The Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit was organized in Nasugbu in 1942 by one Sisenando “Dado” Destreza. Destreza would be captured and executed by the Japanese and command of the unit was allegedly assumed by the erstwhile executive officer, one Teodulo Botones. Although the unit carries the name “Fil-Americans,” it had no actual affiliation with the large guerrilla organization by that same name which was organized by Col. Hugh Straughn. In this page is a transcription1
of an investigative report filed by one Lt. Grant Wilcox of the US Army with recommendations on the Dado Destreza Unit’s application for official recognition.
23 September 1946
Report on the Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit
In compliance with instructions from the Chief of Branch, Guerrilla Affairs Division, G-3, AFWESPAC, Lts Grant S. Wilcox and Pastor R. Escano contacted the guerrilla organization known as the “Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit,” on 6 August 1946 in order to determine whether or not this organization would be recognized by the United States Army.
Sisenando Destreza, alias Dado Destreza, started organizing the guerrilla unit now known as the Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit, on or about February or March 1942. Dado Destreza was a twenty-two year old student who had taken ROTC training at the Far Eastern University. Assisting Dado Destreza was Teodulo S. Botones, his executive officer, who was a draftsman from Roxas and. Co., owners of the Don Pedro Sugar Mill in Nasugbu, Batangas. Destreza called the unit the Western Batangas Guerrillas.
Destreza was energetic and had military training. Botones, his executive officer, had secretly acquired several maps of the Western Batangas Area from Roxas & Co.
Destreza recruited members from place to place in the area comprising the municipalities of Nasugbu, Tuy, Balayan, Lian, and Alfonso. During the first year of the campaign for membership, he found it hard to get men because of Jap spies. By the end of 1942, western Batangas and southwestern Cavite.
In the middle of 1942, Destreza was able to contact a Fil-American guerrilla unit in Indang, Cavite, whose adviser was an American, Major W. Folsom. Because of this contact, the unit used the name Fil-American Guerrillas. In 1943, the activity of about twenty Filipino spies for the Japanese within the area was on its high tide. These spies were armed, enforced the surrender of firearms kept by the civilians and guided the Japs in their campaigns.
On November 13, 1943, Destreza and two other members of the Dado Destreza Unit were murdered by collaborators.
When the 11th Airborne Division landed in Nasugbu in late January 1945, many members of the Dado Destreza Unit (attached to the Blue Eagle Command) participated in operations against the enemy. Other members served as guides and laborers with US troops during their stay in western Batangas.
The following listed persons were among those interviewed in regard to the Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit, and the findings are based upon their statements:
1. Lt. Col. Teodulo S. Botones – Unit C.O.
2. Maj. Antonio S. Chuidian
3. Maj. Zacarias D. Beltran
4. Capt. Luis B. Destreza – cousin of Dado Destreza
5. Capt. Pablo Cruzado
6. Capt. Dalmacio Cruzado
7. 2d Lt. Teofilo Hernando
8. 2d Lt. Montao Bacalzo
9. 2d Lt. Esteban de Belen – 73 years old
10. 2d Lt. Casiano Bathan
11. T/Sgt. Apolonio Gomez
12. S/Sgt. Pelateo Cruzado
13. S/Sgt. Ereno Romales
14. Sgt Santiago Bolabogagas – 60 years old
15. Sgt Isabelo Cresencia
16. Sgt Euteoquio Argente
17. Sgt Eligio dela Cuesta
18. Sgt Eduardo Ruiz
19. Sgt Jose Rodriguez
20. Pfc Simeon Escano
21. Pfc Fernando Macalagyan
22. Pvt. Dionisio delos Reyes
23. Pvt Albino Betcheda
24. Col. Vicente S. Umali
25. Col. Quintin Gellidon
26. Col. Constancio C. Crucena – II Corps PQOG
27. Lt. Col. Amando Laurel – 46th Regt PQOG
28. Maj. Pedro Gahol – 46th Regt PQOG
29. Pvt Serafin Alix – Blue Eagle Command Batangas
30. Lt. Col. Jose delos Reyes – II Corps PQOG
The roster this unit submitted for recognition is merely an attempt to gather together [a] group of men for recognition purposes. This unit actually ceased to exist after 13 November 1943 when Dado Destreza and two of his followers were killed by collaborators in Nasugbu, Batangas. Lt Col (Grla Rank) Teodulo S. Botones, the executive officer under Destreza, now claims to be the commanding officer of the Dado Destreza Unit.
This unit submitted a roster of 400 members but claims a membership of approximately, 2,000.
The following is quoted from the request for recognition by Lt. Col. Teodulo S. Botones, unit CO:
“On November 14, 1945, a Requiem Mass was held in the local church for the eternal repose of our three companions. Wreaths were laid as the priest blessed their graves. Standing of the grave of DADO DESTREZA, I delivered a short talk on their behalf. After the commemoration, our men made a clamor for brotherhood to perpetuate the organization founded by our beloved leader DADO DESTREZA.
“While the clamor was being considered, I had the idea to request for recognition to give our men satisfaction and in behalf of those who died long before the liberation. Last week, when I happened to read the news under [the] headline “G-RECOGNITION DEADLINE JAN. 31,” I began to prepare the necessary papers (HISTORY, ACTIVITIES AND IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS attached) and will try to submit before the deadline.”
The abovementioned incident marked the revival of the Dado Destreza Unit. As already mentioned, the organization had ceased activities upon Dado Destreza’s death. All guerrilla activities by members of this unit during the liberation were done as members of the Blue Eagle Command, Batangas, for which they received guerrilla recognition. Teodulo S. Botones, the unit CO, was recognized as a 1st Lt with the Blue Eagle Command, Batangas, and Antonio A. Chuidian, present executive officer of this unit, was recognized as a major in the Blue Eagle Command. Of this unit’s membership of 2,000, more than 1,600 were attached and recognized as members of the Blue Eagle Command.
The important documents which Botones mentions above in the request for recognition of the unit are only affidavits of his own personal guerrilla activities which are not of any importance as they mention only small-scale, parti-time activities on his part.
The members of this unit are peasants who work for Roxas & Co., owners of sugar plantations and the Don Pedro Sugar Mill near Nasugbu. Both the CO and the Ex O of this unit hold good positions in the Roxas & Co. According to the unit CO, they want to see the Dado Destreza Unit recognition to quiet the peasants down a little. This move would especially meet the approval of the peasants not yet recognized as guerrillas.
This case is somewhat similar to that of guerrilla units around Balayan, Batangas. This investigating officer once had a long talk with one of the guerrilla leaders in Balayan. This leader had the idea that if AFWESPAC would recognize and pay off the guerrillas around Balayan, then the great unrest and dissatisfaction among the peasants would cease. However, the actual cause of the unrest and dissatisfaction among the peasants in this region is due to their economic servitude to the big landlords of the region. They have already organized a peasant union and are agitating for reforms. The landlords hope the peasants might get enough guerrilla pay from AFWESPAC to quiet them down.
The recognition of the Blue Eagle Command, Batangas, by AFWESPAC gave many of the people in Batangas and Cavite the idea that guerrilla recognition could be obtained quite easily, even on small or falsified grounds. The request of this unit for recognition was no doubt influenced by the recognition of the Blue Eagle Command, Batangas.
Under Dado Destreza, this unit’s activities consisted of recruiting, propaganda spreading, and laying low, waiting for the day when outside help might come. Destreza had to go very easy because he was closely watched by Jap spies who in the end caused his death and the end of the Dado Destreza Unit.
Col. Edwin P. Ramsey stayed in the home of one of the unit’s members while on his way to Mindoro in 1944. The aiding of Ramsey on [the] trip to Mindoro is claimed as one of the unit’s activities.
This unit claims Charles W. Folsom as an adviser because they contacted his unit in Indang, Cavite in the middle of 1942, but they do not claim to be under Folsom’s command. Col. Constancio C. Crucena, now II Corps PQOG, but one-time G-3 of Folsom, says that he was a member of the Dado Destreza Unit himself back in 1942, but that the unit died out after the death of Destreza.
Col Quintin Gellidon stated that he heard nothing about the activities of this unit all of the time he was in Cavite and Batangas, during and after the Japanese Occupation.
Col. Marking Agustin and Col Terry Adevoso stated that there was never any such unit in western Batangas.
This unit has no apparent political affiliations.
After careful study of the records and individuals concerned, and in view of findings included, it is recommended that the “Fil-American Guerrillas, Dado Destreza Unit” be not favorably considered for recognition.
[Sgd.] GRANT S. WILCOX
Notes and references:
2d Lt., Infantry
“Dado Destreza Unit FAIT,” File No. 110-24, online at the United States National Archives.