History and Activities of the Highlanders United Guerrillas Part I - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore History and Activities of the Highlanders United Guerrillas Part I - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

History and Activities of the Highlanders United Guerrillas Part I



The Highland United Guerrillas was guerrilla outfit that operated in the Province of Batangas out of the Municipality of Mataasnakahoy in World War II. It was under the command of one Alfredo Silva. In this document1, the leader of the US Army team that investigated this guerrilla unit after its application for official recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the US Armed Forces filed his report.

Guerrilla Files


Mataasnakahoy, Batangas, Philippines
February 20, 1946.

Account of the Delay in the Submission of this Request for Recognition

Before going into the history and activities of this guerrilla unit, it is believed of considerable importance at the outset that account be presented of the cause of the delay in the submission of this request for recognition. This is a big guerrilla unit, organized way back in 1942, not long after the Japanese had started to plunder the Philippines, and this unit had fought many battles with the enemy, sometimes by themselves alone, and at other times side by side with the American forces and other guerrilla units which are now already recognized. But, “Why,” – it may be asked – has not this request been presented earlier, when the interests of so many members, dead and alive, are involved? It was because it was thought sufficient that the roster of this unit was given to Major Summer of the 158 Infantry which led the liberation of many towns in Batangas and with whose men our unit fought many battles with the Japanese, especially in the liberation of the town of Alitagtag, and the town of Cuenca, province of Batangas. Furthermore, when Major-General Swing established office in Mataasnakahoy, where the headquarters of this unit had been located, after conference with him and his officers, another roster was presented to said office. Obviously, the roster presented to Major Summer may have been lost in the movements of the troops. Major Summer was killed in Lipa, but whatever fate the roster presented to him might have met, we did not care much about, as another roster was presented of the Office of Major-General Swing in Mataasnakahoy. In view of the foregoing antecedents, and of the unfamiliarity with the requirements on recognition of guerrillas, this unit failed

#Note: The roster presented to the Office of Major General Swing was only partial, containing only the names of members of the unit who then had arms, and who then were available for patrol work in the camp area.

[p. 2]

to submit to the AFWESPAC a formal request for recognition earlier than this date. The arrival several days ago at the camp in Mataasnakahoy of thousands of processing guerrillas of other units, many of whom were with our men in the battles against the Japanese, stirred the envy of our members, – that was but human – and stirred our attention to inquire what happened to our rosters above-mentioned. After going around the offices of the AFWESPAC in Manila, we finally discovered that we had to present the present petition as the proper initial step in the request for recognition of our unit. Thanks to the extension of time granted by the AFWESPAC to present requests for recognition, that we were able to seek recognition men of our unit are long waiting for. The interests of all the members, dead and alive, we trust will be taken care of by the AFWESPAC as well as we had done our part in the battles to wipe out the Japanese.

The Organization of the Unit

Unbearable living conditions under the Japanese. – The Japanese forces occupied Lipa, Mataasnakahoy, and other neighboring towns of Batangas, on December 30, and 31, 1941, and finally occupied Manila on January 2, 1942. Since then, we found the Japanese fast exploiting our country — taking properties of the inhabitants; monopolizing the best available foods, buildings, supplies of all sorts, as well as trade and commerce, and natural resources; and leaving nothing for the subsistence and use of the people, except the remnants of their greed. The people everywhere were terrorized; and subjected to inhumane torture on suspicion of collaborating with the Allies, or on mere failure to give desired cooperation. Steadily, the Japanese tightened their tyranny on the inhabitants as well as the Allied prisoners of war, that we readily felt the need for secretly organizing guerrillas to clog the operations of the Japanese and to sabotage their installations at the proper time, and in the meantime that we were waiting for the return of the American forces, to bolster up the morale of the people.

Mataasnakahoy, ideal place to organize the unit. – For purposes

[p. 3]

of sabotaging the installations of the Japanese which were of great importance in the war, he had chosen Mataasnakahoy as the ideal place to organize this unit. This town is just about less than a kilometer’s distance from the big airfield at Lipa, where Japanese airplanes and plenty of ammunition were being kept.

Organization started. – The organization was started in July, 1942. Select men were first enlisted, precaution being then seriously taken to avoid detection by the Japanese. Ex-Bataan men who had returned home were enlisted. Able-bodied civilians from Mataasnakahoy were secretly contacted, and they all agreed to join the unit. Select individuals were also enlisted, with the help of Major David Dimaculangan, from the towns of Rosario, Lobo, Lipa, and San Jose. With the help of Mayor Gelasio Ocampo, others were selected from the towns of Santo Tomas and Cuenca. Towards the months of September and October of 1942, a big regiment was enlisted, including capable individuals to handle the intelligence, medical, and engineering corps units. The total enlistment reached 1,476 men, including a few women, whose names and ranks appear in the attached roster. This unit was composed of General Headquarters Staff, Intelligence Unit, Medical Corps, Engineer Corps, and 6 companies, — A, B, D, D, E, F.

The first difficulty encountered by this unit was the procurement of badly needed arms. Upon the arrival of the Japanese, they confiscated the firearms of the civilians, and available firearms for the use of the guerrillas became scarce. This unit, however, was able to accumulate 20 revolvers and pistols, and 18 rifles, all with ammunition. This was considerably very inadequate but it was about one of the biggest assemblage of guerrilla equipment at the time. However, we managed to acquire more by buying secretly from other places, like Cavite. Of course, at any rate, we knew from the result of the work of our Intelligence Unit that we would be fully equipped when the time to retake the Philippines came.

[p. 4]

With respect to the financing of the organization, salaries were held pending, as the organization had no funds. For sometime as there was nothing much to do during the early part of the organization, the members supported themselves. Later on, however, activities became numerous, especially for the Intelligence Unit and the General Headquarters Staff, and living expenses became heavier, especially due to the tremendous inflation of the currency. Voluntary contributions were given by the members who were financially sound, and by some civilian sympathizers. When firearms were located in the barrios, funds were raised by similar contributions of the financially able for the purchase of the same.


Supporting Americans stranded in Batangas forests. – Among the matters which engaged the early attention and activities of this unit was the giving of aid to certain American officers who got stranded in a forest in Malvar, Batangas, encircled by enemy lines. That was shortly after the Japanese effected occupation of the Philippines. Four American officers, Lt. James J. Kraus, Lt. Robert P. Preipart, Lt. Edmond E. Jennings, and Lt. Joe F. Smith, of the Engineer Corps of the United States Army, found their way into a forest in Malvar, from where there was no possible escape except thru enemy lines and camps. They were in a very serious predicament. They had no food, no money, and their clothing were worn out. Two were sickly and needed medicine. This unit was able to send to them aid in the form of money, clothing, medicine, newspapers and cigarettes, thru Mr. Exequiel K. Kalaw of Lipa, Batangas, who is known to the unit as being a member of a guerrilla unit in Mandaluyong, Rizal, and who happened to get first connections with the American officers. The aid given by this unit was delivered by our Lt. Col. Artemio M. Lobrin to Mr. Kalaw who took them to the American officers in their hiding place at late hours of the night to avoid detection by the Japanese. However, after a few months of stay in the forest, the

[p. 5]

four officers decided to surrender to the Japanese, and when this unit learned of it, they had already surrendered.

In support of the facts herein narrated, the affidavit of Mr. Exequiel L. Kalaw, who is in possession of papers signed by the four officers containing the names and addresses of the next of kin they had in the United States, is also herewith attached as Exhibit “I.”

Dissemination of short-wave broadcasts. – Another activity undertaken by this unit during the early part of its organization, and continued persistently in 1943, 1944, and the early part of 1945, was the dissemination of short-wave broadcasts on the progress of the American and Allied forces in various theaters of war.

It was so worked out by the Japanese forces upon their occupation of the Philippines that people were fed with false and exaggerated propaganda. They took over the control of the press, the radio stations, and mail, and everything they published in the newspapers was exaggerated figures on the losses of the Allied forces. If such state of affairs was allowed to go uncontradicted, it would work out harmfully to the cause of the American and Allied forces. The only way to counteract the bad effects of this false propaganda of the Japanese was to secure short-wave broadcasts of the real developments in the various war fronts. Copies of the typewritten news received from broadcasts by Radio Station KZEI at San Francisco were secured almost daily by Captain Jose M. Lobrin, Liaison & Intelligence Officer-at-Large of this unit who has house at 1318 Gregorio del Pilar, Manila, and transmitted to this unit. Upon receipt of the news copies, this unit conducted murmuring campaigns in Mataasnakahoy, Lipa, San Jose, Rosario, Lobo, and other neighboring towns advising the people of the developments of the war. This activity was very effective in bolstering up the morale of the guerrillas and the civilians, and the news of the approaching counterattack by the American forces alerted the people to prepare for their evacuation to safe places, and for the preparation of their family supplies.

[p. 6]

The sources of the short-wave broadcasts in Manila, from which this unit thru our Liaison & Intelligence Officer-at-Large got our copies were: Mr. Nestor Garcia, Radio Operator, who was apprehended by the Japanese sometime in the end of 1944, and found with his own copies, and brought to Fort Santiago where it was learned later he was killed by the Japanese. Another source was the short-wave broadcast being received at the old cemetery in Singalong Subdivision. Another source was the Philippine Underground Movement, under the command of Colonel J. Pardo de Tavera of the Division of Investigations.

Sending of vital information to American forces. – One of the activities of this unit which was conducted jointly with another guerrilla unit, was the sending of vital information concerning the military secrets of the enemy to the American forces. There was much to transmit to the said forces. Relative positions of the Japanese planes, aviation gasoline, and ammunition in the airfield in Lipa and Mataasnakahoy, were graphed or mapped by our unit. This, we were able to make by getting the information from Filipino laborers compelled by the Japanese to work in the airfield. These secrets were transmitted by this unit to Col. Hermenegildo L. Lopez of the guerrilla unit of Colonel Anderson. Colonel Lopez was being contacted in the barrio of Pagulingin, Lipa. Their unit had a transmitter, and Col. Lopez undertook to relay the information furnished by us to the American forces thru their transmitter, station CUP. We believe that the cooperation we made with the unit of Colonel Lopez and Colonel Anderson helped the American Air forces, as the bombings of the airfield which ensued registered direct hits on the planes, gasoline deposits and ammunition dumps indicated.

In support of the facts herein narrated, there is attached herewith an affidavit of Col. Lopez attesting to the fact that he received information and military secrets from this unit for transmission thru their transmitter, station CUP. His affidavit is marked Exhibit “2.” His unit has already been recognized.

[p. 7]

Evacuation of civilians. – During the middle of 1944, this unit advised the people in the territories of Mataasnakahoy, Lipa, San Jose, Rosario, Cuenca and Alitagtag, and other neighboring towns to prepare for evacuation to places far from the airfield and other installations of the Japanese, to avoid danger resulting from bombs which may at any time be dropped by American planes. During the middle of September 1944, considerable civilians, especially of Mataasnakahoy which was nearest to the airfield, were evacuated along the shore of Taal Lake. Within a few days, American planes bombed the airfield, and the Japanese became very distrustful of the people, and prohibited their coming even to the poblacion.

Sabotage of the airfield. In the early part of January, 1945, the headquarters of this unit also evacuated to the shore region of Lake Taal. Our Intelligence Section reported that the Japanese had moved their gasoline deposits and drums closer to the poblacion of Mataasnakahoy, from the airfield, and taking advantage of the fact that the Japanese soldiers had left temporarily the vicinity of Mataasnakahoy, leaving only a handful of soldiers to patrol the guard the place, this unit sabotaged the airfield by a mass raid to destroy the aviation gasoline deposits which they moved near the poblacion. A big portion of our force, numbering about 400, joined in the raid, and we destroyed the gasoline and kerosene dumps near the schoolhouse and the cemetery of Mataasnakahoy. We also cut the telephone and electric wires installed by the Japanese in the town. Civilians also joined in the raid, and helped dismantle the sheds of the Japanese. As in the afternoon of that day, January 3, 1945, sounds of on-coming trucks of the Japanese were heard from the south towards Mataasnakahoy. We took cover in the nearby forest and left the place when we saw numerous soldiers of the enemy with plenty of ammunition, against whom it was futile to stage [an] encounter, for [the] big difference in armaments between the enemy and our unit. At any rate, we had accomplished a very big job in the sabotage,

[p. 8]

and we took precaution not to stage [an] encounter in the meantime, as the civilians had not been evacuated far enough from the vicinity to be safe from repercussions, and also because we intended to conduct another sabotage of the airfield by destroying planes, which we did, and accounts of which are related herein below, somewhere in this history.

Evacuation of civilians went further. – During the first two weeks of January, 1945, many raids by American planes were made of the Lipa-Mataasnakahoy airfields, and the raids left the airfields practically useless due to tremendous destruction. The Japanese in the vicinity of Mataasnakahoy and Lipa became furious and desperate, and started raiding civilians everywhere, killing even women and children. This unit marshaled its efforts and forces to evacuate the civilians to Taal Volcano, which is an island in the center of Lake Taal, big enough to hold thousands and thousands of evacuees. We commandeered the sailboats and rafts available along the shores of the lake, and helped rush the evacuation of the civilians from Mataasnakahoy, Lipa, Santo Tomas, Rosario, San Jose, Ibaan, Cuenca, Alitagtag, Lemery and Taal, in collaboration with the guerrilla units of Colonel Pasia and Colonel Folsom, many civilians, thousands of them, especially those slow in packing up their things and in leaving their affairs at home, were victims of the Japanese massacre conducted in many places in Lipa, Mataasnakahoy, Cuenca, and Taal.

After evacuating considerable civilians to the volcano, numbering about 60,000 persons, our unit transferred our headquarters to the said island, and in conjunction with other guerrillas quartering there, we helped patrol the shores to prevent any possible raid of the island by the Japanese.

Casualties of our unit incidental to evacuation campaign. – While we were evacuating the civilians to Taal Volcano, we assigned men or our unit to do patrol work. While performing


Notes and references:
1 “Highlanders United Guerrillas,” File No. 161, online at the United States National Archives.
Next Post Previous Post