Remedios Gomez, who went by the alias “Commander Liwayway,” commanded Squadron 3-V and was Chief of the Military Provision Division of Hukbalahap in Central Luzon. She grew up in a well-off peasant family in Pampanga. As a child, she embraced her father, Basilio Gomez’s beliefs and sentiments on social and political issues of their time. When the war against the Japanese broke out, her father who was then the vice mayor was arrested, tortured and later on executed for refusing to cooperate. His body was displayed in public as the Japanese’s warning to those who will try to defy their orders. Remedios feared the safety of her family and they decided to flee in Tarlac with other Huk members.
There, she studied communist ideals and guerilla strategies and tactics. After she completed her Huk training, she was baptized as Liwayway and was assigned in the medical team where she tended wounded guerillas. Remedios became a leader among her former Huk comrades, serving with Luis Tame on the Executive Committee of the Huk Veterans Organization. Months passed, the Huk organization decided to from Squadron 3-V and Liwayway was chosen to be the commander of the squad. Commander Liwayway led about 20o men and their initial mission was to encourage the civilians to support the 1-luks but her confidence as a military leader prompted her to organize military sessions for her troops.
Then her squad started to raid the military camps of the Japanese and ambushed their trucks carrying supplies. She led the Squadron 3-V in the Battle of Kamansi. While their lead commander Eusebio Aquino ordered to retreat, Commander Liwayway and his men stayed. According to her narration, by the time of the arrival of reinforcements from the Philippine Constabulary, they have overcome the Japanese troops. She was one of the numerous figures in military history that debunked gender roles and prejudices.
Commander Liwayway assumed a “masculine” role in the movement while preserving her femininity: she frequently combed her hair; manicured her nails and she even wore lipstick before going to battle. Truly, an ice-breaker that stunned many people that an effeminate high school girl would one day ride a horse and whip her .45 caliber pistol. She died in 2014, at age 95.
Lanzona. Nina. 2009. Amazons of the Huk Rebellion: Gender, Sex, and Revolution in the Philippines. Wisconsin: The University of Wisconsin Press.
Lanzona. 2009. “Capturing the link Amazons: Representing Women Warriors in the Philippines, 1940s-1950.” Southeast Asia Research 17 (2): 133-174.
Ms. Joahnna Paula Corpuz