History of the 2nd Battalion, 49th Regiment Hunters-ROTC - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

History of the 2nd Battalion, 49th Regiment Hunters-ROTC

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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 2st Battalion of the 49th Regiment of the Hunters-ROTC.
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HISTORY OF THE 2ND BN. 49TH REG’T

The Japanese atrocities becoming unbearable and realizing the fact that resistance movement, in all its forms, was necessary for the salvation of the towns in particular and the country in general, the GHQ of the Hunters ROTC Guerrillas ordered Juanito N. Ferrer, a Philippine Military Academy cadet, to the different towns of Batangas for this purpose. It was in the middle part of March 1944 when this young brave fellow finally decided to give up all the luxuries of life and come to the wild and mountainous towns of Batangas in order to carry out this patriotic mission of organizing a unit that would serve the purposes as set by the “Hunters.” The aims and purposes of the organization were explained, stressing the point that the main mission of the outfit would be to gather military information about the enemy. The response was spontaneous, rather encouraging. It struck into the patriotic cords of the hearts of these people of Batangas. This, they realized, would be the outlet to the fervor that seemed to retract their minds from the democratic principles of life taught them by the United States.

Thus was formed the 49th Regiment Hunters ROTC Guerrillas, the 2nd Battalion, the roster of which is attached, being a part of said outfit. Of Lt. Col. Juanito N. Ferrer and his men, Colonel George O. Pearson, Commanding Officer of the 18th [probably 187th] PG Inf., 11th Airborne Division, had this written in his citation: “He (Lt. Colonel J. N. Ferrer) and his men, in the opinion of this Commander, represents the highest ideals of Filipino courage and patriotic devotion to the country’s cause.” A brief review of this unit’s activities and operations will prove to be an impressive record of daring and intelligent exploits against the enemy.

The towns of Talisay and Lipa were thickly infested at that time with barbarous Japs that the peace-loving democratic populace had a hard time attending to their farms which were their only source and means of livelihood. Although the townspeople in general had been against the Japanese administration from the start, nobody dared express their feelings or dared attempt to act against the enemy

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because they were fully aware of the maltreatment and atrocities done to those who dared. The people were tortured inhumanely without the slightest provocation; suspected members of any guerrilla unit were deprived of their lands and properties; and foodstuffs raised by the common people for their families’ consumption were either controlled or confiscated to supply the hunger-stricken “Heitai San.” Liberty to live and sleep in one’s home was totally unknown in those horrible and trying times to give shelter to the barbarous people. Group talking was strictly prohibited to prevent the possible and speedy spread of any secret organization and listening to shortwave news was sufficient reason to throw anybody to everlasting darkness and hunger at Fort Santiago. However, in spite of all these hardships and difficulties, and notwithstanding the fact that there were scattered thousands of pro-Japanese spies, the town populace heeded our plea and gave their wholehearted cooperation thru voluntary contributions of money and other vital supplies. This, we cannot forget, and it is but proper and fitting to express thru this column our deep and lasting gratitude to these people who had made the creation of this organization both possible and successful.

Col. Ferrer and his staff, who were all wanted and declared “Japanese numbered enemies,” had encountered considerable obstacles and hardships in the making of this organization. However, this unit, having been organized solely on the principles of democracy and with the honorable intention of liberating the townspeople from the yoke of slavery, had had no difficulty in recruiting new members. Silently and painstakingly, the organization was fully completed finally. Contacts were immediately made and maintained with other guerrilla units thru liaison officers, who were exposed to the enemy’s hands most of the time. We were organized in accordance with the Philippine Army Table of Organization. As required by the above-stated table, the Battalion Commander was commissioned with the rank of Major, while the Executive Officer, with the rank of Captain. The rest of the commissioned officers ranged from the ranks of 1st to 2nd Lieutenant, depending on the importance of his position held in the unit.

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At the first three or four months, the activities of our unit were confined to selecting men to carry dangerous missions which required only men of daring bravery. Special emphasis was given to combat intelligence rather than combat. Shooting of the enemy was strictly restricted and was allowed only when it was inevitable. This was so ordered with an effort to penetrate into the most inner portion of the Japanese installations to get some essential military information and intelligence report on the strategic points occupied by the enemy. In view of the fact that the Japs massacred people for every enlisted Japanese soldier killed, our men had had to lie low for some time. Everybody was required to do intelligence work, which led to the elimination of some prominent Sakdalistas (pro-Jap) who were directly responsible for the deaths of some of our comrades because of their espionage work. Casualties on our part were, however, negligible in comparison with the value of information taken from the enemy through the penetration of our boys into the Japs’ concentrations.

In order to get some valuable information on the enemy installations, we had to expand our unit. Big-wigs of different localities were contacted for some financial aid, while those persons who had had knowledge of [the] Japanese military administration were secretly interviewed. Special intelligence operatives were planted in the different towns of Batangas, who consolidated intelligence reports in their respective areas. These reports were then forwarded to the Battalion S-2 for further evaluation and submission to the GHQ. Intelligence work was even made to the extent of requiring some of the boys with the Japanese Army firms in an effort to get some information on the enemy movements. While these boys were doing their intelligence work, some of the guerrilla members were required to travel several miles of meandering paths of the mountains, thru thick woods and marshy rivers, to remote towns of the district for hidden firearms. We had a very limited number of arms and ammunition, which compelled us to solicit financial aid from the townspeople for this purpose.

The enlisted personnel of this unit are to be commended also for the splendid job they had done. With the objective of hampering the enemy communications, our mechanics who were in the employ of the Japanese “Lipa Shop” had

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purposely removed critical parts from the Japanese vehicles. The result was a shortage in transportation due to the increase in unserviceable vehicles dead-lined for lack of parts. This operation, it is felt, had delayed the enemy’s movement for some time.

To neutralize the Japanese propaganda and at the same time to inculcate into the minds of the people the motives and principles on which this unit had been organized, our Propaganda Corps secretly listened to shortwave news and relayed them in typewritten forms to the public. While in certain localities, we initiated the murmuring campaign. The propaganda news did all the tricks. It was really unbelievable how the people reacted to our news. Everybody was cautious but extremely happy. In a few words, the morale of the people returned to its usual high level.

Communications were made possible by couriers and runners, who had to travel on foot due to the scarcity of transportation and the danger of being taken by the Japanese agents. However, water transportation was also used to some extent, but most frequently by foot. Even food supplies were sent thru couriers and runners, who shouldered these essential supplies up to the mountain hideouts. It was very evident that the service of these runners was indispensable in those times, and which attributed to some extent to [the] success of this organization.

To give due credit to our sympathizers, we are listing the names of the following persons who had greatly helped our organization. They are Augusto Salas, Jose Alex Katigbak, Manuel Kalaw, Romeo Silva, Alejandro Africa, and Mauro Solis, who are all residents of Lipa, with the exception of Solis, who is a resident of Talisay, Batangas. Fortunately, thank God, nobody had fallen into the hands of the Japs in their attempts to retreat from their positions. August Salas had been killed by the Japanese during the retreat of the enemy towards the mountains. Four of those listed above are only connected with the Army and Jose Katigbak is now teaching in a certain school.

During the zonification of this locality, many civilians were wantonly massacred by the Japanese Army, but by the will of God, no member of this unit had fallen victim of the zonification. This organization as usual continued its operations, moving our C.P. from one town to another far from the enemy. Although the morale of the people at that very time was gradually decreasing,

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we tried to strengthen it by propaganda. Luckily, and no matter what town we were in, we never lost our contact with the higher headquarters.

We never minded the Japanese propaganda because we knew they were false and unfounded. We never believed them although we were compelled to pretend, because in the bottom of our hearts, we always knew that the light of liberty was dawning and that the American forces might land any time. The zero hour was expected to strike any moment that made the populace very happy. Again, we had to expend our intelligence work contacting other guerrillas and coordinating our reports to attain the highest possible accuracy.

A few weeks before the landing of the American forces in Nasugbu, three U. S. Army officers carried by the PT boat from Mindoro, landed on the beach at Balaytigue, [a] barrio of Nasugbu. The group of officers arrived at our C.P. undetected by the Japs stationed at Point Fuego, which was only a few miles from the place. With these U.S. Army officers was an officer of our organization who had been from Mindoro to submit the intelligence reports of the “Hunters.” They also brought with them a small portion of medical and food supplies and a few carbines and MI rifles, which were liberally issued to the ROTC Hunters. It was later revealed that the mission of the visitors was to confer with the high ranking officers of the ROTC Hunters with the purpose of issuing instructions and getting some important information they needed. The first day of the conference resulted in sending a group of guerrillas with knowledge in surveying the beaches of Balayan, Nasugbu, Lian and Calatagan, to take soundings of the water around the bay. This information, according to these officers, was required in order to determine the exact point of the landing. At the close of the conference, which lasted for two days, the visiting officers happily departed with all the information they required which pertained to the Japanese positions and their estimated strength. On the 31st of January 1945, several days after this historical conference, Points Talim and Fuego, which were the enemy’s observation posts, were subjected to heavy naval and aerial bombardment and strafing for three hours. Then, simultaneously, the 11th Airborne Division landed at the beach of Nasugbu. The Japanese at these two points, having been crippled and knowing that fact that the Americans had returned with numerically superior men and

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with much improved weapons, the enemy did not hesitate to apply their principle of retreat, thus giving the boys an important role in attacking the retreating enemy forces. Although armed with a few old and rusty weapons, the Hunters attacked and drove the retreating Japs into the mountains, killing several of them.

Upon the landing of the American forces in Nasugbu, we established contact immediately to offer our ever-daring aid to any extent, be it in combat, in intelligence work, or as guides. In the latest part of January, we were able to contact Lt. Col. Farren of the 152 AA Bn at Nasugbu. That time, we were asked more of strategic information about the enemy. By that time, all of our intelligence operatives in all the areas of Batangas Province were working in full blast. Our couriers had to travel day and night through the secret paths of the mountains to safely carry all intelligence reports to Col. Farren’s headquarters. When the elements of the 11th Airborne Division were able to reach Tagaytay and Silang towards Manila, [the] late Major Schommer was then appointed by the 11th A/B Div. as contact officer of all the different guerrilla units in the provinces of Cavite and Batangas. By that time, we had to submit our reports to two headquarters. The 49th Regiment by this time was working like a machine. The C.O. and his staff had to work hard to closely supervise the work of all three battalions. While the first battalion was then busy fighting in Nasugbu, Lian and Calatagan, the second and third battalions were then both engaged in sabotage and intelligence work in the unliberated towns of Batangas. Through reliable sources, we learned that the total liberation of Batangas province was not scheduled yet till the city of Manila was totally liberated. So that while the first battalion was still busy cleaning up Jap snipers along the national highway from Nasugbu to Tagaytay, the second and third battalions were working in full swing gathering the latest military information about the enemy movements and concentrations in Batangas. By this time, it was already very hard in Batangas. The Japs were beginning to kill inhabitants of all the towns they were occupying. It was at this time when most of our operatives and agents fell into the hands of the Japs. However, this did not hamper our mission. We were still able to furnish Col. Farren and Major Schommer intelligence reports of vital importance. These reports, they said, were very necessary for the operation to be conducted in Batangas after the operation in Manila.

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After three weeks’ operation in Manila, we were notified to get ready and prepare all our armed men for attachment to the American units for the big operation in Batangas. This time, Lt. Col. Ferrer, our Regimental C.O., was only able to assemble a battalion of armed men. This was the first battalion. So that in all operations in Batangas, the first battalion aided the American forces in combat, while the second and third battalions continued the fight of counterintelligence work, thus aiding both the units of the American forces and our first battalion. The second battalion at the same time served as reserve for the first battalion. From time to time, the second battalion had to replace the casualties of the first battalion in its combat missions.

At the end of the operation in Batangas, only the first battalion and some members of the second battalion were recognized because they were attached to the 11th A/B Div. but the rest of the second and third battalions who really worked over since the Americans landed and all throughout the intelligence operation in Batangas have as yet not been recognized. Out of the other two battalions of the 49th Regiment of the ROTC Hunters operating in Batangas Province are those men listed herewith and are desiring to be recognized and processed into the Philippine Army to continue their military service.

Special commendation is made on the Special Intelligence operatives attached to this battalion, although it does not conform with any known Table of Organizations, they are considered the most dangerous and the most exposed members of the guerrillas to the evil hands of the Japanese. Having sensed the prime importance of intelligence work and the difficulty and magnitude of such a job, it was deemed wise to place officers in certain designated areas to tackle this work. They were directly responsible to the Bn S-2, while all road-spotters, those who made possible the estimation of the actual strength of the Japs in Batangas Province, were responsible to these special intelligence operatives. The commendation made by Major Vanderpool, Liaison Officer from GHQ, SWPA on our intelligence operatives, was justly won, considering the amount of work and importance of intelligence reports they had accomplished. This was especially so when the Japs in Batangas left their garrisons to reinforce their troops in Lingayen, despite the fact that they had only two (2) small radios with which they had made contact with Major Vanderpool, clearly showed they were really on their jobs.

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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