History of the Major Phillips Unit - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore History of the Major Phillips Unit - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

History of the Major Phillips Unit

The Major Phillips Unit was a guerrilla unit that was founded and operated in or around western Batangas town of Calatagan. It was commanded by one Emilio Macabuag and took its name from a United States Army intelligence officer from whom the guerrilla outfit took directions until the latter was caught and killed by the Japanese. In this document1, a history of the Major Phillips Unit from its inception to the landing of the United States Army in Batangas was provided in aid of the guerrilla outfit’s application for official recognition by the United States Army.

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Guerrilla Files

Calatagan, Batangas


The Japanese in the Philippines were the most conceited, arrogant and merciless people that ever lived. They believed themselves to be the most powerful race, invincible and magnificent. They were cruel, harsh, intolerant and barbarous but they are also cunning and suspicious. They would profess friendship and brotherhood with the Filipinos while on the other hand, they robbed the people of their food and homes, deprived them of their means of livelihood and at the same time insulted men, women and children. They were bent on crushing the Filipinos until their spirits were down and the last vintage of strength had vanished. Cruelty and brutality were rampant everywhere.

Due to the existing conditions, the idea of organized resistance was conceived by Emilio Macabuag of Calatagan, Batangas. A lover of freedom and democracy and a fearless leader of his community, Macabuag could not reconcile himself with the existing conditions. He believed that if we wanted to preserve our dignity as a people, we should not allow our strength to be overcome. We should at least set an example to the rest of the people who were beginning to waver under the cruelties of the conquerors. The lambent flames in our hearts must be fanned to keep the fires of hope burning. It was utterly obnoxious and repelling to be under the heels of a people more awkward than us and decidedly below our social level. It was high time that the spirit of resistance be cultivated. The prevailing atrocities should be checked and all loyal Filipinos should be ready to assert themselves at the proper time.

Almost all Filipinos knew that sometime, somehow, the Americans were coming. Our faith in America was unshakable. No amount of Japanese propaganda could win the Filipinos to their side. Macabuag believed that somewhere in one of the far flung corners of the archipelago, in an isolated region or island, the Americans must have started the underground movement that would pave the way for their return. As loyal Filipinos, we were the most logical to help them and render all possible aid. Macabuag believed that the work was being started and he was determined to render help. Thus, we always traveled from place to place visiting the far and remote corners in the guise of traders.

On June 13, 1943, the guerrilla unit was formally organized. Members were recruited carefully from the municipalities of Calatagan and Balayan. Utmost secrecy prevailed to avoid detection by the ever vigilant Japs. Men who were not afraid to live the lives of hunted men and always under the shadows of death were selected. These were

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men who did not forget the miseries and sufferings that their countrymen had undergone, men who were willing to undergo privations and hardships with one end in mind – to help liberate the islands from the hands of the aggressors. They were men who were willing to sacrifice everything so that their loved ones and fellowmen might once more enjoy peaceful living under the tranquil sky of a free Philippines, under a democracy that is our heritage from America.

Emilio Macabuag was the head of the organization with the rank of Captain. His Executive Officer was Francisco Hernandez and the other Junior Officers were Jose Caisip, Lorenzo Galvez and Filomeno Bautista. These men were brave, trustworthy and hardworking. They possessed self-control and were dependable leaders. Hernandez was a graduate of the Philippine Normal Sch. and had attended Officers School. He was a field Scout Commissioner for Training (BSP) for Batangas province at the outbreak of the war. Galvez was a well known architect. He was expert in map making and planning. Caisip and Bautista were respected citizens of Calatagan and were able leaders in the community.

The organization was fortunate to have the backing of one of the most prominent citizens of the Philippines, Maj. Jacobo Zobel. He was one of the few patriots who had encouraged guerrilla activities and gave his full support. In fact, the whole Zobel family, owner of the Hacienda Calatagan, gave unqualified support to guerrillas in the matter of food, clothing in money. Major Zobel was also the head of his own guerrilla unit and Macabuag worked closely with him. Successful operations and achievements of different units were made possible through the help of this patriotic family.

With [a] few selected men, Captain Macabuag went to Mindoro to extend the scope of his unit’s work. He left the unit under his Executive Officer. On or about the middle of September 1943, he made contact with Lt. Mosquera of Panay under Peralta. He appraised the lieutenant of his unit in Batangas. Through Mosquera, he was able to extend his work and made further contacts.

On December 8, 1943, Capt. Emilio Macabuag made contact with a party from Australia engaged in a secret mission. The party was under Major L. H. Phillips with Capt. Ricardo C. Galang as Executive Officer or second in command. His services were at once enlisted and he was assigned to operate in Batangas and Manila. Macabuag presented his Unit and Major Phillips accepted it to work under him. The Major selected Macabuag to select only the best men and let them work hard and lie low. He returned to Batangas on a secret mission.

Captain Macabuag called a conference of his officers and men. In the conference, he revealed that henceforth, the unit will work for and under the command of an American, Major Phillips. He further stated that the Major willingly accepted the unit to work for him. Ironically, the Major accepted the

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Unit on December 8, 1943, the second anniversary of the Japs’ treachery at Pearl Harbor. The Unit would have only one company and it would engage in a wide scope of intelligence work that would principally cover the province of Batangas and the city of Manila and possibly the adjacent provinces.

In the conference, the following points were taken up.

(1) The company to engage in intelligence work would be named Major Phillips Unit in honor of that intrepid American who embarked on a hazardous mission and set the first milestone in the long road to liberation.

(2) The Unit’s name should be kept a secret and should not be divulged under any condition.

(3) Special operatives familiar with a certain region should be assigned to that particular place of operation.

(4) Since the work must cover the whole province of Batangas, members should gather information from different places and if necessary make contacts with other good guerrillas. However, no operative was permitted to reveal his real connections.

(5) In his official capacity, the CO would contact other genuine guerrilla units so that harmony and cooperation between the groups might be affected. It was apparent at this time that rivalries and animosities existed between the different groups and unless remedied might cause betrayal.

(6) The ExO in the absence of the CO took charge, and important reports, developments and other important matters should be forwarded immediately to the CO since he alone knew his movement. The Executive Officer would be directly in charge of intelligence work in the regions east of Balayan and two squads of operatives would work under him.

(7) Only the CO would have direct contact with Major Phillips to minimize the possibility of discovery.

(8) Lorenzo Galvez was also the liaison officer and would travel to gather information from the different operatives in different sections.

(9) Operatives should note or record the Japanese positions, concentrations, fortifications, armaments, number of men, supplies and possibly the source and general layout of the place.

(10) All operatives as long as humanly possible should avoid any encounter with the Japs. All operatives that would unfortunately be caught must never divulge his work or the name of the unit he worked for. He should consider it his fate and face the consequences assuming the full responsibility.

With the points taken during the conference as guide, the men began their work earnestly. Every region occupied by the Japs was carefully watched by operatives. The CO gave the operatives supplies and financial support. The work was going on splendidly under the noses of the Japs, who had no inkling of what was going on. A harmonious and friendly relations existed

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between the different units and this greatly helped and facilitated the hazardous work. About the end of December, Macabuag went to Mindoro to make his report.

On December 28, 1943, Capt. Macabuag reported to Major Phillips in the presence of Captain Galang about his activities and mission in Batangas. The Major gave instructions to Macabuag to prepare his men to be brought to Mindoro. He was also ordered to construct a good CP for his men in Batangas where they might better be trained.

Upon order of Major Phillips, Macabuag and his men returned to Batangas on January 17, 1944, escorting a party carrying [a] radio transmitter and receiving apparatus, supplies, arms and ammunition. The party was headed by Lt. Mosquera with Ramon Victorio and Sgt. Benjamin Harder as the other members. The party landed at Hukay and then proceeded to Cape Santiago, Calatagan where they established themselves and set the radio station. Selected men of the unit were assigned to work with the detachment. Every precaution to guard the place was made and a long cordon of guards and outposts were established to forestall any surprise from the Japanese. The work of these brave men was so successful that the Japanese were very angry and greatly annoyed. It had wrought havoc upon the Japs’ shipping. Portable listening posts loaded on trucks were brought by the Japs to Balayan to locate the mysterious station but to no avail. They always lost track of the station.

Close contact was made with the Headquarters in Mindoro by radio and by means of boats. Several fast sailboats were used to traverse the span of water that separated Batangas and Mindoro. These boats were manned by good and trusty men of the unit. Among the boats used were the “Daong,” “Rayo” and “Quezon.” The “Daong,” owned by Felipe Aytona, and the “Kayo” were destroyed by the Japs in Mindoro while the “Quezon” escaped and was hidden in Balayan. Its name was changed to “SEAHAWK” and was never discovered by the Japs.

In the province of Batangas, it was a well-known fact among the underground men that Mariano H. Cabarrubia, a constabulary officer, was one of the foremost guerrilla leaders. He was an ex-USAFFE man and came from the prison camp of Capaz. He was the G-3 of the Fil-American Irregular Troops of Hugh Straughn in the province of Batangas. This was the biggest organization for in almost all towns in the province, it had a unit. Captain Macabuag, knowing Cabarrubia personally, contacted him. Cabarrubia agreed readily to cooperate and work for the Mindoro chief. Cabarrubia also informed Macabuag of the existence of other good guerrilla units. He mentioned the units of Bosio, Licopa and Calingasan. All these units were

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duly contacted and all agreed to help and cooperate with Mindoro. They were willing to be under the Major. These units extended all possible help to Macabuag and his operatives.

The Executive Officer of the old man’s unit, being a close friend of Majors Bahia and Deguito of Balayan and leaders of two battalions of the Fil-Americans, was able to get valuable information and help. He had helped in the organization of these units in Balayan. The Fil-American Units had a system of disseminating information by couriers from different parts of the province every week. All these information passed through the hands of Hernandez and were recorded and compiled.

Various agents were sent to different towns of the province. At one time, under the leadership of the CO, on or about the middle of January, operatives penetrated the landing field of Mataas na Kahoy – Lipa and were able to make a map of the layout of the field. Other agents under the Executive Officer went to Batangas, Bauan, Alitagtag and Cuenca and made a thorough investigation of the Japs’ works and the general feelings and tendency of the population. Other operatives were busy at Nasugbu, Tuy and Tagaytay as well as San Luis, Lemery and Taal. In fact, cooperation of other guerrilla members was extended especially that of Cabarrubia who had given definite instructions to his men about this.

The Unit had decided to make a good CP in Calatagan. The site selected was Tambo, a sitio near Cape Santiago. Capt. Macabuag ordered its construction immediately and carefully. The unit planned to train members here. It was expected that Major Phillips might come and visit the place.

The welding of the different units of Batangas into a powerful force was under way. Intelligence work was going smoothly and unhampered. All the different leaders contacted were willing to put their troops under the orders of an American officer or any man designated by General MacArthur. They were willing to meet at any designated place to meet any authorized or responsible person.

Through the cooperation rendered by [the] different units, Captain Macabuag was able to rescue four Americans and brought them safely to Mindoro. Three of these Americans came from the unit of Licopa. They were Lt. Patrick Guentner, Lt. Bob and George. The American who came from the unit of Calingasan was Harold Guinea, a corporal.

In the early part of February, 1944, our liaison officer, Lorenzo Galvez, accompanied the CO to Mindoro with a few of our men. While they were at Paluan, the Japs raided the place but they were able to escape. During the raid, the American, Harold Guinea, was wounded and captured by the Japs.

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At this time, the Japs were actively guarding the sea approaches to Balayan and Calatagan. Major Bahia and Hernandez sent Prudencio del Rosario to Mindoro to contact Macabuag and Galvez and the rest of the party to warn them not to land at Calatagan on their return and to tell them of the situation in Batangas. The courier was unable to contact them at Abra de Ilog, Mindoro.

The Japanese raid of the outpost at Manan-ao, Paluan, Mindoro took place on February 17, 1944. The Japs tried to envelop the outpost. The detachment was under the command of Lt. Mosquera. The members were Macabuag, Panganiban, de Lara, Vidal, Misiano, Panaligan, Galvez, Aytona, Buceta and Torres, the last four with Macabuag and Galvez belonging to [the] Major Phillips Unit. With orders to retire, the men began to retreat from the post, leaving Macabuag to cover up the retirement. Macabuag hurled grenades at the Japs, preventing their rapid advance and causing great casualties. Macabuag was reported as dead. When he left the area, the Japs had several casualties. The party was greatly overjoyed when he later presented himself to Major Phillips.

Harold was brought back to Batangas by the Japs. He was forced to tell all about the guerrilla activities. He was herded by the Japs to the places where he passed and stayed on his way to Mindoro. Besides, he had a diary that contained the names of prominent guerrillas that had helped him and this was in the hands of the Japs. Thus, the mass arrests of guerrillas followed.

The radio station of Calatagan was raided and the hunt for Macabuag, Harder and his companions began. Many people were captured, tortured and severely punished, but none revealed anything. Immediate members of Macabuag’s family and later his own family were caught and tortured. The whole people were threatened with punishment if Macabuag and his companions were not caught. Fearing that some of the members might be arrested and be not able to hold on and also pitying his family and townspeople, Macabuag finally gave up.

Captain Macabuag entered the Japs’ Garrison at Nasugbu, Batangas on March 12, 1944. There, every device of torture conceivable by the Japs were used on him. To his ever-lasting honor, he never squealed but assumed all the responsibilities. He denied knowing Major Phillips, Harder and how to speak English. With him at the garrison were Margarito Aytona, Dalmacio Aytona and Sixto Buceta. Margarito Aytona was released but the other two met heroic deaths and the hands of the Japs. Capt. Macabuag was finally released on July 16, 1944.

In Balayan, there were three battalions of Fil-Americans. Majors Bahia and Deguito were arrested and murdered but the third major, Jose Garcia, remained free. When all the other officers were finally imprisoned at the Japs’ garrison in

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Nasugbu, Batangas, Garcia was surprisingly not with them. Among the officers of the Major Phillips Unit arrested were Francisco Hernandez and Lorenzo Galvez. However, in the investigation, they identified themselves with Major Bahia’s battalion The Japs frequently asked who were the men of Major Phillips and who knew him but none seemed to know. One even ventured to say that he knew a certain Philip, who happened to be a king of Spain and in whose honor the name of the Philippines was given.

Hernandez and Galvez were later released in the early part of April. Capt. Macabuag was still confined and being tortured. News reached the Unit that the HQ had been disbanded due to the raid. The men and officers were shocked by the news that the old man, Major Phillips, was dead. They were at a loss as to what to do, since the CO was still in prison and his release a slim certainty. Finally, the Executive Officer issued the order to keep low until further order. In the meantime, Hernandez and Galvez helped form a new battalion in Balayan and this time, under the command of Unson. To bolster the members’ morale, both officers joined in; Hernandez as the Executive Officer and Galvez as the S-3. This battalion became the 4th Battalion of the Rainbow Regiment of Col. Cabarrubia. Both were determined that the spirit of resistance so costly at this time must never be abandoned.

When Capt. Macabuag was released on July 16, 1944, he immediately contacted the officers and members of his Unit. It was agreed that the Unit must keep intact and the work continued. As to the fate of the party of Major Phillips, at the time none of us knew at that time. However, the unit continued the good work, having always in mind the venerable leader. The units rendered help to other guerrilla units. The men and officers were determined to avenge the old man and prove that his trust reposed on them was not in vain. The intelligence work continued and members were permitted to join other units. Thus, the men at Calatagan actively worked for the Zobel Unit and those at Balayan actively worked for the Rainbow Regiment.

Another party appeared in Mindoro and extended its operations to Batangas. A detachment with radio equipment was landed in Baha and proceeded to Mt. Luya where it established itself. While at Mt. Luya, they were greatly helped by Francisco Barrangas who maintained and cared for them at his mountain home. Vicente Consul of [the] Major Phillips Unit also rendered help by giving them shelter and protection when they went to Balayan or were on their way to other places.

Intelligence operations were resumed but this time covering only the region from Nasugbu to Lemery. Japanese positions, fortifications, concentrations, armaments and number of men were recorded. Help was extended to other units like the ROTC Hunters. Capt. Macabuag even contacted Major Jay Vanderpool in Calatagan while he was on his secret mission.

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On January 24, 1945, upon orders of Capt. Emilio Macabuag, Hernandez and Galvez met him at San Pedrino Pt. Here, they contacted two American operatives from Camp Nimitz, Mindoro. The three officers presented to the Americans a detailed map of the Japanese positions, concentrations, fortifications, armaments and strength. The exact locations were indicated and the terrain of the region. This map was received by Sgt. Donald Ash. The map was taken by PT boat to Mindoro.

At the same date, Sgt. Prudencio del Rosario was ordered to cut the communication lines between San Piro and Balayan and other lines extending from Balayan. This order was carefully accomplished and the Japs were never able to re-establish the lines.

On January 27, 1945, at about 5 o’clock in the morning, Galvez with two companions were on their way to Balayan carrying vital information for the guerrilla units. At the barrio of Talibayog, he was met accidentally by a Jap patrol which was able to surprise him due to the darkness yet. In the subsequent encounter, Galvez was hit in the heart and died. However, his body was recovered and none of the vital papers he was carrying was captured. Macabuag and Hernandez helped bury him in the barrio. Thus, another gallant officer died in action. His remains were exhumed on April 26, 1945 and was [re-]buried with military honors.

On January 31, 1945, the Americans landed in Nasugbu. Believing that was the time to settle scores with the Japs, men of the Unit volunteered into the different combat companies of the different units in their respective places. Men in Calatagan under the command of Capt. Macabuag fought the Japs to liberate the town. They were under Major Zobel. Men in Balayan with Hernandez fought the Japs under Col. Cabarrubia. When the Japs were finally driven from Calatagan, Macabuag retired with his family. Hernandez continued fighting the Japs until June 13, 1945 when he went to Camp Murphy and immediately resigned to return to his unit.

Thus, the men and officers of [the] Major Phillips Unit did not betray the old man’s trust. They had done their best and did their part to help liberate the Philippines.

Prepared and submitted by,

Captain, Commanding Officer
Notes and references:
1 “MAJOR PHILLIPPS UNIT,” File No. 83, downloaded from PVAO.
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