Lt. Brabson's Report on the Zobel Guerrilla Unit

The Zobel Guerrilla Unit was a guerrilla organization that supposedly operated from the western Batangas town of Calatagan. It was supposedly commanded by one Guerrilla Lt. Colonel Jacobo Zobel. The reader is advised that this unit failed to obtain official recognition from the United States Army and that many of its claimed achievements as well as manpower were found to have had overlaps with Emilio Macabuag’s Unit, another guerrilla organization that operated in and out of Calatagan. In this document1, one Lt. Max Brabson of the United States Army filed his report on Zobel’s unit in relation to its application for official recognition.

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Report on “Zobel Guerrilla Unit”

In accordance with verbal instructions from Chief of Section, Guerrilla Affairs, G-3, AFWESPAC, Lieutenant Max L. Brabson on 26 June 1946 proceeded to Calatagan, Batangas to contact the “Zobel Guerrilla Unit,” in order to determine whether or not this organization should be organized by the United States Army. The following report is a summary of the investigation and basis for the recommendation.

ALLEGED HISTORY

Captain Jacobo Zobel formed the “Zobel Guerrilla Unit” approximately 1 September 1942 in the vicinity of Calatagan, Batangas. The unit consisted of 565 officers and men. None have previously been recognized.

During the occupation, the unit was primarily engaged in intelligence operations. During December 1943, contact was gained with Major L. H. Phillips in Mindoro. During December 1944, the unit escorted Army radio operators from Mindoro to Calatagan for the purpose of setting up a radio station in the vicinity of Cape Santiago. The station was set up and contact was made with Mindoro.

The unit also assisted in the evacuation and transfer to Mindoro of four American soldiers who were in the mountains near Tuy, Batangas.

The Commanding Officer and his family did not live in Batangas until late 1944 when they returned from Manila. At about the same time, the first Japanese soldiers arrived from Calatagan to begin the construction of defenses in that vicinity. These soldiers were quartered in Zobel’s Sugar Central during their stay in Calatagan. The unit submitted reports regarding the activities of these Japanese soldiers to Major Jay D. Vanderpool.

Throughout the occupation, the Executive Officer, Agusto de los Reyes, conducted Charity Clinics throughout Batangas and Manila as contact points and clearing houses for intelligence reports.

When the American forces liberated Calatagan, the unit was utilized as guards against Japanese stragglers from the mountains.

The local government was also set up by the Zobel’s Unit.

FINDINGS

The following named persons are those interviewed by the contact team and their statements are the basis for the findings:

George F. Rowe – Commander, USN
Quintin Gellidon – Grla Staff/11th AB Div
Jacobo Zobel – Col, CO Zobel Guerrilla Unit

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Agusto de los Reyes – Lt. Col. ExO Zobel Guer Unit
Enrique Zobel – Capt Zobel Guer Unit
Federico Mallari – Capt Zobel Guer Unit
Felix Catopang [Catapang?] – Capt Zobel Guer Unit
Jesus de Corpos [Corpus?] – Capt Zobel Guer Unit
Hilario Rosales – Capt Zobel Guer Unit
Isidro Mendoza – 1st Lt Zobel Guer Unit
Delfin Caisip – 2nd Lt Zobel Guer Unit
Gregorio Abia – 2nd Lt Zobel Guer Unit
Pablo Causapin – S/Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Pedro Carandang – S/Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Alipio Pantoja – T/Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Gervacio Sawantanes [Cervantes?] – Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Guillermo Nazareno – Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Placido Pedrosa – Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Princo Andaya – Sgt Zobel Guerrlila Unit
Francisco Hernandez – Sgt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Prudencio Parinueg – Cpl Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Alfredo de Pedro – Pfc Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Gavino Parinueg – Pfc Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Claudio Gonzales – Pvt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Marcelo Decalos – Pvt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Mariano Macalindong – Pvt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Valinin [Valentin?] Castillo – Pvt Zobel Guerrilla Unit
Mr. Olimpio Sayo – Mayor of Calatagan, Batangas
Mr. Benito Anasaldo – Chief of Police, Calatagan, Batangas

In Calatagan, the area where the Zobel unit is located, there were no Japanese until late 1944. When the first Japanese soldiers arrived, the Zobel Unit was living entirely at home. The full extent of their operations up until this time was intelligence work. The majority of the men interviewed stated that they were living at home, working at their normal duties throughout the Japanese occupation. A few claimed to have lived for a period in the mountains. More of these individuals were definite as to where or why they lived in the mountains.

Communication was claimed to have been had with Major Phillips in Mindoro. However, Emilio Macabuag, Commanding Officer of [the] “Major Phillips Unit” of Calatagan claims that he was the person who had the contact and not the Zobel’s Unit. Neither of these units can present any evidence to substantiate their claims. Major Phillips was killed by unknown elements in Mindoro. Therefore, he cannot certify to the extent of the work done by Batangas Guerrillas. The unit claims 5 radios for broadcast, but again they have no evidence to suppor their claims.

The Unit claims approximately200 weapons in 1944. However, very few of the interviewed members claimed arms. The majority that claimed weapons considered bolos as a weapon. Jesus de Carlos, carried on the roster as Captain, stated that he knew of about two shot guns and a sporting rifle in the hands of his men until the Americans came when a few carbines were acquired. According to the commanding officer, 100 weapons were turned in to [the] 157th Infantry, 11th Airborne Division. Again, there was no receipt or other documentary evidence presented.

The only communication from American officers was a radiogram from Col. Hildebrand, 187th Inf., to Col. Farren, ordering him to pick Zobel’s Unit and attach it to his Battalion. This order was never carried out and the Zobel

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Unit, with the exception of a few individuals, remained in Calatagan. These individuals who left Calatagan to join American Units left entirely on their own initiative.

Emilio Macabuag, carried as Captain, Battalion Headquarters roster, claims to be the commanding officer of a unit consisting of approximately 146 men in Calatagan. Macabuag claims absolute independence from Zobel’s Unit. Both Macabuag and Zobel claim almost identical activities and accomplishments. Col. Zobel stated that Macabuag was under his command and was a commander of one of his companies.

The activities of this unit were not a planned, controlled group of operations but resulted from personal initiative. Many of the men did not know their commanding officer nor their duties as guerrillas.

Col. Zobel and his family lived in Manila until the American planes began bombing that area and at this time, he returned to Calatagan. During his absence, the activities were supposedly carried on by his subordinates. Statements by members indicate that during this time, they followed the lay-low policy waiting for further orders which they did not receive.

The rosters of the Zobel Unit and Major Phillips Unit, commanded by Emilio Macabuag, overlap both in rosters and activities. Many names appear on both rosters.

The activities of this unit, which cannot be proven, are claimed by larger and more dominating units in Batangas. Every unit in Batangas contacted by this team claimed to have assisted in the transfer of the American soldiers and to have been responsible for intelligence reports going to Mindoro. No original documents supporting the claims were presented to the contact team.

One item of interest is the alleged story of the evacuation of the Zobel’s family from Calatagan. According to numerous stories by local residents, Col. Zobel had a brother-in-law, a Col., in the 11th Airborne Division. When the American troops landed at Nasugbu, Calatagan was still occupied by the Japanese. According to the story, the relations of Zobel in the 11th Airborne Division effected an evacuation by PT boat from Calatagan only the Zobel’s family. Hence, the correspondence from Col. Hildebrand regarding Zobel’s Unit was made possible. This account was not verified by Zobel, but it is believed true because several prominent Filipino citizens told the same.

Col. Gellidon does not recall any activities of the Zobel’s Unit.

Commander George Rowe, advance party GHQ, SWPA, stated that he could not remember any activities of Zobel’s.

POLITICAL ASPECTS

Col. Jacobo Zobel is Senior Military Aide to President Manuel Roxas and the local government of Calatagan is composed of Zobel’s men.

RECOMMENDATIONS

After careful consideration of the statements made by the present members

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and an analysis of the documents presented, it is recommended that the “Zobel’s Guerrilla Unit” be not favorably considered for recognition.

[Sgd.] MAX L. BRABSON
2nd Lt., Inf.
0-1338786


Notes and references:

1 “Zobel’s Guerrilla Unit,” File No. 137, online at the United States National Archives.

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