Report on the Santo Tomas Unit, I Corps, PQOG by Lt. George Kemper - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Report on the Santo Tomas Unit, I Corps, PQOG by Lt. George Kemper - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Report on the Santo Tomas Unit, I Corps, PQOG by Lt. George Kemper

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, one Lt. George Kemper filed his report on the Santo Tomas Unit in relation to the outfit’s request for revision of its recognition dates.

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Guerrilla Files jpeg

1. During the period 11 to 31 August 1947, 1st Lt George E. Kemper examined all available records and supporting papers of the Santo Tomas Unit, I Corps, President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG), to determine whether or not the 134 members of that unit, recognized by letter, Headquarters, USAFFE, dated 1 April 1945, should be granted a revision of their present recognition date. The request for this special investigation of the Santo Tomas Unit, I Corps. PQOG, to be conducted apart from that of the I Corps, PQOG, was initiated by the unit commander, approved by the I Corps, PQOG, overall commander, and accepted by this headquarters for the reason that the special intelligence activities and personal qualifications of the unit members afforded them recognition in rank above those authorized by the United States Army Tables of Organization. This fact necessitated a special study with regard to the possibility of the revision of the recognition date of this unit.

2. Alleged History: (See attached unit file)

3. Findings:

A. The following individuals were contacted and their statements are reflected in the findings:


(1) Lt. Col. Lorenzo N. Talatala
(2) Major Prisciliano Modelo
(3) Captain Nicasio Torres
(4) Captain Iluminado Managaco
(5) Captain Simeon G. Maitim
(6) Captain Sixto M. Malana
(7) Captain Bismark Maloles
(8) 1st Lt Antonio Meer
(9) 1st Lt Pablo T. Mendoza


(1) Colonel Vicente S Umali – Overall Commander of the I Corps, PQOG
(2) Major Esteban Chavez – GHQ, I Corps, PQOG
(3) Major Godofredo Magallanes – I Corps PQOG

b. The following records were consulted and the information contained therein is reflected in the findings:

(1) Guerrilla Resistance Movements in the Philippines, (G-2, SWPA, Green Book).

(2) Official correspondence of the I Corps, President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas.

(3) Official Records (General Orders, Special Orders, Directives, Memoranda, etc.) of the I Corps, PQOG.

(4) All documents submitted by the Santo Tomas Unit of the I Corps, PQOG.

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c. The following claims are made by Lt. Col. Lorenzo N. Talatala as brought forth in the unit history.

(1) That on 25 September 1942, Lt Col Lorenzo N. Talatala organized the Santo Tomas Guerrilla Unit which subsequently reached the strength of one battalion armed with 33 old rifles and bolos.

(2) That during the month of October 1942, the unit collected 63 arms which were distributed to the men detailed to guard the command post, the location of which was altered from time to time to evade the enemy. The unarmed men were sent home to the towns and barrios to act as home guards of the unit.

(3) That during this same month, the unit engaged in the suppression of collaboration activities.

(4) That on 12 November 1942, the command post was moved from the barrio San Bartolome, Santo Tomas, Batangas, to Kalungan on the slopes of Mt. Makiling for reasons of security and strategy. In this camp, remote from the Japanese troops, the unit claims to have conducted military training.

(5) That in addition to military training, the unit conducted counter-intelligence and counter-propaganda activities.

(6) That on 11 November 1942, Lt Col Talatala accepted a position as an Agronomist in the Bureau of Plant Industry to cover his underground activities and to afford him with a means for securing information about the enemy.

(7) That in January 1943, with Major Prisciliano Modelo as acting commanding officer and Captain Mendoza as acting executive officer, the unit fused commands with that of Captain Julio R. Narvaez. Captain Narvaez was a USAFFE resistance movement leader in Tanauan with headquarters in barrio Ambulong. Upon his affiliation with the Santo Tomas Unit, he was appointed as Military Adviser and Intelligence Operative. With the fusion of the two units, the total number of arms reached 83.

(8) That in the middle of 1943, during the zonification period, many members of the unit were captured by the Japanese.

(9) That in October 1943, Major Modelo sent Captain Narvaez to Malacañan to obtain information concerning Japanese activities and to make reports on Allied news heard over short-wave.

(10) That in November 1943, some members took advantage of the Amnesty Proclamation of the Puppet President of the Philippines and deserted the unit permanently. Only some 200 members of a claimed 500 remained with the organization.

(11) That in view of this decrease in personnel, the remaining members mixed with the civilians in an attempt to bolster their courage waning in the face of Japanese pressure.

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(12) That in July 1944, Major Modelo and Captain Mendoza contacted Marking’s Guerrillas, Hunters (ROTC), Escudero’s agents from the Bicol, and Colonel Umali of the PQOG. The purpose of these contacts was to coordinate the unit activities with those of the larger units and to select one of these larger units to which intelligence reports could be submitted.

(13) That on 22 September 1944, Lt. Col. Talatala deserted his position as Agronomist in the Bureau of Plant Industry to re-assume active command of his unit.

(14) That on 12 November 1944, the unit was absorbed by the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas under Vicente S. Umali and was given the name PQOG, Santo Tomas Unit.

(15) That on [or] about the middle of December 1944, Captain Julio R. Narvaez was recalled from his intelligence post in Malacañan, Manila.

(16) That in January 1945, Captain Nicasio E. Torres contacted Major J. Vanderpool, United States Army Guerrilla Liaison Officer. Captain Torres and two men delivered intelligence reports on the installations and strengths of the enemy at Santa Clara, Santo Tomas, Tanauan, Malvar Landing, and Daraza (Tanauan) school.

(17) That the unit ambushed and killed a few Japanese in Tulo, Calamba, and with the aid of some Fil-American guerrillas, ambushed and killed more Japanese in Lalakay.

(18) That the unit members read and explained to the civilians the meaning of the evacuation leaflets dropped by American planes. In addition, the members guided the civilians to safer places at night.

(19) That in the early part of February 1945, the unit went to Tagaytay, Cavite, to evacuate the civilians and to contact the American parachute troops in that area. Lt Col Talatala, Majors Mendoza and Modelo, and Governor Malvar contacted Colonel Hildebrand, one of the regimental commanders of the 11th Airborne Division. They were referred to him by Captain Schommer, guerrilla coordinator, who assigned the unit the sector of Calamba, Santo Tomas and Tanauan.

(20) That the unit was required to submit a report every two days concerning enemy movements in their assigned sector.

(21) The unit claims to have furnished original records to Major J. Vanderpool, Guerrilla Liaison Officer, United States Army; Captain Schommer, Headquarters, 11th Airborne Division at Tagaytay; Lt Col King, 8th Cavalry Regiment at Santo Tomas, Batangas; and Lt. Col. F. S. Wright, 511th Parachute Infantry at Santo Tomas, Batangas. It further claims that on 19 November 1944, its headquarters in Barrio Ulango, Tanauan, Batangas, was raided by some 300 Japanese and that many records were burned along with other unit possessions.

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d. The following is a discussion on the foregoing claims made by Lt Col Talatala in behalf of the Santo Tomas Unit.

In support of the various claims made by the unit, Lt Col Talatala has submitted some 18 bits of evidence and 6 affidavits. Of these, exclusive of the affidavits, only 7 of these papers refer to that period of time prior to the recognition date of 1 March 1945. The first document is a letter, dated 10 August 1943, from Lt Col Ray Monte, commanding officer of the Phantom Unit, to Lt Col L. N. Talatala discussing a small transaction in arms and ammunition. It refers to one of two shotguns, five shotgun shells, a few 45 caliber bullets and 8 rounds of ammunition for a German Luger. The second document is a letter, dated 6 January 1944, between the same two men, discussing more ammunition for the shotgun and also an act of misconduct of one of Talatala’s men. The third document is a letter, dated 8 February 1944, to Lt Col Lorenzo N. Talatala from Phil C. Avancena, commanding officer of the 25th Infantry Division of the PQOG, acknowledging the receipt of a report and requesting him to accept a position as Chief of Staff of the 25th Infantry Division. The fourth document, dated 22 September 1944, appears to be a true copy of a PQOG identification pass issued to Major Lorenzo N. Talatala. The fifth document is a letter, dated 4 January 1945, from Major Jacinto del Pilar of the Hunters (ROTC) to the CO, Sto. Tomas District, acknowledging the visit of Captain Nicasio Torres. It also discusses the possibility of a fusion of the Santo Tomas unit with that unit. The sixth document, dated 8 January 1945, is the reply from Lt Col Talatala to Major del Pilar extending the appreciation of the Santo Tomas unit for the courtesy shown Captain Torres and further discussing the problem of the fusion of guerrilla units. The seventh and last bit of evidence is a letter, dated 17 February 1945, to whom it may concern, signed by Fortunato Borbon, Colonel, Philippine Army, acting Provincial Governor, identifying Lt Col Talatala and a party of ten men travelling from Nasugbu to Santo Tomas, Batangas.

No additional records were submitted to this headquarters by the commanding officer of the Santo Tomas Unit and no further documents could be located in the files of the unit to which intelligence reports are claimed to have been submitted.

Whereas the various affidavits submitted by the unit CO state that the Santo Tomas Unit existed as early as October 1942, these affidavits cannot be verified by any original or true copies of letters, intelligence reports, or other such documents.

The extent of the claimed suppression of collaboration activities during the month of October 1942 consisted of advising civilians living in remote barrios to move further inland in order to avoid confiscation of livestock and other foodstuffs by the Japanese.

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The movement of the CP in November 1942 was apparently an evasive act and it is not probable that a claimed intelligence unit conducted extensive military training of its members.

The units claim to have counter-intelligence and counter-propaganda activities in November 1942 consisted of one member listening to a weekly short wave broadcast of world news and a few members disseminating the information to the local populace. The unit claims two radio receiving sets in the towns of Calamba and Tanauan, however, its members admit that these sets soon ceased to function for want of some parts.

As indicated in the alleged unit history, the commanding officer of the unit, Lt Col Talatala, was employed as an Agronomist in the Bureau of Plant Industry from 11 November 1942 until 22 September 1944. Whereas he claims to have accepted this position to cover his underground activities and to afford him with a means for securing information about the enemy, he can produce no evidence of the result of any such information gained from this source.

As this unit claims only intelligence activities throughout its entire history, it must be pointed out that prior to its affiliation with the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas, it had no effective means whereby it could transmit prepared intelligence reports to any United States Army units nor did it have an outlet for any gleaned information concerning the enemy. In paragraph 4, page 3, of the alleged unit history, that unit commander states that, “in July 1944, Major Modelo and Captain Mendoza roamed about Manila contacting various guerrilla organizations to determine which would be the most likely recipient of intelligence reports.” As the value of an unsubmitted intelligence report is comparatively negligible, little credit can be allowed the unit for activities centering around its preparation.

In November 1943, the unit history states that some 300 of the 500 claimed members deserted the command as a result of the Amnesty Proclamation of the Puppet President of the Philippines. From this time until July 1944, most of the remaining members mixed with the civilians to apparently bolster their courage.

In July 1944, two officers of the unit claim to have contacted the guerrilla units of Marking, Hunters (ROTC), Escudero, and Umali of the PQOG. There is no evidence of the transmission of any intelligence reports at this time. As stated previously, the sole purpose of these contacts seemed to have been the selection of a receiver for any future intelligence reports to be prepared by the unit.

There is little record of any activity from 22 September 1944, the date Lt Col Talatala assumed active command of this unit, until 12 November 1944, the date the unit was absorbed by the PQOG. Colonel Vicente S. Umali states that he had knowledge of the unit as early as late 1942, however, he has no record of the receipt of any intelligence reports.

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The contact made by Captain Nicasio E. Torres in January 1945 with Major J. Vanderpool appears to have had little consequence as Nicasio and his two men remained at Nasugbu for a sufficient time in which to receive instructions in the use of new army equipment and weapons.

The last claim of the unit is that during February 1945, the unit members read and explained to civilians the evacuation instructions contained in leaflets dropped by American planes and assisted these civilians to move to safer areas.


This unit has no apparent political aspirations or affiliations.


It is recommended that no revision of the present recognition date be contemplated for the Santo Tomas Unit, PQOG.

1st Lt            CAC

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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