Today in Philippine History, March 27, 1890, Ruperto Kangleon was born in Macrohon, Leyte

  
Ruperto Kangleon (right) with Lt. General Walter Krueger of the US Army (Photo credit: http://www.ibiblio.org).
On March 27, 1890, Ruperto Kangleon, a legend in the resistance movement during the Japanese occupation, was born to Braulio Kangleon and Flora Kadava in Macrohon, Leyte (now part of Southern Leyte).

Kangleon, who earned distinction as an all-around athlete for the First Philippines Olympic team sent abroad (1912-1913), studied in the College of Liberal Arts, University of the Philippines. However, he was really more inclined toward the military profession. Thus, he transferred to the Philippine Constabulary Academy in Baguio City, where he graduated in 1916.

After his graduation, he was assigned to the Philippine Constabulary, in its Visayan campaign. His exploits in Oto, Panay earned him fame and military citations. He served with the PC until 1942.

At the outbreak of World War II, Kangleon was commanding officer of the 81st Infantry Regiment of the United States Armed Forces of the Far East (USAFFE), which fought in Samar and in Mindanao. Apart from proving his gallantry and heroism, his exploits in encounters at the Davao-Agusan national highway fanned the spread of his reputation as a military strategist.

In the course of the war, Kangleon was captured by the Japanese Imperial Forces. He was imprisoned in a concentration camp at Butuan, Agusan, but managed to escape with the help of local resistance fighters in December 1942. Forthwith, he returned to Leyte, but in no time at all organized the Visayan resistance movement, based in Leyte and Samar. The Kangleon Guerilla unified all resistance movements in the areas and effectively controlled not only Leyte and Samar but their neighboring provinces as well, a feat duly recognized by both the Philippine and American governments. His group was credited with having exacted 3,500 casualties on the enemy in Leyte alone.

  
Ruperto Kangleon (center) reporting to General MacArthur during the ceremonies proclaiming the liberation of Leyte, at Tacloban on October 23, 1944 (Photo credit: http://www.history.navy.mil).
In January 1943, Kangleon and his men improvised a radio station, which made the first guerrilla contact with MacArthur’s forces (GHQ, SWPA) based in Australia. Shortly thereafter, MacArthur named him division commander of Leyte. In April, he was able to communicate with President Quezon himself. Later, he received MacArthur’s commendation for his work and for a clear accounting of the P2 million funds MacArthur provided them during his return in 1944, a result no doubt of the strict moral code he and his men adhered to.

Kangleon’s partisans established the civil government of Free Leyte in July 1943. A year later, they were to provide ground support for the landing of MacArthur’s liberation forces in Leyte.

Kangleon was appointed military governor of Leyte on October 23, 1944, and its civil governor in 1945.

In 1946, during the short-lived Roxas administration, he was appointed as Secretary of National Defense. He remained in this post, however, until 1950, when he retired due to health problems.

In the 1953 national election, the Nacionalista Party drafted him as one of its candidate for the Senate. With the "guerilla votes", he won by a comfortable margin.

As senator, Kangleon served as chairman of the committee on veterans and military pensions, vice chairman of the committee on national defense and security, and member of the committees on commerce and industry, government reorganization, national enterprises, and public works and communications. Betraying a nationalist bent, he sought to protect Philippine military and national security affairs from foreign interference. He likewise decried what he believed was an unequal reparations agreement between the Philippines and Japan and constantly took up the cudgels for his fellow war veterans by authoring bills defending their rights.

For his efforts during the war, Kangleon received several awards including the Distinguished Conduct Star, Distinguished Service Star, and the Visayan Campaign Medal.

Kangleon married Valentina Tagle, of Imus, Cavite with whom he had 10 children.

He died on February 27, 1958.

References:
(All via the Philippine National Historical Commission)

  1. Baclagon, Uldarico S. Philippine Campaigns. Manila: Graphic House, 1952.
  2. Labro, Vicente S. “Remembering Kangleon, Leyte’s war Hero”, Philippine Daily Inquirer (March 5, 2003) p. A-17.
  3. Pacis, Vicente A., and others. Founders of Freedom. Q.C.: Capitol Publishing House, Inc., 1971.
  4. Retizos, Isidro L. and Soriano, D.H. Philippines Who’s Who. Q.C.: Capitol Publishing House, 1957.

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