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January 6, 2018

History of the San Juan Regiment PQOG

The President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG) was a guerrilla organization which fought the Japanese in World War II. The guerrilla outfit was among those that operated in Southern Luzon, including Batangas. It had many units in the province, one of which was in the eastern Batangas town of San Juan. In this undated document1, is a brief history of the San Juan Regiment of the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas, prepared as one of the documents needed for the outfit’s application for recognition by the United States Army.

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HISTORY OF THE SAN JUAN REGIMENT
(PQOG)

The history of the underground activities in San Juan, Batangas dates as far back as April 1942, when Dr. Emilio Bolaños, a practicing physician in the municipality, began recruiting guerrilleros among the common mass and the town intelligentsia. He had nothing in the beginning but his own personal collection of nine rifles, one B. A. R., five pistols, several hand grenades and several thousand rounds of ammunition.

In about a month, Dr. Bolaños was able to organize one battalion, under the very nose of about thirty Japanese soldiers which constituted the town garrison at that time. The greatest secrecy had to be exercised as time and again, Japanese spies came from other towns disguised as peddlers and merchants.

On May 15, 1942, Col. Vicente Umali, at that time under Marking’s Guerrillas, contacted Dr. Bolaños and gave the latter the rank of Major. Col. Umali was working under the direct advisement of Col. Hugh Straughn.

The Japanese Kempei officer at Lipa, Capt. Sakai, got wind of the doctor’s activities and at midnight of February 4, 1943, in the company of the Mayor of Rosario and several policemen of Lipa, surprised Dr. Bolaños at his barrio home. Two pistols, two rifles, one B. A. R. and several rounds of ammunition were confiscated by the raiding party. Dr. Bolaños was brought to Lipa and grilled by Capt. Sakai and his



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soldiers. Somehow or other, he was able to account satisfactorily for the arms and ammunition and his retirement to the isolated barrio when he was captured. He was released on February 16, 1943.

Undaunted by his experience, the doctor went ahead with his activities until a year later, he had two battalions.

On August 20, 1943, soldiers of the Japanese garrison went from house to house early in the morning rousing the people from their beds. Under the pretext of holding a mass meeting, the people were massed inside the premises of the elementary school. Men were separated from their wives and children. For nine days, men were picked among those inside [and] grilled and subjected to third degree punishment. The Japs wanted to know who the guerrilleros of San Juan were. But the people remaining loyal to the guerrilleros, suffered the tortures with fortitude and did not reveal anything. Four innocent men died of injuries received. The guerrilleros were able to escape the zoning because they sensed the real motive of the Japanese order in assembling the people. They laid low and none of the men were zoned.

On March 3, 1944, while on a visit to Candelaria, Tayabas, fifteen kilometers from San Juan, He was again apprehended by Capt. Yamada of the Candelaria garrison. Again, he was grilled, but he was released twenty one days after.

Dr. Bolaños’ men, though poorly armed, never avoided an encounter with the better equipped Japs. On March 10, 1944, 2nd Lt. Felix Umali, Sgt. Pastor Aguila and Pfc. Herminio

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Magpantay were killed in an encounter with the Japs. The small force under Capt. Roman Quejada had to retire and leave the rifles, one German Luger and three pistols.

Three A I B boys under Sgt. Espiridion Holgado of the U S Army came to San Juan and established a radio station. They were assisted by the San Juan Regiment. Intelligence work done by PQOG operatives were reported to these boys who relayed this information to their superiors by radio.

A Japanese force of about a thousand men came to stay in San Juan in the middle part of October 1944. They required teachers and school children to evacuate the school building where they made their quarters. The guerrilleros laid low and confined their activities to intelligence work.

On Christmas Eve, word was received through underground spies that Kempeitain had arrived in town. The Kempeitai’s work was to round ñup guerrilleros. Dr. Bolaños went around the town to tell his men to be more careful than usual. Three Japanese MP's stopped him and tried to search him. Dr. Bolaños drew his pistol and fired at the three Japs at close range. He got them, alright, but he sustained a wound at the right side and a concussion on his head from a saber stroke.

Five of Dr. Bolaños men encountered some Japs at the Batilan Bridge, on January 16, 1945. They killed two Japs, captured one L M G, two Japanese rifles with Bayonets and three hundred fifty rounds of ammunition.



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Three young guerrilleros (the oldest of them was 18) ambushed some Japs at barrio Quipot, San Juan, killed one of them and captured a rifle. This happened sometime in February 1945.

Major M. T. Hidalgo, USAFFE, regimental adviser of the San Juan Regiment, now in the U. S. Military Academy, West Point, was sent to Mindoro with Major Vicente Castillo the contact the American liberating forces, which had landed on the island in December, 1944. A week later, Major Cesar Bolaños and Fernando de Villa followed to Mindoro with the complete records of the regiment.

The guerrilleros of San Juan helped the American liberating forces in their mopping up operations. The Makapilis were captured in barrio Sico, San Juan, Batangas; the Japanese radio operator Ikeda was captured in barrio Libato, San Juan; another Jap was taken at Lipahan; in addition, some Makapilis were either taken or voluntarily surrendered. All these prisoners were turned over to the U. S. Army. Two Japs were killed at Pinagbayanan and some men under Lt. Col. Rasul helped guerrilleros from neighboring towns in a running gun battlein barrio Salao, Rosario.

In the light of what [was] stated in the preceding paragraphs, it cannot be doubted that the SAN JUAN REGIMENT (PQOG) had rendered all the possible services of democratic loving people, though handicapped by lack of arms and ammunition. Under those circumstances, it could do no better than what it

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was able to render. We who are in the San Juan Regiment believe that Americans will not forget us in the hour of need, so much as they remembered us when these tiny groups of islands were subjected to the devastating blows of a neighboring imperialistic power.

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Notes and references:
1 “1ST BN, SAN JUAN REGT., I CORPS, PQOG,” File No. 271-21, downloaded from PVAO.

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