A History of the 1st BN, 49th Regt Hunters-ROTC from the Fil-American Irregular Troops - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

A History of the 1st BN, 49th Regt Hunters-ROTC from the Fil-American Irregular Troops

[TRANSCRIPTION]

The Hunters-ROTC was a large guerrilla organization founded in Rizal but which relocated its headquarters to the western Batangas town of Nasugbu as the liberation of Luzon neared. It had many units operating in many areas of Luzon and its 49th Regiment was based in Batangas. This regiment’s “Special District Troops” appear to be supplemental rosters of the guerrilla organization to those that had already been recognized by the United States Army. In this page is a transcription1 of a short history of the 1st Battalion of the 49th Regiment of the Hunters-ROTC, apparently one of the “special troops,” as it changed affiliation from the Fil-American Irregular Troops.
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A HISTORY OF THE 1st BN, 49th REGT, HUNTERS or ROTC FROM
THE FIL-AMERICAN IRREGULAR TROOPS UNDER COL HUGH STRAUGHN

On July 25, 1942, I was contacted by Major Francisco Orain, at my residence in Pandacan, Manila, he being a Recruiting Officer of the McKinley Brigade Fil-American Irregular Troops (FAIT) under Colonel Hugh Straughn. He possessed credentials signed by Colonel Hugh Straughn, so that after evaluating to me the objectives of the said FAIT Unit, I decided to join him, and then I became a guerrilla under Straughn’s Fil-Americans.

I was inducted to the FAIT by Major Francisco Orain on or about 30th of July 1942 at Pasig, Rizal. After five days of my induction, I received my appointment as Captain designated as a Recruiting Officer of the FAIT under Straughn. To acquaint myself for my job of recruiting, I went with Major Orain to Santa Ana, Pateros and Makati, as he recruited members of the FAIT.

The need of spreading the guerrilla movement to other provinces like Batangas caused me to be sent to Nasugbu, Batangas on August 18, 1942 to organize a unit of the FAIT. I was completely [a] stranger to the people of Nasugbu and elsewhere in its barrios. It took me a hard and long time before I succeeded in convincing the people to join me in the guerrilla movement. After a month, I was able to convince PASTOR BAYABORDA, FRANCISCO FELICISIMO and LEONCIO ERMITA, who later helped me to organize [a] unit of the FAIT. It was thru these three members who furnished me complete information of the Japs’ informers and [the] pro-Japanese in Nasugbu and the surrounding towns before I began recruiting. About


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the end of November 1942, I was able to submit to the headquarters, McKinley Brigade, a list of 500 men which was organized into [the] Nasugbu Battalion, McKinley Brigade. Lawyers, teachers, USAFFE officers and enlisted men and farmers all willingly joined me to continue the resistance movement against the ruthless Jap invaders.

On December 1, 1942, I was promoted to the rank of Major and was assigned as Commanding Officer of the Nasugbu Battalion, FAIT. We began to advise the people why we should keep on fighting although the American and Filipino forces were beaten in Bataan and Corregidor, still some units of the USAFFE were still holding out in some places in Luzon and the Visayan Islands, and General MacArthur would be back again with a mighty force to help us drive [away] the Japs. The people, too, were advised not to believe whatever they heard from the local broadcast for they were all lies, and instead they should listen to the shortwave broadcasts from San Francisco we transmitted to them. The Jap atrocities in China and elsewhere they occupied were explained to the people and also the activities of the Japs’ puppet Philippine Constabulary, together with their informers, were closely watched. To accomplish such, I planted Lt. Petronio J. Sapico to report to me on all activities of the Japs and the Philippine Constabulary.

The Fil-Americans became known to the neighboring towns like Lian, Calatagan, Tuy, Balayan and Calaca of the province of Batangas. Prominent men and leaders in these towns as Narciso Alcaras of Calaca, Nemesio Maningat of Balayan, Jose Tan and Timoteo Fagara of Calatagan, Petronilo Rosales of Tuy and Eusebio Vergara of Lian contacted me at Nasugbu, Batangas for the purpose


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of organizing guerrilla units in their respective towns under the Fil-Americans.

On May 21, 1943, I began to explain the Fil-American organization by organizing the 6th Infantry Regiment in the towns of Lian, Calatagan, Nasugbu and Tuy, all of Batangas Province. By the end of June 1943, I was able to submit the roster of the 6th Infantry Regiment, McKinley Brigade, of around 1,500 officers and men. Evidently, the whole western Batangas Province coastal towns became then a military area of the FAIT. The 6th Infantry Brigade began to function on July 1, 1943, with myself as the Commanding Officer with the rank of Lt Col appointed by Col Victorio Ortega, the Brigade Commanding Officer.

On July 27, 1943, Capt Ambrocio Liwanag of the FAIT with two USAFFE non-commissioned officers went to Bataan to secure some arms. He returned with about 90 rifles with [a] few thousand rounds of ammunition.

The main concern of the FAIT at this time was the lawless elements from Cavite who, since the early part of 1942, robbed the people of Nasugbu of their personal belongings such as working animals, clothing, jewelries, etc. This resulted to the clash between the FAIT under Capt Venancio Codiñera and Cavite bandits, in which case 5 bandits out of 90 were killed who went to the barrios of Nasugbu on September 5, 1943.

Meanwhile, the Trigger Squad under Capt Pedro Riñosa of the FAIT eliminated one by one the Jap informers or spies in our area. These Filipino spies, organized and headed by Alberto Nanales of Nasugbu, Batangas, worked and quartered in the Jap garrison of Nasugbu since the


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fall of Bataan on April 9, 1942. Since then, these Filipino spies with their Jap masters had been in hot pursuit of the guerrillas in Nasugbu and neighboring towns.

On November 8, 1943, with 30 men I disarmed Jap fishermen stationed at Wawa, Nasugbu. There were 15 Japs each armed with [a] US Enfield. We got all their arms with [the] few ammunition plus food supplies.

The secret propaganda, thru news accumulated from shortwave broadcast from San Francisco, was not neglected. Everywhere around the barrios, secret meetings were held to advise people regarding world events, particularly in the Southwest Pacific Area.

Due to the apprehension of both Col Hugh Straughn, overall Commanding Officer of the Fil-Americans, and Col Victorio Ortega, Brigade Commanding Officer, by the Japs about the end of 1943, I contacted Major Phillips at Paluan, Mindoro on January 1, 1944. Major Phillips was an intelligence officer from the SWPA. I furnished him information on Jap positions and locations all along the western Batangas coast, the Fil-American Sector. In return, he sent us thru his agent Felipa Viaña 1943 cigarettes, 1943 hand grenades and Australian coins. With these things given to me by Major Phillips, the more people of my area felt sure that the Allied forces under General MacArthur were now approaching the Philippine shores.

Then came the apprehension of Major Phillips in February 1944, in which case I lost my contact. The Hunters ROTC, under Colonel Terry Adevoso (Magtangol), contacted me at Balaytigue, Nasugbu, Batangas. When I found out that the ROTC had a fine setup and their intelligence and combat activities were remarkable as compared to other guerrilla


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organizations, I decided to affiliate my FAIT unit with them.

Out of the 6th Infantry Regiment FAIT [that] I was commanding, I was required by Lt Col Juanito N. Ferrer, Commanding Officer of the 49th Regiment, Hunters ROTC, to command a battalion, with the rank of Captain in accordance with the T/O of the Philippine Army. I then transferred with me all the active members of the FAIT, and organized it into the 1st Battalion, 49th Regiment, 47th Division, Hunters or ROTC, while those members not active remained as FAIT under Major Longinos Desacola. This transfer took effect on March 1, 1944.

About August 15, 1944, the Advance Headquarters of the Southwest Pacific Area under Lt Comdr George Rowe (Nicholson) was established at Abra de Ilog, Mindoro. Reconnaissance patrols of this Advance Headquarters, under Lt Pascua, landed secretly at Calatagan, a part of my sector. By the instructions of Lt Col Ferrer, my Regimental Commanding Officer, to contact Lt Pascua in the name of the Hunters ROTC, I contacted him in Calatagan. From thence on, the Hunters ROTC was contact with [the] Advance Headquarters of the Southwest Pacific Area.

Meantime, under the leadership of Lt Jose R Ureta, my Executive Officer, [the] 1st Bn, 49th Regt raided a big Jap motorboat filled with food supplies, clothing, arms and ammunition anchored at the coast of Calatagan. After engaging successfully the 3 Jap soldiers guarding it, they unloaded from it all what the 3 bancas they had could load and bored holes on the side of the motorboat, thus sinking it instantly. This was the first major accomplishment of my unit in the Hunters ROTC. The 1st Battalion under me received a commendation from Col Terry Adevoso, Commanding Officer of the Hunters.


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About one week after the first American planes appeared on Luzon soil and successfully bombed Manila, Major Jay Vanderpool, GSC, SWPA, GHQ landed by submarine in Tayabas Coast and made the Hunters ROTC GHQ as his headquarters at Cutad, Nasugbu, Batangas. All the guerrilla units in southern Luzon were coordinated under Major Vanderpool and the intelligence reports of such guerrilla units in Manila and southern Luzon were sent to him thru the Hunters ROTC.

Apparently, the need for reliable officers to bring the intelligence reports, those hot reports that could not be reported by radio, to Advance Headquarters at Mindoro, resulted to my being appointed as a Liaison Officer, aside from being Commanding Officer of the 1st Battalion, 49th Regiment. Once a week, I went to Mindoro for the intelligence reports, crossing the perilous sea on a sailboat closely watched and patrolled by Jap speedboats.

Meanwhile, the intelligence reports of my unit under the supervision of my S-2 Lt Domingo Angeles, was gaining confidence at GHQ Hunters ROTC thru Major Vanderpool. Enemy strength and disposition, location, kinds of arms, to what unit they belonged, name of the Commanding Officer, were reported to the GHQ Hunters. Maps of Jap important positions as their gun emplacements in Nasugbu and San Diego, the radio station at Calatagan Point, Q-boat nests at Pagaspas Bay, ammunition depot at Bocal, Calatagan, and their heavy fortified position at Mt Talamitan commanding Nasugbu Bay, were all reported accurately and timely to GHQ Hunters. To reward the excellent intelligence reports of the 1st Battalion, I was given a radio set thru which I could contact


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GHQ Hunters easily for whatever reports I had.

Sabotage work was the new order for the 1st Battalion under me to perform. After a successful landing was effected at Leyte, Philippines on October 20, 1944, by the American Task Force, Jap telephone lines connecting their fortified position at Talamitan nets, Balayan, Wawa to Central Nasugbu, Batangas were constantly cut or harassed by the “B” Company under Lt Benito Barcelon. The Japs’ radio station at Calatagan Point was raided by the 1st Platoon “A” Company under Lt Bonifacio Apolonia on December 10, 1944. With this Jap radio station put out of action, the American planes surprised a concentration of 90 Jap Q-boats and knocked out 37 of them. Again, with these accomplishments, the 1st Battalion was highly commended by the G-2 Lt Col M S Castillo, Hunters, and Major Jay Vanderpool, to the extent that I was promoted to the rank of Major on January 14, 1945.

At midnight on January 14, 1945, three American officers from Leyte, Capt Richmond, Lt Dickenson and Lt Clark, landed on a PT boat at Balaytigue Coast in front of my command post. Their mission was to get information on Jap positions in Nasugbu, and to measure the depth of Nasugbu Beach, as this was one of the points proposed for [a] Task Force landing and [the] jumping of the 11th Airborne Division. It was my unit that supplied them with whatever information they needed. The measurement of the beach was accomplished by my S-2, Lt Domingo Angeles, who was apprehended by the Japs while in the act of measuring the beach, but was able to escape after he was tortured. After three days of staying at my Command Post, the three Ameri-


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can officers returned to Leyte and assured me secretly they would land at Nasugbu. I instructed the civilians to evacuate the town, which was successfully accomplished, thus preventing many civilian casualties when the Task Force shelled and landed at the Nasugbu Beach on 31 January 1945.

On the same day that the Task Force landed at Nasugbu on 31 January 1945, I came down to the HQ of the 187th P.G. Inf., 11th Airborne Division, and was instructed to assemble my whole battalion by Major J. Vanderpool thru Col Terry Adevoso, Commanding Officer of the Hunters ROTC, for instructions and assignments. My Hq troops were assigned to guard the airfield near the beach and “C” Company was assigned as guides and haulers of supplies. “A” Company fought with [the] 1st and 2nd Battalions of the 187th P.G. Infantry at Nasugbu, Lian, Palico, Aga, Tagaytay Ridge and Nichols Field.

At the same time, an ROTC hospital was established at Nasugbu, whose personnel were the nurses and first-aiders of the 1st Battalion under the command of Lt Fely Samaniego. In this hospital, the ROTC members wounded were treated together with those of other sicknesses as malaria.

On February 8, 1945, the 3rd Battalion of the 187th P.G. Infantry was pinned down at Putingkahoy in their drive towards Calatagan. I recalled “A” Company from my Hq, troops at Wawa Point and infiltrated at Matabungkay six miles behind enemy lines. Here, I attacked the Japanese forces at the rear until February 14, 1945, when


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Putingkahoy was finally captured and occupied by our troops. Along the coast of Matabungkay, we captured 6 Jap Q-boats and killed 11 Japs including 6 Marine officers.

After a week’s rest, I was ordered to attack south to liberate the town of Calatagan without the aid and help of American ground forces. The Japs were well-armed but lacked aerial support. On February 22, 1945, my unit liberated the town of Calatagan and hoisted the American flag. The remaining Japs retreated to the mountains of Calatagan, whereupon they were mopped up by my Hq. troops three days later.

From January 31, 1945 to February 25, 1945, my unit killed 112 Japs and took two prisoners. My casualties were 2 killed and 6 wounded.

On March 1, 1945, my unit was attached to [the] 158th RCT, and was ordered to proceed to Lemery where we were assigned as bridge guards and mopping up operations at Calaca, Lemery and as far as Maricaban Island. From March 1, 1945 up to [the] 14th of the same month, we killed 11 Japs without casualty on my side.

Again on March 25, 1945, my unit was attached and fought side by side with the 187th P.G. 11th Airborne Division in their drive toward Mount Makulot, a very well-fortified Jap position. The Japs were entrenched in dugouts, tunnels and natural caves. But, after three weeks of continuous aerial and artillery bombardment, we finally occupied Mount Makulot with the crack unit of the 187th P.G. Infantry. My casualties were 8 killed and 2 wounded. After [the] operation at Mount Makulot, we were given three weeks’ rest at Tanauan, Batangas.


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Our last operation was at Lipa, Batangas and Tiaong, Tayabas on May 8, 1945 up to May 20, 1945. At Lipa, Batangas, we were assigned to mopping up operations and on May 15, 1945, we established a perimeter at Tiaong, Tayabas to ambush the retreating Japs from the mountains of Lipa, Batangas. In these two operations, my unit killed 43 Japs. May casualties were 2 killed and 3 wounded.

[Sgd.] CALIXTO V GASILAO
Major, Infantry
CO, 1st Bn, 49th Regt, Hunters
ROTC

Notes and references:
1 “District Special Troops, 49th Regt., 47th Div., HUNTERS-ROTC,” File No. 307-38, online at the United States National Archives.

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