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December 30, 2017

A Brief History of the 1st Battalion Batangueño Unit, MFAT

The 1st Battalion, “B” Company, Batangueño Unit was a guerrilla organization affiliated with the MFAT or Marking’s Fil-Americans Troops. The latter was a larger organization operating in Luzon commanded by one Marcos Agustin, hence the nickname “Marking.” This organization absorbed elements of Hugh Straughn’s Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) after the American commander was captured and executed by the Japanese Army. Hence, the name “Marking’s Fil-Americans.” The Batangueño Unit was commanded by one Fidel del Pilar and operated out Tanauan. In this document1, a brief history of the Batangueño Unit is provided as required by the US Army of all guerrilla outfits seeking official recognition.

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“MARKING’S GUERRILLAS”
FIL-AMERICAN IRREGULAR TROOPS
Officially Recognized as a Unit of the
United States Forces in the Philippines.
4th MILITARY DISTRICT

BATANGUEÑO UNIT
1st BATTALION
Tanauan, Batangas

A BRIEF HISTORY

Following the “Death March” and the subsequent “Fall of the Rock,” the month of May, 1942, literally marked the complete Japanese occupation of the Philippines. And incidentally, it also marked the commencement of the reign of the brutes, persecutions, atrocities and many other horrors not even conceivable by civilized peoples.

At the very beginning of the Japanese rule also began the persecutions of loyal Filipinos, the beatings of innocent men, not excluding helpless women and children, looting of civilian properties, forcible entries into peoples homes, etc.

Under these circumstances, it became expedient that an underground organization, for the purpose of aiding the population, particularly in this locality, in any possible or practical way, and to curb, or at least, diminish the dangers to which they were exposed, and active resistance, if necessary, be formed.

The undersigned, with the cooperation od Drs. Salvador C. Laurena and Lauro G. Villegas, surgeon and dentist, respectively, Mr. Jose O. Difuntorum, Isidro C. Villa and Roman B. Ramos, both of the USAFFE, Felizardo del Pilar, and others, on October of the same year, formed the nucleus of a secret organization. Thru the efforts of the undersigned, Messrs. Julio G. Reaño, Consorcio del Pilar, Pedro O. Alcantara, Numeriano Villa, and the above-named were contacted and invoked to a meeting concerning the organization. Our first meeting was held on November 20, 1942. In this meeting, assignments were made and the course of action laid out, viz: Julio G. Reaño, Consorcio del Pilar, Numeriano Villa, Pedro O. Alcantara and Aquilino C. Villa, to organize units in their respective sections; Drs. Salvador C. Laurena and Lauro G. Villegas, to form a medical detachment; Felizardo del Pilar assigned as Executive Officer; Jose O. Difuntorum as supply officer; and Isidro C. Villa and Roman B. Ramos, because of their training and experience, were assigned to Intelligence and Plans and Training services, respectively. Before the end of December, 1942, reports from the field organizers were received. Five companies and a medical detachment had been formed. Their roster submitted, they were designated CO’s of their respective units.

In the latter part of the same month, Col. Antonio Robles of the Marking’s GHQ approached me requesting my cooperation for forming an organization against our bitter enemy whose tyranny, even at that early time, was common knowledge and experience all over the Islands, and which has injected into the heart of every loyal Filipino a seething conflagration of hate and revenge. Being informed that such an organization had already been formed, he explained to me that this organization could operate more efficiently if I would affiliate it to the famed Marking’s Guerrillas which had constant contact with United States secret operatives, and who, if circumstances would permit, could supply us with arms. This organization then

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became officially a unit of the Marking’s Guerrillas, and designated as 1st Battalion, Batangueño Unit. The undersigned was designated Major. He (Robles) laid out a general plan of action for the unit to follow and made several suggestions among which were: be always calm and strictly passive; avoid appearing in groups large enough to arouse the suspicion of the Japs; gather any information regarding the enemy and transmit them to GHQ; to devise plans on how the enemy could be hampered, harrassed or hit when the time came, taking steps, however, not to endanger the population as a consequence thereof.

From then on, communication between GHQ and this unit had been maintained thru Col. Robles or his couriers.

Ignoring the perils of the ever-vigilant eyes of the Japanese Army, Kempeis, Ganap (later known as Makapili) and other pro-Jap spies each and everyone of the unit silently worked.

By January, 1943, reports regarding this organization had, however, reached Kempei ears. The Bn. Commander was arrested, but later on released, “with the usual Jap garrison torture marks” which kept the Bn. Surgeon busy.

Thru the activities of the ever-present spies, on August 24, 1943, barrio Malaking Pulo, this municipality, headquarters of “E” Co., was raided by a big Jap force in search of guerrillas and arms. The barrio was “zonified” and 25 men of “E” Co. were given the workout. It was decided that active resistance would be unwise at that time. The Japs, however, failed to extract any information, nor confiscated arms. The “zone” was lifted.

In December, 1943, Col. Pacifico V. Licsi with several men from GHQ contacted the unit, with information that arrangements are being made to transport arms to this unit. He reiterated former suggestions to the effect that every effort must be made to prevent any incident, as a consequence of which the population might suffer. He also said that appointments of officers and the roster of this unit would be forwarded.

In the meantime, Capt. Isidro C. Villa, Intelligence Officer, had been gathering information regarding the enemy. Men were detailed to labor gangs recruited by the Japs to work at the Lipa and Malvar Airports. Capt. Jose O. Difuntorum, though designated S-4 officer, being a pre-war employee of the Canlubang Sugar Estate, was made to accept his former position there, and detailed principally on: sugar production and conversion into alcohol, their quantities and dumps; means of sabotage if it became necessary and possible.

By April 1944, the Japs were waging an intensive anti-guerrilla campaign in this town. The then Chief of Police Jorge Collantes, Jr. tipped me off that I would soon be arrested by the Japs for guerrilla activities. I immediately consulted Rep. Jose B. Laurel, Jr. in Manila, who gave me a good conduct certificate. I was also advised on how to act and answer the Kempeis in case I should be arrested. Upon arriving in Tanauan, I contacted the then Mayor Pedro B. Gonzales. He assured me that he would do everything within his power, officially or otherwise, to clear me of the charge. The next day, I was arrested and at once subjected to tortures. A little later, however, the Mayor and the Chief of Police arrived at the garrison. After much arguing with the Kempeis, they might have convinced the Japs that I was not connected with the guerrillas. They were required to vouch in writing for my good

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character and held personally responsible for my acts in that future before I was released.

Immediately after the first American bombs fell in Manila on September 21, 1944, alert orders were sent to every company. We were then expecting instructions from GHQ.

In October, word was received that Col. Licsi was in the vicinity of Dayap and Los Baños with papers of this unit and probably arms, and having great trouble in dodging spies in his trail. Capt. Reaño, having knowledge of the place, was sent to meet him. He exerted every effort but failed to see him. He reported that he later heard that Col. Licsi was caught.

With a view to provide men of this unit and the civilian population with news, and to maintain and increase morale, this unit managed to salvage a shortwave receiving set and put it into operation. It should be stated, in this connection, that since 1942, that Japs ordered that all radio receiving sets reconditioned to receive standard broadcasts only. News of the Allied victories in Europe and the successful American offensive in the Pacific were spread to the people. It would not be amiss to mention here the aid rendered by Major Francisco Arguiñoso who showed to our men and to the people in general, pictures of American victories and other propaganda which he brought from Southwest Pacific Headquarters.

In November of the same year, Provincial Governor Maximo M. Malvar abandoned his post and returned to Sto. Tomas, his hometown. He summoned me to a conference. He also advised me that he had reliable information that the Makapilis were after me.

During the same month, we received word that an American Air Force man, one William Lamp, was forced down at Lake Taal. The Bn. Surgeon was immediately sent there.

The Bn. Hq was at this time in Malaking Pulo. Guillermo Torres from GHQ arrived with instructions that we should procure all available arms, and that any possible aid from GHQ would be sent, but in case we would not receive word (because of the great distance and hazards in the way), I should use my judgement and act in accordance with conditions as might be obtaining.

During the months of December 1944 thru January 1945, the Japs were busily constructing trenches, dugouts and gun emplacements for the defense of this town (Tanauan). In these projects, they utilized forced labor gangs recruited in the town proper and in the barrios. The Intelligence Officer managed to put at least one man to every sector of the defense line being built. At the same time, the Japs were transporting ammunition and supplies to the Sta. Clara sector. Men were already assigned there.

At the time paratroopers landed at Tagaytay on 1 February 1945, people within and around the Sta. Clara sector began evacuating thru several points at barrio Darasa across the Manila-Batangas highway to Barrios Bagbag, Bungcalot and boot, Tanauan, Batangas. “A” Co. was detailed to guard the road and escort the evacuees to places of safety.

During air raids, men of “B” Co. under Capt. C. del Pilar were also able to cut enemy communication wires in the Manila-Batangas Lane.

On 12 February 1945, I left Bn. HQ for Tagaytay and arrived there on the 14th. I met Col. Hildebrandt of the 182nd

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Paratroopers. I gave him information on the defense preparations the Japs made in Tanauan. I was then referred to Capt. Schommers. When requested that this unit be given arms and ammunition, said officer told me that it would take some time before such request could be granted. He also told me that we could better serve our people by conducting them to places safe from the Japs, behind the lines if possible, as the American forces were expected to be near Tanauan within several days. Before leaving Tagaytay, save officer gave me two Carbines, two boxes of hand grenades, a couple thousand rounds of Carbine and .30 caliber ammunition and medicines.

This unit then had to rely only on what meager arms and limited means it had. During the first week of March, “A” Co. was assigned to guard points of crossing in barrio Darasa; “B” Co. to escort evacuees as far as barrio Malaking Pulo; “E” Co. to take over these evacuees and with the people of the adjoining barrios escorted them as far as Canlubang. Patrols were sent out. “D” Co., with men from other companies, were stationed south and west of Malaking Pulo, where Japs fleeing from the lines were unlikely to pass.

Before this, however, on 28 February 1945, Capt. Isidro C. Villa, contacted, in Pasong-Diblo (between Malaking Pulo and Ulango) an American patrol composed of two armored cars from Calamba. He escorted said patrol up to a point east of barrio Malaking Pulo and on the maps laid out by the Americans, he indicated the Japanese positions in the Tanauan Sector.

On March 10, 1945, word was received that Jap stragglers were known to attack civilians were seen at Malaking Pulo. A patrol headed by Sgt. Zacarias Balahadia, “D” Co., was sent and encountered the Japs. Two Japs were killed, no casualties on our side.

On the 15th of March, 1945, a patrol was sent by Capt. Aquilino C. Villa, “E” Co. to barrio Altura. The patrol met Japs, probably fleeing from Natatas Hill. At the encounter, seven Japs were killed. The patrol did not suffer any casualty.

In the meantime, men from “D” Co. and the other four companies, who were not otherwise occupied, were sent to barrio Balok-balok, to help the Americans in that sector toward the town proper from the northwest. Being familiar with the terrain and the Japanese positions, they were sent out with American patrols, and when the final drive was made, fought side by side and in close cooperation with the Americans, until the town of Tanauan was ultimately liberated.

Before the end of March, 1945, people were already returning home. A system of rotation for rest among the men was arranged. While a portion was resting, others stood as home guards. And finally, in the middle of April, 1945, the men were ordered to return to their former mode of living.

[Sgd.] FIDEL DEL PILAR
Bn. Commander


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Notes and references:

1 “Batangueño Unit, MFA,” File No. 109-13, online at the United States National Archives.


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