Interview With Ricardo Tacsay

Ricardo Tacsay discusses his experiences during the Huk Rebellion and his changing views of the Huks before and after the Japanese Occupation

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Ricardo Tacsay recounts his early life as a student during the Japanese Occupation, and his career as a Temporary Police Officer (TP) during the Huk Rebellion later in adulthood. He recalls having changing opinions towards the Huks, being initially sympathetic towards Huk members, but later growing to oppose newer Huks and assisting the Philippine Army with putting down the rebellion. His view of the national army is also similarly nuanced, as he notes how the earlier soldiers were more violent towards the community, while he was able to work amicably with later cohorts. Tacsay’s recount is strongly undergirded by the Rebellion’s essential nature as a civil war. He also situates his changing views of the actors on both sides of the conflict within the larger context of the changing of the Huks’ tactics, and the reforms in the defense forces instituted by Magsaysay during his term as Defense Secretary. Tacsay’s reflections reveal a unique form of his “between-ness” during the Cold War in the Philippines: though he was part of the state’s law enforcement agency, he was only an accessory to the military’s operations.

    Tacsay’s testimony covers two broad phases of his life, during which he had differing views of the conflict in the Philippines. In the first, prior to the Cold War, he sympathized with the early Huk forces who resisted the Japanese during the Occupation era. In the early years, he remembers the Huk having an established code of conduct that prohibited them from pillaging or sexually assaulting civilians, during which time he did not overtly oppose them. This would change after the Occupation period as the Huk forces came to be repressed by both the remaining American forces and the rising Philippine Army. The mounting threats caused the Huks to change tactics and use violence and commit theft against civilians, turning the conflict into a civil war. He recounts watching as an amused civilian when the Temporary Police unsuspectingly played basketball with Huks, who could not be told apart from other civilians.

    The turning point for Tacsay was when Huks infiltrated his community and stole water buffaloes, prompting him to join the police service to protect his area. This action eliminated the legitimacy of the Huks’ claim to be fighting for the poor, unlike the Philippine Army that was seen to be protecting the wealthy. It changed his view of the Huks and he became involved in efforts to contain the rebellion, by serving as a guide for Philippine Army soldiers. Even as a TP officer, he maintains a nuanced view of the military, noting how the earlier groups assigned to his region were more brutal, while the later cohorts trained at the Philippine Military Academy under Magsaysay’s reforms were more amicable. He also notes how his own role, and that of the Philippine Constabulary in the rebellion was limited — that they merely supported the military’s operations; mentioning further that the civilians were aware and bore no grudges towards them. 

    Yet, he also personally knew some Huk members, who previously attempted to recruit him. His testimony identifies many Huk members by name. Tacsay suggests that while they may have been influenced by Communist teachings, they were not ideologically motivated proxies of Moscow or Beijing. They were instead opposed to the state for its lack of recognition for their contributions to resisting the Japanese during the war, and for their poor standards of living postwar. He also notes that some Huks surrendered and returned to civilian life under Magsaysay’s reforms.

    This recount, from one who moved from civilian to the government’s side of the conflict with the Huks, yet retained a secondary, supporting role in the government’s efforts, reveals new narratives of individuals who were in between, and straddled across the traditional fault lines of the Cold War in the Philippines at different times of their lives.

Interview with Ricardo Tacsay, San Rafael, Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija, November 2, 2020. 

Ricardo Tacsay enlisted as a Temporary Police during the Huk insurgency campaign. He assisted the 1st, 5th and 12th Battalion Combat Teams (special forces activated during the height of the Huk insurgency campaign). He worked as a community police officer and served as a guide for the BCTs patrols and operations in Zaragoza and Aliaga, Nueva Ecija. He was friends with the Huks and Army, aeventually he stopped supporting the Huks because of the rampant carabao stealing incidents suspectedly done by the Huks against the farmers. He explained the local dynamics of the Huk insurgency in his hometown and the changing attitude of the Philippine Army under Magsaysay from 1952-1954.

V: Magandang umaga po, ngayon po ay Nov. 2 2020. Lolo ano po ang pangalan ninyo?

Good morning, today is November 2, 2020. What is your name grandpa?

R: Ricardo A. Tacsay, ilalagay mo middle name, A, Agustin.

Ricardo A. Tacsay, please write in the middle name A, Agustin.

V: Ilang taon na po kayo?

How old are you?

R: 87,(...) February 1933.

Eighty-seven was born in February 1933.

V: Noong panahon ng hapon po nandito na po kayo?. Dito po kayo sa San Rafael? 

During the Japanese period, were you already a resident here in San Rafael *Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija?

R: Andito na ako noon. Hindi doon kami sa Aliaga. Naglaban ang guerilla at saka Hapon, napuksa yung mga guerilla… hindi naman naitaboy e. Meron kaming labing dalawang kariton. 

I was here but we lived in Aliaga. The guerillas and the Japanese fought, guerillas were defeated, though they were not able to shoo them away. We had twelve carts (*traditionally pulled by a carabao*). 

…. [conversation about adjusting the respondent’s voice]

Sige lang ho, okay lang po. Kung saan kayo komportable. It’s okay. Wherever you’re comfortable. 


V: Sino po ang mga guerilla. Mga USAFFE po? Which guerilla? The USAFFE (United States Forces in the Far East)?

R: Hindi ko na mga kilala na.dahil kasi nung giyera nung naglalako kami ng palay, nasalubong namin. Galing siguro, nagdidilim, kwan, nagdidilim, sabi ng mga bata, ano kaya tong kaitim na nasalubong natin na to. Nako, kaitim! Noon pala mga Army, galing ng Banga. Dito sa Cabanatuan. Libo! Kaitim! Oo, basta nagpa-ganyan, nasalubong namin. Di kami masyadong nag-gagagala kasi nasa bukid kami, inabot kami ng dilim. Sabi ng tatang ko “nako sino ba itong nag-dadaang ito, kaiitim! Pero hindi naman kami binati e!

I didn’t know them. Because during the war, when we were working in the ricefield, we met them along the way. They were really dark. The kids said, “who are these creatures? they’re so dark, very dark! Apparently, they were the Army from Banga, Cabanatuan. Thousands! Very dark-skinned soldiers! Yes, they went in that direction, we met them along the way. we didn’t lurk around and [*it was probably harvest time] we worked until the night. My father said “who are these passersby, very dark-skinned!” but they [soldiers] didn’t actually greet us. 

V: Pero nandito na po kayo noon sa Zaragoza? Were you already here in Zaragoza?

R: Hindi wala pa, hindi pa kami bumabakwit. Hindi pa. Isang taon pa. Not yet. We haven’t evacuated yet, after a year.

V: Ilang taon po kayo nung napunta kayo sa Zaragoza? How old were you when you got here?

R: Grade 2.

V: Saan po kayo nag-aral noon? Where did you study?

R: Sta. Monica, Aliaga.

V: pero nung nandito na po kayo? But when you got here?

R: Wala. Doon kame, pero nung bumakwit na kami wala nang nag-aral doon. No. We were there [ in Sta. Monica- I studied there when I was young]  but when we evacuated no one was left to study there. 

V: Anong year po kayo pumunta kayo sa Zaragoza? What year did you transfer to Zaragoza?

V: 1945? Liberation na po? Kasagsagan po? 1941-42. Liberation? During liberation?

R: Ay hindi pa. Panahon pa ng Hapon. Maaring 1942. 

Not yet. We moved here during Japanese Occupation, probably 1942.

V: nung nandito na po kayo? When you got here?

R; Nung nag-aral kami dito grade 3. Ang kapitan diyan noon si Captain Sakma na hapon. Hindi pa ganyan yung eskwelahan noon kung saan kami nag-ara noon.

When we were in Grade 3 the Japanese officer’s name was Captain Sakma. The school didn’t look like that at all in those days.

V: sa Central po? Sa may national. Sa may central? Ah.  At central? In the national (high school). At central? Ah 

R: hindi, diyan sa central. Yan puro hapon noon nandiyan noon. Diyan sa may eskwelahan, diyan kami nag-aaral. Pero …[inaudible]

No. There in the central (Zaragoza Central School). They were all Japanese there. There in that school, that’s where we studied but… [inaudible]

V: mababait po ba mga hapon noon?hindi po malulupit? Were the Japanese nice? Not cruel?

R: pormero mababait.Ang galit sila, sa mga magnanakaw. 

At first they were nice. They just don’t like thieves.

V: Sino po ang mga magnanakaw? Who were the suspected thieves?

R: Hindi mo naman makakwan yoon e. That we can’t tell.

V: may Makapili noon dito? Were there Makapili here?  (MAKAPILI* a pro-Japanese organization, collaborationists known for punishing fellow Filipinos who support the guerillas or the US sponsored guerillas.) 

R: Doon marami sa Banga/Bakal (Talavera)... Gabor (Guimba). Nalalimutan ko na pinaka pinuno ng Ganap, Ricky Ganap. Oo. Yun yung ang tinatawag nilang Makapili. 

There, in Banga/Bakal, Gabor… I forgot the name of their chief Ganap, Ricky Ganap.. yes . That’s what they refer to as Makapili.


V: Pero nung umalis na po ang mga hapon noon? 

But when the Japanese left this place?

R: Kwan, January, Sandali lang naman hapon doon. Kaya lang naman kami hindi makabalik doon, kapag magpapagiik kami ng palay. Darating yung mga guerilla, tas eka “umuwi na kayo eka sa bahay at baka magtagpo pa kami dito baka mapagitna kayo” sabi. Edi agaran kaming umuwi. Kaya sa kanto namin may kulandong. May lilim.

Around January, they (Japanese) stayed for a short time. They were the reason why we couldn't go to our fields and harvest rice. When we got to our farms the guerillas would warn us “ just go home, we might clash with the Japs and you might get caught in the crossfire.” We went home immediately after their warning. We set up “kulandong” at the corner of the street ( *not the usual concrete street).   

V: Ano po yung kulandong? What is kulandong?

R: Lilim.Kahit hating gabi uuwi kami. Mahigpit noon, pero mas mahigpit noong Liberation!!!

Kulandong is a makeshift shade. Life was difficult and everything was really strict back then but stricter during the Liberation!

R: Nagsimula na ang laban ng Pilipino sa Pilipino. Ang Hukbalahap at saka yung USAFFE eka. Yon magkalaban. Noon dun na kami mas masyadong takot. Di mo na alam ang kalaban dun e. Pag dumating doon, umuwi kayo, uwi kami. E, hindi naman mawawala yung palay. “Pag iniwan nyo wala namang mawawala eka.” Pag dumating kami roon at wala na sila, nandodoon naman yung palay mga nakasako. 

[Life even became more difficult after liberation] because it was the time when the fighting broke out between Filipinos fighting Filipinos: Hukbalahap versus USAFFE. They were enemies. We were too afraid, back then, you wouldn’t know who’s the enemy ( unlike the Japanese period, you had an outsider to resist against). When we visit our farms, they will tell us to go home. We went home eventually. They promised that our rice cavans are safe. “If you leave them here, they won’t disappear.” When we got back, we found the rice cavans there, intact. 

V: Sino po nagsabi noon?Who said that?

R: Yung mga kung di guerilla dumating, kung di kaya USAFFE, o sige umuwi na kayo.

Guerillas who arrived, or maybe the USAFFE, warned us to “go home.”

V: Mga USAFFE nagbantay? USAFFE guarded your rice canvas?

R: Oo Yes

V: E paano po yung mga Huk noon? How about the Huks at that time?

R: Ang matandang hukbo noon, si Rodel, matapang yun! The senior Huk was Rodel, he was fierce!

Doon na nga kami nag TP noong 1952. Noon kwan nag TP kami, hanggang 1954.

That was the time I became a Temporary Police in 1952, until 1954.

V: Ano po ang mga tungkulin nyo noon bilang TP? What was your role as a TP?

R: Kwan, Guardiya kami dito. We guarded this area

V: Ano po binabantayan nyo? What did you guard here?

R: Para hindi makapasok ang mga Hukbalahap. So the Huks wouldn't enter this area.

V: Bakit ayaw nyong makapasok ang Hukbalahap.Why don't you want the Huks to enter this place?

R: Nako, loko yung Rodel. Matapang nga yung Rodel. Ang sabi e dun sa bukid, ibig nyo bang gawin naming Christmas Tree ito? Pana’y ulo ng tao. Kaya takot kami!

Rodel was really mischievous! He’s also fierce. On the farm, he asked: do you want us to turn this into a Christmas Tree? It was a pile of human heads. We feared him, we’re scared of him. 

V: Nakita nyo po yung ulo ng tao?Did you see the decapitated heads?

R: Hindi naman pero talagang matapang. Kaya nung kinuha kami nilang mga TP, naglilimos si Chief of Police na Matias naglilist ng mga kabataan pinagawa kami ng sulat pagkatapos enlisted kami sa munisipyo (sa PNP). Paano daw kami mapagkakatiwalaan. Kami daw ba ay mabubuting tao? Sino eka ang mga magagalit sayo? Eka ko si Chief at si Mayor. Ang Mayor naman noon si ‘tong, tatang ni kanor, si Francisco Custodio

No, I didn’t but he was really fierce. So when the Chief of Police (Constabulary in Zaragoza) was enlisting the youth (for the Temporary Police recruitment), they asked us to write a statement and testify before the chief and the mayor. They asked if they could trust us, if we break our statement who would get mad? I answered that the Chief and the Mayor was…the father of Kanor, is Francisco Custodio. 

V: Ayaw nya (Custodio) po sa mga Huk noon? Didn’t he like the Huks? 

R: Nung una mababait ang Huk noon. At first, the Huks were really nice.

V: E kung mababakit bakit ayaw nyong papasukin dito kung mababait po? If they were nice why won’t you let them in?

R: Kasi pag-nag abot yung PC at mga hukbo, kami ang pumapagitan. Di na kami bumalik sa bukid, kaya mga sinasaka namin andudoon sa bandang Aliaga. Yung mga sinasaka namin  nasa bandang Licab, Aliaga, Zaragoza. Pag-tawid mo ng ilog, Licab na, gumanyan ka nang konti, Aliaga na…

Because when the PC and the Huks clash, we always get caught in the crossfire. We can’t go back to the fields, our farms are located there, in Aliaga. [People here] have their farms in Licab, Aliaga, Zaragoza. If you cross the river, it’s already Licab, when you turn slightly, it’s already Aliaga. [The Huk territory is in the Rio Chico which serves as a boundary for these towns]

[ Kila Dona, sa Hacienda ganuon din Dona’s place is also like that -followed by a short dialogue on Dona’s parents

----------------------------------------------------10 mins

R: Doon sa Hacienda….Una sa nagbatay diyan ay kami. Si Vidal, ako, Marami kami, sampu kami. Ang pinuno namin ay si tandang insong Aquino. Doon kami sa Hacienda.

In Hacienda, we were the first ones who guarded that place.  Vidal, I, several of us, we were ten. Our leader was the elder (inso, a brother of his grandfather) Aquino. We were stationed in Hacienda (present-day Sta. Lucia Old which is a community next to the Chico River)

V: Ano po ang nasaksihan nyo doon sa Hacienda? What did you witness in Hacienda?

R:Ay madami. Napalaban din kami ng konti (sa hukbo). We witnessed a lot. We had encounters, but minimal with the Huks. 

V: Sa mga Hukbo po? Kumusta po labanan nyo?With the huks? How was the encounter?R: Doon naka-ano kami ng isa sa Aliaga, labin-dalawa kami. We captured two, one in Aliaga. There were 12 of us.

V: Ano po ginagawa nyo sa hukbo pag nahuhuli nyo? What do you do to the Huks after you capture them?

R: Wala e,Hindi naman namin inaano. Dinadala namin sa munisipyo. Edi inaano sila ng mga army. Nothing, we don’t hurt them. We brought them to the municipal office. The Army would do something to them instead.

V: Ano po ginagawa sa kanila sa munisipyo. What do they do to them at the Municipal?

R: Ang pulis noon e kwan, si Duque.Si Calixto Duque, e hindi. E si Calixto Duque, ka-iskwela ko noong elementary. Nakalimutan ko na alan ni Duque. 

the police back then was Duque, Calixto Duque? No. He was my classmate. His father, I forgot his name.

V: Ah si Mariano Castaneda pala. Was it Mariano Castaneda?

R:Hindi e. Mariano Castaneda. Officer yan sa La Paz. No, he was the Officer in La Paz

V:Tanungin ko po kayo magkano kinikita nyo bilang TP? How much do you earn as a TP?

R: Ay wala. Ang nakalagay sa papel namin ay cinco peso noon pero wala. Nothing! They wrote in our paper we were receiving [unknown number, five] peso and “sentimos’/ cents but we received nothing!

E kaya lang naman kami pumasok kasi gusto namin.. Dahil kasi nung nilusob ito ng hukbalahap. 30 ulo ng kalabaw ang ninakaw dito sa sitio namin, hindi pa ako TP noon. Noon kwan nung nag-TP na ako. Ginawa na kaming pang-gwardiya guardiya. Mahirap talaga noon, ang lugar. Basta noon, pag nakakita ka pero bulag!

The reason why we entered the service is because…. The Huks attacked this area. 30 carabaos were stolen in our sitio (community in Barrio). I wasn’t a TP back then, so when I became one, I guarded this area (to prevent that from happening again). Life was really difficult back then. The rule was, you could see [them] but you’re blind!

Ibig kong sabihin, tatanungin pag nasa bukid ka “ meron bang Hukbalahap diyan?” sabi ng mga PC. “Ala po!” kako..Kasi pag sinabi mong may hukbalahap e dudukutin ka naman ng mga Hukbo. What I mean here, PC will ask you when you’re in the farm “have you seen Huks around here?.”None [sir]” I said. [The trouble here] If you ever tell them of Huk whereabouts, they [the Huks] will capture you instead.

V: nang PC po? The PC?

R: Hindi nung Hukbo.Kaya yun yung tinatawag nilang bulag na nakakikikita. Nitong kwan pang halili naman yung magnanakaw naman ng kalabaw. Kwan malaking hirap ang dinanas namin. Dinanas naming ang panahon ng hapon, yung kwan nangyari ng hukbalahap, nangyari yung panahon ng magnanakaw ng kalabaw. Sinasabi ko sayo tinatalaan kada lilis nung malalaking kalabaw e para wag manakaw. Oo. noong panahon na yon, ay mahirap ang buhay noon. No, the Huks, that’s why we call it “[youre] blind but [you] could see”. Later on, it was replaced by carabao thieves. We suffered so much. We had to suffer from the Japanese period, then the Hukbalahap (civil war) happened, then we experienced carabao thieves. I tell you they had to mark the carabao’s rope so it will not get stolen. Yes, during those times, life was very precarious. 

V: Ano po ba ang pinaglalaban ng mga hukbo noon? What were the Huks fighting for?

R: ang kwan nila, sabi nila, yung mga Hukbo sila daw ang mga sundalo ng mga mahihirap. Yung mga PC sila daw ang sundalo ng mga mayayaman. Yun primero, maganda yung patakaran nila. Nung bandang huli, ninanakawan naman na nila ng kalabaw ang mga magsasaka. Kaya hindi na kami kumiling sa hukbo. Nung pormero nakakiling kami, kase hindi naman kami makakalabas sa bukid pag hindi kami nakisama at sila ang nasa bukid.Pag umuwi ka naman nasalubong mo ang PC, ano meron bang huk doon? “Ala po!”kako haha. Tapos e pag sinabi mo nanduduon sila, dudukutin ka naman. Ah mabagsik yung si Rodel! Ay naku. 

According to them, the Huks claim to be “the soldiers for the poor '' while the PC was the soldiers of the rich (landowners). In the early days, the Huks had really good principles. Later on, they started stealing the carabao of the farmers- the reason why we stopped supporting the Huks. In those early days, yes we supported them because we wouldn’t be able to work in the fields if we don’t get along well with them and since that’s their territory [live in the ricefields]. Then on your way home, you met the PC on the road, they’ll forcefully ask *in grumpy voice* “ Are there Huks [in the farm]? * scared response* “ There’s none sir.” If you tell them the Huk whereabouts, the Huks will take you instead. Rodel (Huk) was really scary. [Oh my!] 

V: Si Rodel po ba ay hukbo o sundalo? Is Rodel a Huk or a government soldier?

R: Hukbo.Nung pormero, mababait talaga ang mga hukbo. Hukbo. In those early days, Huks are really nice.

----------------------------------15 mins

V: nakakita na po kayo ng mga hukbo?May kakilala kayong mga hukbo noon? Have you seen a Huk? Did you know any Huk?

R: Ay bat e wala. Nakikisama din ako sa kanila. Kasama-sama namin sa bukid. Impossible not to have met/known one. I try to get along well with them. We were together on the farm. 

V: Nakakasama nyo po? Ah e di ba TP na po kayo noon? Were you together? I thought you were a TP?

R: ay nung nag-TP na ako umuwi ako nagbakasyon ng sampung araw ..

Doon sa Aliaga pinauwi kami doon …. O sige kuya. Nung kwan umuwi yung bata “saglit lang po halika po kayo. Nako, kunwakunwari ako antimano yung baril ko nasa bahay.

[ inaudible part, but he was describing his ten days vacation in his home in Sta. Monica, Aliaga where he probably met the Huks. He claimed to be one of them since he would not be able to defend himself unguarded. He left his gun at home] 

V: ilang taon na po kayo noon? How old were you?

R: beinte dos Twenty-two

V: Yung mga hukbong nakilala nyo, anong hitsura nila? Mababait? When you get to know them, how do they look like? amicable?

R: Pilipino din. Kwan sari-sari, para ring sibilyan.Ganito yung mga suot na kwan. Na minsan nagsusuot-suot ng.. kung makahingi sila ng bagay ng sundalo o nahingi sibilyan. E di ka rin minsan makakatanggi di ka rin malkalalabas sa bukid. They were Filipino as well. They look in many ways… like civilians. They sometimes wear soldier’s attire or civilian, it depends. Sometimes you cant say no to them [ when they ask for clothes/attire]. You wouldn’t be able to leave the farm [if you don’t heed to their request anyways.]

V; Ano po ba ang patakaran ng hukbo noon? What were the rules of the Huk?

R: Nung pormero, bawal mang-gahasa, bawal ang magnakaw, bawal abusuhin ang magsasaka. E nung bandang huli, nawala na yung mga original napunta sa Isabela.Yung mga detachment nila yun na mga nagnanakaw.  

In the early days, you shall not rape, you shall not steal, you shall not abuse the farmers. In the end, the originals left for Isabela* eastern province in the northern Luzon*. [ those who remained in the] detachment were thieves.

V:Yung mga mas bata po?  The younger ones?

R: Yun din yung mga kasamahan nilang naiwanan Their colleagues who were left behind

V: Bakit po sila napunta sa Isabela? Why did they leave for Isabela?

R: Tinutugis nga sila dito. They were hunted here [ by the government authorities]

V: Si Taruc na-alala nyo po? Do you still remember Taruc?

R: Ay di nagawi si Taruc dito, sa Pampanga yun. No, he didnt go here, [but] he works in Pampanga.

V: Sino po ang nandidito noon? Si Feleo? Who was here then? Feleo?

R: Si Rodel lang namumuno dito noon. Barkada nila rito noon yung mga kumander. Si Kumander Luningning, yung parang babae na maganda ang buhok, Kumandero (Veno), Kumander Liwanag. Maraming mga kwan. Only Rodel led here. He was a friend of several commanders, like Commander Luningning, he looks like a girl, has beautiful hair, Commander (Beno)... there were many

V: Si Luningning taga rito?Saan po sa gawi nito? (Saang lugar Pampanga, Tarlac?) Did Luningning a native of this place? Which area? ( Pampanga?Tarlac)?

R:  Para taga San Isidro. Magandang lalaki yun, maputi kaya tinawag na luningning, mahaba ang buhok. Dito sila naka ano sa Hacienda..Gabor…  

Probably San Isidro (Nueva Ecija). He was handsome, light-skinned, that’s why they call him Luningning (bright), they were stationed here in Hacienda, Gabor .. (other parts of Nueva Ecija in their old names]

V: Yung dito po si Kumander Rodel? Saan po siya dito? What about Commander Rodel? Where was he from?

R:Dito lang din yan. Yun ang mabagsik. Around this area. A very fierce man.

V: Ilan po ang napatay nya noon? How many did he kill?

R: Ha?Noong kwan, kasi noong sa ibayo, pag sinabing nandun sila Rodel. Tatlong army tapos guide kaming TP. Kung nagkataon ...  (sa Sta. Lucia)...inabangan namin sila. Inabangan namin, nakakuha kaming dalawa... Pormero sa Pugo, labindalawa kami, dalawang army at isang pinakamataas,Commander Gaya. Kung tawagin ay Reco. Mga matataas na pinuno. Dalawang probinsya yata ang hawak ni Gaya. Pinaka-organizer nila.

Ha? Back then when they say they spotted Rodel in the outskirts (near Rio Chico), three Army detachments will be released then us, TP will guide them… [Rodel was supposed to pass Sta. Lucia so we waited to ambush them] they captured [killed] two Huks. Prior to that, in Pugo (between Aliaga and Zaragoza) we were 12, two Army units and one of the senior commanders [ of the Huk was there his name is], Gaya. They call them Reco [Reco1 Reco2- the command division for the Huks]. The senior leaders. Gaya probably handles two provinces. He’s the main organizer.  

V:Sino po nagbibigay ng armas nyo noon? Who provided you arms?

------------ 20 mins

R: Dito sa IMA (Oo nga may kampo nga doon, nadaan ko nga noon)  Here in IMA

[ IMA according to Ricardo Tacsay is somewhere between Angeles and San Fernando, Pampanga, where the American base, Clark Airfield is located)

V: Tay mababagsik po ba ang mga army noon? Were the Army cruel/abusive back then?

R: Noong pormero mababagsik!  At first they were!

V:Paano po yung bagsik nila In what way were they cruel?

Kase pag mahaba ang buhok, ginugupitan nila.Yung mga naunang TP samin, mababagsik yoon. Lalo na nung nadestino doon si Tinyente Pugot/ Tinyente Sebastian. 

Because when you have long hair, they will cut it. The early TPs before us, were cruel, especially during the time of Sergeant Pugot, Sergeant Sebastian. 

V: pugot po talaga pangalan niya? Was his name really Pugot [decapitated head]?

R: Hindi mo ba napanuod sa cine? Pugot pangalan niya? Pinaganda nga lang doon e. Didnt you see him in films/cinema? His name is Pugot. They made him look better there in the film adaptation.

V: Siya po ba ang inspirasyon doon?  Was he the inspiration for that film?

R: Oo a, nako! Kabagsik! Doon ako natuto nung kumuha kami ng clearance hindi pa kami TP. Napunta kami sa kampo diyan sa munisipyo. Kasi kukuha kami ng clearance, napadpad man kami sa bukid ipakikita namin na “good civilian” hindi kami Hukbo.E nandun yung officer nakaupo kami, e yung isang kasama namin nakaupo sa pasimano. Naganyan e “Tangina mo, hindi mo ba alam na yang pasimano na yan opisina ko yan. Yan ang mukha ko inuupuan mo?! Pagsasampalin ko kayo” nako. Takot namin, gayung bagsik e, maliit lang. Kaya ngayon, iniiwasan kong umupo sa pasimano. (Ah kaya pala nagagalit pag uupo kami sa ganyan.)

Tsaka yung pagpirma, dapat ilalagay mo middle name mo, pag di mo nilagay “wala ka bang ina?”

Yes he was, Oh MY! Very furious!I learned from my encounter with him, when we were getting our clearance [from the municipal hall] so if ever we go to the rice fields we have something to show to them that we’re good civilians and we’re not huks. [A cedula, serves like a passport to go back to the farm, where most of the Huks lurk]. Sergeant Sebastian was there, and we were seated [next to his office] and then my other companion was sitting on the window sill. Suddenly. Sergeant Sebastian lashed out, “Son of a bitch, don’t you see that you’re seated on a window sill which is part of my office?! This [window sill] has my face and you’re sitting on it?! What if I slap you all?!” Oh my! We were so scared, he was furious, very stout. That’s the reason why I avoid sitting on a window sill. [the granddaughter interjects: ah so that’s the reason why Ricardo Tacsay, his grandfather, gets mad  whenever they sit on a window sill]

V: Siya po ba ang kumander ng PC noon? Ano po ba dahilan kung bakit mabagsik ang mga PC noon? Was he the commander of the PC back then? What's the reason why PCs were very stern back then?

R: oo siya. Ewan ko ba, noon kasi kinatatakutan yun. E nung kwan e, pag sinabing curfew hour na, nagsamo pag-nagdidilim na, putok na walang hanggan diyan. Sasapuhin mo mga bala. Hindi nakakatakot nga, ay nako! 

Yes, it was him. I don’t know, everyone was afraid of him. When they say it’s curfew time, when it gets dark, you’d hear infinite gunshots there. If you’re still outside you’d get all the bullets. He was very scary, I tell you, omy! 

V: ano pa po hindi nila ginagawang magaganda? What else do they do [negative habits]?

R: e dun lang pag natagpuan ka sa bukid at mahaba buhok mo, “Hukbalahap ka?!” “Hindi po” “Hindi hukbalahap ka! Si Kumander Torres mabagsik din. 

When they caught you in the field and it also happened that you have a long hair, *grunts “ You’re a Hukbalahap!” *scared voice “ No, sir!” “No, you’re a Hukbalahap!” [ the PCs are forcing it on them]. Commander Torres too, he was very scary. 

V: Ano pa pong ginagawa ng mga army noon? What about the Army, what did they do?

R: ala pa hindi pa Army,  Pc.Nung nadestino na nga mga army yun na mga, kumuha na sila ng mga TP.  

No, there was no Army yet, only PC. When the Army was stationed here, that’s the time they started hiring TPs.

V: Anong year po dumating yung mga Army? In what year did they arrive here?

R: 1952. First BCT, Fifth BCT 12 BCT. Doon kilalang kilala ako sa barracks, lalo na yung Fifth BCT kinukuha akong bodyguard. 

In 1952, 1st BCT, 5ft BCT, 12th BCT. I was pretty popular in the barracks, most especially among the 5th BCT, they took me as their bodyguard.

V: ano po ang role ng bodyguard? What was your role as a bodyguard?

R: Kasama-sama ng tinyente. Ikaw ang kanang kamay niya. Ikaw yung bodyguard.

I was with the Sergeant. [I serve] as their right-hand. [I serve] as the bodyguard.

V: Mababait po ang BCT o mga kwan? Were the BCT nice or something else?

R: Basta yung mga galing ng PMA mababait. Those who came from the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) were nice! 

V:Sino po mababagsik? Sino po yung mga nauna? Who were the scary ones? Those who went before them?

R:Yung mga nauuna. Di ko na naabutan, sila tinyente Sebastian,tinyente Pugot. Yoon mababagsik nila. 

Yes, the ones who went before them. I did not get to work with them, with the early Armys, yes Sergeant Sebastian (also known as Sergeant Pugot) yeah, their batch, they were very scary. 

V: E nung panahon po ni Magsaysay, nag-iba na ba noon? But during Magsaysay’s time, did it change at all?

R: Yoon, TP na kami noon. Noong panahon ni Magsaysay, 1950 ba yun o 1952. Nung naging secretary of defense, yun gustong mag(balik loob) na Hukbalahap dun na nga mga maraming napasok na hukbalahap gustong maging sibilyan. Binibigyan ng cedula rito, diyan sa munisipyo katibayang sibilyan ka na. Mabait sila nung nag-TP na kami noon nung si Magsaysay ang sec of National Defense tapos naging Presidente siya TP pa kami noon.

That time, we were TPs. During Magsaysay, 1950 or 1952, when he became the secretary of Defense, those who wanted to return….that’s the time when many Huks wanted to return and go back to their civilian lives. They were given cedulas (as a proof of their surrender and conversion) there in the Municipal Hall, a proof that you are now a civilian. The Army was really nice [good to the people] by the time we became TPs, [everything happened] under Magsaysay as the secretary of Defence then and when he became President we were still TPs.  

V: noong panahon ni Magaysay nagbago ba ang military?Ano pong mga pagbabago sa mga militar noon? 

During Magsaysay did the military change? What sort of changes happened in the military back then?

R: Bumait yung mga militar noon. Noon kasing mababagsik yung mga PC, ustong napagkamalan kang hukbalahap hinaharass ka na  antimano, nambubugbog yung iba. Yung mga mabubuti, gugupitan lang nila pero ganun pa din. Malaki ang pagbabago. Mas malaya yng mga tao. Bumait yung mga Army. 

The soldiers were kinder. Back then, the PCs were really cruel, when they mistook you as a Hukbalahap they would harass you, they would batter you down. The good ones, they only cut your hair. There was a stark difference. People felt more free [ under the new reformed Army]. The Army became really nice [to us].

Basta sabi yung mga Army sabi sa mga sibilyan kung hinihingan kayo ng pagkain magbigay kayo. Kung hindi naman kayo makakapagbigay hindi rin naman kayo magagawi sa bukid. Pero nung unang panahon, kung magbigay ka, supporter ka ng hukbo! Wala kang….

The Army told the civilians, when the Huks ask for food, just share what you have. If you don’t provide them, you won’t be able to work in the fields anymore. But in the early days,  when you gave food to the Huks, the Army would accuse you of being a Huk supporter “ You’re a Huk supporter!”  

V: Ano pa po? What else?

R: yung mga BCT mababait na yun. Madisciplina ang sundalo. Yung BCT magaling makitungo sa mga tao. Pag labas namin hindi pwedeng mawalan ng TP pag lalabas ang army.. Pag nadaanan namin yung sibilyan sa bukid. “Oh ano yang mga tao na yan? “ Mga sibilyan po yan.” Sige lakad, hindi tulad ng mga PC noon “ Hoy alika nga! Hoy Hukbo ka!””Hindi po” “Hindi Hukbo ka, kahaba ng buhok mo kaya Hukbo ka!””Hindi po.”

The [reformed] BCT were kinder. Very disciplined soldiers. The BCT knows how to befriend and treat people well. It’s a basic rule that they have TP whenever they go to operations. When we pass by a civilian in the field, they ask me “ Oh what are they?” “ They are civilians sir” “Okay continue then” then we go forth unlike before with the PCs, “Hey come here! You’re a Huk!”No, sir” “No don’t deny it, you’re a Huk !you have long hair! You’re a Huk! “No, sir.” 

V: Nasubukan nyo na pong sabihang Hukbo ka? Marami bang may galit sa mga pulis.

[inaudible] hindi po yung mga galit sa kanila dahil mababagsik sila? 

Have you been accused of being a Huk before? Were the people furious about the police treatment? Were the people angry with them?

R: Walang may galit sa PC masyado. Oo. Wala namang nagagawa yung mga pulis noon. Kasi naman hindi nila kilala kung sino yung mga hukbo. Nakikipag bola kami, alam namin yung mga taong labas. E nagbobola diyan yung PC, kalaban nila mga Hukbo e. Hindi nila alam, sabi pag nayari, “Balik ulit kayo bukas ah?” Nagkamayan pa. Hindi naman nila kilala. Pero yung mga Hukbo kilala nila yung mga PC. Yung mga nanoood na sibilyan nasa labas ng bakod e. Diyan nagbolahan sa may ano dyan. Kung nasubukan nyo lang sobrang hirap. 

Not many people bear grudge against the PCs. The PC didn’t do anything significant back then [they couldn’t do anything] because they do not know who the Huks are. [One time] they were playing basketball, we [the community] know who the outsiders are. The PC was playing basketball, against the Huks, and the PC didn’t know. They even told them after the game “ please come back tomorrow”  [so we could play again] . They even shook hands! The PC didn’t know but the Huks knew! Us, amused civilians were                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          watching outside the fence. They were playing basketball there. If you experienced living in that period, it was very difficult!  

-- niece: nasubukan nyo pong makipag barilan sa mga hapon? 

Have you had a gunfight with the Japanese?

R: hindi, sa hukbo lang. 

No, with the Huks only.

---------------------30mins [recalling the years of Japanese Occupation]

Panahon ng Hapon/ Tiempo de Japon ( 31:23) 

R: E bata pa naman ako nung panahon na yun. Noong panahon naman ng hapon, pagpasok namin sa tapat na ire,ere sa tapat ni Rizal. May gwardiya noon nakatayo, pag papasok kami pag ‘maga “KONNICHIWA!” pag-tanghali naman “OHAYOU!” pag gabi “KONBANWA”. Pag pasok naman namin sa eskwelahan ang kanta namin *sings national anthem of Japan*.. Nakalimutan ko na nga, pagbilang naman namin nii, *counts in Japanese. Noon nga marunong pang mag-hand written. Magagaling na mga tao,[ tinatakpan ng litrato, yun din naman tinuturo. *a little inaudible*] Pag papasok na si Captain Sakma sabay sabay kaming tatayo. Umaga, “Konnichiwa, Ohayou, Konnichiwa!” dapat e yung ulo gumaganon kailangan yung kamay mo tapat sa baywang. 

When we were young, during the Japanese Occupation, when you enter that area, in front of Rizal, there’s a guard there standing and whenever we enter we say “KONNICHIWA!” during lunch, then OHAYOU, when it’s evening we say “KONBANWA”. We we enter school, we sing *starts singing the Japanese National Anthem* I forgot the lyrics already. When we count ichi, ni, san, yon, go. Back then we knew how to do the handwriting. Impressive people, they also cover [censor] the images… When Captian Sakma enters the room, we all rise and greet him “Konnichiwa, Ohayou, Konnichiwa!” your head must [bow] and both your hands should be attached down to the side of your waist.

V: Yun  po ang symbol of respect sa kanila.  Thats their symbol of respect.

R: Nako, mahirap non. Nung kwan na don, mabagsik na mga hapon. Nung malapit na lumaya. .. ang sinabi noon, meeting meeting! Ah wala nasa bukid na kami. Ibibilad ka ng hapon e.

Oh my, it was very difficult during the Japanese occupation. They became cruel as the Liberation approaches,... they announced there’s a “meeting meeting!” everyone scurred away, we went to the fields. If you attend the meeting they will only roast you under the heat of the sun. 

V: Bakit po? Why?

R: Yun yung parusa, meeting meeting eka ng mga tao.Kunwari meeting, ibibilad ka naman. It’s their punishment, they say it’s a meeting but it’s just a facade, they will only roast you. 

V: Meron po bang mga USAFFE dito noon o mga Hukbo din po guerilla  meron? Were there USAFFE based here or the Huks guerilla too? 

R: Noong panahon ng hapon, may guerilla at hukbo dalawa yan. Ang tunay na guerilla sila ang tinatawag na USAFFE. Yung Hukbo na dating guerilla, naging hukbo yung iba. Yun na nga nagka-kwan sila Lava. 

During the Japanese period, there are guerillas and Hukbo, there were two groups. The real guerillas are called USAFFE. The Huks (Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan Laban sa Hapon /HUKBALAHAP or Liberation Army Against the Japanese) were previously guerillas, then they joined the Hukbo (the Hukbong Mapagpalayang Bayan/ Liberation Army). That’s when the Huks joined with Lava.

V: Napunta po ba dito si Lava? Did Lava go here? 

R: hindi No.

V: pero tumakbo siya ditong congressman but he ran as a congressman?

R: Di ko na-kwanan yan Im not aware of that

V: yung magkakasama sila ni Padilla? yung Democratic Alliance. They were together with Padilla? The Democratic Alliance?

R:  Yung doctor na Padilla? Anong pangalan nung Padilla na kandidato noon? The Doctor Padilla? What was the name of the Padilla candidate before?

V: Diyan daw po sa ilog maraming hukbo noon. According to the elders, there were many Huks in that river ?

R: Doon, dun sa may Ilog na malaki [Rio Chico] Yun kasi nung __ yung mga sundalo… yung iba manggagaling ng Licab tuloy tuloy yan. …

Nung kwan lumipat na doon sa gawing ilog nga sinalakay naman sila ng eroplano (jet fighter) sa ilog maraming namatay yung mga natira nagpunta na ng Isabela. Yung mga naiwan dito e sila Rodel, yun na nga gumulo. 

There, in the bigger river, Rio Chico. Back then when the soldiers, other soldiers that came from Licab they followed the path of the river. When they transferred to the Rio Chico, they were strafed by the plane (a jet fighter). Many people died, those who survived decided to go to Isabela. Those who remained here were Rodel’s unit, that’s the time things went disorganized. 

V: Taga dito po ba sa Nueva Ecija yung mga kasama niya yung mga hukbo na nagnanakaw?  Were the robbers from Nueva Ecija?

R: Noon kasi ang mga Hukbo nasa Aliaga. Ang mga Hukbong nandito lang noon e tong __ lalo, Dado, Tagaza, ..Isio mabibilang mo lang. Mas maraming sundalo dito, kesa Hukbo. Hukbo e iilan lang. 

Back then, the Huks were in Aliaga. The Huks here were *enumerated them* most especially Dado, Tagaza… Isio you can count them in your fingers. There were more soldiers here than the Huks. The Huks, very few of them existed here. 

V: Sa San Anotnio po madami di po ba? In San Antonio were there many Huks?

R: Oo, dito mga guerilla madami a, yun mga tauhan ni Captain Aquilizan na lumaban sa hapon. Katunayan yung isang amain namin, kapatid ni tatang kong bunso, nalaban ng Bataan, nakauwi, pumasok na USAFFE napatay naman sa Dalton Pass. Palayo na mga hapon, pero nadali ng sniper. Naiuwi naman dito. Dito nga sa amin nailibing. Binigyan ng 21 gun salute. Kaya nung tiningnan ko yung nakatusok dun sa munisipyo. Hindi tunay yon. 

Ala yung mga tunay don.

Yes, here we had a lot of guerilla, under Captain Aquilizan who fought the Japanese. In fact, in my family, the youngest brother of my father fought in Bataan, he was able to go home, he entered USAFFE but was killed in the Dalton Pass. The Japanese were retreating then, but my uncle was caught by a sniper. They brought home his body and he was given 21-gun-salute. When I saw the veteran’s monument in front of the municipal hall, I was disappointed. What was written there is not true. 

V: Ay opo, eto po yung picture. Eto po yung listahan na tumulong sa pag...namatay na opisyal at sundalo. Ah here, *shows the picture* Here's the list of those who helped… officials and soldiers who died. 

R: Huwad! Ay karamihan diyan Huwad! FRAUD! Many of them are frauds! Fraud!

V: Ano pong hwan? What’s hwan?

R:Huwad, hindi tunay. Hinanap ko ngalan ng amain ko wala! Ang mismong napatay sa Dalton Pass. Si Mr.Pula, Mr. Garcia mga lumaban ba sa hapon yan? 

“HUWAD” [FRAUD], not real. I was looking for my uncle’s name and he wasn’t there, the person who died in the battle in Dalton Pass? Mr. Pula, Mr. Garcia did they really fight the Japanese huh? 

V: Eto nga po pamunuan ng mga beterano. Major Adalem. Panahon po ito ng hukbo o matagal na. 

What about the veteran’s group, Major Adalem. Was it during the Huk rebellion or prior to that?

R: Oo, totoong Army yan! Oo maraming huwad ang nakalista doon. Sabagay nakalagay doon “E di po nalagay pangalan niya ipagpaumanhin” eka naman. 

Yes, he’s a real army! Yes, there were many frauds included there. Well, they wrote a disclaimer too “ if we forgot to include their name, we sincerely apologize.” 

V: Pero sa San Antonio po bakit maraming hukbo doon? But in San Antonio, they had a lot of huks? What could be the reason?

R: E kasi hindi mairecognize yung mga hukbo dyan e kaya napunta sila kay Lava at Taruc. 

Kaya dito ang nag-organize dito Capt. Aquilizan, tapos si Major Fajardo yan. 

Because they were not recognized by the government, they went to Lava and Taruc. That’s why Capt. Aquilizan organized here, then Major Fajardo. 

V: Si Juan Feleo po narinig nyo na po? Have you heard of Juan Feleo?

R: Hindi hindi ko na-kwan yun. Baka dun sa kabila yan. No I haven’t head of him, maybe he is from the other camp

V: Si de Leon po? What about de Leon?

R: hukbo yun e! [napupunta po ba siya dito?] Hindi. He’s a HUK! Nope he didnt visit Zaragoza.

V: pero si Lava po hindi nagawi dito? [ hindi] Si Taruc? [hindi]  Mga kumander local lang.Pero miembro po sila ng unyon noon? What about Lava? [No] Taruc? [No]. Only the local commanders?

R: Oo, kasi ganito yan, kanya-kanyang destino. Pag nadestino ka dito… [inaudible] 

Yes, the system is like this, they have their own detachments and assignments. When you are assigned here… [inaudible]

V: Yung mga hukbo po nung sumuko sila kay Magsaysay ano po [nangyari sa kanila]? What happened to the Huks after they surrendered themselves to Magsaysay?

R: Nagsibilyan na. They became civilians

V: Madami po ba ditong sundalo sa Zaragoza na napunta sa Korea? At saka Vietnam? 

Were there many soldiers here in Zaragoza who went to the Korean war? And then VIetnam war?

R: Naririnig ko nga dati, maraming napuntang Korea. Yung napunta sa Vietnam marami akong kasama yan na nag-TP ako. Dahil nung nagtrabaho sa Fort Magsaysay nakita ko sila.

Corporal Major… naging sarhento. Yung isa nga napuntang Vietnam, PHILCAGV. 

I heard many of them went there in Korea. Those who went to Vietnam War they were my TP colleagues. When they worked in Fort Magsaysay I saw them, they entered the Army became Corporal Major, then Sergeant, then the other one went to Vietnam as PHILAGV. 

V: Nakauwi po ba silang buhay? Did they get home alive?

R: Ewan ko di naman na kami nagkita-kita noon. Konti-konting ang nakasama lang din naman sundalo noon e doon pa n’laan, pinakilala na Tacsay, magkamaganak daw, tiga, Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya. 

Not sure, we didn’t see each other after that. Only a few of them became commissioned soldiers, and there they introduced me to a distant relative from Bayombong Nueva Vizcaya. 

V: Pero yung mga kasama nyong nag-TP noon kapwa nyo pong magsasaka sila? But your TP colleagues, were they all farmers?

R: Oo kasi kami, magsasaka noong araw. Pag gabi tsaka palang kami hahawak ng armas. Ngayon kung isasabak kami sa operation ayon, mamimili kung sino. Mamimili yung sergeant namin kung sino kasama namin. Hindi naman lahat kami sinasama. E dito sa San Rafael ilan kami sampu kami. Sampu sa Sta. Lucia. (.. iba pa yung in-charge [ inaudible])

Yes, we were all farmers during the day and then we took our arms at night. Now, if we have an operation, they will choose who will be their TP or guide. The sergeant will choose among us, we were ten. Ten from Sta. Lucia, ( … others were in-charge of… [inaudible noise])

V: narinig nyo na po Nenita Unit? Have you heard of the Nenita Unit?

R: Nung nanakawan kami dito ng kalabaw, pitong’pung dito sa San Rafael, nung maga mukha kaming mga pinukpok na suso na nakatalungko. mga kwan, sabi ng mga tatay namin * in Ilokano language* Awan met , kinuha kagabi. Hanggang doon sa inyo roon, sa kanto non. 

When we got robbed. The robbers stole 70 carabaos here in San Rafael. In the morning we were all suking ( “para kaming pinukpok na suso na nakatalungko” sorry i do not know the direct translation of this idiomatic expression, but more like “poor snails hunched over and squashed” which means they were oppressed/ very pitiful.) My father said in Ilokano Awan met meaning, they’re gone, they were taken last night. [Carabaos were stolen] from there to the last corner.

V: Paano po nanakaw e ang dami! How did they do that? That’s a lot!

R: E yun TP naman dito, si Kuya Tenor at Kuya Sator, e pano dadalawa sila.E kahit nakita hindi naman sila pumutok. 

Well the TP was Kuya Tenor and Kuya Sator, there were only two of them. Even when they saw the robbers they couldn’t fire [the gun]

V: Kase madami? Because there were several of them [robbers]?

R: Ilang kalabaw nanakaw dito pitumpo 70 carabos were stolen 

V: Yung Nenita Unit ano pong .. The Nenita was then?

R: Kinabukasan dumating ang nenita unit dito,markang bungo. Ay mamabagsik! Innterview ako. Sabi ko sa lugar po namin walang daanan. Wala naman daan yan lang o, dun naman sa lugar na yan dun lang kami nakatira noon e. Dito nag-daanan. Nako, e kala mo kaming kawawa nitong umaga wala na kaming kalabaw. 

The next day, the Nenita Unit arrived, with skull markings. Very fierce! They interviewed me and I told them, in our place, we don’t have a path. There’s no path there, you can only find the pathway there, where there are many dwellers. But they passed here, oh my we all looked very pitiful in the morning because we lost our carabaos.

D: Ano po ginawa ng Nenita Unit? What did the Nenita do?

R: Sinundan, e wala naman, hindi na siguro nasundan. They followed them, it seems like they weren’t able to chase them.

V: Ano po ang reputasyon sa inyo ng Nenita Unit noon, bakit mabagsik?  What was their reputation? Why”fierce”?

R; Mabagsik kung kwan, kinatatakutan ng mga Hukbalahap yan, dahil kasi, di umano sa balita, yang Nenita unit ang pumuksa sa [hukbo] sa Candaba. Yun ang pumuksa sa mga hukbalahap diyan. Nakatusok sa __ e markang bungo e. Kaya Nenita Unit. 

Very cruel, the Huks were scared of them, because, according to the news, Nenita massacred the Huks in Candaba (Pampanga). They killed the Huks there. You will see their flags marked with skulls. That’s why they call it the Nenita Unit. 

V: Skull Squadron po. Skull Squadron?

R: Yan ang kinatatakutan ng mga hukbo noon. Huks were afraid of that unit.

V: Nandito po ba ang Nenita Unit noon? Did Nenita stay here back then?

R: Dumaan lang, gumanyan dito, nagimbestiga.  They just passed, went that way, they only investigated.

V: Ano pa po ang mababagsik na ginawa ng sundalo bago dumating si Magsaysay. What sort of cruelty did the soldiers do prior to Magsaysay?

R: Yung mga PC noon, yun nga masasangil. Pag nagnagpunta ka riyan at napagkursunudahan ka “ Hukbo ka ha!” “ Hindi po” “Hindi Hukbo ka, ang haba nung buhok mo!” eka.

The PC, very quarrelsome. When you go to the fields, and they saw you “you’re a Huk! “ No, sir” “ No, don’t deny it, you’re a Huk! You have long hair!” 

V: madami po silang pinapahirapan noon? Did they harass many people?

R: wala naman gaanong man, yun lang napagdidiskitahan. Not much but sometimes they feel like abusing others.

V: E kung marami pong hukbo dito sa San Rafael paano nyo po sila .. If there were many Huks here in San Rafael, how did you ...

R: Hindi. Nung panahon na yun nung mababagsik ang mga PC. Kahalubilo namin   yung mga hukbalahap dahil kasi binatilyo na ako noon e. Nung kwan, tingnan mo nga kung may PC diyan. Ako ang nauutusan. “Wala na umalis na” kako naman a. Kaibigan ko din yung ilang mga hukbo.

No, back when the PCs were pugnacious, we were friends with the Huks. I was a lad back then. Sometimes they asked me “ could you spot the PC?” “None, they just left.” I was friends with the Huks. 

V: Kaya alam nyo po sila. Hindi po ba nila naisip na “uy yung kaibigan ko nag-TP”

If you know them, wouldn’t they feel bad because their friend is a TP?

R: Kinukuha nila kami, Siblag, Tagaza, ako. Doon sila nakadestino sa [Kabanta- Sta. Lucia] 

Yung may malaking bahay don, yung may tindahan na pagpasok, paglikong ganyan.. doon , nandoon sila, si Tandang Isio, Kumander. Oo, [he listed them down, Isio, Torio, Insiong, Bagsik, etc]. Yun e, niligawan ako nun e. E may ginagawa ako noon pag natutulog ako sa tanghali doon sa loob ng [}may palay, sabihin nyo wala ako. Nililigawan akong maging Hukbo. Ang naligawan si Tagaza Emeng.. 

They wanted to recruit me, Siblag, Tagaza. They were assigned in that sitio, in Sta. Lucia, in that big house, there’s a store. When you enter the street, you turn to the corner… there, you will find them [the Huks] there was Tandang Isio, one Commander. Yes, *he listed them down, Isio, Torio, Insiong, Bagsik etc]. They courted me. I had a lot of work back then, and I used to nap next to the rice granary. I tell people to lie and say I’m not there. They were courting me to become a member. The one who was recruited was Tagaza Emeng. 

V: Pag nililigawan ka ano po ba ginagawa nila? When they court you what do they do?

R: Lagi kang sinasama, hinaharana ka ng papel para maging kasama ka nila. They take you to their gatherings/meetings, they serenade you with their (paper?) so you will be part of them.

V: Sa tingin nyo po ano po ang pinaglalaban ng mga Hukbo bukod sa hindi sila kinilala bilang beterano? In your opinion, what were they fighting for aside from their nonrecognition? 

R: Noon kasi yung pinag-lalaban nila yung mga magnanakaw, ayaw nila ng magnanakaw, ayaw nila ng nanggagahasa ng babae, yun yung patakaran nila. Katunayan e may kasama silang mga babae. May mga hukbong babae noon. At saka nag-aral din sila sa Stalin University. Doon sa gubat, dun na nga sa may Ilog. Diyan sa may Rio Chico.

Back then they were principled. They were guided by these: you shall not steal, they don’t like thieves, you shall not rape women. In fact, they had female comrades. And Huks studied in Stalin University, there in the forest,there in the river, in Rio Chico.   

V: Yung brand po sa kanilang Kumonista naniniwala po kayo? How they branded them as communist, do you think it’s true?

R: Ay hindi. Nung pormero talagang magandang patakaran nila. Bawal magnakaw, wag magmalabis sa kapwa mahirap, yoon.. Tsaka wag kayong magnakaw ng kalabaw, nung kwan sila na din naman kumukuha!

Ah no! At first, they were guided by good principles. You shall not steal, You shall not take advantage/ dont oppress your fellow poor.. And you shall not steal their carabaos, eventually they become carabo thieves! 

V: Bakit po sila sinusugpo ng gobierno noon? Why did the government chase them?

R: E kasi, naging kalaban yan ng pamahalaan, yang hukbo. They became enemy of the state, the Huks.

V: bakit po? Why?

R: E pinaglaban yata e sa backpay, hindi sila narecognize. Nung natapos yung giyera para kasi.. parang sundalo ng pamahalaan hindi narecognize. Yun ang dinig ko noon. Hindi naipasok ang pangalan nila sa gobierno ayon. Kaya tumiwalag sila. 

Kasi noon tulad din ngayon di ba ang tinuring na hukbo e kwan, si Jose Maria Sison. Noon kase iba ang leader ng Huk. 

They fought for their back pay, they were not recognized. When the war was over, they were like soldiers of the state who were not recognized. That’s what I heard about their situation. The government refused to enter their name in the roster [ of those who fought against the Japanese]. They quit working with the government. 

V: Si Taruc po? What about the Taruc?

R: hindi si Taruc, hindi si Lava, meron pa… ayaw pasakop sa Amerikano yun. 

Not Taruc, not Lava, there’s someone before them, the one who was against the Americans.

V; Castro Alejandrino, Crisanto Evangelista? Manahan? Cirilo Bognot? Feleo? 

R: Sino kasi yung sumama sa hapon? Who joined the Japanese?

V: Si Ricarte? Ricarte?

R: Oo si Ricarte, yon yung naging pinuno ng GANAP. Si Ricarte. 

Yes, Ricarte, who became the leader of Ganap. That’s Ricarte!

V: Mga SAMASAKA po meron din pong unyon dito? Was there a SAMASAKA or any unions here?

R: Ay wala, ang SAMASAKA Aliaga. Pero maganda rin mga naging patakaran nila. Halimbawa, kasi nung sa bukid ako nakatira, katunayan kase, yung Presidente ng Samasaka kumpare ko. Hanggang sa sinasabi daw ng iba, na ako daw ay nagsusumbong sa mga PC. Ang sabi naman ng kumpare ko, “hindi gagawin yan ng kumpare namin yun. Hindi, dun sa Zaragoza walang ginawang kagaguhan yan doon.Walang record sa Zaragoza yan. Hindi nya magagawang mang-.....” kasi matagal kong nakasama yung mga yan. May kumpare akong doon nagdoctor sa Russia. 

None. SAMASAKA was based in Aliaga. They had good principles too. For example, when I was living in the fields, in fact, the President of Samasaka was my compadre. Until people started speculating I was reporting them to the PC. My compadre said, “No he wouldn’t do that. He didn’t commit any misdeeds in Zaragoza. He didnt even have a record there. He wouldn’t do that…” because I was with them for a long time. I had a compadre before (from SAMASAKA) who studied medicine in Russia. 

V: Russia po?Bakit  doon nagdoctor? In Russia? Why did he study there?

R: Pinadala ng SAMASAKA. Doon pinag-aral. Diyan sa Aliaga. SAMASAKA sent him there to study, he’s from Aliaga. 

V: Galing naman. Madami po ba silang pinadala sa Russia? Fantastic. Were there many of them?

R: Ewan ko lang. Yun namang isa nagtapos ng Engineer sa Russia rin.  

I’m not sure [about the numbers]. The other one finished Engineering in Russia as well. 

V: Saan po sa Russia? Where in Russia?

R: Ewan ko kung saan sa Russia. Yun lang bida nila sakin e. Maganda pare kako.. Katunayan na maganda nga daw ipapadala daw siya sana e.

I don’t know in Russia. That’s what they told me. That’s good brother, I said. In fact he was supposed to be sent to Russia too.

V: Kilala nyo po si Pomeroy? Si Lansdale? CIA Lansdale? Kilala nyo po ba si Kangleon. Before po kay Magsasay si Kangleon. 

Do you know Pomeroy? Lansdale? CIA Lansdale? Kangleon? Before Magsaysay there was Kangleon. 

R: hindi. Hindi. Hindi. Si Magsaysay lang. No, no, no. Only Magsaysay. 

V: Ano po ang reputasyon ni Magsaysay noong secretary of defense? What was Magsaysay’s reputation as a secretary of defense?

R: E kasi, yun nga. Kung halimbawa eka kung hihingian ng mga Hukbalahap ang mga sibilyan, “bigyan nyo” eka, bigyan nyo ng pagkain e kung di kayo makapagbibigay di naman kayo makalalabas sa bukid. Yan kaya medyo gumaan noon. Hindi na nang-haharass mga PC. Noon nung kay Magsaysay na, kami nga noon, parang.. Pinapasok na nga niya sa bayan yung mga hukbo para magbagong-loob. Maraming nagbagong buhay noon. Dito lang e kwan maraming nagkakasakit dito na mga hukbo,magpapagaling dito nung kwan na nung pumalit si Magsaysay ...yung iba binigyan ng cedula, nag uwian na, nagsibilyan. Marami pang nagawa si Magsaysay, talagang mabait. 

Well, for example, when the Huks request from the civilians, the soldiers would say “ just give them” “give them food, if you don’t give them, you won’t be able to leave the farm anyways.” very gentle, they treat people lightly.. They dont harass people unlike the PC before them. When Magsaysay happened, he let the Huks in and encouraged them to convert (change of heart). Many converted. Just in Zaragoza, many Huks were getting sick, they had to seek medication, then Magsaysay came, he issued them cedula, Huks went home, they became civilians. Magsaysay did alot of things, he’s really nice. 

V: Nagpunta po ba siya dito? Did he visit here?

R: Oh di ko nakwan. Tapos e si Marcos di ba nakipag-negosasyon sa Aliaga? Yun e di namin alam yun e. 

Oh Im not aware of that. Then remember Marcos, he negotiated in Aliaga. But Magsaysay I didn’t know about his visit. 

V: E noon naabutan nyo po ba yung Marines na dineploy po dito noon? Philipine Marines noon? Nadala po dito 1950-51, kasama po nila BCT din. 

Did you see the Marines deployed here? Philippine Marines? Around 1950-51, they were with the BCT. 

R: di ko nakwan yon dito. Ang na-kwan ko lang dito yung mga BCT. 1st,12th and 5th.

I didn’t see them. I witnessed BCTs. 1st, 12th and 5th.

V: 1st? 12 and 5th?Saan po sila nakadestino?

Where were they assigned here?

R: Noong pormero 1stBCT diyan sila nakadestino sa palengke. Ewan ko ba si Captain [Malindog] kung anong BCT yon. First BCT yata yonNoong TP kasi kame, nagsschool kami, pag-araw ng Linggo, nag ddrill kami. Kasama PC, Major ng Army, may lecture ng mga alituntunin tinuturuan kami, paghawak ng baril, tsaka wag kaming maging marahas. Wag nyong tularan yung mga matatandang TP nang makahawak ng armas nagmalabis, nako tatlong taon riyan ni hindi ako pumitik ng tenga o bumaril ng tao pero lagi akong kasama sa operation.

At first, 1st BCT was assigned in the market area. I don’t know if Captain Malindog belonged to the first BCT. When I was TP, we were schooling there every sunday. We do drills with the PC and the Major of the Army. We received lectures on rules, they taught us how to hold a gun, and avoid violence. “Don’t follow the old TPs, when they were granted arms they took advantage of it [they became cruel]. Oh my, in my three years, I didn't even flick any person’s earlobe or pull a trigger to kill someone although I was always part of the operation. 

V: Marami po ba kayong napapatay pag sa operation? Did you kill a lot during the operation?

R: wala. Kung marami kaming napapatay, di naman lumabas wala din kaming natatagpuan, andon mga sibilyan. Mga kasama ko yung… noon mga 5th BCT, kasama ko si Capt __ kagagaling lang sa PMA, mabait ”sabi pa nung mga tao nya“ser bakit hindi nyo pa padala sa sibilyan yang dala mo e dami nung bag nyo” “e bat ko papadala yan?” Yun nga nauuna ako sumusunod yung Tinyente. Pagdating namin sa Hacienda, “ano ito” sabi ko “e Hacienda” “Nasan yung Rio Chico?” “Ayun ser” “E andun daw yung mga Hukbalahap” “Ay oo ser, e pupunta ba tayo roon?” “ e ambushin pa tayo ron” eka naman. E lalabas sila 37, firing squad. Marami akong kaibigang sundalo noon.

None. If we kill a lot,we don't see any bodies or we can't find them. My colleagues, in the 5th BCT, I was with Capt. __ from the PMA, he was really nice. People asked him” why won’t you let the civilians carry that bag for you, you have a lot! “Why would I even ask them to carry it?”

I am always at the forefront [during operation] then the Sergeant will follow me. When we got to hacienda, “what’s this place?” “Hacienda sir” I said. “Where's Rio Chico?” “ There’s the river sir” “The Huks are there” he asked. I said, “ Yes, sir. Do we go there?” “ E [ no] they will only ambush us,” he told me. When they go out they were 37, [and the] firing squad. I had a lot of friends then [from the Army].

V: mababait na po sila kay Magsaysay? Were they nice under Magsaysay

R: Mababait! Very nice!

V: Pero nung panahon ni Quirino kay Ruperto Kangleon. But during Quirino’s time under Ruperto Kangleon?

R: Ay nasa maynila ako noon 1949. Naalala ko si Quirino nandun ako. Ang kalaban ni Quirino noon e si ..

I was in Manila in 1949. I remember Quirino was there, his opponent was…. 

V: Laurel?

R: Anong apelyido? What’s his surname?

V: Jose Laurel po. Ano po naalala nyo sa election ni Quirino? Jose Laurel. What do you remember about Quirino’s election back then?

R: E mabait yon. E wala naman kasi ako dito. E di umano, dinaya! E maynila e Laurel. Pasay ako non. Si Quirino maliit na tao. Pumunta sa munisipyo ng Pasay e….

He was nice. I was not here in Zaragoza. Hearsays say he was cheated! E the Manila was supporting Laurel, I was in Pasay back then. Quirino was stout. He went to the municipal hall of Pasay.

V: Madami po bang sundalong Americano dito nagpupunta roon? Sundalong Amerikano nung panahon ng hukbo?

Were there many American soldiers here? American GIs during the Huk rebellion?

R: Nung sumampa kasi ang mga Amerikano... may mga hapon, hapon e kabilis kong nanaog. Takbo kami ang dami namin, nung kwan nasalubong namin.. andyan na mga kano! Andyan na mga kano! Balik kami. Pagdating namin sa eskwelahan sa kanto. Diyan na yung jeep, mga sundalong sakay. Takbo na kaming uwi, nakakita na kami ng kano! Nakakita na kami ng kano! Eka na namin sa mga bakwitan doon ah! Dito nga kami bumakwit e. Sabi ng mga tatang namin.. Putangna nyo kalilikot nyo! Oy kita namin dumating na mga Amerikano, ang pupula ng buhok, ang tatangos nga mga ilong, kagaganda ng mata! Malikot kami nung binatilyo kami. 

When the Americans arrived…. The japanese! I climbed the tree and I thought they were Japanese. We ran, there were many of us running then we saw the Americans coming! “The Americans are here! We shouted, then we returned. When we got to the corner next to the school, we saw the jeep which had Americans in it. We ran towards home, “we finally saw Americans! We saw the Americans!” we shouted it all over the evacuation community. Our fathers scolded us “ Son of a bitch, you guys are all around!” then we said “we finally saw them! the Americans have arrived, they have red hair, very pointy nose, they have beautiful eyes! We were restly when we were adolescents!   

V: May bakbakan po ba mga Amerikano dito? Did the American have a fight here?

R: hindi. Ala, yung mga Amerikano, doon sa Valdez doon kami doon yung mga Amerikano sa may quarters doon. Mababait yung mga Amerikano samin. 

No. None, the Americans were at the Valdez (Sto. Rosario Old), their quarters were there. They were really nice. 

V: Mababait po ba yung mga Amerikano? I mean yung mga Amerikano di ba kalaban nila yung mga hukbo? Wala na po. Were they really nice? I mean did they fight the Huks or they didnt?

R: Wala nang Amerikano dito noon, wala na. Si __ at si Lapham, kasama ng mga Army yun e wala naman na .

There were no Americans left here during the Huk rebellion. Major Lapham, he was with the Army, he was gone

V: Patay na si Lapham noon. Sige po tay, salamat po, pag may itatanong po kami pupunta po ulit si Dona sa inyo. 

Yes, he was dead already. Alright, tay. Thank you. If i have questions I’ll be back again  or Dona will come here. 

R: Talagang mahigpit noon, lalo na si Tinyente Sebastian, pag sinabing curfew hours sa gabi yung machine gun na yung umuulan. Oo nga, maski yung mga kaibigan ko tanungin nyo. 

[ tulad nung sa may kanto nyo yan… nainterview na po namin] pero hindi sila nakasama sa Army.Kasi ako talaga nasubukan kong makisama ng konti sa hukbalahap, makisama sa army.

They were really tight back then, most especially Sergeant Sebastian, when we said curfew hours in the night, you’d hear the raining bullets from machine gun. I swear, you even ask my friends and cohorts! [ just like Mr. Gabriel, who lives in that corner. “Yes we already interviewed him, tay” Dona said.] 

He didn’t join the Army but I was able to hang-out with the Huks and also get along with the Army. 

V: bakit po siya hindi sumali? Why didnt he join either of the two ?

R:   Sila kasi nasa loob kami nandito. Kaya dito yung pasyalan ng mga hukbo. Yang si tandang __ dapat hukbo yan e, kaso nung bakbakin yung silong sa Kabantan ustong umuwi. They live in the center. We lived in the periphery. The Huks were always here, that old man ___, he almost became a Huk, but when they removed the wooden cover of their basement in sitio Kabantan, he immediately left. 

V: Talagang hindi po talaga kumonista ang mga Huk? Huks arent communists?

R: Talagang masyadong ngang. Ang masyadong talagang mabagsik si Rodel, basta yung unit ni Rodel, pero yung taal na hukbo, mababait, disiplinado. 

They were really…. The one who was cruel was Rodel, it was Rodel’s unit but the native or original Huks, they were amicable/nice and disciplined. 

V: Pero naniniwala po kayong may kinalaman ang chinese at russian sa hukbo? But do you believe the Chinese and Russians had a relationship with the Huks?

R: at wala yata. Patakaran lang yun… sa akin lang ha. Parang bang ginamit lang na.. Gimik lang. Wala naman russian dito noon.

As far as I’m concerned, none. Their principles could be, in my opinion, they only adopted their teachings… gimmick.There were no Russians here.

[siya pinakamahabang interview hano?] he has the longest interview so far, right?

V: Salamat po tatay. Thank you Tatay. 

---END 1:03:53 

Interviewer: Veronica Sison

Interviewee: Ricardo Tacsay

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Transcript Notes

  1. Carabao is the Spanish/Tagalog term for water buffalo.

  2. Cavan refers to a traditional Philippine measurement of dry capacity instituted during Spanish colonialism. Though used to measure mass, it was based on volume - a cavan of rice would have a different weight than a cavan of cocoa, for instance. The specific numerical value of the Cavan has fluctuated across the 19th and 20th centuries and is no longer in use.

  1. How does Tacsay’s testimony challenge the traditional ideological divide that the Cold War is understood through?

  2. What does the change in Tacsay’s view of the Huks suggest about the evolution of the resistance movement in the postwar Philippines?

  3. To what extent is the Huk Rebellion part of the Cold War? Is it more accurate to characterize it as a civil war/domestic conflict?