Report on the Guerrilla Activities of the Joe Perez Forces, Batangas Military Army - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Report on the Guerrilla Activities of the Joe Perez Forces, Batangas Military Army

The Joe Perez’s Forces of the Batangas Military Army, which claimed to have been affiliated with the guerrilla organization of Bernard Anderson, was formed by one Conrado T. Limjoco, who was also the supposed commander of the half of this guerrilla organization that operated in Batangas from Calaca to Nasugbu. The organization would fail to gain official recognition by the United States Army, but as was the case in many other guerrilla outfits, some of its individual members did obtain recognition, if with other groups. In this page is a transcription1 of a report on the activities allegedly undertaken by the Joe Perez Forces as submitted to the United States Army as part of the unit’s application for official recognition.
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USAFFE LUZON GUERRILLA FORCES
HEADQUARTERS
JOE PEREZ FORCES

15 July 1945.

SUBJECT
TO
: Report on GUERRILLA ACTIVITIES
: GHQ, USAFFE LUZON GUERRILLA FORCES

1. ORGANIZATION. On order of Dominador L. Bello, 2nd Lt., USAFFE, C.O. for the Batangas Military Area, I organized in Lian, Batangas as Squadron 463. Because I was wanted in Albay and in Sorsogon by the Japanese authorities for being one of the leaders of the guerrillas in that region, and because there are so many Limjocos in Batangas who might be involved and endangered if I were to assume my real name, I adopted the alias “JOE PEREZ.”

Bearing in mind the experiences I had in the Bicol provinces, I started building up the organization based on the following principles:

A. Quality of men rather than quantity. So many of us wanted getting many members, first, because we thought that would be more impressive; because we expected so much fighting.
B. Ability to win the respect and goodwill of the people; also, to win the secret cooperation of those who were employed by the government under the Japanese regime.
C. Ability to bore from within. As many of us already know, a good deal of the success of the German Army in the Low Countries and in Norway was attributed to the Germans’ ability to infiltrate their enemy with fifth columns to place their own men in the enemy’s key positions.
D. Extreme care in issuing arms. [A] Common weakness among guerrilla followers is showing the arms and tendency among the few moral-weaklings to abuse because of the possession of arms.

2. THE LIAN UNIT. With emphasis on leadership, general intelligence and previous experience (army training), I started picking my key men. I must add that I was always and ever on the alert for any Japanese leanings among the prospects I had my eyes on. They should have guts, common sense and a thorough knowledge of discipline. If they proved their worthy, they were given permanent ranks.

Lian was divided into sections; each section was in [the] charge of a leader who might or might not have been an officer. Members of any given section were active only in that section unless they were badly wanted elsewhere. This made for economy and safety. Among guerrillas, I observed a decided temptation to group together

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and move from place to place. Whenever possible, I did not allow this sort of thing. They made themselves too conspicuous to the public. It might incur a lot of unnecessary expense in the form of food or, and, transportation. I did the traveling instead, except when I found it necessary to do otherwise.

A system of patrol was followed in which those who came in and went out of the section were watched. An enemy spy-suspect was immediately reported to headquarters for action; if he was a bandit or a “tulisan,” he was caught and turned over to the municipality for proper punishment. If catching him might involve our men and cause eventual suspicion by the Japanese, he was reported to the police. It was this manner of cooperation that won the respect and confidence of the people of Lian.

Membership to the organization was acted upon by a committee and finally approved or disapproved by me. In the early stage, the size of membership was kept to a minimum. I knew we could get as many men as we wanted to as there were many applicants who showed willingness to fight the Japanese. But I always bore in mind “quality rather than quantity.” Later, as the crucial hour neared, I would call upon them for actual, intensive fighting.

3. OTHER UNITS. Dominador L. Bello, C.O., subsequently made me Sector Commander for the area covering Lian, Nasugbu, Calatagan, Balayan, and Calaca. Instruction was given to unite all other guerrillas or cooperate with them. In Calaca, I contacted Antonio Encarnacion and Espinosa, both USAFFE officers. They had organized already but not attached to any particular command. They were to stand by ready until the final order was given.

In Balayan, Vicente Galvez was put in charge of picking the key men and then later organizing them. He was instructed to confer with Dr. Bahia (later killed by the Japanese) and see what kind of cooperation we could build up.

In Tuy, Vicente Calingasan agreed to mutual cooperation and maintaining peace and order within, in hunting down enemy spies, and in getting enemy information. At first, his unit was attached to Jorge Espina’s, but later he seemed to have started making contact with Mindoro. However, he promised to swing over his unit to us when the appropriate time came.

I appointed Dr. Panfilo Mendoza, 2nd Lieutenant, USAFFE, to take over Nasugbu. He was to organize there, to act as my intelligence and liaison officer. His name has been submitted to Capt. Bernard L. Anderson. I gave him the rank of captain.

I sent Agaton Ilagan to Calatagan to pick our key men there. Contacted Dr. Mañas, Atty. Diño, and

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Zoilo Tan. The latter was particularly active. He reported the sinking of Jap boats around that section, the visits of some Mindoro guerrillas in Calatagan (sometimes they brought atabrine, once Prince Albert smoking tobacco); reported the stealing of metals and metal parts of ships by persons who brought them to Manila for sale. Then, the Mayor of Calatagan was one of those who undertook the sale of this metal in a big way.

4. ACTIVITIES DURING THE JAPANESE OCCUPATION. Believing that more good could be achieved by getting the secret cooperation of those who were in the government, I proceeded to study the sympathies and leanings of Gov. Maximo Malvar and Provincial Inspector Godofredo Manalo. Gov. Malvar told me in one of our secret conferences that he helped maintain four Americans in the mountain near Lobo but later he was forced to send them to Mindoro when things were getting too hot for them. He promised me his wholehearted cooperation. With Inspector Manalo, I did not go in so much in the matter of getting his cooperation. I was warned by Gov. Malvar and other known intimately and well to me, not to trust Manalo so much or at all.

Guerrilla work is of such nature that one could not find a hard and fast rule one could hang on to. Sometimes, we found it necessary to cover up some areas not exactly our own and place men in those areas. Our safety in Lian, for instance, was not necessarily dependent solely on information gathered in that area. Activities of guerrillas and “Texas” (bandits) in Cavite affected Nasugbu, Lian and Tuy. Management of the various units was very difficult and dangerous. In my case, I was wanted in Sorsogon and Albay because I was one of the leaders there. I had to be on the go all the time, “underground.” Then, also, I had to keep my family in hiding from one place to another.

In Lian, we achieved these: we won the respect, confidence, and cooperation of the people. Any suspicious person entering the section (Lian to Binubusan) was reported to the Mayor or the Chief of Police. They, in turn, reported the matter to me for action. Anyone caught robbing people, or doing acts which disturbed the peace and order was brought to me in similar manner. If he belonged to any guerrilla unit, he was advised and warned not to do it anymore; if he was [a] plain bad man, unattached, he was simply turned over to the police. These kinds of people were reported to the Japanese probably as guerrillas from some place. In this manner, the Japanese were fooled into believing that the municipal officials and the people were in full cooperation with them. The Japanese were positive there were guerrillas around this area as well as in other places but they had trouble in apprehending them.

At one time, three Americans who were helped by guerrillas to cross to Mindoro were caught. One of them had a diary in his possession. In it were [the] names of guerrillas who helped them while they were in hiding in the mountains of Batulaw. All guerrillas in Balayan, Tuy, Lian and Nasugbu were rounded up and tortured. Our guerrillas from Lian stated that they really had an organization in Lian but it was called the Neighborhood Association of Lian which the Japanese themselves sponsored. Asked why they

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possessed arms (they were forced to surrender up arms or the town would be massacred), [they said] they had to have them as protection against bandits and “bad people.” The Mayor of Lian backed our men so they were given their liberty.

One evening at about 8 o’clock, a man, Arsenio Nebreja, reported that a group of guerrillas from somewhere were seen hiding near the house of his father-in-law outside the town. I dispatched some of our men accompanied by some policemen. When they came back, they brought with them six men. They were guerrillas belonging to a certain “Andoy.” They were out to steal railroad spikes and not to kidnap anybody. I told the Chief of Police to hold them, anyway, and had them locked up. I said that we do not tolerate that, guerrilla or no guerrilla. Later, “Andoy” arrived; explained weakly that they were not out to steal but merely on an errand.

Our guerrillas suppressed cattle-stealing. At one time, I was asked by the Mayor, Meliton Lejano, to help him out in giving the rice field owners men to watch over their rice harvests. Their rice was left stacked up in the field and they were afraid it might be stolen. I was even called in the matter of settling loans and the matter of paying up installments on land.

A murder was committed in Binubusan. The body would not have been found and the culprit would not have been apprehended if it were not for our guerrillas. The murdered man, Jose Lejano, was an employee of the Lian Hacienda, which was under the Japanese. The latter were interested in this hacienda for the rice they could get. So, the Japanese would naturally be interested in the death of Jose Lejano. I was interested because Jose and all other employees had been conniving with me in diverting some of that rice away from them to our men. They (Jose and others) also reported everything to me about what the Japanese civilians and military proposed to do with the land in order to help the Japanese Army of occupation.

In order to make the Japanese feel that the town and the government authorities were collaborating with them, I asked the Mayor, Meliton Lejano, and the Chief of Police, Vicente Villafranca, to notify the P.C. Captain. If no report was made, the Japs themselves would undertake the investigation. They would certainly discover some evidence which would or might give away [the] positive existence of our guerrillas. Even the P.C. Captain respected us and helped our guerrillas. Imagine seeing a P.C. truck loaded with P.C. soldiers with their Captain parked in the middle of the town in front of the Municipality, and our own guerrillas armed with all sorts of firearms clambering up the same truck! About three kms. outside the town, some more guerrillas (our own) joined this truck. They were all armed with “paltiks.” The Captain afterwards assured me of his cooperation but he advised me to caution my men against the Japs as the latter were getting very suspicious of everybody.

It was in this manner that the people’s morale was given a lift. The tenseness arising from the constant fear of Japanese torture when apprehended proved too taxing to the nerves of the people. It was especially unbearable to them when the guerrillas were undisciplined, lawless, and of questionable character. They would create trouble and run away leaving the community at the mercy of the brutal Japs. Could the people await for the coming of the Americans in high, good humor? No, instead

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they’d sigh in a hopeless sort of way, “When are they coming or are they every coming?”

Information about the Japanese garrisons, temporary or permanent, number and location, their strengths and arms, were gathered from time to time. The reports, verbally or otherwise, were sent to Dominador L. Bello or Nicasio Mascenon. Some were given to Tadeo (“Toddy”) Haresco, Captain, of Panay Intelligence. An understanding was made with Capt. “Toddy” whereby all reports taken from Batangas could be credited to Capt. Anderson. I promised our men in Batangas would help him.

The following are the names [of those] who composed our Intelligence:

Dr. Panfilo Mendoza, Captain
Dr. Daniel Aban, Captain
Atty. Rafael L. Arcega, Captain & Legal Officer
Mrs. Alicia O. Arcega, Operative
Mrs. Salud Scarilla, Operative
Miss Florentina Reyes, Operative
Gregorio Aq. Limjoco, Lieutenant, 1st
Igmedio Melo, Operative
Ramon Limjoco, Lieutenant, Air Corps
Napoleon R. Malolos, Major
Mrs. Efigemia M. Castillo, Operative

In Nasugbu, Dr. Panfilo Mendoza combined the work of organizing the JOE PEREZ unit, getting military information, and acting as my contact-man for Capt. Anderson. He was 2nd Lieutenant in the USAFFE. He made reports on the movements of troops in and out of Nasugbu and Wawa; number and types of military vehicles (motorcycles, trucks, tanks) and how long they stayed there; number and activities of Japanese fishermen in Wawa; activities of patrol boats and ships — how frequently they passed the bay; planes alighting in Nasugbu, if any; work done on the landing field; behavior of various guerrillas in Nasugbu — there were jealousies among them; enemy spies active in Nasugbu and Wawa. It was Dr. Mendoza who was contacted by Lt. Epifanio Ceñiga (Capt. Anderson’s Liaison Officer) with a message for me. The message was that Major Phillips from Mindoro planned to send me arms. Unfortunately, the Major was caught and killed by the Japanese in Mindoro.

Dr. Daniel Aban was formerly with the Cavite Guerrillas. He was Finance Officer for them with the rank of Captain. He impressed me with his industry, loyalty to the cause, and his enthusiastic patriotism, so I asked Col. Jose de los Reyes for his transfer to our unit. Thru Dr. Aban, I met and conferred with Col. de los Reyes and Capt. Ilagan of [the] Cavite Guerrillas. We had agreed to exchange information and extend help to one another. They had lost contact with Maj. Folsom, their Chief-in-Command, so they asked my help in the matter of attaching their unit to Capt. Anderson. Many times, Dr. Aban made trips to Cavite at great risk from the Japanese and from the “Texas” (bandits). Sometimes, he brought with him propaganda materials such as “Free Philippines,” “Digest” and candies with “I Shall Return – MacArthur” wrappers. He brought about 300

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rounds .30 cal ammunition to the mountain of Cavite for the Cavite Guerrillas. I gave these to help them out. Unfortunately, the Japanese got wind of it. They discovered where these were hidden; the man keeping them was tortured by the Japanese. From then on, Dr. Aban was wanted by the Japanese.

With the help of Dr. Aban, the group of guerrillas under Sesinando (Dado) Distresa switched over to us. “Dado” died but two of his able lieutenants are still living. These guerrillas under “Dado” operated over a wide area. With his two lieutenants, Teodulo Botones and Miguel Cochingco, they stopped activities of the “Texas” (pseudo-guerrilla bandits) along the highway to Tagaytay from Caylaway. Sometimes, they ambushed Japanese riding on the army trucks and killed them. They hunted down enemy spies (Filipinos). For the good services rendered, I personally gave “Dado” a new Super .38 Colt Automatic. To his men, I presented three paltiks (native homemade guns) and one .38 Cal revolver. Silverio Rogello, one of the men under “Dado,” reported to me about an American, Patrick Mellody, gunner from Corregidor, who had been given protection and help by them. He was in hiding in the mountain near Caylaway. Because he wanted to exchange his rifle for a .45 pistol, we sent Patrick Mellody a .38 revolver. He moved to Batulaw later and met three other Americans. At one time, we sent some money to them thru Dr. Aban. But it was Vicente Calingasan who cared for them mostly. In crossing to Mindoro, these same Americans were captured and killed by the Japanese. In one of their diaries, a list was found of those who had given them aid. The guerrillas around that section from Balayan to Tuy, Nasugbu, Lian and Calatagan were rounded up and tortured. Some were killed. All guerrillas were told to surrender themselves up as well as their arms.

Desiring to make further contact with Panay, I sent Gregorio Aquino Limjoco to that place in May 1943. He met Lt. Col. Cirilo B. Garcia, Chief Intelligence of the 6th M.D., Lt. Col. Enrique Jurado, Lt. Aguila, and Capt. Ruiz. When he came back, he brought with him propaganda materials such as magazines, candles, first aid kits and a few rounds of ammunition for the carbine. These show definitely that the Americans were very close. These were vital antidotes for the slowly ebbing spirit of the people. Some of these were sent to Cavite thru Dr. Aben, some were sent to Sto. Tomas to Napoleon Malolos, others to Lian.

Gregorio Aq. Limjoco, with the help of Lt. Ramon Limjoco, P.A. Air Corps, gathered blue-printed maps of almost all towns in Batangas (they were helped by Luis Francisco, C. E. and former Representative from Batangas); sketches of enemy installations and defenses; movements of troops — land, air and water; number and types of arms, of ships, and of planes. Enemy positions in strategic places such as San Luis, Bauan, Sorosoro, Aplaya and Malabrigo; tunnels behind the capitol; sketches of [the] Lipa-Batangas landing fields. They were distributed in this manner: some were given to Lt. F. Maliwanag (under Capt. Garcia) and taken to Mindoro for Maj. Nicholson; some were given to [the] Rillo-Neri Guerrillas; and the bag full of maps was taken by Lt. Ramon Limjoco when he accompanied U.S. pilot Mackernel to San Jose, Mindoro. Pilot Mackernel bailed out into the hills of Rosario in December 1944 from his P-38. Pilot Limjoco was sent to Australia and thence to [the] Texas air school.

Sometime in October 1944, “George” Herrera (Filipino), an A.I.B. man, accompanied by Ambriosio Ominis, went to Batangas

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Batangas to get military information. Igmedio Melo and Lt. Ramon Limjoco, Air Corps, P.A. helped them get all the necessary information. They stayed for a week. When they left, they were given ₱2,000 by Melo and R. Limjoco as they ran out of funds. We helped guerrillas regardless of the group they belonged to.

In Manila, I appointed Rafael L. Arcega, Attorney, to head our operatives. A man of wide connections, a keen patriot, and analytical by nature, he made a good front for us. He and his wife, Mrs. Alicia Arcega, and her brother, Federico Ortiz, Jr., had been helping me already even as early as Sept. 1943. His residence at 120 Sta. Monica, Ermita, Manila was my headquarters. Dominador L. Bello, C.O., Nicasio Mascenon, Executive Officer, and Florentino Reyes, Operative, and myself had meetings there to discuss reports on finances, information, and propaganda work of the Japanese. Atty. R. Arcega and his wife became full-pledged members in December 1943, when things were getting too hot for the three of us: D. Bello, N. Mascenon, and me. In March, N. Mascenon and D. Bello were caught by the Japanese and sent to Fort Santiago.

Aside from getting information and studying them, R. Arcega and I studied Japanese espionage and propaganda. We had to keep the spirit of the people alive and in a fighting mood. He even bought Japanese newspapers and magazines to help us. We did counter-propaganda work. There were slip-ups which we made good use of. To illustrate: there appeared in “The Nippon Times Daily” an article concerning the launching of a new Japanese wooden boat. Premier Tojo attended the ceremony. That showed [a] possible lack of bottoms. In the “Nippon Times Weekly,” a full article appeared. It was written by a Japanese professor. In it was described the extensive sources of raw materials for Japan. But he deplored the lack of bottoms to carry these materials to the homeland. Another unbelievable news item appeared which stated that a Japanese flier was able to effect the surrender of two American aviators with the use of a rice-cake! The Jap pilot held a rice cake in one hand and made a motion as if he were going to throw a hand grenade. And the American aviators surrendered. That Japanese had to go to that ridiculous extent to show to the Filipinos what cowards the Americans were. Another: a Jap pilot swooped down [on] two enemy ships, sinking both of them with his bombs.

One common practice of the Japanese was to print the big number of enemy planes, downed, ships sunk, and men killed. At the rate they were downing American planes and sinking American ships, where wouldn’t be any ship or plane left for America to fight with. We used to make fun of it by guessing which island the next fight was going to be, probably minus the American planes and ships. A joke was concocted in connection with [the] Saipan fight. It was a hilarious success: Premier Tojo was called by the Emperor for a report on the Saipan fight. Said Tojo, “We sank so many ships, downed so many planes, and killed so many enemies.” “And what was our casualty?” asked the Emperor. “Your Majesty,” replied Tojo, we had no casualty except that we lost the island.

This type of propaganda certainly produced [a] devastating

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effect against the Japanese. We told our men and the people how desperate things must be getting if they could print such matters with the hope of making the Filipinos believe in them. In some cases, Filipinos develop a feeling of insult: what do they think we are, kids?

Mrs. Alicia Arcega’s work was helped a good deal by Federico Ortiz, Jr. and Mrs. Salud Scarilla. There were places which were accessible to Mrs. Arcega which were accessible to Salud and vice-versa. The neighborhood where they lived, 120 Sta. Monica, Ermita, was infested with Japanese. It made a good stomping ground for them. The headquarters were located on the corner of Sta. Monica and M.H. del Pilar. Takeo Sato, Imperial Naval Attache, often attended meetings there with high ranking army officials. To gain entry, Alicia (password Chiching) and Salud (Sally) won the friendship of Mary, [the] Filipina wife of [a] Japanese chauffeur driving for a high-ranking official. When no one was there, they paid Mary a “visit.” Sally and Chiching were awed by the number of maps they saw hanging down the walls of the big sale. Acting impertinent and nonchalant, they asked Mary questions about the red arrows, the red circles, and the checks on the maps. The red circles, Mary explained, indicated Japanese-occupied areas; and those rechecked were areas the Japanese were sore about and planned to attack. They were particularly sore, so Mary went on, at Montelibano’s guerrillas in Negros. They planned to annihilate them.

In a building adjoining the former Army-Navy Y.M.C.A. and right on the corner entrance to Ft. Santiago, Japanese officers below the grade of Major resided. There, the services of two mestizas, Emily and Frances, were utilized to get military information. They checked the laundry and clothing of the officers and also checked boxes of ammunition deposited there as well. They had been supplying many other information to R. Arcega and Alicia.

Sally Scarilla belonged to Ramsay’s guerrillas. She was eventually caught, tortured and kills by the Japanese. Mr. and Mrs. Arcega barely escaped being caught by the Japanese for Sally’s house was just about ten meters away from theirs. They had to don their street clothes even at nighttime for they expected to be hauled from their house at any moment. They gritted their teeth and trusted the Good Lord and Luck to save them. It was to their credit that their work was continued although Nicasio Mascenon, Dominador Bello, and myself were away.

Napoleon Malolos took care of the Sto. Tomas area. He headed the combat unit and intelligence for the JOE PEREZ GUERRILLA FORCES. Under him was Mrs. Efigenia M. Castillo, Operative. They covered as far as Lipa and Bolbok. His reports were routed mostly to Nicasio Mascenon. Mrs. Castillo was afterwards caught, tortured, and killed by the Japanese in February 1945.

Nicasio Mascenon and Domingo Bello were Manila operatives of Capt. Bernard L. Anderson. Before he was caught, Bello took care of all the reports given to him. We found it very difficult to send our reports to the mountains. The Japanese were getting very strict about people moving from Manila to Laguna and Rizal and Tayabas. Sometimes, we had to hide the papers for weeks before they could be sent. But there were times when we had to give

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some reports to other units like Panay.

Nicasio Mascenon entered the service in March 1943 as an operative of Capt. Bernard L. Anderson and his Manila [was] known as the Tampa Area. He was engaged mostly in propaganda, espionage, and guerrilla activities. In this job, he had to spend most of his money as the organization was not in a position to extend him help at the time. Sometime in October 1943, Dominador Bello and Nicasio Mascenon were appointed to organize the guerrillas in Batangas. Bello was designated Commanding Officer and Nicasio Mascenon as Finance and Executive Officer. At the same time, they were still retained as Manila operatives by Anderson. On March 20, 1944, they were both arrested by the military police along with other Manila operatives. They were sent to Ft. Santiago and were subjected to tortures. But none of them revealed anything. Dominador Bello died in Muntinglupa last Feb. 5, 1945.

Speaking on behalf of all my men, I wish to state that every one of us started out with the idea of helping the cause to the best of our abilities. It was not money nor other compensation that kept us plugging along in our jobs. We all wished to see a job well done so that we could say we had built up an organization that was a credit to all of us. Each one was given [an] instruction to continue work in case of any eventuality.

[Sgd.] CONRADO T. LIMJOCO
Lt. Col. Guerrilla
Commanding


Notes and references:
1 “Joe Perez Forces, Anderson’s Guerrillas,” File No. 101-15, online at the United States National Archives.

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