Career vs family, according to the Hukbalahap Amazons

Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex and Revolution in the Philippines
By Vina A. Lanzona
University of Wisconsin Press

By Lorial Crowder

It began as a dare and led to an impromptu meeting two weeks later with Professor Vina A. Lanzona of the University of Hawaii Manoa, the author of “Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex and Revolution in the Philippines.”

A friend mentioned the book that she came across during an Internet search about the Hukbalahap Rebellion or better known as the Huk Rebellion. Neither one of us had ever heard of this rebellion before. On seeing the book online, the cover spoke for itself. A black and white photo of a Filipina in a seated position, posed with her left knee bent. Resting on her other knee is a Carbine Assault rifle that she gracefully caresses.

We researched Ms. Lanzona’s name and came across her faculty listing. There in front of us was her office phone number. I needed little coercion to call her up and inquire about her book and minutes later I left a voicemail truthfully not intending to hear back from her.

A few days upon leaving the voice mail, I purchased the book out of curiosity. I could not help but begin to read the introduction and first couple of chapters. Ms. Lanzona’s material for the book was based on researching the “Amazons” or the nickname penned by the national media in the 1940s for the Filipina women who took on vital roles such as “spies, organizers, ruses, couriers, soldiers and even military commanders.”

The Amazons risked their lives to “resist the Japanese occupation.” Ms. Lanzona conducted research at the National library in Manila for articles and write-ups pertinent to these women warriors along with personal accounts from the surviving Amazons she was able to track down.

With over 100 personal interviews Ms. Lanzona has an extensive compilation of narratives of veterans who were young women who did not think twice to fight for their genuine freedom. The book also evaluates the role of the women; the issue of “gender, family and sexuality they provoked, ultimately shaped the nature of the revolutionary struggle.”

Ms. Lanzona happened to be heading to New York City to attend a conference, the day we spoke. We texted one another and missed each other’s phone calls, though managed to set up a quick meeting before she returned to Hawaii. My fears that she would be a stuffy-academic-type disappeared instantly when we spotted each other on the street and waved with anticipation. I eagerly listened to her as she shared her process and inspiration writing the book.

Very much like the Philippine American War, the Huk Rebellion has been a neglected and ignored part of our history yet was a very crucial and significant peasant led revolution. But now with the efforts of Ms. Lanzona, it is her wish that people who are serious about preserving our history, will continue the dialogue. She also hopes that documentarians will consider filming the surviving Huk Amazons before they and their stories die away.

Lorial Crowder is vice president of the Filipino American National Historical Society Metro NY Chapter.

One Comment

  1. Connie wrote:

    Serious fan of your articles or blog posts. Looking forward to up-dates!

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