History of the De Castro Guerrilla Unit - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

History of the De Castro Guerrilla Unit

The De Castro Guerrilla Unit was an underground outfit that operated out of the barrio of Banyaga, Lemery, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. It was founded and subsequently commanded by one Lt. Marcelo de Castro, a WWI veteran who fought in Europe and also was a survivor of the siege of Corregidor in 1942. The unit failed to obtain official recognition by the United States Army because its application was submitted beyond the date set. In this page is a transcription1 of the unit’s history as submitted with its application for recognition.
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DE CASTRO’S GUERRILLAS

History

Marcelo de Castro, with Servillano de Castro and Policarpio de Castro, went to Banyaga, a barrio of Lemery, Batangas to locate a place for [a] future hideout in case he would be hunted by the Japanese authorities. Marcelo de Castro was steward first class in the United States Navy who saw action in Europe in World War I and was also in Corregidor and surrendered to the Japanese during the fall of the Rock. He was released from Capas or Camp O’Donnell concentration camp on September 25, 1942. On November 7, 1942, they came to Montalban Hills to view it and take reconnaissance. On the same spot, they met several inhabitants of the place who fled from the barrios because there were twelve Japanese soldiers forcing the people to plant cotton. This group of people, among them were Julio Austria, Eladio Salisi, Luciano Malabanan, Ricardo Holgado, Alejandro Perez, Demetrio Mendoza, and Marciano de Leon. They fled because they had destroyed the banca on which the Japanese soldiers had ridden, they had already planned the Japanese to be ambushed but they feared that the Japanese might punish the barrio people and burn the barrios.

On the same spot, Marcelo de Castro was made the head of the movement and to name it as De Castro’s Guerrillas with Banyaga as its headquarters. The organization had planned to secure arms by purchase or to beg from civilians who would be willing to lend their weapons.

The organization grew as was to be expected because there were many people who really hated the Japanese due to their atrocities and for using the people to labor compulsorily without due pay and rations. The organization was handicapped due to the fact that most of the high officers got sick with malaria. But the sickness of the high ranking officers did not prevent much the organization because the people who were too fond of the Americans and believed that they would return back to the Philippines found solace and contentment in their cause by joining the guerrilla movements.

Most of the high ranking officers became wanted by the Japanese officers in order to fool them acted mostly as members of the intelligence corps. Quintin Macainan became the intelligence officer in Manila and others as intelligence officers in towns.

The small force, mostly armed with paltiks and burned rifles had increased in size at the start of about twenty members, it increased to several companies.

On November 14, 1944, two Japanese soldiers, due to the failure of the motorboat’s motor they were riding, landed in Sitio Look, Banyaga, Lemery, Batangas. The Japanese were hungry and were asking the natives for camote. The man of our unit took a tip

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and Major Jose P. de Castro instructed Lt. Julio Austria and Lt. Marciano de Leon to take with them Crispin Cirillo Landicho, and Domingo Mendoza. Mendoza, armed only with knives, received the Japanese as good citizens. The two Japanese, thinking them to be as what they presumed to be, freely mixed with them. This group was able to knife the Japanese to death and took their two rifles.

The first real encounter was in sitio Tatlong Ulo, barrio Mayasang, Lemery, Batangas against a company of Japanese soldiers on December 15, 1944. In this encounter, most of the members of our companies and guerrilla of other units were with the encounter. The Japanese were on a very advantageous position, being in high [land] thickly covered with thick forest. Most of the guerrillas were on a low place exposed to the bullets of the enemy. There was firing for about two hours but we could hardly aim at the enemy and so we retreated. In this encounter, we lost one man and four of them were wounded.

In the early part of the month of February 1945, the American forces landed on Nasugbu, Batangas [It was actually 31 January 1945 – Batangas History, Culture & Folklore.] After three days, the men went back to our camp with the tidings that the Americans had already landed. One platoon, under the command of Lt. Demetrio Mendoza, on February 8, 1945, the 11th Airborne landed in Tagaytay City. A part of our unit was sent to Tagaytay and [told] to stay there. We all welcome them, exchanged our Japanese rifles or revolvers with new ones or carbines as the case might be. The American troops gave us food, cigarettes and canned meats. Then, Lt. Col. Marcelo de Castro talked with the American officers. The American officer told them that they should join with them. Some of our men joined the American forces going to Gonzali Mountain some of them also [joined] forces going to Manila. Those who went with the Americans to fight in the Gonzali Mountains stayed there for about a month were firing against the enemy took place during the night because the Japanese, mostly snipers, only gave battle during the night due to their fear of American planes that might strafe them.

On February 12, 1945, Lt. Col. Marcelo de Castro and Captain Servillano de Castro, together with Maximo Laurel, Mariano Laurel, Guillermo Perez, Isidro Gomez, and Venancio Luna of other guerrilla units ambushed four Japanese soldiers armed with revolvers and a sack of grenades and were able to kill them all that day. After a day or two, they were able to report their works to the 11th Airborne Headquarters in Tagaytay City and were also able to change the Japanese revolvers with carbines. They were given plenty of bullets and hand grenades. The ambush happened in a cornfield between barrio Look and barrio Luyos of Tanawan, Batangas.

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On April 12, 1945, our runner saw a Japanese soldier in barrio Matala looking for camote. Then our runner, who was Marciano de Leon, reported it to the headquarters. So, we proceeded to barrio Matala with all our men [to look for the] Japanese soldier digging camote, where one of our men shot the Japanese to death. When it was noon, all our men were ordered to go to Subic but a report [was] made that there were plenty of Japanese by one of our runners, Antonio Malabanan. It was a kilometer away from barrio Subic, [there were many] Japanese soldiers, some were resting on the ground and some in one house. So, Lt. Ricardo Holgado and Lt. Lucio Malabanan ordered his soldiers to fire and eight of [the] Japanese soldiers were killed. We followed them till they reached the mountain of Poltero near Lemery, Batangas.

After several weeks after the Americans had already landed and the Philippines was partly liberated, Lt. Col. Marcelo de Castro, Commander, and Captain Adriano Nesferos of the Finance Company, both joined the United States Army, of which they were members of [the] said organization before the war and during the battles of Bataan and Corregidor, and both were sent by the invasion force to Okinawa and then to Japan.

But in spite of the departure of the Commander in Chief, Chief of Staff and the company commanders, the unit left was instructed to fight and Japanese stragglers in the surrounding hills, Banyaga, Pultero, and the hills bordering Tagaytay City, such sporadic clashes often occurred, staged by our units under our platoon commanders. There are still at present Japanese stragglers in several places and still our men are fighting till those places are cleared of all Japanese.

In the latter part of November 1945, with the Americans fought in Popolin, where the guerrillas had killed 11 Japanese. [The] Second encounter was in Payapa, few died but many were wounded. [The] Third encounter was in Calaca, where the guerrillas had killed nine Japanese, but no casualty was suffered by our unit.

The next encounter was at Subic where one hundred fifteen Japanese were killed, but with our unit, there was no casualty. On the next morning, our unit again engaged the enemy and fifteen Japanese were killed, and with our unit, no casualty.

The succeeding encounter was in Balagbag where Policarpio Carolina, single, and Mario Aguho, married, were killed and several wounded was suffered by our unit.

At Masim, our unit killed 7 Japanese but several of our unit were wounded.

/s/ Marcelo de Castro
/t/ MARCELO DE CASTRO
Lt. Colonel

Notes and references:
1 “De Castro Guerrilla Unit,” File No. 71, online at the United States National Archives.

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