A History of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit PQOG - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A History of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit PQOG

The Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit was an outfit formed and operated out of northern Batangas, with its headquarters located on a hill in Mount Makiling near the town of Santo Tomas. The outfit was commanded by one former Captain in the USAFFE named Lorenzo Talatala and would later become affiliated with the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG), one of the large guerrilla organizations operating in Luzon. In this document1 is provided a brief history of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit, written as among the requirements for the unit’s application for official recognition by the United States Army.

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A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE SANTO TOMAS GUERRILLA UNIT (PQOG)

I. INTRODUCTION

In September 1942, still recuperating from illness contracted from the Capas Concentration Camp at Capas, Tarlac, but nevertheless with the same and even more desire to help the cause for which he, like the thousands of his comrades-in-arms fought, bled and died in Bataan, Lt Col LORENZO N TALATALA, then Captain of the USAFFE, conferred with Major PABLO T MENDOZA, then civilian, about the gathering of all arms and ammunition then in the hands of the civilian inhabitants of their barrio, Ulango, Tanauan, Batangas, for the purpose of organizing a resistance movement against the Japanese who then were confiscating firearms from the people of the municipality. The idea was approved by the latter who immediately convinced his barrio people to turn over to him the arms in their possession, including rifles, revolvers and home-made guns.

At that time, Major PRISCILIANO MODELO, then civilian, was also undertaking the same activity in the whole town of Santo Tomas, Batangas, recruiting and organizing volunteers, who readily responded to his call. Upon learning of such movement, thru Lt Col TALATALA, Major PABLO T MENDOZA immediately contacted Major PRISCILIANO MODELO for the purpose of coordinating and fusing together their common purpose. Contacts were made also with Cap JULIO R NARVAEZ, USAFFE leader of the resistance movement in Tanauan with Headquarters in Barrio Ambulong. Accordingly, the two leaders talked and agreed to synchronize their plans and missions and took immediate steps to solve the problems with regards to the support and cooperation of the townspeople, and the organization of the guerrilla unit. It was decided to enlist the help and support of trusted prominent men of the town, most noteworthy of whom were ex-Governor MAXIMO M MALVAR for his proven and traditional patriotism handed from his great father, Gen MIGUEL MALVAR of the Philippine Revolution.

II. FORMAL ORGANIZATION AND ACTIVITIES
25 September 42 to 22 September 44

With Lt Col LORENZO N TALATALA as Commanding Officer, the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit was formally organized. Major PRISCILIANO MODELO was inducted as Major by Lt Col TALATALA on 25 Sept. 42 and sworn in by Fiscal EMMANUEL MUÑOZ in the presence of ex-Governor MALVAR, one of the founders and organizers of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla unit, at Barrio San Bartolome, at the foot of Mt Makiling. With the strength of one battalion subsequently inducted and with 33 old rifles and bolos, Lt Col TALATALA assumed command of the organization with Major MODELO as Executive Officer, while Gov MALVAR was unanimously chosen to be the Adviser and Liaison Officer, assuming at the same time the post of Governor of the Province of Batangas to shield the organization from discovery by the enemy, and to direct and gather intelligence reports as Governors those days were given privileges to see Japanese installations and depots.

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As first of a series of activities, the officers and men went to the different barrios to get ahead of the Japanese in the collection of arms and ammunition, serviceable or not, which were left by the retreating USAFFE soldiers at the end of 1941 and during the first part of 1942. Local ordnance was encouraged, too. Finally, 63 arms of foreign as well as local make were collected. These were distributed to the men who were detailed to guard the Command Post which was then transferring from one place to another to evade the enemy. The rest of the men were sent home to the towns and barrios to act as home guards of the organization.

Another activity undertaken by the unit was the discouraging and even suppressing the acts of collaboration, cooperation, and aiding the enemy. For instance, the Japanese soldiers had the obnoxious habit of going to remote barrios to exact quotas of chickens, eggs, pigs and other foodstuffs from the barrio people. The guerrillas advised the people to minimize or even avoid giving such aid. In some cases, they were advised and helped by our men to evacuate and live farther beyond the reach of the enemy. Consequently, those people, mostly farmers, who followed the advice, diverted their help to the resistance group. Our home guards, on the other hand, forewarned the people and the CP of any impending molestations or moves of the enemy.

On 12 Nov 42, Major PABLO T. MENDOZA, who until then had been busily taking part and helping the Santo Tomas Grla Unit, was inducted by Major MODELO by authority of Lt Col TALATALA, as S-3 with rank of Captain. As his first step, Captain MENDOZA recommended and obtained approval to transfer the CP to Kulungan on the rocky slope of Mt Makiling for reasons of safety and strategy as it was far enough from the nearest enemy garrison and naturally protected by the rocky steep cliffs on all sides and only one person at a time could pass through the only entrance leading to it. It commanded a fair view of the surrounding towns of Calamba, Santo Tomas, Tanauan, and even Lipa, a town twenty miles south. It was the same hideout and CP of the late Gen. Miguel Malvar. Here, on a small half-hectare rolling slope were built shacks for the Headquarters of the guerrilla outfit. Here, too, the training of recruits led by Capt MENDOZA, on the elements of discipline, tactics, combat principles and strategy of combat fighting took place.

Counter intelligence and counter propaganda work were undertaken. Weak minded, ignorant people were informed of the short wave broadcasts heard in secreted radio sets in Calamba and Tanauan. Capt MENDOZA and some other men went to Calamba to the house of his cousin, whose set was hidden under the concrete basement, and with a small boy as guard, listened to the short wave broadcast. Sometimes on Mondays, he would contact Atty MARCELO OLFATO of Tanauan, Batangas at the cockpit of Santo Tomas to receive or hear the broadcast during the previous nights. Oftentimes, he went to Talim Island in the Laguna Lake to contact Major TEODULFO BELARMINO of the Marking’s Guerrillas to talk and exchange information about the enemy and news of the Liberation Forces.

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In the meantime, on 11 Nov 42, Lt Col TALATALA accepted a position as Agronomist in the Bureau of Plant Industries, where he had been employed before the war for the province of Laguna, Batangas and Tayabas, with office in Manila, that being an excellent means of covering his underground activities of contacting other resistance units and gathering information about the enemy. So, Major MODELO became Actg CO while Capt MENDOZA became Actg Executive Officer. However, he (Lt Col TALATALA) reported regularly to the Headquarters of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit at Kulungan Hills.

By the early part of 1943, the organization gained more adherents. Cap JULIO R. NARVAEZ agreed to fuse command and was appointed Military Adviser and Intelligence Operative in January 1943. He was assigned to make contact with Gen LIM and other ranking USAFFE officers. Sometime in October 1943,Capt NARVAEZ was instructed by Major MODELO to work in Malacañan to obtain further information about Jap activities and get accurate reports about Allied news from [the] Malacañan short wave. Capt NARVAEZ was also instrumental in securing foodstuffs, clothings and other necessities for the organization. Twenty more arms were added, making a total of 83.

By the middle of 1943, the Japs intensified their anti-guerrilla drive and initiated the zonification system. Many of the regular as well as irregular members were caught in that drive and so some of them ceased reporting to the CP. In November 1943, the General Amnesty Proclamation of the Puppet President was published. Some discouraged members took advantage of it and never returned to the organization. About 200 of the 500 regular and irregular members were left.

In view of the Amnesty and the growing loss of hope among the people, counter propaganda was intensified. The Amnesty afforded guerrillas certain freedom of movements. So, most of the unit mixed with the civilians to bolster up their morale and spread the real war situation which was twisted by enemy propaganda.

In July 1944, more contacts were established with other units. Major MODELO and Capt MENDOZA left Capt BISMARCK MALOLES (then 1st Lieut) in charge of the organization and went and roamed about Manila contacting the Marking’s, ROTC Hunters, and Escudero’s Agents from the Bicol Region. They also went to Tayabas contacting the PQOG of Gen VICENTE UMALI. The main mission was to coordinate our movements with those of bigger units and determine to which unit we might submit intelligence reports. We decided to submit such reports to the PQOG at Tiaong, Tayabas, where a transmitter was being operated.

During this period, securing firearms was intensified. Purchases were made from private persons. Surrendering of firearms to the Japanese by the civilians was discouraged. Sometime in May 1944, some firearms and ammunition were secured in Manila thru the help of Capt NARVAEZ.

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III. RE-ORGANIZATION
22 Sep 44 to 31 Dec 44

On 22 September 1944, Lt Col TALATALA deserted his position as Agronomist in the Bureau of Plant Industries and took active command again of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit. He proceeded to Tiaong, Tayabas and returned on the first week of November 1944 after contacting the Commanding General of the PQOG.

On 12 Nov 44, Gen VICENTE S UMALI, Commanding General of PQOG, Gen PRIMITIVO SAN AGUSTIN JR, Lt Col ARMANDO LAUREL, Col ANTONIO PEREZ, and Gov MAXIMO M MALVAR had a conference with Lt Col TALATALA and his staff at Ulango, Tanauan, Batangas. Here, it was decided that the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit would be absorbed by the PQOG to better coordinate activities and centralize command. So, it was called PQOG, Santo Tomas Unit. Here, Capt MENDOZA was promoted to Major by Gen UMALI. About the middle of December 44, Capt NARVAEZ was directed to leave his post in Malacañan and report for duty to the Headquarters at Mt Maquiling.

IV. REIGN OF TERROR
1 Jan 45 to 28 Feb 45

The men, about 120, were gathered at the CP preparatory to active combat due to the arrival of the Liberation Forces. In the meantime, we learned of the arrival of Major J VANDERPOOL of the US ARMY, acting as Liaison Officer between Americans and guerrilla forces, at Nasugbu, Batangas. Capt NICASIO E TORRES (S-2), with two enlisted men, went to contact him. He carried reports on enemy installations at strength at Sta. Clara, Santo Tomas, Tanauan, Malvar Landing, and Daraza (Tanauan) School. He and his men were taught how to use new weapons, map reading, and aircraft identification. Meantime, the Japs were confiscating all kinds of vehicles, animals and foodstuffs. Confusion reigned among the people. Our men intercepted the Japs carrying foodstuffs and confiscated articles. Several Japs were killed in Tulo, Calamba, while at Lalakay, with the help of some Fil-Americans, more Japs were ambushed and killed.

Leaflets advising civilians to get away from military targets were dropped by American planes. Our men passed them around and explained them to civilians who were then concentrated in towns. At night and during daytime, our men got and guided civilians to safer areas. At this time, the Japs were burning homes and killing civilians at sight. Massacres en masse were taking place everywhere.

In the early part of February 45, our unit went to Tagaytay, Cavite for two purposes, viz. to evacuate civilians and to contact the American parachutists dropped at Tagaytay. Lt Col Talatala, Majors MENDOZA and MODELO and Gov. MALVAR contacted Col HILDEBRAND, Regimental Commander of the 11th A/B Division. Jap atrocities and information about enemy movements were reported to him. We were referred to Capt SCHOMMER, guerrilla coordinator, who gave our unit a sector to defend — Calamba, Santo Tomas, and Tanauan. He required

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us to submit to the nearest Headquarters regularly every two days enemy movements in our sector. This was complied with. Arms, ammunition and medicines were distributed to our men.

V. ATTACHMENT TO AND ACTIVE PARTICIPATION
WITH 11th AIRBORNE DIVISION, US ARMY
1 Mar 45 to 12 Jul 45.

As the U.S. Forces advanced towards our sector, our unit joined them at once at Calamba, Laguna on 1 Mar 45. With four American soldiers equipped with radio, our unit (135 Off & EM) patrolled outside the towns of Calamba, Los Baños, and Santo Tomas and transmitted intelligence reports which were made the basis for artillery firing.

By 4 Mar 45, the 511th Parachute Inf. 11th Airborne Div advanced to Makiling, south of Calamba, Laguna. Our whole unit [was] with U.S. Forces. Cap SCHOMMER, guerrilla coordinator, requested our CO for an officer who knew the terrain and enemy positions in the area Talisay-Tanauan to operate with the 187th Parachute Inf. Acting on orders from Lt Col TALATALA, Capt NARVAEZ was attached with Capt SCHOMMER in compliance with the latter’s request. First to be captured was the Santo Tomas-Calamba Boundary Bridge. On 6 Mar 45, we advanced to Mabanot Hill, Santo Tomas, Batangas. From here, we sent out patrols, and with walkie-talkies, reported enemy positions which were then subjected to heavy artillery fire and air strikes. Pvt ALEJANDRO GUEVARRA rode in a cub plane for reconnaissance of Santa Clara, San Joaquin, Batangas, and other enemy garrisons identified by him. Our mortars at Mabanot Hill pounded incessantly enemy positions as reported by our patrols who sometimes had encounters with enemy patrols. We stayed there until 20 March 45.

On 21 Mar 45, the 511th Parachute Inf left for Tagaytay and was relieved the 1st Cavalry Division. Lt Col TALATALA requested Gen SWING of the 11th Airborne Division to allow us to stay and fight until the liberation of our sector. It was granted and we joined the 8th Cavalry Squadron, 1st Cav Div under Col KING. On 24 March 45, our men were distributed to the different units of the squadron and began the attack against the enemy in Santo Tomas, Batangas. That same day, the town was liberated. Casualties: dead 7; disabled 1; wounded 2. That afternoon at 1600 hrs, another engagement with the enemy took place until night at the Tanauan Santo Tomas Bridge. The following morning, the enemy retreated to Santa Clara, Santo Tomas, Batangas.

That morning, Lt Col TALATALA and Gov MALVAR requested Col KING to allow our unit to clean the town of Santo Tomas and to establish a civil government therein. It was granted and our men cleaned the town of dead Japs, debris, etc., for two weeks. PCAU helped us organize the civil government.

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Meanwhile, two squads of our men accompanied the 8th Cavalry to Santa Clara, Alaminos, and San Pablo, Laguna as guides for the attack which eventually cleared enemy forces therein.

On 9 Apr 45, Lt Col TALATALA reported to Camp Murphy for processing, leaving Major MENDOZA as Actg CO while Major MODELO was detailed with [the] 1129th Engineering Combat Group. Major AGLUCUB was sent on a mission to San Juan, Batangas to assemble the reserves with arms. They liberated the town while the American Forces were still at Rosario, Batangas, and later joined the advancing American Forces at Candelaria, Tayabas.

The unit rejoined the 511th Parachute Inf at Lipa, Batangas in Apr 45. Enemies in the mountains around this town were mopped up and annihilated. Following these successful engagements, the men were sent to the Rest Camp at Dagatan, Lipa, Batangas, and formed the 4th Provisional Battalion of the 511th Parachute Inf composed of American Dominion Forces, PQOG Santo Tomas Unit, and Fil-Americans, with Major JOSE MATIBAG of the ADF as CO and Major PABLO T MENDOZA as Ex O. Ambush patrols were sent out to clear the vicinity of Jap snipers and stragglers.

Other activities: (a) Guarding bridges from Tiaong, Tayabas to Alabang, Rizal. The Headquarters of the Battalion was transferred to San Pablo, Laguna on 6 Jun 45. “A” Co was assigned to Calauan, Laguna. “B” Co to Lusacan, Tiaong, Tayabas, “C” Co to San Pablo City. (b) Mopping and clearing operations were continued in these areas.

On 12 Jul 45, the PQOG Santo Tomas Unit was ordered to proceed to Camp Murphy for processing, leaving the rest in their respective places. Majority of the men of this unit are assigned to activated Philippine Army Units.

/S/ Lorenzo N. Talatala
/T/ LORENZO N. TALATALA
Lt Col, Infantry
Commanding

CERTIFIED TRUE COPY:

[Sgd.] ROBERTO L. BAYLOSIS
2nd Lt, Inf, P.A.
11-6-46


Notes and references:
1 “Sto Tomas Grla Unit, I Corps, PQOG,” File No. 271-29, online at the United States National Archives.

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