A Brief History of the Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A Brief History of the Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team

The Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team was a small resistance organization operating out of the Municipality of Tanauan during the Japanese occupation and the liberation period. It was supposedly founded by one Avelino T. Tapia in July 1942 and affiliated with the Marking’s Fil-American Troops (MFAT) but failed to gain official recognition as an element of the Philippine Army in the service of the Armed Forces of the United States. Some of its members, however, were recognized likely with other outfits or as individuals. In this page is a transcription1 of a brief history of the Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team as submitted to the United States Army as support to its application for official recognition.
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UNITED STATES PHILIPPINE ISLANDS FORCES
MARKING’S FIL-AMERICANS
FOURTH ARMY CORPS
SECOND DIVISION
ROMERO’S TROOPS

BRIEF HISTORY

I. Date of Organization – 15 July 1942

July 15, 1942 marked the beginning of my guerrilla activities organizing a company by the name of TANAUAN GUERRILLA COMBAT TEAM, with eight rifles, 30 cal. and seven pistols, with few ammunition covering the northeastern shore of Taal Lake concealed by the organization called “SAMAHAN NG MAGKAKALAPIT BAHAY,” assuming the rank of my deceased father known to the municipality of Tanauan as “KAPITANG ALBINO.”

With the combat team as home guard, I contacted other guerrilla leaders in the different towns of Batangas, namely, Sto. Tomas, Malvar, Talisay, Lipa, and Rosario, and securing firearms, as well as assigning intelligence operatives who could contribute information to the organization about the enemies.

October 1, 1942 – After two and a half months, after I had almost organized a company, I contacted Lt. Col. Marcelo V. Ambat in Balubad, Silang, Cavite, and knowing his force much superior than mine, I had my unit attached so as not to be disarmed, as different guerrilla units fought for superiority, thus confirming my guerrilla rank as Captain.

October 1, 1943 – Intelligence report of the accomplishments of the American forces in the Pacific theater revealed to the members of the organization and tightly controlled the aggressive thoughts of the members for it permitted, as early as 1942, 1943, would in no doubt massacre the greater number of the population, mostly children and unarmed civilians.

Reports about the enemies sent by transmitter to the AIB headquarters through Col. HERMENEGILDO L. LOPEZ, commanding the “LONE WOLF INTELLIGENCE UNIT,” and favorable news caught by shortwave of Capt. Pedro G. Tapia, Capt. Jose M. Corona, Capt. Jose Villa Panganiban, and other intelligence operatives assigned were submitted to the headquarters of Lt. Col. Marcelo V. Ambat of the UNITED STATES PHILIPPINE ISLANDS FORCES, MARKING’S FIL-AMERICANS, 2ND DIV. IV ARMY CORPS (Romero’s Troops), thus promoting me to Major.

October 1, 1944 – With the combat unit as home guard standing behind me help maintain the people in peace & order, keeping alive the morale of the underground forces and civilian population, minimizing local banditry, robbers, abductions, protecting the civilians who gave financial and material aid to the organization and began counteracting the spies of the Japs in their movements.

Sketches of Japs’ installations and other enemy targets were submitted to the AIB, through Colonel HERMENEGILDO L. LOPEZ of the “LONE WOLF INTELLIGENCE UNIT” stationed at Pinagolingin, Lipa, Batangas, and copy of the reports submitted to the Headquarters of Romero’s Troops in Silang, Cavite, and furnished

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other guerrilla units like PQOG, ROTC-HUNTERS, LIPA GUERRILLA COMBAT TEAM, with same information.

On that very date, I was promoted to the rank of Lieut. Col. and assigned as Division Chief Intelligence Operative covering Cavite and Batangas provinces, of the outfit.

In the middle part of 1943, the organization made contact with the runner of the Red Lions under Gen. Avanceña for unified, more sordid, and bigger underground activities.

With the first bombing and strafing by the Allied planes of Lipa Airfield and Malvar Auxiliary Airfield on 21st Sept. 1944, the organization intensified counter-espionage. More sketches of Japanese installations were made for transmittal to the Headquarters of the AIB, Col. ANDERSON’S UNIT, through Col. HERMENEGILDO L. LOPEZ of the “LONE WOLF INTELLIGENCE UNIT.”

The American landing in Leyte on 19 October 1944 spurred the organization to greater underground activities. Shortwave tuning in was intensified. General MacArthur’s instructions to civilians and guerrilla forces were intercepted and transmitted to all friendly elements. Sketches of Japs’ installations continued to be made and spotted and sent to other underground organizations.

With the American landing at Nasubu, sometime in the last week of January 1945, more underground activities were continued. Jap movements caused certain changes in drawing sketches of their installations.

On [the] 3rd & 4th of February 1945, the 11th AIRBORNE DIVISION landed on Tagaytay. Shortly after this, and within the same week, the reports on underground activities were submitted to Major SCHOMMER, Command Post, and to Col. QUINTIN GELLIDON, guerrilla coordinator.

With the Airborne landing on Tagaytay, our unit helped in the eventual rescue or JOHN BOYLE & WILLIAM FOYE, two American Navy pilots, entrusted by Gen. Avanceña of [the] Red Lions, to the joint care of the unit of [the] Tanauan guerrilla organization under the late Lt. Col. Martiniano Carandang, and the organization under Lt. Col. Amando Laurel.

From the second week of Feb. 1945 began the shelling of Kalii, Talisay, Batangas, two Jap strongholds spotted by members of the intelligence operatives of the organization.

With the attachment of the organization to the 2nd Bn. under Lt. Robert of the 187th Inf. Paragliders under Gen. Pearson of the 11th Airborne Division under Gen. Swing, began the patrol, reconnaissance, ambush, and combat activities of the organization up to 8 July 1945.

On 18 March 1945, while we were stationed in Balele, Tanauan, Batangas, we were able to ambush two trucks loaded with Jap soldiers in the barrio of Payapa, Malvar, Batangas, coming from Lipa. Patrols led by Lt. Col. Gavino Colocado and I.

In the wake of the Jap massacre of the civilians in which around 800 were slaughtered, the intelligence operatives helped to indicate and map out the evacuation routes of thousands of

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fleeing civilians who were guided and protected by the Combat Units from the barrios of Tanauan, Sto. Tomas, Malvar, Lipa, Rosario, to as far as Canlubang, Cabuyao, Sta. Rosa, Laguna, and across Taal Lake, and to Tagaytay City.

On 20th March 1945, we moved from Balele to Makolot Mountain. For one week, we supported Company G of Lt. Sigel, fighting ferociously in the barrio of Dita, Cuenca, on the eastern side of Makolot Mountain.

On the night of the 27th of March 1945, while on rest in the barrio of Dita, Cuenca, we were ambushed by Jap snipers who crept in the middle of the night and were able to enter our perimeter, bayoneting to death twelve of our men in the foxholes, while thirteen got wounded, one of them Lt. Robert, our battalion commander-in-charge, an American officer.

On 1st April 1945, same story happened to us where three of the four men of Lt. Col. Pedro Pacia, stopped in our bivouac area to pass the night were bayoneted to death.

On [the] 4th day of April 1945, we were taken to Lipa to guard the two bridges for almost a week.

On [the] 10th day of April 1945, we had been assigned to patrol in [the] Sapac Mountain, ambushing the Japs in the barrios of Bolbok, Talisay, Dagatan, Lumbang of Lipa.

On [the] 20th of April 1945, patrols sent by Lt. McDonald, assigning me to take charge of, we were able to rescue five Jap mules and two cows at the foot of Dalaga Mountain where about a hundred animals were scattered dead. [The] Rescued animals were given to the civilians.

April 25, 1945 – The Unit was taken to Natatas, Tanauan, Batangas to rest, while the rest were taken to Caylaway, Tagaytay City, up the latter part to protect the civilians returning to their homes from the Jap stragglers.

July 8, 1945 – The unit was released by the 11th AIRBORNE DIVISION, and turned over to the casual of the 4th Rep. Bn. Camp Murphy, Rizal, while the rest remained patrolling the liberated places from Jap stragglers under Lt. Col. MORENO.

[Sgd.] AVELINO T. TAPIA
Lieut. Colonel (USAFFE-GRLA)
2nd Div. IV Army Corps
USPIF
MARKING’S FIL-AMERICANS
Romero’s Troops
Notes and references:
1 “Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team,” File No. 109-89, online at the United States National Archives.

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