How Botones Retrieved Dog Tag and Crucifix of Executed American Soldiers - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

How Botones Retrieved Dog Tag and Crucifix of Executed American Soldiers

[TRANSCRIPTION]

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 a narrative report on how Botones retrieved the dog tag and crucifix of slain American soldiers.
Guerrilla Files jpeg
[p. 1]

HOW I SAVED DOG-TAG OF ESTEL L. WOOD, No. 19019459, AND
A CRUCIFIX WHICH BELONGED TO HIS COMPANION IN DEATH WHEN
THEY WERE BAYONETED AND SHOT TO DEATH BY JAPANESE SOL-
IERS ON PANAIN CREEK, NASUGBU, BATANGAS, MARCH 18, ’42. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

March 13, 1942-Wednesday: Two Americans were captured at Fortune Island. From Wawa, they were brought on a Jap Army truck to the Jap Hq. near the sugar central.

March 14, 1942-Thursday: According to a boy, Felix Moreno, who was at the time working at the Jap garrison, the two Americans were tortured and slapped and were not given food.

March 15, 1942-Friday: I heard from sugar mill employees that the Americans were tied separately to electric posts in front of the garrison and everybody who passed by was forced to slap the faces of the prisoners.

March 16, 1942-Saturday: I went to the garrison to see what was happening. I stayed a hundred yards away from the spot. I saw the prisoners dressed only in their undershirts and drawers (white). I found out that Filipinos avoided passing by the garrison when they learned that they would be forced to slap the Americans every time they passed.

March 17, 1942-Sunday: One Claro Secondez, a Filipino, was seen to have slapped the prisoners. I went to see him and warned him. Later, Claro was known to be a Japanese spy because he went with other spies confiscating hidden firearms of Filipinos. We included Claro in our Black List. He worked for the Japs for a few days and later nothing was heard of him anymore.

March 18, 1942-Monday: At five P.M., a railway motorcar driver by the name of Dionisio MALAGUIM approached me and reported the execution of the two American prisoners at Panain Creek on the hill that separates Looc from Nasugbu. The place is about six miles from the sugar mill. Driver Malaguim was ordered by a Jap officer to take the prisoners to the Looc railroad line. While on their way, Dionisio saw the prisoners’ hands tied and bleeding from cuts and bruises. The prisoners were able to tell Dionisio that they were captured at FORTUNE ISLAND. When the railcar arrived at the S-curve at Panain, the Japs ordered him to stop. The Japs fixed their bayonets to their guns and took the prisoners four hundred yards from the railroad. Dionisio, who was left behind, heard four shots and, after a while, the Japs returned with their bayonets wet with blood. I asked Dionisio if the prisoners had dog-tags, and he assured me only one had, and the other had only a crucifix.

March 19, 1942-Tuesday: I was busy in the office. Nobody would come with me to get the dog-tags for fear of the Japanese spies.

March 20, 1942-Wednesday: At about two A.M., I left town alone and reached the spot at daybreak. It was the 4th day after the execution, but despite the foul odor, I managed to cut and pull the strings around the necks of the cadavers. From one, I got dog-tag No. 19019459-USA-ESTEL L. WOOD. The other had no tag, all I got was a nice crucifix. When I arrived home, I boiled the tag and crucifix, placed them in a tin container and buried them.

March 24, 1942-Sunday: I was able to get a helper, Catalino Cabinggan, who came with me to bury the cadavers, but we were not able to bury them. As we arrived at the place, we heard several shots. We then threw our pick and shovel and ran to the forest. We saw, then, that there were several Japanese soldiers at the railroad nearby to repair the broken bridge at Panain.

Dec. 24, 1945: I brought the crucifix with me to Manila and, thru the kindness of Miss Corazon Reyes of 2259 Felix Huertas, Manila, the crucifix was blessed the the QUIAPO CHURCH.

Nasugbu, March 17, 1945

(Sgd.) TEODULO S. BOTONES

TRUE COPY

[p. 2]

Below is the letter to Lt. Col. Joseph Pensack of the 11th Airborne Division that accompanied the narrative in the previous page.

HACIENDA DE NASUGBU
Roxas y Cia.
Nasugbu, Batangas
-----

March 17, 1945

Lt. Col. JOSEPH M. PENSACK, CWS
C. O. DIVSCOM, 11th AIRBORNE DIV.,
Nasugbu, Batangas

S i r :

I have the honor to submit to you tag No. 19019459 (of ESTEL L. WOOD) in duplicate, and a crucifix, which belonged to two Americans who were tortured and shot to death by the Japanese soldiers at Panain Creek, Nasugbu, Batangas on March 18th, 1942.

For your better information as to how I got into possession of these and as to how the two Americans met their fate at the hands of the Japs, I am enclosing herewith an excerpt of my diary.

Respectfully yours,

(Sgd.) TEODULO S. BOTONES

TRUE COPY


Notes and references:
1 “Dado Destreza Unit FAIT,” File No. 110-24, online at the United States National Archives.

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