Guerrillas in South Central Luzon - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Guerrillas in South Central Luzon - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Guerrillas in South Central Luzon

Below is the transcription of an excerpt from a declassified United States Army document1 on the Philippine guerrilla movement during the Japanese occupation of the country leading to its eventual liberation by the Allied forces led by the United States. This excerpt will be invaluable to researchers who are looking to gain a better understanding of the guerrilla movement in Luzon, specifically in Batangas; and is a recommended reading before the perusal of the numerous transcriptions of guerrilla documents available at Batangas History, Culture & Folklore.
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South Central Luzon

Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT)

In south central Luzon, Colonel Hugh Straughn, a retired Army officer, commenced the organization of a guerrilla movement which existed successfully from April 1942 until his capture in August 1943 and subsequent inhuman execution. Known as the Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT), it covered Manila, Rizal, Laguna, Batangas, and Cavite and possessed numerous contacts throughout the Bicol Region, Tayabas, and in the Central Luzon plain. Colonel Straughn, realizing that some time would elapse before the return of American troops and that poorly armed guerrillas could not cope with the Japanese, concentrated strictly upon organization and intelligence. In order to maintain this organization so that it would be of maximum benefit to a liberating army, he issued definite “lay low” orders and forbade overt resistance against the Japanese. During the existence of this organization, contacts were made with adjacent units and other units operating within the sphere of operations of the FAIT, many of the latter group actually affiliating at one time or another with Colonel Straughn. Of these,

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Marking’s Fil-American (MFA), Hunters ROTC, and President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG) are the most notable. The MFA, however, did not desire to follow the “lay-low” policy and embarked upon a program of active resistance against the Japanese in late 1942 and early 1943. The resulting differences between Colonel Straughn and Marking led to the breaking away of the MFA from the FAIT. Shortly thereafter, in August 1943, Colonel Straughn was betrayed and captured. With his capture, the FAIT fell to pieces although several Filipino leaders, notably General Lim who was captured and executed by the Japanese, attempted to hold it together. Some of the units joined the MFA, others the ROTC, some hung on in an independent status, but the greater majority simply disintegrated. Shortly prior to and during the Liberation, many of these long-abandoned organizations came to life and were of some assistance to the liberating forces. However, the organization of the FAIT as such did not exist after the capture of Colonel Straughn.

Marking’s Fil-Americans (MFA)

In the mountains of Rizal Province, a small group of some 200 men under the leadership of Marcos Villa Agustin, alias Marking, a former Manila taxi driver and at present head of the Philippine National Bureau of Investigation, assembled in April 1942 to form the nucleus of the MFA. Committed to direct action, the unit staged many small but vicious raids against the Japanese until they affiliated with Colonel Straughn’s FAIT in June of the same year. For nearly a year thereafter, overt action was reduced to a bare minimum until Marking, no longer agreeing with the

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“lay low” policy, severed relations with the FAIT and struck out on his own. Upon the capture of Colonel Straughn in August 1943 and the disintegration of his organization, many of his units joined Marking, some willingly but some unwillingly. In the latter category was the organization, perhaps the best organized and armed in the Laguna area, commanded by Justiniano Estrella, alias David. Upon being invited by Marking to a conference to discuss unification, David was held prisoner until he agreed to join, the fusion resulting in the renaming of the two forces as Marking’s Fil-Americans. By mid-1944, the MFA had reached out and induced, either by mutual agreement or by force, a number of small units in Tayabas, Cavite, Manila, and Batangas to join. A further reorganization along semi-military lines resulted in the establishment of four army corps: the I Corps covering Rizal, the II Corps covering Manila, the III Corps covering Laguna, and the IV Corps covering Cavite. Some regiments were formed but for the most part, elements of each corps retained their quaint names and quainter irregular organizations. In late November 1944, Major George Miller arrived at Marking’s headquarters in Rizal with radio equipment and proceeded to coordinate the activities of the MFA in the provinces of Rizal and Laguna, all intelligence reports being forwarded to Colonel Anderson’s headquarters for further transmittal. Prior to the landing of the 11th Airborne Division at Nasugbu, Batangas, radio instructions were received to commence harassing the Japanese in every way possible, and to that end, the MFA struck. During the liberation campaign, elements of the MFA fought throughout

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south central Luzon, their most notable engagement being that at the capture of Ipo Dam when the 1st and 2nd Yay Regiments were organized from MFA troops and the 1st Yay Regiment fought side by side with the 43rd Division (US). Although the III Army Corps withdrew from the MFA for the purpose of recognition and revision of recognition dates, and as a result of the manner in which David was forced to join Marking, the MFA received approximately 12,200 recognitions under the direct control of Marking. Notwithstanding the exaggerated claims of 200,000 members, the constant struggles between adjacent units over actual or fancied wrongs, the ruthless manner in which Marking forced cooperation and the non-military type of organization, the MFA existed throughout the Occupation as a symbol of resistance against the Japanese.

Hunters ROTC

First organized in January 1942 to assist the USAFFE forces in Bataan with information of Japanese troop movements, the Hunters ROTC consisted of a small group of Philippine Military Academy and ROTC cadets under the command of Miguel Ver. When it became apparent that the USAFFE could not hold out in Bataan, the unit moved into the mountains of Rizal with the exception of a small group left behind to collect arms and ammunition. Several raids within the city of Manila in May 1942 netted some 200 rifles but, soon thereafter, brought retaliation from the Japanese. Miguel Ver was killed in July 1942 when the Hunters camp was raided and Eleuterio Adevoso, alias Terry Magtangol, assumed command and retained that command until the cessation of

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hostilities. Continuing to operate from the mountains with small, highly mobile combat patrols, the Hunters slowly developed an intelligence and supply net throughout south central Luzon, affiliating at one time with FAIT and then with the MFA. By mid-1943, contact had been established with the 6th Military District agents but was not maintained because these agents attempted to take over command of this unit upon instruction from Peralta. It subsequently developed that intelligence furnished by the Hunters had been forwarded to Australia under the name of the 6th Military District. Contacts were established with the 7th Military District in Negros in February 1944, but the difficulties of transportation and communication made impractical the forwarding of information through that channel. The arrival of Lieutenant Commander George Rowe in Mindoro during the fall of 1944, however, presented an easily accessible and reliable outlet for Luzon intelligence which was immediately seized by the Hunters and maintained until Lieutenant Colonel Vanderpool reached the headquarters of Magtangol with radio equipment during the first week of December. Meanwhile, organization had continued with the establishment of a number of units in Batangas and Cavite as well as those already operating in Rizal, Laguna, and Manila. In addition, intelligence nets had been pushed into the Bicol, into north and north central Luzon, although the lack of rapid transportation and communication facilities lessened to a great extent their worth. By January 1945, the Hunters had been reorganized into three divisions: the 44th, 45th, and 46th of three regiments, each with a number of miscellaneous

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Intelligence and supply units. With the arrival of Lieutenant Colonel Vanderpool from Colonel Anderson’s headquarters in December 1944, almost simultaneously with the arrival of Major Miller at Marking’s headquarters, emphasis was placed upon the gathering of detailed intelligence and the securing of coordination between the many rival units long in existence and the new arrivals. Upon the supervision of Colonel Vanderpool, the Hunters concentrated their activities in Batangas and Cavite and, when the orders came to harass the Japanese to the greatest possible extent, that organization contributed considerably. In the ensuing campaign throughout the south central Luzon area, elements of the Hunters were attached to and fought with the 11th Airborne and 1st Cavalry Division. Approximately 8,900 men were recognized.

President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG)

The last organization on Luzon of any consequence which maintained itself continuously throughout the Occupation was the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG). Although formed in December 1941 under Vicente Umali, a practicing lawyer from Tiaong, Tayabas, and then known as the Philippine Defenders, it first struck at the Japanese on May 7, 1942, when it raided Tiaong and destroyed several government buildings. Affiliated with FAIT when Umali was commissioned a major in October 1942 by Colonel Straughn, it eventually drifted into the MFA, but then broke completely away and remained independent for the duration. In April 1943, the Philippine Defenders joined forces with the Quezon Intelligence Bureau (QIB), then commanded by Captain Primitivo San Agustin, and the

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organization was redesignated the PQOG. December of the same year saw the 25th Red Lion Regiment under Phil Avancena join the PQOG. Contact with Australia was established when San Agustin succeeded in reaching Colonel Fertig’s headquarters in Mindanao during the latter part of 1943, although previous contacts had been made with agents from both the 6th and 10th Military Districts. The radio brought back by San Agustin in February 1944 was placed into operation and contact was made with the 10th Military District. Unfortunately, the station was raided by the Japanese and, although not lost, the radio did not get back into effective operation. The last expansion of the PQOG took place in late 1944 when an organization under Valenzona which operated in Cavite and Manila joined. At this time, the PQOG underwent a reorganization which resulted in the establishment of the I and II Corps, Valenzona’s unit comprising the II Corps. At the same time, a somewhat more military organization was attempted with the re-designation of existing units as divisions and regiments covering parts of Tayabas, Laguna, Batangas, and that part of Cavite controlled by the II Corps. Fighting with the 1st Cavalry and 11th Airborne Division in Tayabas, Laguna, and Batangas, the PQOG received approximately 7,400 recognitions.

Notes and references:
1 “United States Army Recognition Program of Philippine Guerrillas,” by the Headquarters, Philippines Command, United States Army, estimated publishing date 1949, online at the United States Army – Internet Archive.
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