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January 6, 2018

Memo to Commander AFWESPAC on Evidence about Geronimo Division, April 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, “substantiating and corroborating evidence” is provided to the Office of the Commanding General, United States Armed Forces in the Western Pacific (AFWESPAC) about the Geronimo Division, presumably as a requirement for official recognition by the United States Army.

[p. 1]

HEADQUARTERS
4th Bn., 143rd Infantry
Gen. Geronimo Div., MMD, ECLGA
Lipa, Batangas

April 8, 1946
SUBJECT




TO
: MEMORANDUM
   RE:-SUBSTANTIATING AND CORROBORATING
   EVIDENCE FOR 4TH BN., 143RD INF. (UNIT
   OF MMD, ECLGA) GEN. GERONIMO DIVISION

: COMMANDING GENERAL, AFWESPAC
   APO 707, MANILA
1. MOTIVE AND AIM OF THIS MEMORANDUM: On 10 March 1946, this unit presented to the Guerrilla Affairs Section, AFWESPAC, Manila, roster and other papers requesting recognition of the 4th Bn., 143rd Infantry (Unit of MMD, ECLGA) Gen. Geronimo Division, for consideration. Anent thereto, we have come to believe the necessity of presenting substantiating and corroborating evidences to strengthen our claim for recognition. This memorandum is, therefore, complimentary as well as supplementary to the papers hereinabove mentioned.

The presentation of the above papers has therefore raised this issue: are the officers and enlisted men appearing on the rosters dated March 10, 1946 genuine guerrillas who performed guerrilla activities against the Japanese during the Jap regime entitled to recognition by the U.S. Army? To this question, our answer is definitely “Yes,” and this, we will substantiate with documentary evidences in support of the said claim.

2. PROOFS OF THE CLAIM: The history of the rosters mentioned hereinabove was countersigned by Lt. Col. Ignacio Misenas, MMD, ECLGA, as co-organizer of the unit. Lt. Col. Ignacio Misenas had been conferred the power to organize guerrilla units for the purpose of giving him a share in hastening the liberation of the Philippines by making and preparing everything ready for the coming of the American Invasion Army. Lt. Col. Misenas had not only organized guerrilla units but even went further by distributing his intelligence officers in many parts of the Islands for the purpose of getting and disseminating news which helped

[p. 2]

bolster the morale of the people. Hereinunder is being quoted his appointment verbatim, to wit:

“American Filipino forces in the Far East 4th Army in the Philippines East Central Luzon Guerrilla Area. GHQ Manila Military Dist. In the Field Special Order No. 1 (1st Assignment 15 September ’42) 1 July ‘43
“By Command of the Commander-in-Chief of the American Filipino Forces in the Far East, Ignacio G. Misenas (Alias Col. Massey) is assigned as Organizer, Regimental C.O. 143rd Inf. Actg. Executive Off. of Gen. Geronimo Div, with special power to act as Liaison Off. Between Financer and the Organization. Manila Military Dist. ECLGA. (underline ours)

E. Penguin By Order of Brig. Gen. Commdg. MMD E. R. Jones, Commdg. ECLGA

(Sgd) P. Gatson
C of S Actg. Adj. MMD

It should be noted that the names of the authorities of the MMD (Manila Military District) and the ECLGA (East Central Luzon Guerrilla Area) were written in aliases instead of assumed names. The Commanding Officer of the MMD at the time of the said appointment was E. Penguin for the real name Efren Guingona as the Chief of Staff and Adjutant, P. Gatson for Patricio Gonzales, and E. R. Jones as the Commanding General of ECLGA for the real name of Major Edwin P. Ramsey, U.S. Army.

Pursuant to the power vested in him in the abovementioned appointment, Col. Ignacio Misenas appointed Mr. Ceferino Melo of Rosario, Batangas as the Commanding Officer of the said unit. Hereinunder are quoted his appointments, to wit:

“AFFFE 4AP ECLGA HQ MANILA MD IN THE FIELD GENERAL ORDER No. 1 1st Assignment Oct 30 ‘42 1 July 1942
By Command of the Comdr-in-Chief of the AFFFE Ceferino Melo is assigned as C.O. 4th Bn. 143rd Inf. Regt. with rank of Major, Gen. Geronimo Div., MMD, ECLGA

By order of Brig. Gen. E. R. Jones
E. Penguin
Commdg. MMD
P. Gatson
C of S Actg. Adj. MMD
By: (Sgd) Ignacio Misenas


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H E A D Q U A R T E R S
LIPA-SAN JOSE-MALVAR GUERRILLA COMMAND

This is to certify that CEFERINO MELO, having had his qualifications duly examined and verified, has on the 4th day of July, 1943 been sworn into the service of this guerrilla unit and has been commissioned CAPTAIN (Guerrilla) assigned as INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE (S-2) with all the rights [and] privileges and authority thereunto appertaining to such rank.
(Sgd) FELINO Z. PARAN C. O.
Lt. U S A F F E
(Pres. Assgnt. – Attached to the Office of the Asst. Chief of Staff G-2 11th Airborne Div.)

When Mr. Melo was asked at this point, i.e., having had affiliations with two units, his reply was that the purpose of being enlisted in more than one guerrilla unit was to facilitate cooperation and to coordinate activities besides making easy for dissemination of information which in many cases only one unit had and the rest did not have, for in this way, activities and movements of the Japs could be received or sent to the point at the shortest possible time. What is true of Mr. Melo is also true of many officers and enlisted men of this unit.

As executive officer, Mr. Vicente Virrey was appointed by Col. Misenas. Mr. Virrey was not only a member of the 4th Bn., 143rd Infantry but also of other guerrilla units. Hereinunder are quoted his appointments as member of the General Geronimo Division and also of the Hunters.

AFFFE 4AP ECLGA HQ MANILA MD IN THE FIELD GENERAL ORDER No. 1 1st Assignment Oct 10/42 1 July ‘43
By Command of the Cmdr-in-Chief of the AFFFE, Vicente Virrey is assigned as Bn. Exec. Off 4th Bn. 143rd Inf Regt. w/rank of Capt. Gen. Geronimo Division MMD ECLGA
By order of Brig. Gen. E. R. JONES COMDG ECLGA
E. Penguin
Commdg. MMD
P. Gatson
C of S Actg. Adj. MMD
By: (Sgd) Ignacio Misenas
LIPA GUERRILLA UNIT

25 January 1943

ASSIGNMENT TO THE LIPA GUERRILLA UNIT:

[p. 4]

THESE FORCES RECOGNIZE AS “1st” LIEUTENANT

VICENTE VIRREY

AS PLATOON COMMANDER OF THIS GUERRILLA UNIT STATIONED AT BATANGAS PROVINCE AND INTELLIGENCE OPERATIVE.

RECOMMENDED BY:

(Sgd) APOLINAR MASONGSONG
MAJOR-EXECUTIVE OFFICER

APPROVED BY:
(Sgd) MIGUEL K. LINA
LIEUT. COLONEL
COMMANDER
SIGNATURE OF HOLDER

(Sgd) VICENTE VIRREY
The Commanding Officer of the “A” Company of this Unit was Apolonio Castillo, a policeman of Lipa, Batangas as the outbreak of the war. Castillo got his appointment directly from the Commanding Officer of the ECLGA. To verify this claim, we are quoting in full his appointment and oath of office hereinunder as our testimony to our claim, to wit:

HEADQUARTERS
UNITED STATES ARMY FORCES

GREETINGS:

This is to certify that APOLONIO CASTILLO of LIPA, BATANGAS is hereby appointed as 3rd LIEUT. of the GUERRILLAS of the UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES OF THE FAR EAST under the direct command of the undersigned. As such, I give him full authorization to exercise all the duties herein provided. I therefore urge every true Filipino who, until now, has retained his faith in the United States of America, to respond to any help that he may need to carry out any plan or movement he may deem proper for the benefit of the USAFFE GUERRILLAS and the Filipinos.
Respectfully,

(Sgd) R. Jones
COMMANDING GENERAL
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

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OFFICER’S STATEMENT

I, APOLONIO CASTILLO of Lipa, Batangas, hereby swear that I will do my duty as 3rd Lieutenant of the USAFFE GUERRILLAS and, as such, I will reinforce with all my efforts and sacrifices my power therein provided.

With that duty, I will live and die by the side of the United States and the Philippines. Witness hereof, I hereby affix my thumbmark with my own blood and my signature below my statement. So help me God.

Thumbmarked     (Sgd) APOLONIO CASTILLO

We wish to call attention to the fact that the oath of office is not only signed but also thumbmarked with his own blood in front of the representative of Major Edwin P. Ramsey, whose signature as alias is appearing above. The use of blood for thumbmark speaks for itself for it shows that the person doing the act has pledged his body and soul to the cause of democracy.

These are the men largely responsible for the organization of this guerrilla outfit and its underground activities, especially during the Jap occupation, [a] few of which we will treat hereunder.

3. ACTIVITIES: The activities of this unit have already been substantially narrated, and the history has been submitted on 10 March 1946. To repeat it here in detail would make this memorandum unnecessarily voluminous. In this way, we fear, we will tax quite too much the patience of the authorities passing judgment on this case. However, we would like to put down a few facts which affect very much the activities of this unit and also the interest of the people comprising our area. We are referring to the policy of “Lay-Low” which had been adopted and sent out as instruction by the mother unit, MMD, ECLGA, to all its branches for the purpose of coordinating actions.

The “Lay-Low” policy was adopted as a precautionary as well as a defensive measure in the interest of the civilians, for that matter, on the ground that guerrillas could not hold off effectively the advances of the Japanese in case of open warfare and such [an] attempt would, therefore, only result in Japanese reprisals against innocent civilians. This is because the guerrillas did not have



[p. 6]

enough arms and ammunition with which to fight against the Japanese invaders. The mountains, on the other hand, were not adequate enough to hide all the people. To expect the mountains to hide the people was to think like an ostrich, thrusting its head into the desert sand believing that the act would save him from the coming danger. Yes, the mountains had been a good refuge of the people, but in many instances, they were converted into bloody scenes when the Japanese Imperial Army found that a great bulk of the people hid there. The idea of a general retreat to the mountain hideouts would have been fatal and would have depopulated many places. Therefore, some must have to stay in the lowlands. Hence, the “Lay-Low” policy in order that necessary preparations could be made. As was shown when the ripe time came, the blow against the Japanese was hard, strong and continuous in nearly all over the Philippines. But while this was so, ambuscades and sabotage were being practiced by this unit. From time to time, Japanese patrols and messengers were waylaid by members of this unit in the highway between Batangas and Manila. In the encounter, this unit used whatever arms they could secure whether made locally or captured from the enemies.

The unit used four Japanese pistols which they captured from the enemy; three rifles which were also captured from the Japs; one machine gun which was also captured from the enemy; and enough local made guns and side arms. The unit had been able to use the trench mortar which they captured from the Japanese soldiers.

To corroborate and substantiate the hereinabove claim, we have attached certified true copies of the appointments of the ranking officers, to wit:

1. Appointment of Mr. Ignacio G. Misenas as guerrilla organizer which [is] marked Exhibit – A.

2. Appointment of Mr. Apolonio Castillo and his Oath of Office which are marked Exhibit – B.

3. Appointments of Mr. Vicente Virrey which are marked Exhibit – C, C-1, C-2 and C-3.

4. Appointments of Mr. Simon Lupac which are marked Exhibit D, D-1 and D-2.

5. Appointment of Mr. Jose Z. Zaballa which is marked Exhibit – E.

6. Appointment of Mr. Emilio Mendoza which is marked Exhibit – F.

[p. 7]

7. Appointment of Mr. Pedro Catibog which is marked Exhibit – G.

8. Appointment of Mr. Benedicto Laydo which is marked Exhibit – H.

9. Appointment of Mr. Margarito Lumas which is marked Exhibit – I.

10. Appointment of Mr. Melencio Gonzales which is marked Exhibit – J.

11. Appointment of Mr. Justiniano Lojo which is marked Exhibit – L.

12. Appointment of Mr. Florencio Gonzales which is marked Exhibit – M.

13. Appointment of Mr. Ceferino Melo which is marked Exhibit – N.

This unit had also been able to use arms and ammunition which the members captured from the Japanese soldiers. We have one machine gun, one trench mortar, a few Japanese rifles and a number of homemade paltik or guns and side arms. These arms are ready for inspection in case the authorities concerned may find fit to have an ocular inspection at our headquarters at Lipa, Batangas.

4. CONCLUSION: Before coming to close this memorandum, we wish to say that this unit had been able to do its work because of the cooperation of the people of Lipa and the adjacent municipalities besides the help and cooperation of the other guerrilla units. Because of the activities of the enlisted men and officers of this battalion which were in most cases in the form of sabotage and ambuscades, the people of the place had been thought of by the Japanese authorities to be all guerrillas. Hence, the Japanese mobile units and Kempetai became brutal and inhuman to the civilians. In fact, it was the people’s war. In more than one reason, the Japanese were right. This is substantiated by the official records found in the archives of the Bureau of Printing as shown by the Official Gazette, to wit:

The time had come when the world should know that our forces surrendered in Bataan and Corregidor, resistance to the enemy was taken up by the people itself – resistance which was inarticulate and disorganized in

[p. 8]

its inception but which grew from day to day and from island to island, until it broke out into open warfare against the enemy.
The fight against the enemy was truly a people’s war because it counted with the wholehearted support of the masses. From the humble peasant to the barrio schoolteacher, from the volunteer guard to the women’s auxiliary service units, from the loyal local official to the barrio folk, each and every one of these contributed his share in the great crusade for liberation.” (41 C. G., 88-89)

As was the idea of most of the guerrillas all over the islands that they were serving for the cause of democracy and the United States and not for any magnanimous remuneration that may come from any source especially the government, we had also the same thought. However, we had been reliably informed that those who served during the Japanese occupation by underground resistance had been remunerated for the services rendered, so we have decided to take advantage of this opportunity given or extended by the United States Government and people.

Premises considered, we request that early positive action be given to the enlisted men and officers shown in the rosters of the unit as presented on March 10, 1946.

Respectfully submitted,

[Sgd.] VICENTE VIRREY
Executive Officer

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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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