A Brief Narrative of the 35th Infantry Division, PQOG - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A Brief Narrative of the 35th Infantry Division, PQOG

[TRANSCRIPTION]

The President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas or PQOG was another of the large guerrilla organizations that operated in southern Luzon, including the Province of Batangas, during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines all the way to the liberation of the province by the American and Allied forces. It had many affiliate units in Luzon, including an infantry division formed in Lipa and operated in the town as well as neighboring localities. In this page is a transcription1 of a short historical background on the division as submitted to the United States Army with the guerrilla unit’s application for official recognition.
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A BRIEF NARRATIVE OF THE 35TH INF. DIVISION
P Q O G

- HISTORICAL BACKGROUND -

Even before the outbreak of the war in 1941, the Filipinos, particularly the Batangueños, have never been in sympathy with the political ambitions of Japan or with the ways of life of the Japs. They foresaw in the policy of the Japanese government a menace to the independence that was forthcoming. It was not surprising, then, that upon the Japanese occupation, the Batangueños rose as one, from the open fields, from government houses, from private commercial firms, women from domestic toils, children from primary school, students from schools and colleges, with horror and disgust. [A] Subversive movement was immediately initiated by patriots who adhered with devotion to the sublime principles of democracy. The atmosphere was pregnant with hatred and indignation and revolution that the birth of a guerrilla outfit in the town of Lipa soon came about. Devoid of arms and ammunition but strongly backed up by courage and determination, the organization fitted itself to the demand of the time as best as it could until it had formed a complete regiment under the leadership of Mayor-elect Esteban Mayo. Lives were sacrificed for the maintenance of the substantivity of the movement, but because there can’t be any power struggle than the determination of an oppressed people to avenge their violated rights, far from dwindling, the organization spread like wildfire throughout the length and breadth of the province. On September 13, 1944, the Commanding General of the PQOG, GEN. VICENTE S. UMALI, invited Mayor Mayo to a conference in Tiaong, Tayabas and persuaded him to unify the guerrilla forces under the banner of the PQOG for a concerted action against the common foe.

It was decided in that conference to appoint Mayor Mayo as the Division Commander of Batangas with the rank of Colonel. He was lately promoted to Brigadier General. The 35th Infantry Division of President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas in the Province of Batangas, advised by Col. Wendell W. Fertig (0254976), had been composed of six regiments. They were the following: the San Juan Regiment, which comprised the municipality of San Juan under Lieutenant Colonel Emilio Bolaños; the Re-


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giment of Taysan comprising the municipalities of Rosario, Taysan and Lobo under Colonel Isidro Sulit; the Batangas Regiment, comprising the municipalities of Bauan, Batangas and Ibaan, under Lieutenant Colonel Anselmo Berredo; the Nacu Regiment, comprising the municipalities of Cuenca, San Jose and Mataasnakahoy, under Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Pasia; the Talisay Regiment comprising the municipalities of Talisay, Lemery, Taal and Alitagtag, under Lieutenant Colonel Amando Laurel; and the Lipa Regiment comprising the town of Lipa, under Lt. Col. Vivencio D. Reyes.

All elements were working coordinately and by means of a transmitter kept in the mountains of Laiya, San Juan Batangas all sorts of information that would help the successful prosecution of the war were transmitted to the SWPA.


THE LURE OF EGOTISM

In spite of the gallant spirit of comradeship that existed between the commanders of the different regiments, still personal egotism had worked out for the disintegration of the glorious camaraderie of the comrades-in-arms. Lieutenant Colonel Pedro Pasia, who was lucky enough to come in touch earlier with the liberation forces forgot his companions and abandoned without notice the shade of the old roofing under which we had all been born. Lt. Col. Anselmo Berredo of the Batangas Regiment was another of the Pasia type. He disowned his parent organization and presented his men to the American forces without advising the Division Commander. Others who were guided by selfish motives tried to undermine the foundation of the PQOG in the Province of Batangas. They even went to the extent of provoking regional conflicts by asserting that this organization would only exist in Tayabas for it is the home province of the late President. Narrowmindedness or sheer selfishness was the motive behind [this]. Batangas alone could not win the war.


STAND PATTER PQOG’ians

The intrigues and ruinous machinations of those who tried to create disunity in the organization were not at all successful. Events proved that patriotism is over and above the cavils of men. The mist of distrust that darkened the horizon of Batangas Guerrilleros in those tempestuous days vanished before the unquestioning loyalty of four regimental commanders who clung fast to the noble ideal for which every soldier has


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been tried. Sulit, Bolaños, Laurel and Reyes remained pat with their Division Commander in support of the PQOG. Lt. Col. Amando Laurel, separated from the rest of the division by a strong cordon of Japanese soldiers that cut the Province of Batangas into halves, had to remain vigilant in his sector with about forty thousand evacuees from different towns of the province who sought refuge in Volcano Island. He had to tackle a big job fighting against the Japs and also against the rough elements from the hinterland who crossed the border of Batangas to pillage and loot in his sector. He was the first among the PQOG’ians to contact the liberation forces, consequently his regiment was attached at once to the 11th Airborne Division. Because of the difficulty of communication at the time, he did it without the express consent of the Division Headquarters but he had been loyal enough to carry with him all the while the name of his parent organization.

Lt. Col. Emilio Bolaños remained unshaken in his San Juan sector, defying every Jap that came. Notable among his encounters was when he met three Jap soldiers in the vicinity of his territory previous to the landing of the Americans in Nasugbu. He killed two of them. He himself was wounded seriously. The timely arrival of his men saved him from enemy reprisals. Subsequent to this event, he was able to seize one automatic rifle and a machine gun from the Japanese who were patrolling the “Bantilan” Bridge. Lt. Col. Emilio Bolaños is, indeed, a sincere patriot, an exemplary warrior, fearless and audacious who typifies the indomitable Batangueño character. His activity against the Japs dates way back in 1942 with the invaluable assistance of his worthy son, Major Cesar Bolaños.

No less heroic than the acts of the other regimental commanders were the exploits of Lt. Col. Vicencio D. Reyes, commanding the Lipa Regiment. His sector being heavily garrisoned with Japanese troops, guarding the airfield, the gun emplacements, the ammunition depot and the fuel dumps, was selected to be the asylum of [the] Makapili’s and dirty traitors. Encounters with the Japs were frequent. The civilian elements were then in a perilous state and when the campaign to massacre the population was started by the Japs in February 1945, Lt. Col. Reyes concentrated about five thousand civilian inhabitants in his base in the barrio of San Francisco, Lipa to protect them from the barbaric incursions. Wounded persons who escaped the raid were


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given medical attention. On March 6 of this year, after the annihilation of one whole company in Anilao, Lipa, the Pinagkawitan Battalion under the command of Capt. David C. Valencia of the same regiment ambushed some retreating Japs, killing six of them. The battalion, however, lost a very able officer, Lt. Macario Hernandez and two soldiers, Jose Silva and Alejandro Silva. On April 23, 1945, Capt. Tomas Reyes of the Division Headquarters, with some men, encountered some Jap stragglers in the barrio of Patay, Lipa. One Jap was killed by Capt. Reyes personally and an M-1 was seized. Likewise in the barrio of Mabini of the same municipality, on April 28 of the same year, Capt. Pablo Mendoza met several stragglers and killed two. One of them was an officer. One Enfield, on Japanese Luger, one Jap rifle and a flag were seized.

The regiment of Lt. Col. Vivencio Reyes had done wonderful works in rounding up the Makapili’s and in guiding the liberation forces in Lipa. Thru the advice of the Americans, he removed non-combatant elements in the barrio of San Francisco to a place of safety on April 1st. In the morning of April 2nd, his men, thru Capt. Aludio Reyes, were used by scouts of the American forces to Quipot, Tiaong. On April 7th, his men captured Teodoro Macala and took him to the CIC. On April 9, the notorious Primo Quinto, with his 21 followers, were captured and sent to the CIC on the same day. On April 10, his regiment was virtually attached to the 511th Infantry Regiment as scouts for the said regiment. On April 14, they were used as guards on the QM, which was then located at the old church of Lipa until late June of this year. An on the same April 14, he captured ten Makapili’s, among whom were Sison Ramos, Alejandro Garing, Magsino, and others. About the middle of July of this year, he captured another Makapili no less notorious and Quinto and Ramos by the name of Fernando Martin @ Vasquez.


- THE FIRST CONTACT -

Sometime in the 12th day of March, Majors Montano Viril and Alfonso Angeles were sent by the Division Headquarters to contact the American Liberation Forces in Lemery. They were accordingly attached and given their respective identification cards.


- MODEL REGIMENT -

It is not to be forgotten that during that time, the Taysan Regiment was supposed to be the model regiment in the division. Its staff was com-


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posed of all experienced military men who had served in Bataan. Majors Damaso Quico [Guico?], Diosdado Salvador and Simeon Garcia were all USAFFE officers and refined gentlemen who constituted [a] wonderful asset for the organization and Alfonso Angeles, who also saw action in the same region, as a member of the P.S. formed by the regional staff.


- REAL GUERRILLA ADVENTURE -

The epic of real guerrilla warfare was characterized by the Taysan Regiment in combination with the officers and men of the Division Staff. About 3 o’clock in the afternoon of March 9, 1945, around 100 Japs and Makapili’s raided the barrio of Maugat, Rosario, where the Division Headquarters of the Batangas PQOG was then located. The headquarters personnel, together with the Taysan Regiment, tried to repulse them. About 500 civilians retreated, covered by the Taysan Regiment and the Division Guard under the direct command of the Division Commander. The Japs suffered considerable losses so that they did not persist to follow the Filipinos. There was no casualty on the side of the Batangas PQOG. The civilians were fortunately saved, but one can’t overlook the pathetic scene presented by the panic-stricken creatures, many of whom were widows and orphans already, who evacuated from remote places in Lipa and were survivors only of Japanese atrocities. Women in advanced stage of pregnancy, old decrepit persons who could hardly walk, [a] pale and haggard mother with two or three kids clinging around her, were helped by worn-out soldiers throughout the long journey. Many fell sick on the way. That was an acid test for the fortitude of our men but, far from being disheartened, they revitalized their energy to live up to the reputation and endurance of Filipino soldiers.


- TRANSFER OF HEADQUARTERS -

The Division Headquarters were then transferred to Pinagbayanan, Taysan. All evacuees from other places who sought refuge around the headquarters were taken care of by the soldiers thru the expressed order of the Commanding Officer. In fact, the palay, corn, camotes and other root crops that the Division Commander had at that time in his farm in Taysan were supplied to the evacuees.


- AT THE TAYSAN HEADQUARTERS -

While at the Taysan Headquarters in the morning of March 15, 1945, the Division Commander met a young American soldier by the name of Charles


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Sexton, Jr., who presented himself as the contact man of the Liberation Forces. The conference between the American and the Division Commander had not lasted long when [a] report came that there were Japanese soldiers in the barrio of Bilogo, Taysan. Col. Sulit, with 48 men, was dispatched immediately to the place. Mr. Sexton, in spite of the opposition of General Mayo, insisted on joining with Col. Sulit. Major Amado L. Kalaw of the Division Staff, with some men, was the advanced guard of Col. Sulit. He surprised the Japs who were in the outpost and had a good command of the situation, killing one of them. The rest who escaped unharmed joined the main body. They were about 200 in number, armed with rifles, trench mortars, and machine guns. The fight lasted for about forty-five minutes until the Japs opened fire with their trench mortars and machine guns, and the native soldiers had to jump into their foxholes for cover. However, the Japs retreated also toward the town of Taysan, leaving behind them many rounds of ammunition and the dead bodies of some of their soldiers. There was no casualty on our side.

The next day, March 16, 1945, another report was received about the 14 Jap stragglers in barrio Jaybuñga, Lobo. The young American joined the pursuing party again and they met in a late hour of the night. Five Japs were killed, but we lost a good soldier in a heroic feat. Private Monico Lontoc of the Taysan Regiment was killed and Major Alfonso Angeles of the same regiment received a gunshot wound on one of his ankles, which would probably disable him for life. He was taken to the military hospital in Leyte by Mr. Sexton.

On March 23, 1945, the Division Commander went to Batangas and met Lt. Col. Mann of the Liberation Forces for an official contact. Col. Mann asked him to get those Japs who were bivouacked in the mountain of Calo, Lobo. True to his promise, as soon as he returned to his headquarters in Taysan, he prepared his men with the whole Taysan Regiment and went to Lobo to confer first with the station commander of the American forces in Lobo, who was Lt. Ralph Ermatinger. While they were in Nagtalonton, a barrio on the way to Lobo, [a] report was brought to them by four men informing that the Japs in Calo were coming down. Col. Sulit, who knew very well the topography and the terrain of the mountain, placed at once the boys on [a] strategical position in the barrio of Bignay, Lobo. At about 2 o’clock


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in the morning of the 28th day of March, the fighting started. It lasted until 6 o’clock a.m. 3 horses, 3 sacks of rice, 1 sack of sugar, several Japanese steel helmets, 3 sabers, some rifles which were all destroyed, flags, blankets, and many other valuable things were seized. Ten dead Japanese soldiers were found on the spot and many others wounded had escaped as indicated by spill of blood along the way where they passed. A flag and a saber was given to Lt. Ermatinger, who was very complacent enough to transmit by radio to the Division Headquarters in Batangas the achievement of the 35th Infantry Division PQOG. In this engagement, there was nobody hurt on our side.

Immediately after the return from Lobo, the town of Batangas was liberated by the Batangas PQOG, so that when Captain Snider of the PCAU came to TAYSAN to inaugurate the PCAU government, there was already a semblance of government run by our organization. As in Lobo, our men assisted also the inauguration of the municipal government of Taysan.

On April 30, another encounter against 27 Japanese in the barrio of Tulos, Rosario occurred. It was even fiercer than the fight in Bignay, Lobo, for the Japs were entrenched in a well-fortified place. We lost Private Porfirio Bagon of the Taysan Regiment in exchange for 5 Japs we killed.

On May 1, 1945, there was another engagement in Bilogo, Taysan which resulted to the capture of one Jap alive. The captive was brought to the Division G-2 of the 11th Airborne. On the 9th day of the same month, another encounter occurred in Banalo, Lobo with one Jap killed. On June 29, 1945, Captain Driz of the Taysan Regiment also had an encounter with several Japs in which his men were able to kill 2 and capture one alive, who was brought also to the Division G-2 of the 11th Airborne.


- OFFICIAL CONTACT WITH GEN. SWING

On the 8th day of April 1945, Gen. Mayo was given an audience by Gen. Swing at the 11th Airborne Headquarters in Rosario. General Swing ordered him to mop up the stragglers in the mountains of Taysan, Lobo and Rosario. He was introduced to Major William Schloth, who was then in charge of the QM, with an advice to give him everything his division required and, in fact, he was given rounds of ammunition and his unit


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was attached for ration for a couple of weeks until Major Schloth was transferred to another destination. The meeting was quite memorable. Gen. Mayo presented to Gen. Swing a Japanese battle flag and other souvenirs seized from the Japs. Some dog tags were also given to Major Schloth.

In spite of the fact that the ration had been cut, still the 35th Inf. Division PQOG continued the work assigned to it. Mopping up operations were made more intensive than ever and the skirmishes against the stragglers sporadically occurred within the territory of the division.


- SABOTAGE WORK -

Cooperation with the liberation forces was not only demonstrated by this division in a series of encounters. Espionage and sabotage works were also done. On November 15, 1944, Lt. Ulpiano Mababangloob, who was managing the electric plant of Lipa, received [an] order from the Division Headquarters to upset the plant, and did it as ordered. He was purposely posted there to effect his sabotage work. [The] Ammunition depot and fuel dumps in Lipa were heavily damaged by the work of the boys who were posted around to harass the enemy. On the 16th day of January 1945, the telegraph and telephone lines between Rosario and San Juan were cut and about 200 meters of wire were taken away, thereby disrupting any communication between the two towns.


- PROTECTIVE MEASURE -

To safeguard the rights and interests of the helpless civilians who were oftentimes threatened by the wantonness and depravity of vile opportunists, a sort of police force was organized within the Division. Major Galileo Mayo of the Division Headquarters was appointed Provost Marshall, a disciplined soldier and a fighter who had been tested in many encounters. He looked after the suppression of cattle rustling and brigandage so that an iron hand was being used to carry out the policies of the headquarters to keep the organization worthy of its name.

It may be timely to mention also that not only had the Provost Marshall [the job] to arrest the culprit, but he had to take him to the Division Judge Advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Emilio U. Mayo, for proper hearing. That Judge Advocate was an experienced lawyer and an old-time Provincial Fiscal. Aside from being a jurist and a soldier, he was a seasoned politician who


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knew the highways and byways of life, so that equity and justice were never trampled upon.


- THE SUCCESS OF THE DIVISION -

The success of the organization, if there was any due to the brilliant cooperation of all the regimental commanders with the Division Staff which was composed of the Commanding Officer, the Ex. O Lt. Col. Francisco Hernandez, the G-1, Major Teodoro A. Malaluan, the G-2, Major Amado L. Kalaw, the G-3, Major AgapitoC. Quinio and the G-4, Major Vicente Katigbak. All of these men and their respective assistants, together with the company that constituted the Division Guard, had done patriotic works. The liberation of Batangas, the cessation of hostilities and the capitulation of Japan did not end their services to the country, for they continue to help their respective municipalities in the name of the PQOG. They cooperate with the police force in maintaining peace and order. In short, they are utilized as an effective instrumentality of the state in this period of reconstruction.


- CONCLUSION -

There are many other blessed heroes whose names are not mentioned in this narrative, but nevertheless they joined the eternal caravan of thousands of unknown soldiers who immolated their precious lives for the vindication of their loved ones from king craft and oppression. The heroism and achievements of men are but passing lights in the annals of time, but the patriotic exploits of those who sacrificed their all in order to make the world a safe place for democracy must be preserved, to be emulated by the generation yet unborn. The brave soldiers fought not for the narrow spirit of provincialism but for a greater and vaster ideal to finish once and for all the principles of totalitarianism that tends to destroy Christianity and civilization.

Notes and references:
1 “36th Inf Regt, 35th Div, I Corps, PQOG,” File No. 271-13, online at the United States National Archives.

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