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December 29, 2017

Lt. Middleton's Report on Interviews with the 1st Batangas Regiment

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, one Lt. Charles Middleton of the United States Army documented the results of his interviews with members of the 1st Batangas Regiment’s in the barrio of Pallocan in the then-town of Batangas.

[p. 1]

Interviews held Aug 28, 29, 30 at Pallocan, Batangas.

1. Maximo C Bool, Maj (G). He is now the CO of the Batangas Unit which was originally organized under Col Straughn. Major de la Penga [Peña], representing Col Straughn, instructed Bool in Jan 1943 to form a guerrilla unit. Bool was made a 1st Lt; he recruited a Bn by Oct 1944; he was told to do sabotage and intelligence work; he had about 25 pistols; he had 15 USAFFE men in his organization.

From Jan 1943 to Sept 1943, Mario Gutierrez was Bool’s Bn Comdr. Gutierrez took orders from a Maj Espina of Straughn’s Hqs. In Sept 1943, Gutierrez and 50 men surrendered to the Japs. For 3 or 4 months, the remaining men were under Bool, but there was no activity or contact with a higher hqs. About Jan 1944, Maj Espina contacted Bool again in order to obtain intelligence reports. In April 1944, Espina was apprehended. Bool was now on his own entirely until Oct 1944 because many of his officers and a few of his men joined the PQOG under a Col Balagtas.

Col Balagtas had many weapons and was antagonistic to Bool.

Bool first men Araullo (General Bays) in May 1945 and he had never heard of him before that time.

This interview not satisfactory because Bool is too hazy on who was his CO at various times. He remained in his own small barrio and evidently operated with 25 to 50 men as he knows nothing of the activities of the other units that are under his command on the roster that was submitted to G Affairs Sec.

2. Rosendo Atienza. Capt (G), 23 years old, is head of Co C with 124 men. His barrio is 8 kilometers from hqs. He was told by Bool to do sabotage work. He instructed his men to sprinkle salt water on the cotton crop. He told the farmers to hide as much as of their crops as possible. He is an ex constable and was told by Bool that he did not have to report as a USAFFE man has to. Does not know other officers except Bool.

3. Jovito Santos. 2d Lt (G), 30 years old, shoemaker, joined in Oct 1944. Had no men under him. Worked at his trade all during the occupation. Was told to do intelligence work in the town of Batangas and report to Bool. Did go to a skirmish against 50 Japs in May of 1945. Was gone a week to Malitan, Wawa. Has had 4th Grade education. Marking is only other guerrilla leader he has ever heard of.

4. Calixto Catud. 1st Lt (G), supply officer, 45 years old, farmer, owns 3 hectares, and lived in Tulo Barrio all during the occupation. His duty was to raise crops. 80 men of the 200 man barrio were under him. He saw Bool twice a month. No Jap spies ever came to his barrio. Knows only Bool. He worked for two months as a laborer on docks for the army.

[p. 2]

5. Rogarciano de la Penya. 2d Lt (G), brother of the Penya in FAIT Hqs, Manila, 30 yrs old, BSA graduate in 1940, 2 yrs ROTC, PA commission applied for and papers had been forwarded when war broke out. Was an EM of Co H, 41st Div at Bataan. First joined the McKinley Brigade in Feb 1943. After Straughn’s death, he fled to Batangas to lay low. Did some intelligence work for Bool but knows nothing about Bool’s organization. Bool told him that FAIT Hqs, Manila would arrange a delay in his reporting as a USAFFE man. First saw and knew Araullo in March 1945.

6. Lt. Dionisio. 24 yrs old, 1st year law, one year ROTC. He was a sgt in 2nd Bn, 41st Div at Bataan and escaped. He then served under Anderson at Nagcarlan, Coguna [Laguna] until Aug 42. He quit Anderson because of danger and went to Batangas to lay low. Never had a weapon and never worked with American unit.

7. R. L. Perez. Advisor only, is a Batangas lawyer who kept his office open during the occupation. Says he had no business. He is 46 years old, scholarly, joined in April 1943. No Makapilis in town. Knew 15 other members of Bool’s outfit. About 1000 Japs in Batangas City during 1944. Doesn’t know any Huks. Is not interested personally in recognition. Does not want to be an Army man. Does not know of any Huks in the town.

8. Jacinto Gubet. 1st Lt (G), 45 yrs old, kept the rosters. Had 70 men under him. He got 12 rifles of miscellaneous types from Bool. Took patrols of 15-30 men out for Jap stragglers in May 1945. Does not know about higher officers than Bool.

9. Vicente Gonito. 2d Lt (G), 40 yrs old, farmer, owns 5 hectares, joined April 1943, had 36 men with two pistols, and does not want to join PA. Does not know consequences of processing.

NOTE: The following men belonged to Co E located at Lobo, Batangas. They traveled 30 kilometers to be interviewed at Pallocan. They all claim to be under Bool (now) but the Major Mercado they talked of appears to have been the actual leader and he has since left that area. Some of their statements were obviously coached to them. The overall impression obtained was that they were a local body that operated entirely separate from Bool’s unit.

10. Maran. Capt (G), Co E CO, 126 EM, 43 yrs old, fisherman, 2d year high school, recruited by Maj. Espina in 1943 and claims that a Maj Mercado was his CO. He had 17 USAFFE men in his Co. Knows that if recognized, he will get back pay and be in PA. He had trouble with Col Balagtas of PQOG. Maran lost about 20 miscellaneous weapons to Balagtas on a proposed trade for carbines and the carbines did not appear. He states that the mayor of Lobo became a guerrilla under Espina but did not belong to Maran’s org. He was instructed to do sabotage, spread news and harass the enemy. One platoon of men joined the 11th Airborne for one week against 50 Japs at Malabrigo, Lobo and Calo, Lobo. A platoon of Japs came to their area at three different times during 1942 and none came thereafter.

[p. 3]

11. Ciriano L. Solis. 1st Lt (G), Exec O of Co E, commissioned by Espina in Jan 1943, knew he was in Straughn’s command, high school graduate, ex USAFFE man and was told by Mercado that he did not have to report. His area was so isolated and caused no trouble so the Japs did not zonify it. Does not know Balagtas of PQOG. At one time, they had plenty of homemade pistols, but they now have only three and one rifle.

12. Se. Aguilar. 2d Lt, 36 EM, commissioned by Mercado in Jan 1943, tailor by trade during the occupation. He worked one week as a longshoreman for Americans and three days as a water carrier for US Army. He was then advised to go home. Says Bays is the overall CO, that Mercado was his CO in 1944. Knows little or nothing of the unit’s activities.

13. Enlisted men. About 80 EM were formed in three ranks by Bool. Lt Tabora questioned one rank, Lt Middleton the 2nd rank, and T/Sgt Bernacki questioned the 3rd rank. The men questioned by Lt Middleton were either under 24 years of age or over 40. Most of them had completed one or two grades of school. Not one could talk without an interpreter. Most of them were young. They were either potters, fishermen or farmers that had stayed at their occupation all during the occupation. A few of them knew more than one of their officers. None of them know how to operate and clean a gun. The only answer in connection with their duties was “I did sabotage.” They all state that they could not support a family on 18 pesos a month. When asked if they want to join the PA, they say only, “I want to serve my country,” or “If my services are needed, I will go.” None of them understand anything about processing. It can be concluded that they are a group of simple, kindly, timid people who have been told that it is good to serve your country and that the only way to serve your country is to join the PA. None of them have any understanding of a military unit.

2d Lieutenant, Inf.

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Notes and references:

1 “First Batangas Regt, FAIT,” File No. 110-60, online at the United States National Archives.

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