A Brief History of the Liberty Guerrillas, Batangas Unit, MFAT - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A Brief History of the Liberty Guerrillas, Batangas Unit, MFAT

The Liberty Guerrillas was one of many supposed units in Batangas that sought official recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the United States Armed Forces during the liberation of the Philippines. This unit was allegedly commanded by one Lt. Col. Sixto M. Malana and was supposed to have been affiliated with the larger Luzon-based guerrilla organization Marking’s Fil-American Troops of Marcos Agustin. Agustin, however, was supposed to have said that there were no units in Batangas worthy of recognition. In this document1, a brief history of the Liberty Guerrillas was provided in support of the unit’s application for official recognition.

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Guerrilla Files jpeg
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE MARKING’S FIL-AMERICAN
LIBERTY GUERRILLAS BATANGAS UNIT

Way back March 1943, when the memories of our loyal and patriotic soldiers who fought in Bataan and with the traces of the sufferings of our soldiers still fresh in their bodies after concentration at Capaz, Tarlac, Lt. Col. Sixto M. Malana conferred with Major William M. Ilustre, an ex-USAFFE Sergeant who, with more courage, loyalty and patriotism, was very willing to organize an underground resistance movement against the Japanese. This movement, then, is a result of the cause for which many of his comrades in arms fought, shed their blood and died in Bataan.

At this time, Lt. Bernabe Andal was forming his own organization as an underground movement, too. Major Wm. Ilustre, having learned this step taken by Lt. Andal, conferred with him. Both agreed to work together for a common cause. Under the leadership of Lt. Col. Malana and with Major Wm. Ilustre and Lt. B. Andal as the spearheads in the campaign for more members, they were able to gain the sympathy of the people. They were able to make their plans, synchronize their movements and missions which led their barrio folks to cooperate and suppor them.

Under the command of Lt. Col. Sixto M. Malana, the Liberty Guerrilla unit was formally organized. Major William M. Ilustre was inducted, assuming the post as Battalion Executive Officer. The strength of one battalion, composed of officers and enlisted men, was inducted, too. Major Exequiel Ilustre then was inducted, too, as Battalion Adjutant. The induction was done at Battalion Headquarters situated by the bank of the Malaking Ilog River separating the provinces of Batangas and Tayabas.

With the induction of these officers and men, the unit began the underground movement of resistance. The unit discouraged mostly the acts of collaboration and cooperation with the Japanese as the foodstuff quota. The people were advised to minimize their quotas. This foodstuff quotas were collected even from remote barrios.

Intelligence work was the main job of the unit. With Capt. Angel Miranda as our S-2, he made full instructions to his men in gathering information on enemy positions, strength and activities. In some cases, we were using civilians to do these things. Counter-intelligence work was also done by the unit.

In the middle of the year 1943, the membership was fast increasing. Although these people were not officially inducted, they had extended a great help to the members of the unit, especially to those out of headquarters and to those sent out on missions. The ronda system was introduced to the civilians. This system materialized. The faithful civilian followers helped a lot by furnishing us information of suspicious passers-by. News could be easily rallied through the rondas which helped us know what direction or where the enemies were heading for. This helped us evade capture.

In view of the increasing number of men in the organization, most of whom were barrio folks, Capt. Napoleon B. Tarracatac, S-3, gave some military instructions. These plans were, however, carried out with the help of some ex-USAFFE members of the command. The policy of instruction did not last so long a time because the Japs made an intensified drive against guerrillas.

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It was somewhere [near] the end of September when the Japanese put and made an intensified drive against the underground movement. They applied the “zona” system which [made] many members to get discouraged. Some continued with their resistance movement but some laid low. In view of the drastic action made by the Japs, those left with the command continued with their counter-propaganda work. This, however, was carried on by the intermingling of our members with the civilians.

In view of the fact that our unit was a small unit, Captain Miranda and Lt. David Magboo made contact with other units. We were able to contact Capt. Ciriaco Torralba, the Executive Officer of the Sariaya Regiment and Col. Eligio Manalo of the Candelaria Regiment. We coordinated our movements with them. We made contact with the PQOG and we submitted our intelligence work to that unit [because] they [were] in possession of a transmittal at Laiya, San Juan.

We then later on received [news] about the landing of the American forces in Leyte. Everybody was busy gathering information on the enemies. We always made it a point to get in the least possible delayed information about the activities of the Japanese. This time that the Japanese learned of the landing at Leyte, they began to do their worst treatment to the civilians. The Japanese began collecting every available foodstuff. They confiscated vehicles. The civilians then ran into confusion. The unit advised the people living near the town, near enemy positions and those living along the provincial road to abandon their homes and to evacuate to remote barrios. The Japs continued with wither drive. They began massacring the people. They burned the houses and killed the civilians. To those who would be caught by the Japs and to those who were caught being suspected of having supported the guerrillas or giving aid to them, would surely meet death this time. Most [were] tortured and executed through the points of bayonets.

We had always heard of the advances of the American troops. We had always longed for their early arrival at our place so as to completely relieve the people of their fears. It was then the first week of April when the American troops arrived and occupied the town of San Juan, Batangas. There, we witnessed the brother guerrilleros fighting side by side with the American troops. The American forces having arrived at San Juan on 4th April 1945 did not last for a week with a part of them proceeding to Candelaria, Tayabas the third day after their arrival at the said place. We went to meet the occupation forces, some of our men followed them in the liberation of Candelaria. Due to the short stay of the occupation forces, we were not able then to make any attachment.

Prepared and submitted by:

[Sgd.] SIXTO M. MALANA
Commanding


Notes and references:

1 “Liberty Grlas Batangas Unit, MFAT,” File No. 109-7, online at the United States National Archives.

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