RUPERTO K. KANGLEON
A legend in the resistance movement during the Japanese occupation, Ruperto K.
Kangleon was born to Braulio Kangleon and Flora Kadava on March 27, 1890 in Macrohon, 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.
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
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
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 Feb 27, 1958.
Baclagon, Uldarico S. Philippine Campaigns. Manila: Graphic House, 1952.
Labro, Vicente S. “Remembering Kangleon, Leyte’s war Hero”, Philippine Daily
Inquirer (March 5, 2003) p. A-17.
Pacis, Vicente A., and others. Founders of Freedom. Q.C.: Capitol Publishing House,
Retizos, Isidro L. and Soriano, D.H. Philippines Who’s Who. Q.C.: Capitol Publishing
Photo: History of the Philippine Army, p. 11