History of the Oraña Guerrilla Unit, San Luis, Batangas - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

History of the Oraña Guerrilla Unit, San Luis, Batangas

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The Orana Guerrrilla Unit was an independent guerrilla organization that was spawned and operated in the area of Barrio Durungao, San Luis, Batangas. It was commanded by one Jeremias Orana In this page is a transcription1 of alleged history of the Orana Unit as submitted to the United States Army with the unit’s application for official recognition.
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HISTORY OF THE ORGANIZATION
OF THE ORANA GUERRILLA UNIT
AND THE ACTIVITIES PRIOR AND AFTER
THE COMING OF THE AMERICAN LIBERATING
FORCES

Upon the surrender of Bataan, followed by other scattered forces of the USAFFE in different parts of the Philippines, there loomed in the once peaceful horizon of our beloved country the darkest clouds of uncertainty. Our beloved Pearl of the Orient Seas, the long intended and prepared Citadel of Democracy in the orient under the guidance of America’s magnanimity, had been stabbed in the back in a treacherous attempt to murder our noble cause for a life of freedom, liberty and democracy among the society of free nations. The Japanese, however, had forgotten that our people right at the start had already built in their hearts a strong foundation of vengeance and revenge — a retaliation by an oppressed people.

Immediately after the establishment of the Japanese Military Administration in the Philippines, a reign of terror followed. The condition of the lives of our people had become ignominious rather than blissful. The Japanese, human beings in all aspects of personal appearance, but were beasts and savages in their hearts, had completely crushed us under their feet and our country mercilessly trampled upon. Their human thirst for blood had found a wake in the exercise of their whims and caprices. Thousands of cases followed where people had been burned alive, beheaded without mercy, killed at the point of the bayonet, or subjected to various methods of physical torture without sufficient cause for doing so.

Simultaneous, however, to the start of these atrocious activities of the Japanese Military Administration, our people had become alert to the situation. Throughout the Philippines, a growing resistance movement had been scattered. Our loyalty to the governments of the United States and the Commonwealth of the Philippines had become the supreme test in the heart of every citizen. From every nook and corner of the islands, the guerrilla campaigns had become the headache of the Japanese.

Sometime on 30 December 1942, in the town of San Luis, Batangas, there was organized a resistance movement headed by a handful of Bataan veterans who were among those included in the remnants of the Camp O’Donnell, and released in the months of July and August 1942. Although still sickly and suffering from different kinds of diseases incurred in the prison camp, they organized a company to compose the nucleus of their guerrilla activities. These young men, coming from the barrios of Calumpang, Taliba, Sampa, Talon and Durungao, San Luis, Batangas were determined to push on their noble cause at the peril to their lives. Earnestly dreaming and realizing that by doing so, they would be able to serve their country better, so they braved the danger of getting caught by the Japanese Military Police which was then in its vigorous and atrocious campaign. Never before in the history of our country had there been a continuous flow of blood and a massacre of human lives, including innocent people, old and young, women and children of tender age. The terrain of San Luis, Batangas, had been given full guarantee and protection by these brave men. Hundreds and hundreds of them had answered the call of patriotism. The more than forty years of American democracy, when there was a complete enjoyment of the four human wants, could never be erased from their hearts. They are lovers of freedom, liberty and democracy, and they considered life useless without the enjoyment of all these.

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From the inception down to the coming of the long awaited liberating forces of the Americans, the movement had become a full and complete military factor against the Japanese. Through the help and cooperation of the people, the unit was able to keep itself out of detection by the Japanese. Espionage had been practically wiped out of San Luis, Batangas. During the year 1943 and in the early part of the year 1944, the activities were centered on practical intelligence work and consolidation of military strategic reports that would be ready for handling to the Americans when they came. Each and every member of the force was taught the strict principles of the resistance movement. They were taught and made to understand that a slight mistake and information to the enemy might cause the death of the unit and the massacre of human lives. The basic issue that was included as part of the noble mission to accomplish, which basic issue was inculcated in the heart of each and every member, was that in the last war between the United States and Japan, it was democracy versus imperialism. Then next to that was our fight for our lands, our homes, our honor, our freedom and independence — something that would invest with living substance such high and noble principles as to uphold our democratic way of life. Close contact with other guerrilla units like the Vulcan Infantry Regiment of Taal, Lemery, Batangas, was made in order that coordination of activities and intelligence work be had. Several methods of pretenses were made to the Japanese in their strict vigilance, in order to avoid being suspected and apprehended. Some of our men engaged in the occupation of peddling abaca clothes just for the purpose of carrying on the intelligence work. In order to cross to Mindoro undetected and unsuspected of guerrilla missions, some of our men, acting upon orders, pretended to be going there for the purpose of gathering and harvesting rice for livelihood.

In view of the impossibility of continuing armed resistance without being detrimental to public safety, it was decided to concentrate the activities of the unit to the aforesaid intelligence work. The original nucleus of one company headed by Captain Jeremias M. Oraña had become a complete battalion. The danger had become more apparent due to the increase of men, that strict secrecy and carefulness were exercised. In the course of our contact with other guerrilla units in Mindoro, contact was also done with the advance unit of the SWPA under Commander Rowe, alias Nickleson, in Abra de Ilog, Mindoro. To intensify our activities in gathering information on military strategy, voluntary contributions were taken from each and every member, depending on the individual capacity to give, in the form of money and food, plus aid that we received from time to time from patriotic individuals in the towns of San Luis, Mabini and Bauan, Batangas.

ACTIVITIES DURING AND AFTER THE
ARRIVAL OF THE AMERICAN LIBERATING FORCES:

Before the landing of American forces in Nasugbu, Batangas on 31 January 1945, our troops had cut the Japanese communication lines extending from the beach of San Luis to the barrio of Durungao and Cuenca, which two places were the strongest fortresses in the whole province of Batangas. On 1 February 1945, the day after the landing of the American troops in Nasugbu, Lt. Felipe Cabello was ordered to make a detailed plan of the Japanese position in Durungao, San Luis, Batangas. To accomplish this dangerous mission, Lt. Caballo almost risked his life. He exercised the highest degree of care,

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intelligence and patriotism. He, together with his trusted men, stayed in the vicinity of Durungao playing hide and seek with the Japanese for around 14 days. On 3 February, Lt. Cabello captured a field phone operated by the Japanese soldiers. On 14 February 1945, he returned to the headquarters with the duly accomplished plan of the Japanese position in Durungao, which plan included the latter’s position, the number of men (around 800), the position of their munitions, cannons and other strategic military importance. For this bravery, Lt. Cabello was duly promoted to Captain. On the same day, while he was patrolling together with his men at about 1:00 P.M., in the vicinity of Mozon, Pacifico, San Luis, Batangas, he encountered the Japanese burning the houses. While they were watching the burning houses, a company of Japanese soldiers approached their place. They fired at the Japanese and exchange of fire was made around five minutes, but because of [the] inferiority of arms and munitions, Lt. Cabello (then already Captain) ordered his men to retreat. However, Sgt. Iluminado de Claro was captured.

On Holy Thursday, acting upon the report made by one of our men that some Japanese were hiding in the barrio of Balagtasin, San Luis, Batangas, Captain Cabello, together with a group of the unit, went to the place fully-armed. During the search for the Japanese, the latter in sniper method, fired at them and three of his men were killed. They were Pvts. Aquilino Cortez, Servillano Armidilla, and Simplicio Armidilla. However, they captured a Japanese field telephone. This instrument was reported to the Americans when they came later, but the unit was told to keep it as a souvenir in the unit headquarters. It is available anytime for inspection in the headquarters at Durungao, San Luis, Batangas.

Immediately upon the arrival of the first detachment of the 158 R.C.T. under the command of General McNider, in Lemery, Batangas on 6 March 1945, at around 3 o’clock P.M., our men got in contact with them and handed to them all the plans of Durungao, and other necessary information essential to their campaign. From the position of the Americans in Lemery and Taal, Batangas, Durungao Mountain was shelled. During the action of the 158 R.C.T., our men captured food and supplies while the Japanese were undergoing their preparation for an early retreat. That was on 10 March 1945. As the forces of the 158 R.C.T. were coming closer to Durungao, our men captured 8 Japanese rifles with more than 5,000 shells. On 16 March 1945, our men killed 16 Japanese near the vicinity of Durungao. On our side, however, Sgt. Martin Medina got wounded. He was immediately brought to the Army hospital in Batangas by the Army ambulance, but he died the following day. On the next day, that was 17 March 1945, a group of our men encountered quite a number of Japanese who had been disconnected from their main force, and because they were scattered without any point of destination, they became conscious of the danger around them. Engaged in a fight to the death at Catmon Creek, San Luis, Batangas, one of our men killed three Japanese and captured one machine gun (caliber 30). One of our men, however, got wounded, receiving a shot in the right leg. He is Pvt. Tereso Evangelista. The wound was so serious that, at first, it was thought that amputation was the only recourse to save his life. The Army physician, however, got another medical wonder in the treatment of Pvt. Evangelista. Someday, he will be able to walk again on his own feet. At present, he is still confined in the hospital of Taal, Batangas.

On 16 March 1945, the whole of our men comprising the Co. “A” was sent to the field in an active campaign to hunt the whereabouts of the hiding Japanese. This campaign continued

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until 20 March 1945. Our headquarters had resorted to this mass campaign, because our high-ranking officers realized the dangerous situation lying ahead of innocent civilians. Authoritative news of the fact that the Japanese snipers used to kill civilians that they found on their way. Even women and children were mercilessly massacred. Old and helpless people were bayoneted and newly-born babies were pounded on the mortars. In this campaign, our men killed another two Japanese soldiers and captured one box of hand grenades and one leather bag containing important Japanese papers and instruments.

The American soldiers belonging to the 158 R.C.T. led and guided by some of our men from Company “A” who were specially assigned to that job, captured from the Japanese one light tanker (American type), one tractor, and one cannon (155 mm).

On 30 March 1945, Captain Felipe Cabello and his men captured again one Japanese soldier in the barrio of San Jose, San Luis, Batangas, near the house of Sgt. Elias Bonsol. The Japanese soldier was submitted to the United States Army Headquarters in Lemery, Batangas. The gun musket and canteen which were taken from the said Japanese soldier were permitted to remain in [the] possession of Sgt. Bonsol. They are ready anytime for inspection in case of necessity in our headquarters.

CONCLUSION:

All the above facts and circumstances are now living memories of the past. They are past histories of men who dared sacrifice their lives for the sake of a noble cause, for our beloved Mother Land, and for the United States of America. They who died for that cause will be forever remembered and included among our immortal heroes. We who were able to survive the ordeal will never forget our fallen comrades. We offer to them our solemn prayers that their souls may rest in peace. They died! Yes, they died! But America, which carries the symbol of magnanimity throughout the rest of the world, will never forget them.

Such is the history of our organization. Such are the activities of our unit prior and after the coming of the American liberating forces. We have long bound our hearts together under a common cause — the defense of democracy, our cherished ideal that shall never falter — and now that victory has been honorably and humanely achieved, we promise to strengthen our unity further under the guidance of America. To her we promise to cooperate in whatever undertaking she will accomplish, because we know that God has given her the supreme right to lead the world into a life of happiness, liberty, and prosperity!

[Sgd.] JEREMIAS M. ORAÑA
Commanding Officer
ORAÑA GUERRILLA COMMAND
(Lt. Col. Infantry)

Notes and references:
1 “Orana Guerrilla Unit,” online at the United States National Archives.

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