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January 6, 2018

History of the Tanauan Guerrilla Organization

The Tanauan Guerrilla Organization was formed in 1942 right after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, but remained in active for long periods and concentrated in keeping peace and order in the town of Tanauan, Batangas. By March 1945, it was attached to the 11th Airborne Division of the United States Army and was active in the ambuscade of Japanese troops. In this 1945 document1, a brief history of the Tanauan Guerrilla Organization was provided, likely in aid of the guerrilla outfit’s request for official recognition by the United States Army.

[p. 1]

HISTORY OF THE GUERRILLA ORGANIZATION
OF TANAUAN, BATANGAS

Shortly after the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, a number of us, selected people of Tanauan, Batangas, organized a passive Guerrilla Organization which later played an active part in the resistance against the Japs. Its principal aim was to strike on time at the common enemy when the organization had mustered enough force and gathered sufficient arms and ammunition.

The leaders of this organization were Colonel Jorge Collantes, Jr., who, at the time, was the chief of police of Tanauan, and was later arrested and killed by the Japs on December 24, 1944 for being a guerrilla leader; Lieut. Col. Martiniano Carandang, who was killed in action in Sta. Clara, Sto. Tomas, Batangas while fighting with the 8th Cavalry, U.S. Army, against the Japs; Major Pedro B. Gonzales, who, at the time, was the municipal mayor of Tanauan; Attorney Marcelo Olfato, Justice of the Peace in San Jose, Batangas, who served as legal adviser; Mr. Jorge Collantes, Sr. 1942 deputy sergeant-at-arms in the national assembly, who also served as an adviser; Mr. Apolonio S. Magsino, pharmacist and proprietor, as financial supporter; Dr. Luciano M. Castillo, as medical officer, who treated to recovery quite a number of wounded guerrilla members; Mr. Tereso A. Guevarra, a pharmacist and drugstore owner, who served as Dr. Castillo’s assistant; and Mr. Pedro G. Tapia, elementary school principal, who served on intelligence work principally as operator of his shortwave radio receiver and kept the organization and the populace regularly informed of shortwave news from Allied Stations, thus helping much to keep the morale of all concerned. It will be noted that some of these leaders were without rank, although they did much to bolster the underground activities of the organization, which enlisted many able-bodied and willing male citizens of Tanauan.

While watchful waiting was being resorted to by the organization in its early stage, it also extended its activities to the suppression of, or at least, minimizing local banditry, robberies, abductions, etc. for the protection of the civilian population. It also tried to counteract the spy movement of the Japs with some degree of success. In fact, a number of those spies had been shot and killed at sight right within the town proper. The situation seemed well in hand until within the second year of Jap occupation.

However, the organization was nipped in the bud on account of the arrest and murder by the Japs of guerrilla Col. Dionisio Medrana of Sto. Tomas, Batangas. He was probably suspected of having some followers in Tanauan, so that after “concentrating,” torturing, and killing some people in Sto. Tomas, the Japs investigated the municipal mayor and the chief of police of Tanauan. The Japs threatened to impose the same treatment to all men of Tanauan if no guerrillas from the town



[p. 2]

would surrender. Mayor Gonzales, being aware of the terrible ordeal of his townspeople, would be subjected to if herded into a "concentration,” and faced with the danger of sacrificing some members of the organization if presented for surrender as demanded by the Japs, then acquiesced in the latter choice on the strength of the Japs’ promise that no surrendering guerrillas would be subjected to any punishment. Luckily, the Japs made good their promise in this connection. However, constant fear of [the] Japs’ threat forced Mayor Gonzales to resign sometime in the middle part of 1944 to take over the position of presidential guard at Malakañan.

The organization, then, became dormant at this time; recruiting and drilling were temporarily suspended. “Lay low” was the order of the day and most of the members were advised to attend more conscientiously to food production, of which the shortage was becoming gravely acute. Members were dispersed in the meantime with explicit instructions to be always on the alert for “Call to Arms” and assemble at a moment’s notice.

In its early stage, the organization was under Marking’s Fil-Americans, but, on account of the difficulty of maintaining contact with its leaders, the organization became an independent entity for some time. However, in the middle part of 1943, the organization made contact with the runner of Red Lions under General Avanceña. From that time on, impelled by a desire to present a more solid, unified, and bigger organization when the opportune time came, our organization was absorbed into General Avanceña’s group and placed under its direct command.

In both cases of fusion with the Fil-Americans and the Red Lions, what happened to the roster of our organization could not be ascertained.

With the attachment of the organization to the Red Lions, there was no change of policy. Howerver, the local organization contented itself with intelligence work, making detailed plans of the enemy installations in Tanauan and in nearby towns with the hope of transmitting them to American or Allied intelligence as possible targets for bombing or strafing by Allied planes. More than ever, shortwave tuning in from Allied stations was intensified almost round the clock. This task was well taken care of by the SWC, a unit of the organization. This was, in fact, the SHORT-WAVERS CLUB of Tanauan, disguised under the name of Social Welfare Club, supposedly a civic organization designed to intensify the local food production campaign in the town. This was organized as early as March, 1942.

Roster of the SWC:
1. Mayor Pedro B. Gonzales – Honorary President
2. Dr. Luciano M. Castillo – President
3. Dr. Lauro Villegas – Vice-President (Pharmacist-Dentist)
4. Mr. Pedro G. Tapia – Secretary and Shortwave operator (Elementary School Principal)
5. Mr. Juan Yatco – Treasurer (Grad. School of Chemistry)
6. Mr. Tomas Magsino – Auditor (School Teacher)

[p. 3]

7. Mr. Apolonio S. Magsino – Adviser (Pharmacist, Proprietor & MPL Councilor)
8. Mr. David G. Tapia – (Ex-USAFFE & School Teacher)
9. Mr. Pedro Guevarra – (Internal Revenue Agent)
10. Mr. Daniel Guevarra – (School Teacher)
11. Mr. Gerardo Guevarra – (Ex-Vice-Mayor & Mpl. Councilor)
12. Mr. Francisco Guevarra – (Former School Teacher & Employee, City Hall, Manila)
13. Mr. Tereso A. Guevarra – (Pharmacist)
14. Dr. Mariano L. Castillo – (Red Cross Dr., 1941)
15. Mr. Jose L. Castillo – (Student)
16. Mr. Florencio Castillo – (Ins. Agent, Asia Life)
17. Mr. Venancio N. Castillo – (Mpl. Employee)
18. Mr. Pedro Tapia – (Mpl. Employee)
19. Mr. Arcadio Castillo – (Proprietor)
20. Mr. Aurelio Valencia – (Elem. School Principal)
21. Mr. Bernardo V. Carandang – (Proprietor)
22. Mr. Eusebio Sabalvaro – (Merchant)
23. Mr. Leon Salisi – (Merchant)
24. Mr. Jose Espiritu – (Blacksmith & musician)
25. Mr. Felipe Espiritu – (Carpenter)
26. Mr. Moises T. Cesario – (School Teacher)
27. Mr. Domingo T. Cesario – (School Teacher)
28. Mr. Dalmacio Nazareth – (Farmer)
29. Mr. Victorino Agaran – (Ex-USAFFE Chauffeur)
30. Judge Alfonso Tabora
31. Mr. Francisco Collantes – (Employee, American Firm, Manila)
32. Mr. Mauro Eudela – (Internal Revenue Agent)
33. Mr. Felix Rivera – (School Teacher)
34. Mr. Jose M. Corona – (Mpl. Vice-Mayor, 1941)
35. Mr. Crispulo M. Castillo – (Proprietor)
36. Mr. Romeo Gonzales – (Marine employee, De la Rama)
37. Mr. Francisco Tapia – (Insular Emp., Dept. of Finance)

The American landing on Leyte on October 19, 1944 spurred the organization to activity. But then, the Japs began to show signs of renewed hostilities. They ordered the people in the town to leave their homes and evacuate to far barrios. After the first two days of successive strafing by American planes in Tanauan on November 4 and 5, 1944, the whole poblacion was practically completely evacuated by the civilians.

There followed a lull in the raids by American planes until sometime in February, 1945. Quite a number of families were lured by this lull to return to the poblacion with the conspicuous diminishing of Jap forces in the town. Some feeling of safety in the poblacion pervaded the atmosphere then, because there was never any civilian casualty in all raids by American planes. But suddenly, with the sneakiness of a freak typhoon, the Japs struck with the ferocity of madmen against all innocent civilians! It was the massacre in Tanauan on February 10, 1945! Men, women and children of all ages fell victim! Infants flung in the air and caught with razor-edged bayonet points! Expectant mothers whose abdomens were slashed with bayonets! Heads cut off! Bodies made targets for bayonet practice! How horrible, now nerve-wracking to recount! (1-2 Both killed by Japs)



[p. 4]

In the wake of such Jap barbarism turned loose with unequalled ruthlessness – burning houses aside from murdering innocent civilians cold-bloodedly – many members of the organization were forced to cease active connection in order to afford their families rigid protection. Those who had evacuated already had to move to farther places which they thought were safer because, then, even barrios were being sought by the Japs for more victims. The rest of the members of the organization who had no families carried on sporadic resistance for lack of sufficient arms and ammunition. Some sharp encounters against the Japs were registered when the Japs attempted to spread their reign of terror in the barrios of evacuation. This handful of remaining members, mostly young men, had to resort to defensive tactics in order to gain time guiding and convoying evacuating families by the thousands in the darkness of nights, exposing their lives to enemy fire in their mission of sacrifice to protect these civilians through the perils of practically untrodden forests, thickets and ravines! Most of these evacuations had to be done at night, otherwise hundreds of civilian lives would have been carelessly exposed to roaming Jap snipers or patrols.

With the landing of the 11th Airborne Division at Tanauan sometime in the first week of February, 1945, the arms and ammunition supply of the then active members of the organization was bolstered a bit. Some members made contact with Major Schommer of the 11th Airborne Division, who was of great help in furnishing the organization with much-needed arms and ammunition, although still insufficient.

Shortly before the 11th Airborne Division effected its landing at Tagaytay, General Avanceña entrusted to the organization two American rescued pilots, viz., John Boyle and William Foye. Through the help of the organization, these two Americans were taken across the Taal Lake to “Pulo” Island. There, they were further entertained by another guerrilla unit under Col. Amando Laurel. Through frantic signaling with a wall mirror in the heat of the sun in an open field, the two Americans had been recognized as some pilots of the escort planes of the transport planes that bore the 11th Airborne Patatroopers. And the next day, an American seaplane rescued the two stranded pilots whose gratitude knew no bounds for the help and entertainment accorded them by our organization. They expressed their sincerest regrets for having to part ways with their Filipino brothers in arms and Filipino civilian friends whom, they said, they had learned to love, more so for having risked their lives in affording them protection until their final rescue by an American Navy plane.

[Note to the reader/researcher: The written history of the Tanauan Guerrilla Organization ends here, but the group’s exploits while attached to the 11th Airborne Division are contained in a separately posted Journal of Activities.]

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Notes and references:
1 “Tanauan Guerrillas, Zebra Troops” File No. 255, downloaded from PVAO.

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