A Brief History of the Tanauan Unit, MFAT
The Tanauan Unit was a guerrilla organization affiliated with the MFAT or Marking’s Fil-Americans Troops. The latter was a larger organization operating in Luzon commanded by one Marcos Agustin, hence the nickname “Marking.” This organization absorbed elements of Hugh Straughn’s Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) after the American commander was captured and executed by the Japanese Army. Hence, the name “Marking’s Fil-Americans.” In this document1, a short history of the Tanauan Unit of the MFAT is provided, written as one of the required documents as the organization sought official recognition by the United States Army.
H E A D Q U A R T E R S
MARKING’S FIL-AMERICAN TROOPS
L U Z O N
– 0 –
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE “TANAUAN UNIT”
On or about August 10, 1943, I received a confidential information that in Barrio Putol, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, there was a “Marking Moro Officer” by the name of Col. Daud Mangkon. On or about 15 August 1943, I left my home [in] Barrio Luyos, Tanauan looking for [him] from place to place, till I luckily interviewed him in a hut on the outskirt of Barrio Putol. I confessed to him my profound love for freedom, hatred against the Japanese and sincere hope that the American troops would eventually come and redeem General MacArthur’s pledge of coming back. He assured me that if I could successfully recruit 150 trustworthy men, to complete the “TANAUAN UNIT,” he would recommend to Commander Marcos Villa Agustin my appointment as Captain and the recognition and appointment of my subordinate men in the MARKING’S GUERRILLA ORGANIZATION. I went home and succeeded in drafting 150 men who willingly cooperated by procuring .30 cal old U.S. Army repaired rifles and [a] small quantity of ammunition. Leaving 70 men as home guard, I reported to Col. Mangkon with the rest of my men. He lent me a U.S. Army 45 cal. pistol as a sign of trust. The Moro officer, accompanied by us, inspected Lt. Col. Dionisio Medrada at Mt. Makiling, and gave him instructions for the proper coordination of functions and unit of [the] entire command. In October 1943, we accompanied our commander to San Luis, Batangas, and there we met Maj. Amado Diokno. In [a] rush order, Col. Mangkon sent us to Sto. Tomas to observe the movements of the Japanese troops and the location of their ammunition and fuel depots. He instructed me to requisition our food supply from the people and issue them receipts if they would not offer us food.
It was Wednesday, November 1943, while watching the movements of the trucks supposedly loaded with ammunition, three suspicious Japanese soldiers with about fifty puppet constabulary men, arrested three of us for investigation. The constabulary men cooperated with Capt. Rupac and me by helping us to escape, while Lt. Fajardo remained under close surveillance in the constabulary garrison at [the] Sto. Tomas Elementary School Building. After proper planning and consultation with my men,
I assisted Capt. Rupac, alias Pedro Salazar, in a surprise attack against the Constabulary Garrison commanded by the Japanese. After three hours of intermittent, nay, almost simultaneous offensive rifle and pistol fire thru the smoke of the defense guns, five men and I entered the building. The constabulary men fled, leaving some of their empty guns. We searched all rooms and in vain looked for [the] missing Lt. Fajardo. Suddenly, we saw many fully-equipped Japanese alighting from their trucks and others already beginning a fresh and terrific assault against our comrades. We jumped and quickly joined our tired companions in withdrawing to Barrio Pantay, where the people appreciated our tasks by giving us free food and shelter.
We decided to remain in Barrio Pantay indefinitely, waiting for ammunition supply. Seven days elapsed but no ammunition arrived, unexpectedly, about 200 Japanese and constabulary men surreptitiously surrounded our outpost and demanded our quick surrender. An alarming confusion among us ensued. Capt. Rupac, sick and disabled, ordered us to escape. We rushed, jumped, and ran away followed by the slowly disappearing audible rifle fire from the enemy. Capt. Rupac, our hero, disappeared since then.
I, the remaining high ranking officer, became the commander. We established our outposts, first in Mount Vega, Talisay, and for lack of sufficient food, we moved to a narrow and grassy valley, up the Angas in Brook, Tanauan, where I waited for the order or call of Col. Mangkon. I received confidential news that he was captured by members of the Japanese Military Police in Mabuhay Lunch, Calamba, Laguna, and executed. We had been receiving voluntary contributed food from the people of Luyas, Sulpoc, Altura, Suplang, and Bilogbilog.
On October 28, 1944, MARKING’S Col. A. K. Ortiz, accompanied by five men, went to [see] me at our outpost and convincingly showed his identification. He persuaded me to join his unit in Palo Alto, to launch a relentless underground attack against our enemy, according to the order of Commander Villa Agustin. Since then, we followed and acknowledged him as our superior officer.
In several voyages across Laguna Bay and trips to [the] Sierra Madre Mountains, I accompanied Col. Ortiz, received necessary orders, arms and ammunition from the MARKING’S GENERAL HEADQUARTERS. Following his
order, I ordered the technique and secret of “demolition,” under American Lt. Brook Studard, Col. Ortiz, sent a rush order requiring my immediate presence with my men in Tanauan, Batangas, to ambush the Japanese and sever their lines of communication.
It was an early morning of March 5, 1945 when a certain Japanese detachment passed Barrio Bilogbilog and walked their way towards the Tagaytay Ridges, presumably to join their comrades who were digging in trenches, foxholes, and caves. We were 115 in number, including about 50 armed with U.S. old repaired rifles, the rest with pistols and hand grenades, all waiting in Pulong Mariana for an opportune moment. The Japanese were walking towards us in an ideal distance when I ordered my men to fire. Four Japanese fell, the rest scattered into the cornfield and retaliated with all their arms, including rifles, and pistols and hand grenades. Under my order, all men under my command surrounded the cornfield. We crawled towards our objectives and found them hiding in the furrows, faced downwards. We initiated a more determined attack. After three hours of almost continuous fire, the Japanese were subdued, all the 14 were killed.
I ordered my men to cut or destroy the communication wires of the enemy in Sto. Tomas, Tanauan and Talisay. After one week’s operation, 20 of my men cut four kilometers of wires from Talisay to Tanauan and about seven kilometers of communication lines in Sto. Tomas.
The American forces had already landed in Pangasinan. We prepared our arms and ammunition to face the fanatical Japs. I received the reports that about 150 well-armed Japs had ordered about 40 civilians in Barrio Bilogbilog to carry their sacks of supplies to Tagaytay. We were 48 men who went ahead [of] the Japs and guarded the trails north of Barrio Suplang. The Japanese were fully armed when we saw them walking in a single line with the Filipinos. I decided not to fight for fear that the Filipinos might be hit and killed. One of my men accidentally fired his rifle and the situation became dangerous for us. The Japs mounted their machine guns and fired at us. We retaliated with our rifles and hit one of the enemy. We retreated. The next morning, I received the news that the Japs in Tagaytay shot all the recruited Filipinos, killing 36 and wounding 4 who were able to escape.
We saw and verified that considerable American parachutists
dropped at Tagaytay, Cavite. Many Jap soldiers from that place retreated to the lowlands in Tanauan and Talisay, within my defensive zones. Reports were given to me that about 300 retreating Japs were burning houses and killing Filipinos.
It was Monday night, February 1945, when in Barrio Luyos, Tanauan, Batangas, about 100 Japanese soldiers lost their way. Lt. Balba joined his forces with me in the upper part of the natural foxhole-like Putok, the eroded and well-camouflaged center of the barrio. At about 11 o’clock that moonlit night, the Japs were coming up to us in a single line. We started the attack with the best rifles we had. There were sighs commotion [?] and confusion on the side of the enemy. They responded with a trench mortar and fire-spitting machine guns. Persistently, they were approaching again, this time protected by machine guns firing mercilessly. We moved [mowed?] them down with hand grenades and rifles. The anger of my men flared up when we saw our companions Sgt. Pedro Tolentino, Privates Nicomedes Libutan and Jose Austria, dead. The Japs deployed to our right flank, while those who climbed to our left side reeled and stumbled as they were hit. We changed positions and hit behind the trees and bushes, frustrating the Japs’ plan to surround us. They ceased firing, while we slowly crawled towards them. We were surprised when we saw our battered enemy retreating in great disorder. [The] Next morning, we found 17 dead Japs with their helmets and boxes of food. The outcome of this engagement shall be long remembered as a unique triumph of sole guerrilla defense against the Japs’ “advance or die” offense.
On March 10, 1945, I, accompanied by five men, went to Calamba to look for better arms and ammunition. On our way to Barrio Parian, Calamba, I received and exciting report that a Japanese officer was firing his pistol at the Filipino civilians. We followed a civilian informant till we saw a Japanese Captain near the bank of a brook, holding a pistol and staring at the ground. I quickly fired my pistol at him and continued shooting until he stumbled, groaned, and died. We arrived at our outpost on that same day.
On March 15, 1945, we joined our forces with [a] “P. Q. O. G.” unit under Lt. Col. Martiniano Carandang and reported for duty to Lt. Col. Conner, Commander of the U.S. 8th Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Squadron, in
[the] Santor Primary School Building. Col. Carandang took all our guerrilla credentials for record and reference. Forthwith, Col. Conner organized the “Zebra Troops” and attached all of us to that unit. We went with the 8th Cavalry Regiment to Lipa, Batangas. Under order, we proceeded to Sta. Clara Japs’ Fortress and began the long siege. The Japanese were well-entrenched in camouflaged pill boxes and caves in Mount Malepunyo. After several hours of offensive artillery and mortar attack, we penetrated the enemy’s main line of defense at a cost of 27 “Zebra” dead and wounded. Under order of Col. Conner, we withdrew to Sta. Maria, Laguna, leaving Col. Carandang among the dead, and Cristino Moncayo and Basilio Mercado, among the wounded.
Col. Conner gave a vacation leave to all tired members of our unit, leaving me and twelve others. We performed the duties of the guards of the Command Post, 2nd Squadron of the 8th Cavalry Regiment. We walked our way to [the] Sierra Madre Mountains, and reached Infanta, Tayabas, where the Japanese attacked our outpost, severely wounding Capt. Mann. [A] Subsequent order attached us to “E” Troops under Major Rickmann. With Lt. Smith as platoon leader, the “E” Troops encountered stiff resistance from the Japs deployed along the Agos River. Following our commander, we retreated to the Command Post. On June 2, 1945, Col. Conner sent all of us to Santa Maria, where each received ₱80.00 irrespective of ranks. Then, he got our arms and instructed us to go home to rest and wait for his further order.
We had been waiting for his call, until surprisingly, we received the news from Major Decana of the 4th Battalion, Saber Force, that the High Command sent Col. Conner to Japan. We had contributed our humble services to the Great Cause which [we] won. We sincerely hope that [the] proper authorities will appreciate our past efforts, however insignificant, to the end that we can live with recognized honor among our fellow man.
[Sgd.] SERAFIO TOLENTINO
[Sgd.] SERAFIO TOLENTINO
Capt., “Tanauan Unit”
MARKING’S FIL-AMERICAN TROOPS
Notes and references:
1 “Tanauan Unit, MFA,” File No. 109-63, online at the United States National Archives.