Record of Events – Cuenca Volunteers - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Record of Events – Cuenca Volunteers - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Record of Events – Cuenca Volunteers

The Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) was a large guerrilla organization that operated in the island of Luzon, including several towns in Batangas, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippine Islands up to the country’s revolution. It had a unit in the town of Cuenca which would, however, not gain official recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the Army of the United States of America. In this document1, Rafael C. Loria, commanding officer of the “Cuenca Volunteers” unit of the FAIT, wrote a historical account of the sequence of events involving his guerrilla outfit probably as a requirement for their application for official recognition by the United States Army.

[p. 1]

Guerrilla Files


It is a matter of commong knowledge in my hometown, Cuenca, that I had always maintained, even during the time the Japanese were at the height of their power, that the last war would end surely with the victory of the Allies. I had constantly insisted that whether it lasted, 5, 6 or 10 years, the end would be the same – victory of democracy over totalitarianism. I was determined that in the remote event that the war should end with a Japanese victory, I would prefer to be dead or else lead the life of an outlaw.

To life the low morale of democracy-loving people, we formed an underground organization in my hometown. Doubting Thomases who were not well posted with the real might of Japan used to argue with me as to what would be the outcome of the war and I used to tell them that I knew. I told them that sometime in 1933, when I came home from the United States aboard the “Pres. Hoover,” scrap iron was being loaded in San Francisco for Japan and for some years before that, scrap iron was being shipped to Japan from the United States, and that this shipment continued until the United States put an embargo on this item. A country at war or preparing for war cannot hope to win it without the necessary materials. No nation depending solely on scrap iron for armament manufacture can ever win a war. On the other hand, the United States had all the necessary materials for the manufature of all sorts of armaments. That was my line of argument with those people who doubted the future of the Filipinos.

I organized the “Cuenca Volunteers,” composed of a few USAFFE men and many civilian volunteers, the main purpose of which was to counteract Japanese propaganda and to do intelligence work and sabotage and engage in actual combat if necessary. The idea occurred to us sometime in May 1942 – two or three weeks after the fall of Corredigor. News reached us in our mountain hideouts that guerrilla tactics had been resorted to by the scattered remnants of the USAFFE, joined in by civilian volunteers. At secret meetings held in remote places, we decided to form an underground organization. We did not care at the time for ranks, honors or material gains. All we wanted was to have a hand in the fight against the “yellow peril” – those people who could hardly be called human beings but could only be described as “JAPS.”

[p. 2]

We delegated 1st Sgt Jose H Endaya (later company commander), Mr. Pacifico Marasigan (later platoon leader), and others to make scoutings in other towns and places for organized resistance, in order that we could have proper contact. Sgt. Endaya went to Laguna, Tayabas, Pangasinan and Mindoro and was able to contact different units. Mr. Marasigan was able to contact Markings Fil-Americans in Manila. Finally, on 4 December 1942, we decided to attach our unit with “Straughn’s Fil-Americans.” We submitted our roster and reports to said unit thru Major Francisco Cuevas, and from that date, we felt very glad that we could claim that ours was a legitimate organization, unlike some outfits which were nothing but bands of outlaws, harassing the natives instead of the Japs.

Sometime at the end of that month (Dec, 1942), my brother, Manuel Loria, had an altercation with a civilian Japanese – Narahasi by name – in charge of cotton planting, and faced the latter with [a] drawn bolo. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Jap was a good runner and was able to escape with but bruises and scratches due to various stumblings. The Jap right away reported the incident to the Chief of Police and was naturally very insistent on the apprehension of his would-be assassin. Unfortunately, this incident occurred near the home of my brother and they right away seized my grandfather who was at home at the time. It was hard to deny the identity of the assailant under the circumstances. On the promise of the manager of the cotton company that nothing would happen should the assailant present himself, it was decided that we surrender our brother. I gathered my men and asked them what we would do should the Japanese manager not fulfill his promise; and they were unanimous in their decision to begin trouble. I advised them to proceed with extreme caution; otherwise, we might endanger the lives of all the inhabitants. On the evening agreed upon for the surrender, I was present in the office of the manager. Of course, no Jap knew my relationship to the fellow they were looking for. The then Chief of Police, a member of the organization, presented my brother to the manager, and the investigation was conducted. They could not pin any liability on him; because when the Japanese ran, my brother’s dog ran after him, and my brother reasoned out that he was simply running after the dog. After the termination of the investigation, the manager instructed the Chief of Police to take my brother to the Municipal Building, and Narahasi, when they reached the street, took hold of my brother and wanted to do him harm. We tried to stop the Jap but were not able to do so, and when I saw him throw my

[p. 3]

brother to the ground, I urged the latter to run away. He did run away. Immediately thereafter, he had to evacuate his family to the mountains. For myself, I had to avoid the Japanese for fear that some way or other, they might learn of my relationship to him.

Unluckly, sometime in April 1943, Mayor Cuevas was caught by the Japanese and interned, so we had to lie low. It was good he was not executed like the others. We temporarily lost contact with the main unit. Later on, however, when he was already in Muntinglupa, we were able to resume our contact with him thru his son, Lt Remigio Cuevas.

In May 1943, we had an understanding with the head of the Macu Regiment (now under Folsom) and coordinated our activities with the said outfit. We disseminated war news taken from the “Voice of Freedom” and prevented lawless bands which tried to rob or intimidate the inhabitants. We posted night patrols who were on the lookout for spies as well as for people who used to rob and steal and intimidate people. They were outlaws who called themselves guerrillas. At one time, we received a request for help at about 2400 hours from some people on the shore of lake Bombon on the other side of Mt. Makulot. I took a detachment of about 15 men with me, armed with pistols and bolos. We went to Lumampao and took a banca. We were not able to meet the outlaws. Going back home, we arrived at the town at 1000 hours next day.

These activities continued until July, 1944. On 4 July 1944, the Japanese concentrated (zonified) the inhabitants of the barrios of Labac, Ibabao and Dita, the Poblacion of Cuenca, and the sitios of Putol, Mambog and Lumampao. There were two people taken by the Japanese during the “zonification,” one of whom was a member of the “Cuenca Volunteers,” Pfc Camilo Lunar. He never returned, and it is believed that he died on the way to Batangas, having been forced into a straight jacket and hurled into the truck. Sometime during the same month, the Japanese made Cuenca their Division Headquarters. In view thereof, we could not do much except to spy on their positions and entrenchments as well as on the number of their men and other things of importance that could be of help to the Allies.

After the first airplane raids in September, 1944, we were itching for action, but prudence got the better of us for the sake of innocent civilians and we decided to wait for a more propitious moment.

[p. 4]

After the American landings in Nasugbu (January, 1945), I sent Capt Jose H Endaya, who had perfected his sketches of Japanese emplacements in Cuenca, to the GLINT Headquarters at Panghulan, Lemery, in order to relay our information to the Intelligence Division of the American troops. In the gathering of these information, either by going with the laborers (forced labor) or getting into the reservation of the Japs at night, we suffered many casualties. These casualties were Nemesio Patag, Diego Patag, Norberto Lunar, Nicolas Jobli, Jose Jusay, Benito Abonador, Andres Aguila, Calixto Remo, Jose Chavez, Ananias Chavez and Luis Jobli.

With the aim of contacting the Hq of the FAIT, and with the belief that Manila was the main American objective wherever they landed, we posted Sgt Julian Laqui in Manila. Unluckily, he was overtaken by the seige of Manila and he met his death in Malate, Manila during the shelling of that place.

On 13 February 45, the Municipal Mayor, Mr. Jose M. Laqui, with around sixty other guerrilla members, were taken in by the Japanese; and not one of them ever returned.

On 8 March 45, when the Japanese began the burning of houses and the massacring of civilians in Cuenca, the members of the “Cuenca Volunteers” conducted the civilians to places of safety, established a fixed perimeter and posted guards around. They were previously alerted for any eventuality. We flashed signals to the observation planes so that we would not be mistaken for Japs and be shelled accordingly.

At the first opportunity, on March 19, 1945, to be exact, we began to climb Mt. Maculot. In bancas, we crossed the Taal Lake (Lake Bombon) to Taal Volcano. The next day, Capt Endaya and I contacted the 158th Regimental Combat Team, under Gen. McNider and Lemery and conferred with Major Blieden of the S-2, furnishing him maps of Japanese emplacements in Cuenca and answering all his queries. They could not furnish us with arms, so we had to be content with what he had.

I knew that our main job then would be the safe evacuation of the townspeople of Cuenca who were virtual prisoners inside the town. After ascertaining the actual positions of the American artillery somewhere between Taal and Alitagtag, my men and I went back to Lumampao, Cuenca, via the Taal Lake, so as to evacuate the civilians. Lumampao, a beach on Lake Bombon, is so situated that the Japanese position on Mt. Maculot was on its north, about a kilometer way up.

[p. 5]

At nightfall, my detachment and I entered the town and informed everybody that it was most dangerous to stay there. We guided them to Lumampao where they could be evacuated to Taal Volcano or some other places already liberated. In this mission, one of my men – Irineo Hoseña – was bayonetted by the Japs, having been caught unawares. The following day, I sent him to Taal for treatment. Some of those laborers who had been held captive by the Japs in Sablay and subsequently massacred were able to escape and join us in Lumampao. One of the survivors, Miguel Maulion, informed us that one of his companions was badly wounded but still alive. I sent some men to the place where this wounded man was supposed to have fallen. This man, who turned out to be Eliseo Jobli, one of my men, although badly wounded, was able to join us in Lumampao about midnight of the next day. In the morning, I sent this wounded man to Alitagtag for medical treatment. We suffered casualties also during the evacuation. Among them, Pio Hoseña and Mariano Masaluñga.

Around 2000 people were gathered in Lumampao, waiting for transportation to the volcano. We had to establish a perimeter because Japanese stragglers might endanger their lives.

We stayed in Lumampao to guide the civilians for two days. On the third day, when only around one half of those people had been evacuated to safety, the crisis had passed – that is, the Japs had already run to their previously prepared positions in Mt. Maculot – and most of the inhabitants were able to go back to town. We joined the liberating forces in the town, helping them in whatever way we could, guiding them and showing them Japanese emplacements. After the American forces had left the town, we had to place detachments in strategic places so that no Jap could enter the town at night. As a precautionary measure, those inhabitants whose houses were outside the town proper were not allowed to remain in their homes at night.

Our security patrols were able to go as far out as about three kilometers north and northwest of the town without meeting any enemy, and because this had continued for around a week without any contact with the enemy, I lessened the number of men on such duty. However, one early morning at around 0430 hours, a detachment of Japs of around 22 tried to enter the town from the northwest. When they found themselves hopelessly enmeshed in our defenses, they retreated, shooting everybody not excluding women.

[p. 6]

Three civilians were killed and two of our men were also killed. Capt Endaya was able to account for the lone Jap casualty who, it seemed, was the rear guard.

When the 1876 EAB was in their mopping up operations in Mt. Maculot on the eastern side (Barrio of Dita), Capt. Brown of “M” Co, 1876 EAB came to me and asked for help. It turned out that his detachment had been able to go around the Japanese tunnel in such a way that his outfit was on a higher level than the said tunnel. He said that his men had been there for two days and badly needed food, water and supplies of dynamite with which to close the tunnels. The only route was through a circuitous, torturous and treacherous trail, impassable for any mechanized unit, going around the Japanese position. I took ninety men with me and we were taken to the barrio of Ibabao by truck. From there, each of my men took a load of either water, ration or case of dynamite. We left Ibabao at about 1300 hours and arrived at the place of deployment (that sitio is called “Payiring Bilao”) at around 1500 hours. Its distance from Ibabao (as the crow flies) would be around two and a half miles. Anyway, we were in town before dark. In parting, Capt. Brown told me: “You do not, perhaps, realize the great help you have given us, but that will certainly shorten our operations. Tomorrow morning, our men will seal those tunnels and that will practically end our operations there.” And I told him that we were only to glad to help in whatever small way we could.

The work of guarding the town continued until the Japs in Mt. Maculot surrendered (262 Japs) sometime in Septembver 1945, though I left Cuenca on April 28 of that year, to report to Philippine Army Headquarters where I was a civilian employee in pre-war days. I left the command to my Executive Officer.

Notes and references:
1 “CUENCA VOLUNTEERS-FAIT” File No. 110-50, downloaded from PVAO.
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