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January 6, 2018

History of the 4th Battalion, 143rd Infantry Geronimo Division, March 1946

The Geronimo Division was a guerrilla outfit operating out of the then-town of Lipa. Its request for official recognition was subsequently denied by the United States Army. In this document1, one Ceferino Melo, alleged co-founder of the Geronimo Division, provided a history of his guerrilla outfit. The document has been edited by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore here and there for grammar, punctuation and spelling. Pagination has been included for the benefit of researchers who may need these for citations.

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HEADQUARTERS
4th Bn., 143rd Inf. (Unit of MMD, ECLGA)
Gen. Geronimo Div.
Lipa, Batangas

March 10, 1946

HISTORY

I. INTRODUCTION: In conformity with the agreement made and entered into by and between Mr. C. Melo and Col. Misenas, alias Colonel Massey, a unit of the 143rd Infantry, Gen. Geronimo Division, was organized for the area comprising the municipality of Lipa, Batangas, and its environs for the purpose of establishing an underground resistance against the Japanese invaders. Col. Misenas was authorized by the Chief of Staff and Adjutant, MMD, ECLGA, to organize this unit premised on the reason that the said area, comprising the abovementioned places, is strategically located as shown later by the fact that a greater portion of the Japanese forces, upon invading Manila, passed thru it. To materialize this end, Mr. Ceferino Melo of Lipa, with other prominent men comprising the visible elements of Lipa and adjacent towns, held a meeting in the mountain of Malarayat, Lipa, Batangas, to discuss matters regarding plans and actions to be undertaken in order to give an effective blow against the Japanese occupying the said place. Those that attended the meeting were Mr. C. Melo, Mr. S. Lardizabal, Mr. V. Virrey, Mr. F. Gonzales, Mr. M. Lumas, Mr. P. Sauz, Mr. A Castillo, Mr. A. Dimaano, Mr. M. Gonzales, and Mr. P. Lojo.

For the purpose of conforming as closely as possible to the rules of guerrilla warfare along the lines of – “(a) Are commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) Wear a fixed distinctive badge, recognizable at a distance; (c) Carry arms openly and; (d) Conformed in their operations to the laws and customs of war” – the persons who attended the meeting tried their best in order that actions in matters of guerrilla warfare might conform to the approved standard.

All of the above requisites were adhered to by officers and men of this battalion except paragraph (b) and (c) which could not be followed closely for the simple reason that the circumstances, conditions and inadequacy of war materials did [not] permit the unit to conform literally as much as possible. This was so because supplies ran short besides being surrounded by spies and Makapilis which made it dangerous for one who operated as [an] agent and member of [the] guerrillas to sport around with badge and arms. However, efforts were exerted as much as possible in order to conform to the established laws of guerrilla warfare. The members of this unit were distinctly known to the civilians of the place.

The meeting in the Malarayat mountain was held on the 16th of January 1942, or immediately after the fall of Manila. The members who attended the meeting pledged their honor, life and property to the United States of America and for the cause of democracy to fight to the end that they could have a distinct share in the liberation of the Philippines in particular, and of the world in general, from the tyranny of [the] Japanese sanguinary government.

While this unit was, in a sense, separated and distinct from



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any other unit with regards to its plan and action, yet communications were made with Col. Ignacio Misenas of the MMD for the purpose of coordinating plans and actions in order to have an effective movement and blow against the Japanese coming to and from this area. This was done in order that precise and correct plans could be made ahead of time of any movement of action of the Japanese.

II. BODY: In order to have a clear idea of this unit together with its activities, we will enumerate from hereinunder according to its sequence of time and place of action. However, in order to avoid making this history voluminous, we will cite only a few of its important activities.

1942 ACTIVITIES: The early part of our activities had been mostly doing sabotage work. This was in the form of destroying communication lines, roads and bridges between Manila and Batangas in order to stop or defer dispatches between the two places for the purpose of giving time to the civilians of the areas to evacuate the towns and barrios for the mountains and in order to play safe while ambushing Japanese going from place to place. We also destroyed telegraph lines between the places in the area. However, sometime in December, 1942, an invigorating factor in the person of Mr. Apolonio Castillo, member of the police force of Lipa, was inducted into the unit. As shown by his appointment, he had come from General E. R. Jones, who in real life is Major Edwin P. Ramsey. This man injected into the unit more life and vigor in the form of added activities by putting to play his knowledge as policeman for a great number of years.

1943 ACTIVITIES: This year opened to us with increased vigor in the form of arms and men as many persons from Lipa and neighboring municipalities joined our units.

In June 1943, our intelligence operatives reported that two Filipino brothers by the names of Vicente and Julian Mosca were active Makapilis from Bolboc, Lipa, Batangas. They were reported to be very active in reporting our activities to and accompanying or guiding the Japanese Kempetai who burned and massacred people of this area who were said to be affiliated with guerrilla outfits. A company of this battalion raided the house of these men where the Japanese were staying as their headquarters after coming from their sanguinary expeditions. Unfortunately, the Japanese were tipped off [about] the news so that they opened fire at our boys who were deployed in the advantageous positions. In that encounter, many Japanese were killed and the two Mosca brothers were among the casualties. The raid was made on June 5, 1943.

Sometime in the latter part of November, 1943, our boys had an encounter with a Japanese unit at the foot of Malarayat Mountain. The Japanese were trying to clear the mountains of the evacuees for the purpose of driving them back to the town in order that the people could be placed under their tight grip. Unaware of the presence of our guerrilla unit, they were taken by surprise when bullets flew from all directions. Twelve Japanese were killed and the rest retreated to the town of Lipa. However, our boys were able to get from the Japanese two rifles and one machine gun of 32 caliber.

1944 ACTIVITIES: In May 1944, our intelligence operatives

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reported that the Japanese had constructed installations guarding the town proper of Lipa. Our boys raided the installation and the Japanese who were unaware of the sudden attack were momentarily beaten, and great damage was inflicted on them. About 200 barrels of high grade aviation gasoline were destroyed.

Sometime in October, 1944, Capt. Castillo and a group of our boys raided and destroyed Japanese trenches in Lipa, Batangas. This was done by destroying the tunnels, dugouts and foxholes of the Japanese by covering these with earth. A number of drums of gasoline were spilt to the ground. Electric wires were cut off and a number of arms in [the] form of hand grenades, Japanese rifles and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were taken. Some of the rifles were turned over to the Americans of the liberation Army.

Before the end of the year 1944, contacts were made with different guerrilla units in order to make [the] necessary preparation for the coming of the Americans. The purpose of these contacts was to make a concerted action in order to effect the easy landing of the Americans. For this purpose, we spread the news among the civilians to evacuate the town of Lipa as the coming of the Americans might stage a fight in the place with the Japanese.

1945 ACTIVITIES: In the early part of this year, specifically in the month of February, thru the help and guidance of our boys, two Makapilis were captured in the mountain fastness of Lipa with the group of Japanese by the Americans who were mopping up the place of [the] Japanese. Those that were captured were Teodoro Barramada of Lipa, Batangas and Ignacio Mayo of the same place, who were Makapilis and who aided the Japanese in their punitive expeditions. They are now in Muntinglupa Bilibid Prison. Before the Japanese left Lipa, they put the town to flames and massacred 10,000 inhabitants of the place. Our boys put up a good fight but they were no match against the Japanese who were well-armed. But they did their best to help the civilians by way of guiding them away from the Japanese or waylaying the Japanese who were pursuing the civilians.

During the landing of the Americans, many of our boys were used as guides, interpreters and many still were attached to different units of [the] American liberation army to perform MP duties.

This unit helped the labor battalion of the place to build bridges, level roads, secure food for the hungry civilians or guerrilla units of other places who were there to help the U. S. Army.

DISCIPLINE OF THE ORGANIZATION: The members of this battalion were always under [the] control of their superior officers. Many of the ranking officers were former government officials of the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines. One was a Division Superintendent of Schools and another was Academic Supervisor of the Bureau of Education, and still others were policemen. They had entered the organization with heart and soul because of the belief that their services were needed by the Philippines to help the people and government of the United States drive away the Japanese who were having [a] sanguinary administration in the islands.

As was said, they were always under the control of their



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superior officers. But this, it means that they always acted under orders except in times of emergency when intelligence and tact were usually displayed by many of them. They had never abused the civilians of the place, and this assertion can be verified to by the people of the area for our boys had always borne in mind that they would be punished for their unruly acts.

MAINTENANCE OF THE BATTALION: Practically, the support of the battalion was made individually by its members. While this was true, yet they also asked help from well-to-do families of the area whom they believed could be confided with secrets. They had this idea because they feared that asking help from anyone who was not in intimate terms with them would give way to a leakage of information that in one way or another would reach the ears of the Japanese Kempetai.

As was said in the beginning that they asked help from the well-to-do families of the area. Lt. Paran was one of those who extended them great help. Other civilians like Mr. Felipe Lumas gave 2 cavanes of palay together with ₱200.00 Mickey Mouse money; Mr. Manuel Dimayuga gave 2 cavanes of palay and ₱200.00 of Mickey Mouse money; Mr. Angel Tenorio gave 3 cavanes of palay; Mr. Zoilo Atienza gave 2 cavanes of palay; Mr. Lucio Tiason gave 2 cavanes of palay and Mr. Atanacio Briones, who supported us with food for over a month, is from San Francisco, Malvar. We wish to mention everyone that had rendered us help in the form of giving us food supplies and clothing, but if we do so, it would make this history voluminous.

HEADQUARTERS: From the time we were organized in 1942 up to 1943, we did not have definite headquarters for the simple reason that we feared for our safety. However, we transferred from place to place or from mountain to mountain as circumstances would warrant. In 1944, we established our headquarters in the barrio of Cumba, Batangas, but we had to stay there only for a few months and then transferred to Adya, Lipa, Batangas, a place which was out of the way and near a brook. We also moved out of that place to Kuartro Santos, barrio, Lipa, Batangas. In 1945, we moved to Lapulapu, San Jose, Batangas, then back to Adya, Lipa, Batangas. However, on January 1945, we moved out to Mabini, Lipa, in order that we could be near and accessible to the Americans and so that we could render [the] necessary assistance and help to the liberation army.

III – CONCLUSION: Before coming to close this history, we want to make it a point that when we assembled together to form this guerrilla unit, we had nothing more in mind than to serve the cause of democracy and to make us free from the brutal Japanese. We did not dream of any compensation that might come from the government of either the United States or the Commonwealth of the Philippines. We had done what we believed was our duty. It was also an admitted fact that the history of the Philippines during the Japanese occupation could not be complete and fair without including the activities of the guerrillas. It is further said that no tribute can complete the good works and services done by these patriotic people. We believe nobody will disagree with us on this point although in some isolated cases, many people have been made the victims of injustices and abuses done to them by some guerrilla officers or members. For these reasons, the government and people of the United States assumed magnanimously upon themselves to be morally and materially obligated to those people who fought in [an] uneven fight against the Japanese occupying the Islands. They have set aside a certain amount of money for those who served democracy and the United States during the dark days. Today, as in the days of the guerrilla, our attention is not focused on this compensation but on the great destruction being suffered

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by our country. It is at present devastated by the cruel war which according to High Commissioner McNutt was forced upon the Filipinos; many of those that had served in the guerrilla days have been impoverished by the persecution of the Japanese and their sympathizers in the Islands. Since the recognition of guerrilla units is in a way a rehabilitation for those who had served the United States during those dark days, we respectfully respect that the members as recorded in the attached rosters be given recognition by the authorities concerned.

Respectfully submitted,

[Sgd.] CEFERINO MELO
Lt. Col. Infantry
Commanding Officer

CERTIFIED CORRECT:

[Sgd.] IGNACIO G. MISENAS
Lt. Col. Infantry, MMD, ECLGA
Co-organizer of this Unit

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Notes and references:
1 “4th Bn, General Geronimo’s Div, MMD, ECLGA,” File No. 308-91, downloaded from PVAO.

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