Capt. Pedro Tapia's History of the Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Capt. Pedro Tapia's 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 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 one Capt. Pedro Tapia’s version of the history of this guerrilla outfit.
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UNITED STATES PHILIPPINE ISLANDS FORCES
SECOND DIVISION
IV ARMY CORPS
MARKING’S FIL-AMERICANS
TEOFILO ROMERO’S TROOPS

BRIEF HISTORY

I. Date of Organization –

The unit, of one company, was organized on 15 July 1942 in the barrio of Boot, Tanauan, Batangas on the northeastern shore of Taal Lake, under Capt. Avelino Tapia, USAFFE.

II. Activities and areas covered –

The underground work of the unit covered the provinces of Batangas and Cavite.

(a) As early as 5 March 1942, the undersigned, elementary school principal at the outbreak of the Pacific War, installed his shortwave radio receiving set right in his home in Darasa, Tanauan, Batangas situated along the provincial road. In this manner, risky though it was, he was able to furnish some guerrilla organizations, viz., R.O.T.C., P.Q.O.G., and [the] Tanauan Unit regularly with the latest news flash from Allied broadcasting stations in San Francisco (KGEI, later KGEX, KWID), Australia, London, Chunqking, and India. He similarly served in no small measure the civilian populations of Tanauan and the neighboring towns of Malvar, Talisay, and Sto. Tomas. This activity undoubtedly helped to maintain the morale of all concerned. However, it was only on 1 November 1945 that he was registered in the unit under Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia as intelligence operative. This was a signal recognition of his underground activity mainly thru operating his shortwave radio receiving set and disseminating Allied news four and one half months before the unit came into being.

(b) On 1 October 1942, the first reports on Jap installations of gasoline tanks, airfields, tunnels, etc. were submitted to the Hq. of Capt. Marcelo Ambat in Balubad, Silang, Cavite by Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia.

Other activities from July 1942 –

1. Intensification of shortwave operation and disseminating shortwave news from Allied sources to keep alive the morale of the underground forces and civilian population.

2. Extended the activities of the unit to suppression of or minimizing local banditry, robberies, abductions, and protection of civilians who gave financial and material aids to the underground movement.

3. Counteracted the spy movement of the Japs. A number of Jap spies (Filipinos) were shot and killed in Tanauan in this manner.

4. Sketches were made of Jap installations and other enemy targets. These were submitted through AIB, Anderson’s Unit, and copies furnished other guerrilla units by Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia.

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

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6. With the first bombing and strafing by Allied planes of the Lipa Airstrip and the Malvar Auxiliary Airfield on 21 September 1944, the organization intensified counterespionage. More sketches of Jap installations were made for transmittal to other guerrilla units.

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

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

9. On 3 and 4 February 1945, the 11th Airborne Division landed on Tagaytay. Shortly after this and within the same week, the reports on underground work by the unit were submitted to Major Schommer, C.P. Commander of the 11th Airborne Division and to Guerrilla Coordinator, Col. Quintin Gellidon, by Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia.

10. Simultaneously within this airborne landing on Tagaytay, the organization helped in the eventual rescue by an American Navy plane of two rescued American pilots (John Boyle and William Foye) entrusted by General Avanceña of [the] Red Lions to the joint care of the unit and the Tanauan Guerrilla Organization under the late Col. Martiniano Carandang, and the organization under Col. Amando Laurel.

11. From the second week of February 1945 began the shelling of Gonsali Mountain and Kalili, Talisay, Batangas, two Jap strongholds spotted by members of the intelligence operatives of the organization.

12. Attachment of the organization to the 187th Inf. Paratroopers of the 11th Airborne Division on 4 February 1945. When the 11th Airborne Division moved out around 20 March 1945, the organization served under the 8th Cavalry, U.S. Army.

13. In the wake of the Jap massacre of civilians in Tanauan on 10 February 1945, in which around 800 were slaughtered, the intelligence operatives helped to indicate and map out the evacuation routes of thousands of fleeing civilians who were guided and protected by the combat units from the barrios of Tanauan to as far as Canlubang, Cabuyao, Santa Rosa, etc., all towns of Laguna.

14. With the attachment to U.S. troops began the patrols, reconnaissance, ambush, and combat activities of the organization:

February to 12 March 1945 – mostly patrol and reconnaissance work; spotting Jap movements, particularly Tanauan and Malvar.
March 13 – surprise encounter with the enemy. No casualties on both sides.
March 14 – Directed combat units to strategic place for ambush of Jap trucks. Combat units successfully ambushed to Jap trucks between Malvar and Tanauan. Four Japs killed; both trucks burned with drums of gasoline exploding.
March 15-19 – Jap convoy of many trucks sighted passing through Tanauan southward. Information sent to combat units.
March 20 – Jap truck movement ascertained to be evacuating major forces from Tanauan to Malvar and Lipa.
March 21-23 – Reconnaissance work.

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March 24-25 – Ordered to move into Tanauan. Few Japs found fighting rear guard action. Enemy encountered; 4 Japs killed.
March 26 – Tanauan occupied.
March 27-28 – C.P. advanced to corner of Bungcalot, Tanauan and provincial road. Advanced to Malvar, then to Pucil and Tigbig [Tibig], barrios of Lipa, as patrols encountered no Japs.
March 29 – Advanced into Lipa City. Very light enemy fire encountered.
March 30-31 – At C.P. patrol of combat units around perimeter.
April 1 – One Jap killed near C.P. units advanced to Calicañgan, Lipa.
April 2-9 – Patrols sent to Bulacnin, Pucil, San Juan, Calicañgan, barrios of Lipa, and provincial road for Jap communication lines. No major encounter with enemy.
April 10 – Ordered to move to Santa Clara, Batangas, a very strong Jap stronghold. Graves and scattered bodies of massacred civilians littered the area of the Santa Clara school building.
April 11-16 – Heavy encounter with the enemy toward Sapac Mountain between Santa Clara and Lipa. Many casualties of the enemy. A handful of casualties on the side of the Americans and Filipino guerrillas.
All these encounters were recounted in the summarized information furnished by Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia to combat units.
April 17-30 – Mopping up operations in the area of Santa Clara and Sapac Mountain. End of Jap organized resistance.
May 1-July 1, 1945 – All mopping up operations in scattered places where Jap stragglers had been found or discovered by civilians in the barrios of Tanauan.

III. Summary –

In all these operations, the intelligence operatives under Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia furnished the combat units with details of information and sketches of Jap installations, dugouts, tunnels, etc. Civilians who could give essential information regarding the enemy worked in close cooperation with the intelligence operatives. Likewise, these information and sketches were transmitted to other guerrilla organizations with the hope that said information would reach the Allied Hq. and help it in designating targets for bombing, strafing, and shelling.

It was possible then that the following enemy positions and installations transmitted by us must have found their way in good hands the way Allied bombing, shelling, and strafing had singled out their intended targets with marvelous success:

(1) First bombing and strafing on 21 Sept. 1944 of Jap ammunition and gasoline dumps at the airstrip in Lipa and the gasoline dump at the auxiliary airfield in Malvar.
(2) Bombing and strafing of the railroad track and railroad station in Tanauan on 4 and 5 Nov. 1944 and eventually caught several freight cars full of hundreds of drums of aviation gasoline all of which exploded and burned, resulting in the total destruction of the cars and two locomotive engines.
(3) The shelling in Feb. 1945 of Gonsali Mountain and Kalii in Talisay – Jap strongholds, destroyed and abandoned by the enemy.

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(4) The shelling, bombing and strafing in Feb. and Mar. 1945 which totally destroyed the church, municipal building, two elementary school buildings, and several big private houses in Tanauan which were occupied by the Japs and later abandoned.
(5) Bombing, strafing, and shelling of Jap strongholds in Santa Clara, Santo Tomas, and in Sapac Mountain resulting in the speedy destruction of Jap defenses and annihilation of the enemy in this area.

Mention should be made of the help rendered by Capt. Jose M. Corona, 1941 Vice-Mayor of Tanauan, particularly in shortwave news activities and in other underground work, and of the help extended by Mr. Jose Zuño, Mayor of Rosario, Batangas, in furnishing Lt. Col. Avelino Tapia with valuable information against the enemy.

[Sgd.] PEDRO G. TAPIA
Capt. Inf.
Intelligence Officer

Copy furnished:

1. Division Chief Intelligence Operative
2. Lt. Colonel Avelino Tapia (G-2)
3. 2nd Division, LV Army Corps
4. Marking’s Fil-Americans

N.B. –

Some records of shortwave news still preserved.

[Initialed] P.G.T.

Notes and references:
1 “Tanauan Guerrilla Combat Team,” File No. 109-89, online at the United States National Archives.

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