The Laurel Regiment, 45th
Division, I Corps of the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG), started as an independently organized unit in Talisay, Alitagtag and Taal under the command of one Amando Laurel of the Municipality of Talisay. Later in the war, this guerrilla unit would become affiliated with the PQOG, a large guerrilla organization that operated in Luzon during the Japanese occupation up to the liberation of Batangas. In this document1
, a history of the unit is provided, submitted after the war to the United States Army in the unit’s application to be officially recognized as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States.
P Q O G
46th Regt. 45th Div
Early in 1942, soon after the bombing by the Japanese of the cities of Manila, Baguio and Davao, courageous Filipino citizens, either military or civilian, grouped themselves together with [a] recognized head, with the noble and heroic idea to fight against the Japanese. During the fight in Bataan and Corregidor, groups of able-bodied men in Talisay under Amando Laurel; another group in Taal under Pedro E. Gahol; and a third group in Alitagtag under Bibiano Holgado, were independently organized, with the aim to fight the Japanese at any rate in case of landing or occupation of their respective towns. Sometimes, they used to maintain peace and order guarding the barrios, especially at night, when the local governments evacuated to places, many never knew.
After the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, and even during the time they were fighting, rumors of the bravery and activities of a Guerrilla Army under [the] late Congressman Wenceslao Q. Vinzons, in the province of Camarines Norte, reached as far as Batangas, and oftentimes the talk of the populace. Amando Laurel, another Filipino with [the] stubborn idea not to submit to the Japanese-sponsored government, sent invitations to Pedro E. Gahol, Bibiano Holgado, and Emerenciano Biscocho for [a] conference in Volcano Island, the place where Laurel lived. It was decided and agreed in this conference to organize their respective groups into one military unit or organization, with the main purpose to fight the Japanese.
On May 16, 1942, the Laurel’s Regiment or TAT Regiment was organized militarily, meaning Taal, Alitagtag and Talisay Regiment. Amando Laurel was agreed or elected chief or Commander with the military rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and organizer. Pedro E. Gahol, Executive Officer and Commander of [the] Taal Battalion with the military rank of Major and co-organizer, Bibiano Holgado, Commander of [the] Alitagtag Battalion, with the military rank of Major and co-organizer, Emerenciano Biscocho, Commander of [the] Talisay Battalion with the military rank of Major and co-organizer.
During the year 1942 to 1943, the unit was engaged generally in espionage activities to counteract the movements made by the Japanese patrols and pacification groups. An outstanding accomplishment made in this regard was the elimination of Japanese spies in the covered sector and the successful defense made by its personnel when the Japs tried to land and invade the Volcano Island, which metted [netted?] this organization [a] few rifles and hand grenades. Because of this accident, he was one time picked by the Military Police and brought to Lipa, Batangas and was beaten and imprisoned, from which he narrowly escaped death, and later was released.
As early as the latter part of 1943, this unit, fearing the invasion of both Japanese and stubborn lawless elements, which were always encountered by this unit in unlawful raids against loyal Filipino lives and properties, disturbing the peace and order, with the approval of all the ranking officers of this unit, decided to attach the Laurel’s Regiment or TAT Regiment to a bigger organization, the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas, under Col. Vicente Umali, the mentioned CO, thus confirming all appointments and military ranks of officers and non-commissioned officers of the Laurel’s Regiment, and from that time, the Laurel’s Regiment was called PQOG, 46th Regt., 45th Division and became responsible in maintaining peace and order in the covered municipalities or military sector.
As early as the latter part of 1943 up to January 1945, this unit, despite the lack of time to send men to make direct contact with the SWPA Command especially in Mindoro, was attached to PQOG, under Col. Umali who had direct contact with the SWPA; and regularly we sent our intelligence report to its GHQ. In 1944, when it became impossible to send couriers to the PQOG GHQ of Col. Umali, the Laurel’s Regiment was in close coordination with the ROTC Regiment which had its GHQ along the Taal Lake, under Lt. Col. Juanito Ferrer. This regiment under Lt. Col. Ferrer had direct contact with Major Jay D. Vanderpool in Nasugbu, Batangas. Thru this ROTC Regiment, we oftentimes sent intelligence reports to Major Vanderpool. The Laurel’s Regiment, 46th Regt. 45th Div., contributed greatly to the supply of correct
military information concerning the enemy by submitting its report regularly to the GHQ PQOG under Col. Umali, and sometimes to Major Vanderpool thru ROTC under Lt. Col. Ferrer.
In September 1944, when the first air raid by US planes was done, an American plane with its pilot fell in Taal Lake, so the PQOG members lost no time, hurried a banca and saved the pilot, his name is Lt. Comdr. William E. Lamp, who would have been drowned if not for the early assistance of this unit’s personnel. Lt. Lamp was turned over by this unit to Col. Umali. This time, [the] situation everywhere became worse and guerrilla leaders were hunted by [the] Japs hid and took refuge at the Volcano Island, which was the Headquarters of the PQOG Laurel’s Regiment. This was also true with the civilians fearing Japanese atrocities, and for safety, they evacuated to the same island with the assistance of our officers and men. Not less than thirty thousand civilians (30,000) crowded in this island for safety, including some prominent Manilans like Judge Vicente Albert and family, Major Charles Armstrong Jr. and family, Don Rafael Roces Sr. and family, Mr. Aguinaldo and family, the son of Don Leopoldo Aguinaldo and Judge Modesto Castillo and family. Majority of these evacuees came from the neighboring towns like Cuenca, Lipa, Alitagtag, Mataasnakahoy, Malvar and Tanauan. Due to the crowded evacuees, the PQOG personnel lost no efforts in the maintenance of peace and order and the enforcement of health rules, hence epidemic was avoided. All parts of the island were guarded by our men day and night to prevent invasion by the enemy and avoid some Filipinos taking advantage of the circumstances. So far, due to the untiring efforts and assistance of this Laurel’s Regiment, despite the shortage of food among the masses, trouble was avoided and unity and love among the different kinds of people [that] existed.
Early in 1945, friendly planes meeting engine trouble used the Volcano Island as landing for repair inasmuch as the American flag hoisted by Laurel’s Regt., could easily be observed displayed all the time. One time, another guerrilla leader, Lt. Col. Avancena, came to the island with two American pilots who were shot at, but saved by PQOG personnel in Makiling. Thru some artificial signs made by this regiment, the two American pilots were picked by [a] friendly plane and brought to Leyte. Their names were William Powe [Foye] and the other Boyle, ranks not remembered.
Before the landing of the 11th Airborne Division, this unit assaulted and liberated the town of Talisay below Tagaytay Ridge. After a few days, landing was made at Tagaytay City, and the unit [was] officially attached and worked for the 11th Airborne Division, and acting upon orders of Major Cletus N. Schommer, majority of the armed men had to stay on the island to take care of the over-crowded evacuees. This order was done after the personal investigation done or conducted by Major Schommer around the Volcano Island. From the time the Laurel’s Regiment began to function up to the attachment to the 11th Airborne, the unit depended on the personal finance and food by the Regimental Commander and possible aid by officers and other members who were willing to sacrifice everything for the success of the organization fighting for the cause.
We participated in the liberation of the towns of Taal, Lemery and Alitagtag which are part of the Regiment’s sector. Combat Co “A” was attached to the Guerrilla Headquarters in Taal, Batangas under William J. Schloth, Major. It led espionage work, mopping operations and interior and rearguard duties performed. In conjunction with other combat companies, the PQOG Combat Co “A” cleared [the] Lemery area of remnants of [the] Japanese Army and later was assigned in Taal, Batangas. While in Taal, this unit settled disputes, apprehended thieves and maintained peace and order, in accordance with the Commonwealth Constitutional rules and regulations. While this Combat Co “A” was in Taal, all the other members of this regiment were taking care of the civilian evacuees in the Volcano Island as they would not go home yet, their towns having been liberated earlier, so too with some members in the municipalities of Alitagtag and Talisay, who were protecting the people from robbers and people taking chances. Especially the Combat Co “A” was always occupied in its assigned area so the rest of the members served as guards in barrios where the Japs often made raids for food and assaulting civilians. They also kept fighting this time.
Casualties — Capt. Mariano Laurel killed in action fighting the Japs in Kuskusan, Lemery, Batangas, Pvt Venancio Centeno wounded in the same encounter. Capt Venustiano Laurel and S/Sgt Emeterio Barairo wounded in Talisay, Batangas. Capt. Temistocles Ampere, wounded while delaying the actions of Japanese massacre in Bancoro, Taal, Batangas, Pvt. Isabelo Rodriguez and Pvt. Angel de Ramos killed by Japs whiled assigned by their CO to guard a place and report the Jap and civilian activities. Capt. Dominador Manalo wounded in Alitagtag while spying the enemy emplacement.
It will be noticed in our organizational report dated 11 Mar ’45 submitted to the 11th Airborne Division that names only eighty seven (87) officers and men were included in the roster. This could be accounted for by the fact that we were then ordered by the 11th Airborne Division to submit only the names of officers and enlisted men who supported the operations of the 11th Airborne Division in Taal, under the Guerrilla Coordinator Major William J. Schloth. Consequently, all the rest of the members of this unit, which was the majority, who did not work with the 11th Airborne Division, but were just the same too busy and sacrificing to take care of the civilians and fighting the Japs at any rate along the side-shores of the lake, and the municipalities of Talisay and Alitagtag were not included in the organizational report submitted thereto.
Giving due justice to all the rest of the members of this organization, who actually sacrificed and rendered valuable service ever since the existence of this unit and even at the time, when the American Army was here already, and helped in its activities, we are submitting herewith a Roster of the PQOG 46th Regiment, 45th Division, Laurel’s Regiment, and with a request that all and ranks and assignments of the officers and enlisted men be officially recognized and be included in the official roster already submitted and recognized last 11 Mar ’45, and [a] corresponding directive be issued so that this regiment be processed into the Philippine Army.
[Sgd.] AMANDO LAUREL
Notes and references:
Lt Col Infantry
“Laurel’s Regiment, 45th
Division, I Corps, PQOG,” File No. 271-19, online at the United States National Archives.