Documents on Activities of the Sto. Tomas Guerrilla Unit

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 page1 are documents on the supposed activities of the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit as submitted to the United States Army in the unit’s request for official recognition.

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Guerrilla Files jpeg
HEADQUARTERS
PQOG STO. TOMAS UNIT
1215 Felix Huertas, Sta. Cruz, Manila

12 October 1947

SUBJECT

TO

: Activities of the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit

   Commanding General, PHILRYCOM

   Attn: Guerrilla Affairs Section

Attached herewith are the activities of the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit and the evidences supporting its activities since its organization on 25 September 1942 up to the period of attachment with the 11th Airborne Division, US Army.

The activities of this unit since the early part of 1943 was guided by General Orders No. I of Col. C. Thorpe which was given to the undersignedby Lt. F. Blanco, a guerrilla captain of the Botolan Special Regiment under the overall command of Col. Merril.

The activities of the unit, guided by the principles of the said orders, are substantiated by affidavits and other allied papers given by guerrilla leaders who have personal knowledge of the existence of the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit.

It will be noted that during the early period of existence of the PQOG Sto Tomas Unit, it remained to be independent from bigger units. This could be accounted to the fact that during those guerrilla days, frequently there occurred rivalry and jealousy among units and to avoid such misunderstandings with other guerrilla units, it was decided by the organizers of this command to remain independent until such time when a general meeting was going to start. Such independence was further decided by the same organizers with the end in view that by remaining so, it would facilitate the activities of this organization without friction with other units.

In submitting intelligence reports, it will be noted also that from 1943 to 10 September 1944, this unit submitted said reports to different headquarters at various dates. This was practiced without prejudice to any unit because of the idea that by having the intelligence reports relayed to any headquarters where there was a transmitter at the time the report was on hand, it would contribute to the early termination of the war.

However, on 10 September 1944, when this unit fused command with the PQOG preparatory to the final operation, all reports were submitted to the GHQ of the mother organization either by courier or thru the sub-units of the mother organization.

The activities during the period of attachment are supported by recommendations of the different American officers which may give reflection on the organization, discipline and activities of the undersigned and the men under him, prior to the mentioned period of attachment.

I, therefore, humbly appeal in behalf of the unit that, after evaluating the activities and documents submitted hereby, the most deserving members will be given their just recognition.

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The undersigned will be more than willing to make a thorough screening of the most deserving officers and enlisted men should the previous request be granted after careful consideration.

The members of the organization will also be willing to accept any date in the setting back of its original recognition that may be justified by their activities just to give justice to the services rendered by the most heroic and deserving members of this unit.

[Sgd.] PABLO T. MENDOZA
1st Lt Infantry
Plan & Training Officer

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ACTIVITIES OF THE PQOG STO. TOMAS UNIT

25 Sept 1942 – 31 Dec 1942

(1) Formal Organization - 25 Sept 1942

a. Solemnizing - USAFFE Capt. L. N. Talatala

b. Place - Bo. San Bartolome, Sto. Tomas, Batangas at the foot of Mt. Makiling.

c. INDUCTED:

1. Prisciliano Modelo, 1st Lt. Ex O
2. Pablo T. Mendoza, 1st Lt. S-3
3. Thirty-three (33) men with thirty-three (33) rifles. The rest of the men waiting for such time when they could be given arms. These men were not inducted but were assigned as home guards.

(2) Meeting Common Problems and Start of the Guerrilla Activities.

a. With the thirty-three (33) old rifles, local ordnance was encouraged to repair those burned rifles that the civilians were able to get from the USAFFE when the latter retreated to Bataan.

b. Food Situation: Enlistment of loyal and patriotic civilians in supporting the guerrilla unit.

c. Discouraging civilians from cooperating with the Japanese.

d. Protecting the civilians from lawless elements and bandits.

e. Propaganda activities to bolster the morale of the civilians.

f. Gathering intelligence reports namely: Japanese garrisons and movements about the Japanese towards those suspected guerrillas.

g. Training the guerrillas in discipline and in combat principles.

1 January 1943 – 31 December 1943

(1) Gathering intelligence reports

(2) Contact with other guerrilla units for the purpose of coordination of activities and to avoid misunderstanding and jealousy with other units. By January of 1943, the active members increased to sixty three (63) and the rifles had increased to sixty three (63) when those burned rifles were repaired.

(3) Promotion of Lieutenants Prisciliano Modelo and Pablo T. Mendoza in March 1943 to Captain. The same activity of training the members continued.

(4) Ambushing Japanese patrols and trucks.

a. At Tulo bridge, Calamba, Laguna, seven (7) Japs in charge of the telephone wire were ambushed. The rifles and ammunition were confiscated and turned over to the unit making a total of seventy (70) rifles for the Sto. Tomas Guerrilla Unit.

b. At Pansol, Calamba, two (2) Japs commandeering chickens and bananas were ambushed and dumped into the swamp. Their arms and bayonets were also taken.

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(5) Continuation of gathering intelligence reports. These reports were submitted to the Headquarters of Col. H. Straughn at Talim Island before he was apprehended by the Japs. During this period, the Japanese initiated the zonification system and organized the bamboo army for their home guards. Many of the irregular members and some of those in the active service were caught. The following barrios were zonified, Sta. Anastacia, San Rafael, San Vicente, all in the town of Sto. Tomas and also the neighboring towns and barrios. Talim Island was also bombed by the Japanese planes. It was also during this active Japanese drive that Col. H. Straughn was apprehended and executed by the Japs.

(6) The Sto. Tomas Guerrilla Headquarters was transferred from Bo. San Bartolome to Kulungan Hill at Mt. Makiling.

(7) At Kulungan Hill, the training of the enlisted men continued. Lecture on discipline, good manners and respect for women was also given in the afternoon of each training period.

(8) Patrols in groups of 5 or 6 were sent to detect the Japanese movements and to continue gathering intelligence reports.

(9) Sabotage work was also employed. During this period, the Japanese engaged in the planting of cotton. Every possible means was employed to prevent the Japanese from raising cotton, for example, at night patrols were sent purposely to pull up the cotton plants in the plantation.

NOTE: On or about November 1943, the President of the Puppet Republic proclaimed the amnesty.

(10) Propaganda activities were intensified to counteract the propaganda of the Japanese, using as tool the speeches of President Quezon heard from short wave broadcast.

(11) Gathering intelligence reports was again intensified. Because of the capture of Col. Straughn, the sending of intelligence reports was very hard. It was during this period when Capts. Prisciliano Modelo and Pablo T. Mendoza went to Manila to find out a way by which these reports could be sent to SWPA by any possible means. It was at this occasion when contact with 2nd Lt. Cosme Garcia of the 6th Military District was made and to him was submitted those reports of the units.

1 January 1944 – 10 Sept. 1944

(1) The unit increased to 125 by having new volunteers join.

(2) Training continued at Kulungan Hill.

(3) Sabotage work also continued. During this period, the Japanese were collecting building materials from the civilians, namely, bamboo, nipa, iron, etc. Night patrols were sent mainly to destroy these building materials.

(4) Gathering intelligence reports continued. These reports were sent to Mindoro Guerrilla Headquarters.

(5) Ambushing Japanese trucks was again resumed. At Bo. San Joaquin, Sto. Tomas, Batangas, a truck with 4 Japanese soldiers who were recruiting laborers was ambushed. The truck was burned and one of the Japs was able to escape.

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(6) At Lalakay road between Calamba and Los Baños, one truck of Japanese soldiers bound for Los Baños was ambushed. The Japs fought hard. Estimated casualties on the Japs, 15. One of our men was wounded and the right shoulder.

ACTIVITIES DURING THE FUSION WITH THE PQOG
11 Sept. ’44 – 28 Feb ’45

(1) Lt. Col. Talatala assumed active command of the unit. He proceeded to Tiaong, Quezon to contact the overall commander of the PQOG for the purpose of fusing command with the PQOG and to submit the reports of the unit. Reports were also submitted to Lt. Col. Avancena, Commanding Officerof the 25th Red Lions’ Division with headquarters at Bo. Sta. Rosa, Alaminos, Laguna.

(2) The members of the unit increased to 171 officers and men.

(3) Extensive training on combat fighting was stressed preparatory to actual operation.

(4) Patrols were sent out to look for American pilots that might bail out. Two American pilots were rescued by the men of Lt. Col. Avancena of the 25th Red Lions Division. Our men helped in giving food to those American pilots by giving fruits like bananas and oranges.

(5) Ambushing Japanese trucks and harrassing communication lines were stressed. Five (5) Japanese guarding the bridge at Sta. Anastacia were ambushed, confiscating their rifles and ammunition. The Japanese retaliated by sending a punitive expedition against the guerrillas. The guerrillas retreated to Mabilog Hill for a time and waited for the Japanese. The Japs did not arrive. This was on or about the first week of October 1944.

(6) In coordination with some Fil-American Guerrillas under Lt. Col. Ansag, two trucks of Japanese soldiers were ambushed at Lalacay Road between Calamba and Los Baños. The Japs fought hard. Two of the Fil-American Guerrillas were killed, but the bodies were recovered by their companions.

(7) First week of November 1944, Lt. Col. Talatala arrived with the Commanding General of the PQOG, Vicente Umali. A conference was held at Ulango, Tanauan, Batangas for the purpose of coordination of activities preparatory to final combat. Here, Capt. Pablo T. Mendoza was promoted to Major by the Commanding General of the PQOG. General Umali proceeded to Cavite to contact Major Vanderpool and to find out the activities of other units of the PQOG thereat. Reports of the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit were submitted to General Umali.

(8) After the departure of General Umali, the Japs sent a punitive expedition to Ulango, Tanauan, Batangas. They killed 15 civilian guards who fed the guerrillas during their stay at Ulango.

(9) Capt. Nicasio Torres of the Fil-Americans joined the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit on 15 November 1944 and assigned S-3 was sent to Cutad, Nasugbu, Batangas to bring

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intelligence reports to the Headquarters of Major Vanderpool. They were taught identification of enemy planes and the use of carbines and other weapons.

(10) January 1945 – 28 Feb. 1945

Civilians were advised to evacuate from the towns as per instruction of the President of the Philippine Commonwealth at his Leyte Address upon landing of the American Liberation Forces in October 1944.

(11) Mass evacuation of civilians to Nasugbu upon learning of the American landing.

(12) Contact with Col. Hildebrande, Commanding Officer of the parachutists who dropped at Tagaytay for the purpose of securing an official sector to operate at Batangas province and Laguna province and for the purpose of submitting intelligence reports. Major Schommer, the guerrilla liaison officer, attended to our reports. Every other report was submitted to Major Schommer thru runners.

(13) Participation in the liberation of the internees at Los Baños, Laguna.

ATTACHMENT WITH THE 11TH AIRBORNE DIVISION
1 March 1945 – 11 JULY 1945

(1) At Calamba, Laguna, the PQOG Sto. Tomas Unit was officially attached with the 511th Prcht. Inf. 11th Airborne Division.

(2) Night and day patrol were the activities during the early attachment period.

(3) Combat operations side by side with the Americans including the liberation of San Juan, Batangas under the command of Major A. Aglugub in 4 April 1945.

NOTE:

This unit did not affiliate to bigger units at the early period of its organization to avoid frictions with other units where jealousy and misunderstanding usually occurred. It will be noted that before the fusion of this unit with the PQOG, intelligence reports were submitted to any friendly guerrilla headquarters for the purpose of having it transmitted to the SWPA as it was believed that by doing so, the unit would be helping a lot in the early termination of the war.


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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