The Fil-American Irregular Troops or FAIT was organized by the retired US Army officer Hugh Straughn after the surrender of American forces to the Japanese in 1942. The FAIT would become a large organization with various units operating in many parts of Luzon, including Batangas. The 1st
Batangas Regiment was one of these, supposedly founded by one Major Gutierrez in 1943. Upon the major’s capture by the Japanese, command of the unit was assumed by one Maximo Bool of Pallocan in the then-town of Batangas. In this document1
, a short history of the 1st
Batangas Regiment is provided as a required attachment for its application for official recognition by the United States Army.
UNITED STATES FORCES IN THE PHILIPPINES
FIL-AMERICAN IRREGULAR TROOPS
HEADQUARTERS, PALLOCAN, BATANGAS, BATANGAS
A BRIEF HISTORY OF OUR GUERRILLA WORK
The fall of Bataan and Corregidor marked the beginning of different organizations thru-out the islands with one sole battle cry, “Avenge Bataan and Corregidor.” Its main purpose being to harass and inflict as much damage as possible to the enemies, knowing fully well that to fight them openly was at that time of no avail.
Under the Japanese regime, which we fully knew would only be temporary in nature, a puppet government was set up mostly composed by government officials appointed by its puppet head but only after final approval by the Japanese Military Authorities.
The government went on smoothly for some time. But later, after a brief period with the Japanese Officers, the officials and employees won the confidence of the Japanese authorities. Many of them became very cruel in their treatment of civilians while the Japs were doing the same. For unverified and suspected crimes, a suspected fellow was often killed and given other capital punishment without due investigation.
They rolled on with this situation. Those who were greatly benefitted by the Japanese rule were happy and contented. Lovers of democracy and patriotic citizens of liberal ideas and followers of the American principles of government remained in refuge or returned to their homes, settled and observed the rules and laws naturally discontented.
As one of those waiting for the Americans to come for our liberation, I remained unemployed, tried by any means to get news of war developments and the whereabouts of the United States Forces. For almost a year, the people were in this condition. The author of this story once rounded up more or less five hundred men to massacre the Japanese soldiers numbering about three hundred lodging in the Batangas High School Building they just occupied. The plan failed to be realized. Majority of the people of the town had returned to their homes. They would all be killed if the plan was done; only sabotage work was accomplished. One day in the month of May 1942, at about midnight, about one hundred men or more, the majority of whom were of the five hundred I rounded up, broke into the bodega of the Japs’ force in Batangas and got all the contents. This sabotage resulted in the death of two or three men and many people, especially the inhabitants of Pallocan, Libjo and the other nearby barrios were given heavy punishment.
A few months passed by and I learned that the Philippine Army remnant of the Mindoro Unit that was not captured or annihilated by the Japs’ force that attacked the place became guerrillas and were running an underground work against the Japs there. I went there to gather information of the guerrilla movement and to observe and find out how things against the Japs were accomplished. I stayed in Mindoro for about two months in the Mun. of Calapan and Naujan. I met some of the guerrilla members and from them learned their ways, I noted in my records their goals and their weaknesses.
During my stay there, in about the latter part of November, I met Jorge Espina, who had the same purpose as I had. We came to Batangas in the same boat and on the same date, December 5, 1943. Before we separated, I told him to begin organizing for he was an unmarried man and had not too many things to attend to and I would be willing to be one of the members to help form the organization.
One day in January 1943, I was informed of a guerrilla unit being organized in Batangas. I looked for the men responsible. I got [in] contact with the officer, and on or about January 15th of the same year, I got sworn to the Unit, Fil-American Irregular Troops, with Major Florentino R. de la Peña as the recruiting officer. Three months after, more or less, I received my appointment dated March 22, 1943. I did begin my work recruiting men with the rank of first lieutenant. My company commander was the Captain Español, a USAFFE man. Our major was Atty. M. Gutierrez of the town of Batangas. May came and I had almost a company complete.
This time, Jorge Espina, another FAIT leader and my companion in the survey of Mindoro Guerrilla Work, contacted me and asked me to join his outfit. I told him I was already sworn by another leader of the same outfit. He did not mind me until sometime later of the same year.
The guerrilla activities against the Japanese and corrupt officials were intensified and in August and September, the Japs High Command employed the zoning tactic in suspected areas for guerrillas. Tiaong, Candelaria, Tayabas, San Juan, Sto. Tomas and Rosario, Batangas and other nearby towns like Bauan, San Jose and Ibaan were warned of the zoning. The town officials and the inhabitants were so scared that they were able to convince the guerrilla leaders like Jorge Espina and Mario Gutierrez and others to surrender. Those leaders were taken to the garrison and were given spiritual rejuvenation.
Under arrangement with my Major, because I did not like to surrender, I submitted to his request on condition that I was to surrender only as a private and not as an officer. This was so made that I was not included in the spiritual rejuvenation. In this connection, I wish to make mention of the fact that on the same day of my surrender, I brought to safe refuge one of the guerrillas who had been caught by the Japanese and had made his escape that night. He came to my house at about 7 o’clock P.M. He scared the people and my family at first for the Japs were after him. However, we fed him and hid him from the Japs. After a while, the Japs went away, and we took him from one station of the guerrillas to another for safety. Fortunately, we were able to keep him from the Japs following him. This man whom we saved was Eulalio Aguda by name, a member of J. Espina’s Unit.
After such surrender, I decided to make my work independently of any other unit. I did not include in my surrender many of my men; only those who had been known to the public as guerrillas… five men.
My company continued to function without any superior officer for some time. My former captain went away to an unknown destination. I took the whole responsibility for the whole outfit. Our superior officer declared disbandment, but I did not follow it. Instead, I informed the officers under me to lay low and wait for further orders. I instructed them to continue intelligence work and to report to me all the data concerning the Japanese establishment and camps they could get. During this time, I was able to communicate with the AUSA in Mindoro, thru Leodevegillo Soretes, an intelligence officer of that unit sent to this place, Laguna, Rizal and Tayabas for such purpose. My S-2, following my instruction, accompanied the said officer of the AUSA to the provinces mentioned. I was able to make contact with the Marking’s Guerrillas thru Captain Villanueva of Rizal. I even got contacted by Panay men and helped them to gather information in Batangas about the Japs.
Until October 1945, my outfit remained independent. The following month, I was approached by the Espina group for attachment of my unit to his. After doing so, my promotion to company commander was made and later, I was ordered to create a battalion or a regiment within my sector. By this time, October 14, 1943, the Philippine Republic (puppet) was established under Laurel. We were supposed to be given independence but it was wholly in name only. [The] Same conditions existed and most of the people were discontented.
For two or three months, I thought I was alone doing the bit of guerrilla work, but to my surprise, I found out that those officers also disgusted with our major, also decided to stand alone as I did. Some of them did not surrender; only laid low, keeping quiet and their activities minimized. Cautious and sly as a fox, they managed to go thru the tyrannical system of punishments. They accomplished secretly their missions wherever they went. They existed divided such that their force could hardly be noticed. But these officers, upon learning that my outfit was still as good and strong as before, contacted me and joined my outfit at once. This made my sector bigger and covered a wider zone. The whole Municipality of Batangas or over.
By this time, I received words and instructions from Major Florentino de la Peña, to keep up our activities and continue my work as the leader of the Batangas Unit. This was October 29, 1943. From this time on, I received orders from him (F. P.), thru the same person, Captain R. R. Peña. For the Major’s and our GHQ’s information, I sent him data concerning the Japanese establishments, camps and strength in the province of Batangas.
The year 1944 approached and I had almost a complete regiment. In this outfit, everyone was doing his bit. My signal corps was busy with its radio broadcast when a transmitter from Negros arrived at our station. At the same time, we were taking care of an American called Captain Thomas Myers.
Not long after the set of the transmitter, the Commanding Officer and other guerrilla leaders were advised by G-2 that they were wanted by the Japanese authorities. The Commanding Officer and his Executive [Officer] conferred with the Mayor and the Governor of the province. The Commanding Officer went out of the Japanese zone, but the Executive Officer stayed in the town as the Mayor’s bodyguard on the strength that the said Mayor would get a pass for him from the Japanese High Command. After a short period, a week after the conference between the guerrilla leaders and the government heads, the Executive Officer was arrested because he confided too much on the pass given him. He was grilled and after heavy and inhumane tortures, the said Executive Officer squealed and revealed the secrets of the organization. He wrote to other guerrilla leaders letters including myself for surrender to save his life. Jorge Espina and others, after a conference with the government heads, under arrangement went to Manila to surrender in Malacañan. But before the surrender was accomplished, the Japanese MP’s led by Dadong Luz of Lipa came in to arrest Espina. He was taken to the garrison, too, grilled, tortured and confined for third degree investigation. Forced to squeal all the officers he knew, I became wanted as other officers of the organization.
It was April 18, 1944, Saturday night before Palm Sunday, around eleven or twelve o’clock, the Jap MP with a platoon of soldiers went to our house to arrest me. I did not try to evade my arrest this time which I could for this was their fourth approach to arrest me. For three times coming after me, they could not find my house. The fourth time coming to my house, they had with them two captured guerrillas with them to point to them my home. I knew their anger was very great already and for sure if they could not find me but my family at home, they would take my family to the garrison. I decided to stay with my family and suffer all the consequences for the sake of all those dear to me and the community. I stayed in our house until the cruel Japs came to arrest me, and I was ready to die for my family, my honor and my country.
They arrested me for a number of charges:
1. That I possessed and kept in my custody 20 pistols and revolver and a number of rifles.
2. That I, being a leader of the guerrillas.
3. That I had many men under my command.
4. That I knew other guerrilla leaders like Pablo Medrano and Pablo Aguila and others.
5. That I was a supporter of the American by the name of Captain Thomas Myers.
6. That I knew more or less all the guerrilla members along the shore.
Many questions about the work of the guerrillas in Batangas were asked of me but I denied all the positive questions. I told them that I did not know anything about them except the ten native guns of my men supposed to be civilians. I was tortured heavily right in front of our house for more
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We all thought that there was no hope to [unreadable] my faith was strong and I never faltered in my faith. Fortunately, the Jap MP’s made up their minds to go back to town when they could not dig up any information from me. They left me very weak indeed and I said very weak indeed. I was not able to do my work for a long time and most of all, I complained of my throat which was pressed with bamboo and even iron. I was not taken to the garrison, but every now and then, rumors came that I was to be arrested again like the others. After this arrest, I made up my mind the more to continue my work — my underground work, but I decided to make my work independent and only connected with our [unreadable] Headquarters thru Major Peña and his brother, Captain R. Peña.
My radio operator was taken to the garrison and heavily tortured to the last breath, but fortunately, he was able to survive all the punishment given to him for two months. After the lapse of that time, he came back from the garrison like a walking skeleton. Thus, in that physical condition, our radio news was again started and the people were provided with the current developments taking place in Europe and in the Far East.
All the other guerrilla leaders not caught that time, February-April, fled to the east and joined the Umali faction except myself. I again stood by my own, advising the officers under me to be very cautious in their movements. We were able to stand and evade further arrests or Jap espionage work against us. This time, about June or July, I was able to secure a place for my daughter in the Philippine Food Stuff Company (Japanese corporation) as a clerk and the services of two employees there; namely, Abelardo Reyes and Ricardo Santos, working in the same office because only forced by circumstances but with the intention of helping guerrillas to get information regarding the Japs. From time to time, then, I could enter the office and with the help of these men with my daughter, I could go to the Japanese establishments and dumps in the guise of a merchant, to spy on them. From time to time, I was furnished the information I needed to get from the Japs by those two men such that I came to believe that they were patriotic citizens. At last, I commissioned them in my outfit. In the meanwhile, my S-2 was busy doing his work getting into Japanese barracks to do intelligence activities in the guise of [a] common laborer, sometimes a merchant, a cobbler, a shoemaker, and even a tailor. All plans and maps sent to Mindoro, Panay, and PQOG with the signature or initial of FRANK MARBLE ARE MY REPORTS.
In October 1944, I was contacted by the PQOG. They got my attachment, or rather, my cooperation, to their unit with the promise that they would do away with abuses of civilians and other bad practices that his (Balagtas) men were doing against the people. One bad thing they did not do away was the WOMEN AFFAIR. I always advised them to the fact, but my counsel was to no avail. To avoid any clash or trouble, I just remained silent and oftentimes failed to answer orders from them especially orders pertaining to collections.
Sometime in December 1944, I sent twelve men to the regimental headquarters as ordered by the commander of the guerrillas. By the middle of this month until January, the situation was getting more intense. Nevertheless, our group still continued to function and the most important work was intelligence reports and scattering of propaganda and news through our signal corps. By the end of January, most people had evacuated to the barrios. Our works continued. We did not stop our radio news but tried by all means to get news every day, transferring from one remote place to another to escape the Japs. We were able to scatter or distribute the news to the people and by it, they knew that the Americans came to Manila and other information which cheered the people up.
On or about February 14, we got rumors of Japanese plans to get again guerrilla leaders. In town, the brother of one of the Hunters was caught and, in fact, the next day the Japanese, (who thru some means or other must have suspected me), came to our house to arrest me, but fortunately they did not get me. At about the same time, the Americans had begun liberating Manila and it was almost the zero hour for the Japs in Batangas. Had they taken me that time, they would have killed me. With so much to fear from the Japs in town and around and still more, with the news of the massacres in other towns, I should have stopped my work, but on the contrary, I still continued it because I was able to keep track of news I spread, those news I spread to the people and told them not to be impatient. I knew the liberating forces were soon to come. Most of my men had been trained since the beginning of our organization, but I had to renew the training again. We had training every day for some weeks and the men should go home every day. Meanwhile, the twelve men I sent to the regimental outpost were sent to Isla Verde for mopping operations, I was informed. I found, however, that these men of mine were treated with indifference by the officers in the camp. I could endure no more of their actions, so I declared that my attachment to them (Balagtas Unit of Batangas Town Guerrillas) was null and void. Not one of my men was wounded or killed in [the] Isla Verde campaign.
No sooner than we had expected, the American Liberating Forces came to Batangas on March 11, 1945 at about 11:30 A.M. Thus, our guerrilla work ended and we had more to face. That afternoon (March 11), I went to town to see the Americans and met the S-2 of the 2nd Battalion, 158th Regiment. My daughter was able to interpret some maps (Japanese) which they confiscated from the garrison they had captured. Since then, the Japanese had been loitering in the outskirts of the town.
On March 15, my men and I, together with Lt. Shirkey, S-2 of the Liberating Forces, fought the Japs in Wawa. All the Japanese soldiers were killed in the encounter and we were able to get from them their guns and a portable transmitter which were turned over to the Americans. My troops suffered no loss except one was wounded.
Every now and then, we had been summoned by the barrio people to help them because the Japs had gone to their places. One time, just after the arrival of the Liberating Forces, I rode in an airplane (observation) to guide trench mortar action, against the Japs in Conde. Two weeks later, 8 Japs were reported in Talumpok. This [was] during the Holy Week. We went after them and killed 6 of those Japs. The two were able to flee to the thick woods where they were supposed to starve.
From time to time, reports of the Japs came to my C.P. On April 4 & 5, my men and I were in Maapaz, another barrio on which came out some Jap stragglers. When we came to the place, we were disappointed because we did not see them. However, we [were] sent to suspected places and fired some shots.
The next day, we went home somewhat disappointed, because we did not see any Japs. However, some days after this, a report came to me and said they found the bodies of four Jap soldiers there dead and decaying.
Paharang and Katandala called us on April 3, 13 and 14. Eight Japs in the former, 6 in the latter were seen near the well. We went there only to find that they had gone and fled.
April 15 and 16 had us in Gogo River. We pursued the ten unarmed Jap soldiers speeding toward a nipa cottage in the field. We had an encounter against them and were able to kill four of them. The rest fled to the forest.
April 18, met my men in Matuko. They were there to hunt four or five Japs reported to have been burning houses, stealing animals and shooting at people. They were found in a cave ready to fight. They fired at my men but missed their targets. One of my men crawled near to the cave and threw [a] hand grenade at them. All the Japs were killed.
April 20 – The presence of Japs in Dalig was reported. Men were sent to the place. The Japs, however, had fled at once. But they ran in the direction of the American encampment near the river. The American soldiers killed them.
April 27-30 – Twelve Japs were discovered keeping safe refuge in Sampaga River. They came out at night. We were called for aid. We went there [and] searched for them, but failed to find them. We fired at all suspected places. My men stayed there for two nights. We could not ascertain the result of our campaign.
During the early part of March, the Japs from Conde had fled to Lipa passing thru Sico. I had men stationed in Sico but they had few arms and grenades only. The three hundred Japs passed. My men took courage and fired at them. They were able to kill two only because the Japs were returning machine gun fire at them. Their souvenir from the Japs they killed was a sabre and a homemade Japanese hara-kiri dagger.
May 3 – Eight Japs again appeared in Sampaga River on May 3. My men and I went to the place. The Japs had retreated to the upper part of the river. We followed them and were able to overtake the two left behind purposely to fight us. Both the Japs were killed. The other fled to the forest. We searched the forest for three days but we could not find them. Later, we were informed that these Japanese were able to get to Lobo and joined the other group of Japs in Malabnig, numbering 35, making the whole group now 40.
May 16 – Three Japs were seen in one of the bamboo groves in Libjo. Some guerrillas in that section fired at them, but they missed their target. The Japs ran toward the bamboo groves in Pallocan. Some civilians saw the Japs running and reported the matter to me. At the same time, I and my men were getting ready for the chase. We heard the shots and that meant Japs according to our signals. They were so clever that we could find no trace of them after a few minutes. We spent the whole morning for the search but we did not find them. We retired for lunch. Then, I sent two men out to patrol the place where they disappeared. One of my men happened to look in
the last bamboo grove in the east and there, under, sat a Jap soldier with his gun pointed at the road ready at any time to shoot at somebody that might pass that way. Cautiously the two patrols crept to the place where they could see the Jap but could not be seen by him. Then, one of them fired at the Jap, but the gun would not explode. Another shot was directed and again the gun would not fire. The other patrol took his chance and the Jap disappeared from the place after the shot. We heard the shot, and everybody in the headquarters rushed to the place and help to locate the missing Jap. We found him behind the banana stump ready to fire at one of my men with his back on him. But some of my other men were able to kill him before he could do any harm. We got a rifle and a helmet from this one. We hunted the other two and we found them in a ravine nearby. They made a fight but very soon, they were killed without killing or wounding any of us.
May 27 – Tolo again reported four Japs were seen within the vicinity. We were rushed up to the place. For several days, my patrol stayed there and waited for them to come out. The Japs could not be found. However, [a] permanent patrol was stationed there to see to it that those Japs would be caught or killed [if] ever the came out.
Until now, we are still after the Jap stragglers, but our work is decreasing. I set permanent outposts in places were Japs were often seen to come out most often.
Before and during the American liberation of Batangas, all my men were busy. My signal corps stationed in Sico, kept regular broadcast of local and world news about the war to encourage and inform the public. Lt. Skyrider (alias) chief of the corps, issued copies of Liberty, Voice of Freedom, and “Voice of Loyal Patriots” every two days. These copies were sent or distributed to the people secretly.
Everything now seems to be alright since the day of our liberation. My men and I are happy at the thought that we have served our country.
Notes and references:
“First Batangas Regt, FAIT,” File No. 110-60, online at the United States National Archives.