your father was also imprisoned, right?   R:  Ah?   R:  He was imprisoned.   R:  Imprisoned?   R:  Yes.   R:  Oh no---(inaudible).   R:  I don’t know.   LJ:  The imprisonment of your father was different.   R:  He was a young man when he was imprisoned.   R:  Yes. He admitted what was not his fault.   VS: What is---why was he imprisoned?   R:  He was a young man when he was imprisoned.   R:  Imprisoned even though he has no offense. [laughs]   VS: What was the offense of---   R:  When my father was imprisoned?

R: No. He just confessed (crosstalk).   R:  The offense of others.   R:  The offense of his boss.   VS: What was the offense of his boss?   R:  It’s just, about jueteng.   VS: Ahhh. [All interviewees laugh]   R:  There was jueteng already back then.   R:  Yes.

R:  He just confessed... the offense of his boss.   All:  Mmm.

R:  That’s why he was imprisoned.   VS: Why---   R:  Why are you interviewing? What---   VS: I am looking at the experiences of the people of Zaragosa---   All:  Ahhh.   VS: When---

R: During the Huks.   VS: Yes. During the time of HUKBALAHAP.   LJ: There’s someone older than us. Isn’t Elder Rusing and Grandfather Ustong there?    R:  Couldn’t remember.   R:  He has died.   GS: Did he die?   R:  Yes.   R:  Who?   R:  It should be the elderly who went to UK (inaudible) but there’s no sense from (inaudible).    LJ: Nana Ustang Kumalilong---   R:  Ahh it’s---

R:  Their father.   LJ: They might have a sibling who’s a Huk.   R:  It’s?   LJ: It’s Nana Ustang.     LJ: Lino has...   R:  He still has a clear mind. 

VS: Was he also... a child of a Huk?   R:  No.   [talking in the background]   VS: How old is lola?   R:  Her? My sibling is---   VS: I already interviewed lola earlier.   R: Their siblings. Their also siblings. Her (inaudible) their sister-in-law through their oldest brother.   R:  Are there only two of you?   R:  Her grandfather, was my sibling.   VS: Ahh.

R:  How old are you (inaudible)? [laughs]   R:  77.   R:  77.   R:  Oh...   VS: You are 80...?   R:  85.   VS: That’s why you still remember your father.   [talking in the background]   VS: What do you think is your stepfather fighting for?   R:  My stepfather did not go to the forest, right? That’s why he just moved away from home.   VS: Ayyy.   R: But (inaudible) he has a duty (inaudible).   LJ: What Hukbo is fighting for... was just like the NPA.   VS: What do you---how do you understand the NPA?   R:  NPA is those that have something they are fighting for.    VS: What do the NPA fight for?   R:  Maybe it’s the same... the corruption in government.   VS: Yes.   R:  Hmm. Isn’t that what they say, right?   VS: Were the... Huks back then, what do they resent about the government back then?   R:  Neh?   VS: What are the resentments?   R:  Just like... for the government... the NPA are bad in my opinion because as far as I know, they were enemies.

[talking and laughing in the background]   R:  Of the government. That’s why (inaudible).   VS: Why do you think the Huk is fighting the government?   R:  I don’t know.   VS: Your father, why did he fight---why did he join the Huks?   R:  I really don’t know.   VS: You don’t know.   R:  We are far from their (inaudible). (inaudible) they were (inaudible). I am here in Sta. Lucia (inaudible).   VS: Ahhh.   R:  Also, we were still little (inaudible) when they separated. When my older brother went missing, that’s how I knew that they were Huks.   VS: Ahhh.  

R:  And my mother sent me in... in a vehicle that---(inaudible) I’m going (inaudible). I was entrusted to a person that I don’t even know in front of their house. There’s a church. In front...of...the church of the Sabadista. I was brought there (referring to the colorum nature of the Huk uprising).

LJ: In the church of my stepfather, where are we, in the church. The church was theirs. If---   VS: What is their church?   LJ:  Seventh-Day Adventists.   VS: Sabatista?   LJ:  They were called Sabadista (inaudible) the colorum.   VS: Colorum. In Cabanatuan? In Dalampang?   LJ:  In---yes (inaudible).   VS: No---   LJ:  (inaudible) my father.   VS: Ahhh.

LJ:  That’s where I came from.   VS: From Dalampang?   LJ:  Mm.   VS: What do you remember about the soldiers who came here---the army do you remember them?   LJ:  The army?   VS: Not so much?   LJ:  I don’t travel that much. My brother from my stepfather is good for interview. He surely knows.

VS: Sure. Lola, what is your name again?   LJ:  Juliana. VS: Juliana?   LJ:  Paladan.   VS: Paladan? Mm sure. Did you study here?   LJ:  Yes.

VS: Here?   LJ:  Mm.   VS: Zaragosa Central?   LJ:  Yes. Us, (inaudible).   VS: Ahh you are. How about you Lola, do you remember your father who was the lookout of the Huks?   R:  That’s what I only remember because I was still young then.   VS: Ahhh.   R:  But I remember when he said, “you should hide, I will just go somewhere.”   VS: Ahhh.   R:  That’s it, he was the lookout of Japanese. [laughs]   VS: Of Huks? Huk or Japanese?   R:  Huks. [inaudible]   VS: Sure, thank you very much Lola.   All: Sure.

Interviewer: Veronica Sison

Interviewee: Victoria Donato Paladan, Juliana Dionisio Paladan-Cusilit, Rufina Gabriel Paladan-Cusilit

Tags & Keywords

Transcript Notes

  1. In their responses, the interviewees have confused the Huks, who were anti-Japanese during WWII, with the pro-Japanese Makapili which supported the Imperial Japanese Army.

  2. 2The explanation given by Tina’s niece, that the Huks were following the objectives of the New People’s Army is a misconception. The New People’s Army was founded in 1969 as a successor movement to the Hukbalahap, and included some former Huks.

  3. Jueteng is a traditional Filipino gambling game which was popular by the 1950s.

  1. In light of this testimony, to what extent is the Huk Rebellion better characterized as a domestic conflict than as a part of the global Cold War?

  2. Consider the role of personal networks in shaping the lived experiences of Filipinos during the Huk Rebellion during the early Cold War years. How does that enhance our understanding of the Philippines’ Cold War?