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December 29, 2017

Lt. Victor Smolen's Investigative Report on the Lipa Unit, PQOG, October 1946

The 1st Battalion, 38th Regiment, 35th Division, I Corps guerrilla unit of the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG), which purportedly operated out of the town of Lipa, was supposedly commanded by one Leodegario Mendoza. It failed to gain official recognition from the United States Army, although some members of the unit had already been recognized as having been part of the composite roster submitted by the overall headquarters of the PQOG. In this document is a transcription of a report filed by one Lt. Victor Smolen, sent to Lipa by the United States Army to investigate the Lipa-based PQOG unit.

[p. 1]

HEADQUARTERS
UNITED STATES ARMY FORCES WESTERN PACIFIC
G-3, Guerrilla Affairs Branch
APO 707

2 Oct 46

1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Division, PQOG

In accordance with verbal instructions from the Chief of Section, Guerrilla Affairs, G-3, AFWESPAC, Lieutenant Victor Smolen and Captain Cesar G. Fernando on 27 May 1946 proceeded to Lipa, Batangas to contact the “1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Div, PQOG” in order to determine whether or not this organization should be recognized by the United States Army. The following report is a summary of the investigation and basis for the recommendation.

ALLEGED HISTORY

The facts in this history were taken from the submitted written history and verbal claims made by the different individuals contacted during the investigation.

After the fall of Corregidor in May 1942, it is claimed that a guerrilla organization of twenty (20) men, which was later to become the “1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Div, President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas (PQOG),” was formed by Leodegario T. Mendoza in the town of Lipa, and its surrounding barrios in the province of Batangas, with the mission of continuing the resistance against the Japanese. The unit was given the name of “Samahang Magsasaka” (Peasants’ Union) to camouflage their aims to “…keep the fire of resistance to the enemy burning and to prevent the people from mingling and cooperating with the Japanese.”

In Feb 1943, this group became affiliated with the forces of Esteban Mayo who, in the latter part of 1944, became the commanding officer of the 35th Division of the President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas which was made up of men from the province of Batangas. On becoming a part of the 35th Div, Mendoza claims that he and his men became the First Battalion of the 38th Regt, with himself as the battalion commander.

Prior to March 1945, the principal activities of the unit were intelligence, protection of the civilians, and combat training in preparation for the arrival of the Americans.

Contact with the liberating forces was first established in March 1945 at Batangas, Batangas with the 11th Airborne Division. The unit claims to have taken part in the mopping up operations undertaken by the 35th Div in the hills in the vicinity of Taysan and Lobo, Batangas. Claims of attachment to the 11th Airborne Division and the 511th Parachute Maintenance Com- were made.

This unit was apparently disbanded on 1 Sept 1945.

[p. 2]

FINDINGS

The following named persons are those interviewed by the contact team and their statements and the evidence presented are the basis for the findings:

1. Leodegario T. Mendoza – Maj, CO of subject unit
2. Caramelo [Carmelo?] Kalaw – Maj, Ex O of the subject unit
3. Eleuderio [Eleuterio?] L. Villa – Capt, member of subject unit
4. Esteban Mayo – Overall CO of the PQOG for the province of Batangas
5. Domingo de Claro – Capt, CO of “A” Co
6. Dionisio Reyes – Capt, CO of “B” Co
7. Leonardo L. Torres – Capt, CO of “C” Co
8. Ramon Virrey – Capt, CO of “D” Co
9. Macario Morfe – 1st Lt, member of subject unit
10. Cipriano Navarro – Capt, member of subject unit
11. Zoilo Cuevas – 1st Sgt, member of subject unit
12. Isagani Laloon – Sgt, member of subject unit
13. Alfred Laja – Pfc, member of subject unit
14. Tomas Torres – Pvt, member of subject unit
15. Tomas Moreno – Pvt, member of subject unit
16. Dr. Clemente Silva – Local physician of Lipa, Batangas
17. Dr. Jose Ma Katigbak – Local physician of Lipa, Batangas
18. Civilians of the town of Lipa, Batangas

In investigating the “1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Div, PQOG,” it was learned that six (6) members of the unit, including the commanding officer of the unit, have been recognized with the overall recognition of the PQOG, and it was ascertained that with their recognition, they are trying to secure the recognition of other members of the subject unit. It is to be brought out that these men were not recognized because of an attachment to an American unit, but because of the blanket recognition given to the PQOG after the liberation, at which time a battalion of the 35th Division, in which these six men were included under the command of Esteban Mayo, was recognized.

Investigation disclosed that the unit was not organized until September 1944, at which time the subject unit claims to have joined the PQOG. This statement is based upon the fact that many of the members interviewed and judging from the individual questionnaires filled out by them, did not join the unit, as a member of the PQOG, until September 1944.

Before January 1945, the activities of the unit consisted in nothing more than the spying on the Japanese, a fact that was stated by Mendoza. All the activities claimed by the unit were also claimed by other units, some recognized. Record of service was not substantiated by sufficient acceptable evidence. There were papers submitted to substantiate their claims for having been attached to the 11th A/B Division. The only papers submitted with the unit’s claim for recognition was an incomplete history and a roster that was not adequate as to names, ranks, dates of enlistment or joining, dates of promotion and necessary related information. Mendoza claims to have had 489 men in the unit, but a check of the roster discloses that there were only 316.

[p. 3]

Many members apparently lived at home, supporting their families by means of farming or other civilian pursuits, and assisted the guerrilla unit on a part time basis. It was learned during the investigation that members of the unit had a farm of their own on which they claim to have supplied the other members of the unit with food.

The unit did not show satisfactory continuity of activity and organization. It was admitted by Mendoza that when the rosters were compiled, many members of the unit were left off because they had not worked full time with the unit. Judging by the activities claimed by the unit, it would not have been necessary for the remaining members to have worked full time either.

It was not until March 1945 that the subject unit claims to have contacted the liberating forces in Batangas. The unit could offer no papers of attachment for the period in which they claim to have been attached to the 11th A/B Division and to the 511th Parachute Maintenance Company. Having contacted civilians in the town of Lipa, Batangas, it was learned that members of the unit worked with liberating forces as laborers for which in return they received food and clothing. This was the means of compensation given by the liberating forces to the Filipinos who worked with them.

On contacting Vicente Umali, overall commanding officer of the PQOG, he stated that he had never heard of Mendoza, but that it was possible that he might have been the commanding officer of the subject unit. He also stated that the unit, as he knew it, was no larger than a company and that the activities of the unit were completely unknown to him.

POLITICAL ASPECTS

The unit does not appear to have any political affiliations or aspirations.

RECOMMENDATIONS

After careful consideration of the statements made by the present members and an analysis of the documents presented, it is recommended that, with the exception of those members previously recognized, the “1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Div, PQOG” be not favorably considered for recognition.

[Sgd.] VICTOR SMOLEN
2nd Lt., Inf
Contact Team #5



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Notes and references:

1 “1st Bn, 38th Regt, 35th Div, I Corps, PQOG,” File No. 271-16, online at the United States National Archives.


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