February 22, 2021

The Daring Guerrilla Radio Detachment that Operated in Batangas in WWII
In November 1944, a small detachment was despatched by guerrilla leader Major Bernard L. Anderson to set up an intelligence network and operate a radio station in Batangas. Anderson was a USAFFE officer who avoided capture by the Japanese in 1942, and went on the following year to form and command an underground resistance movement first in Central Luzon and then later in Tayabas1.

February 6, 2021

The Case of Batangueño Guerrillas' Attempt to Bribe a US Army Investigating Officer
Even before the surrender of the Japanese Imperial Army to the Allied Forces in the Philippines in September of 1945, guerrilla organizations who had fought side-by-side with the Allies had begun applying for official recognition by the United States Army. Essentially, this recognition meant that the US Army recognized, based on merit, certain guerrilla organizations as having been elements of the Philippine Army in the service of the United States Armed Forces during the liberation of the Philippines.

January 6, 2021

The Case of Four US GIs Stranded in Malvar, Batangas Behind Japanese Lines in WWII
Early in 1942, after forces of the Japanese Imperial Army had occupied the Philippine Islands in their quest to set up the bogus East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere — euphemism for a Japanese empire — four American GIs found themselves stranded in a forest in the Municipality of Malvar, surrounded by Japanese encampments.

December 2, 2020

November 30, 2020

Chinese Ceramics and Evidence of Violence in the Early Calatagan Excavations
In the 1930s, while ground was being leveled for use as an airstrip in the Municipality of Calatagan on the western side of the Province of Batangas, broken pieces of Chinese ceramics — called potsherds — were discovered1. Enrico and Jacobo Zobel of the family that owned the hacienda where the potsherds were found donated these to the Manila Museum, presumably what was then known as the National Museum of the Philippine Islands2.

November 16, 2020

When Balayan Guerrillas Stole Japanese Q-Boats from a Base in Calatagan in WWII
Public domain picture of a Japanese World War II Q-boat.
Towards the end of 1943, when the tides of war in the Pacific had started to turn in favor of the Allied Forces, Japan started to explore alternative and extreme weapons that involved the sacrifice of the lives of their own fighting men. Airplanes would be heavily laden with explosives and deliberately crashed by their pilots into Allied ships, a sacrifice that the Japanese called the kamikaze or “divine wind1.”

October 15, 2020

The Burning of Rosario and Other Japanese Atrocities in the Town in 1945
Image has no relation to this article. Credit: US National Archives.
Image has no relation to this article. Credit: US National Archives.
On the 31st of January 1945, the United States 8th Army made its long awaited landing on the beaches of the town of Nasugbu in western Batangas. Its initial role was to support the assault on Manila by the 6th Army from Lingayen and to prevent the escape of Japanese forces south. The offensive to free Batangas from Japanese occupation was not undertaken until after Manila was retaken in March 19451.

October 10, 2020

Intel Report with Sketch from Agent “C” on Japanese Movements in San Juan
The Luansing Unit Fil-American Batangas Guerrillas were commanded by one Galicano Luansing and known loosely as the “Luansing’s Unit.” This guerrilla outfit was at one time or the other during the Japanese occupation affiliated with the Fil-American Irregular Troops and also the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas. By the time the Allied forces returned to the Philippines, it was operating independently. This unit assisted the United States Army in campaigns against the Japanese forces from Balayan, Batangas Town, Lipa, Rosario and San Juan. In this originally handwritten document1, an unidentified Agent “C,” presumably a member of the Luansing Unit, submitted an intelligence report on the presence and supposed abandonment by the Japanese Imperial Army of the town of San Juan, Batangas. The reader is advised to read through to the end because Agent “C” made amendments to his/her initial report.

October 1, 2020

The Daring Guerrilla Raid on a Jap Sentry Outpost at Calicanto, Batangas in 1943
On the 8th of December 1941, just hours after the Japanese attack on the American naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japanese aircraft likewise flew into Philippine airspace to neutralize whatever air power the United States had in the country. American warplanes were severely damaged in the initial attacks alone, rendering defenses in the Philippines without air cover1.

September 22, 2020

Protecting Cuenca against WWII Japanese Stragglers and Convincing them to Surrender
On the 20th of April 1945, the 187th Glider Infantry Regiment of the United States Army’s 11th Airborne Division, after some fierce and prolonged fighting, “finally overran” Mount Maculot in the town of Cuenca, Batangas. The 11th Airborne was the arm of the United States Eighth Army that was among those responsible for the liberation of Batangas from Japanese occupation.

The end of organized resistance at Maculot, however, did not mean that the Japanese had all been killed. As at Mount Malepunyo east of Lipa after the organized Japanese resistance there had ceased towards the end of April, the remaining Japanese soldiers had dispersed “in small, starving pockets in the mountains and out-of-the-way locations where they set up perimeter defenses with the few weapons left to them2.”

At the capitulation of the Japanese at Malepunyo, the province of Batangas was, for all intents and purposes, liberated from Japanese occupation. Temporary civilian governments, pending normalization and the election of officials, were even appointed in the different towns around the province.

For the United States Army, there remained the tasks of clearing the Bicol Peninsula and Tayabas (presently Quezon Province and Aurora) and then subsequently chasing the Japanese up to northern Luzon, where they would make their final losing stand in the Philippines.

In Batangas, mopping up operations were conducted by the 11th Airborne Division, supported by attached guerrilla units. The division was encamped in the Lipa-Mataasnakahoy area near the Lipa Airstrip for rest and recuperation as well as the training of reinforcements newly-arrived from America.

US Army soldiers pounding Japanese positions on Mt. Maculot. Image source: US National Archives.

Among the active zones for continuing Japanese presence was the Maculot area in Cuenca. On the 12th of June, one Captain Jose Mendoza of the Maculot Battalion of the Fil-American Irregular Troops guerrilla group reported to his superior that a guerrilla patrol encountered four Japanese stragglers near at a place called Dayapan. Four of these were killed with no casualties to the patrol3.

Six days later, the same guerrilla captain filed another report about an ambush by about 30 Japanese stragglers which lasted for two hours until the latter fled back to the mountain. Some of the Japanese soldiers were believed wounded, said that captain in his report4.

It was not only the guerrillas whose lives were at risk from the continuing presence of the Japanese on Maculot, but civilians as well. The starving Japanese, in order to survive, had no recourse but to raid homesteads for livestock and other food stuffs.

The Acting Mayor of Cuenca, one Eugeniano P. La Rosa, felt impelled to write to the Acting Provincial Governor Fortunato Borbon to request for a garrison of U.S. Army soldiers to be stationed at the town.

In his letter, La Rosa noted that “the presence of quite a good number of Japanese snipers in the Macolot Mountain and its vicinity is beyond doubt.” He further wrote that people of the town had every “intention of abandoning their homes, thereby bringing into naught the civil government which we had established5.”

The most vulnerable of the barrios to raids and sniping by the Japanese soldiers were the barrios of Labac, Ibabao and Dita, close as these were to Maculot6. The uneasiness of the entire town and the request for the presence of American troops was made because Lt. Col. Pedro Pasia, Commanding Officer of the Maculot Battalion guerrilla unit that had been protecting the town, was planning to disband the group because provisions were not arriving.

It took the personal intervention of the Acting Governor to convince Pasia not to disband his unit. Borbon, in a letter addressed to Pasia, promised the latter to make representations on behalf of the Maculot Battalion to the Commanding General of the 11th Airborne Division. Presumably, he also brought up the matter of the absence of provisions7.

Thus, the Maculot Battalion carried on with the task of protecting the town of Cuenca against the intermittent raids and sniping of the Japanese stragglers until the middle of September. This was even though the Emperor of Japan had announced his country’s surrender to the Allied Forces as early as the 15th of August and the formal signing of the surrender document was done on the 2nd of September8.

On the 12th of September, American soldiers arrived in Cuenca to tell the Mayor that they would release two captured Japanese prisoners-of-war, a navy captain and a private, into Macolot in the hope that they would be able to convince their comrades to lay down their arms, since the war had already concluded.

The ploy turned out to be successful, so that at 10:00 in the morning of 19 September, no less than two hundred and forty-two soldiers Japanese soldier came down from Maculot to lay down their arms. These included 2 heavy machine guns, 4 light machine guns, 4 knee mortars, 126 rifles and 26 pistols.

Finally, almost five months since the Japanese were overrun in Maculot and forced into hiding on the mountain, the town of Cuenca could sleep well at night having at last tasted liberation.

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Notes and references:

1 “The Angels: A History of the 11th Airborne Division 1943-1946,” by Major Edward M. Flanagan Jr., published 1948 in Washington, p. 133.
2 Flanagan, ibid, p. 150.
3 “Reconnaissance Patrol Report,” by Captain Jose B. Mendoza, 12 June 1945, part of the folder “MACULOT BATTALION FAIT, File No. 110-67,” downloaded from PVAO.
4 “Encountered with the Japs,” by Captain Jose B. Mendoza, 16 June 1945, part of the folder “MACULOT BATTALION FAIT,” File No. 110-67, downloaded from PVAO.
5 “Letter of Acting Mayor of Cuenca Eugeniano P. La Rosa to Acting Governor of Batangas Fortunato Borbon,” by Eugeniano P. La Rosa, 28 June 1945, part of the folder “MACULOT BATTALION FAIT,” File No. 110-67, downloaded from PVAO.
6 “Resolution Number 4 Thanking the Maculot Battalion,” by the Provisional Municipal Council of Cuenca, September 1945, part of the folder “MACULOT BATTALION FAIT,” File No. 110-67, downloaded from PVAO.
7 “Letter of Acting Batangas Governor Fortunato Borbon to Lt. Col. Pedro Pasia,” by Fortunato Borbon, 29 June 1945, part of the folder “MACULOT BATTALION FAIT,” File No. 110-67, downloaded from PVAO.
8Surrender of Japan,” Wikipedia.

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July 18, 2020

June 27, 2020

10 World War II Trivia Set in Batangas
Image credit:  United States National Archives.
Image credit:  United States National Archives.
World War II and the Japanese occupation of the Philippines from 1942-1945 rank among the most tragic events ever to have affected the Province of Batangas. Thousands were massacred by the Japanese and countless more had to endure hunger as well as the loss of homes and means of livelihood.