Letter Accusing the Oraña Guerrilla Unit as Fake, June 1946 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Letter Accusing the Oraña Guerrilla Unit as Fake, June 1946

[TRANSCRIPTION]

The Oraña 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 Oraña In this page is a transcription1 of a lengthy communication sent by one Jose Castro to the United States Army accusing the Oraña Guerrilla Unit as being fake.
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San Luis, Batangas
11 June 46

Subject
To
: For the Information
: The Commanding General AFWESPAC

Please be informed that the Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit of San Luis, Batangas is a fake guerrilla [unit] and ought not to be recognized. As proof that it is fake is the fact that the unit was formed only when Oraña (the fake Col) was advised by an American G.I. friend and by former Assemblyman Miguel Tolentino of the First District of Batangas to form a guerrilla unit if he (Oraña) wants to make money. Former Assemblyman Miguel Tolentino promised to give support so that the unit may be recognized, because he was a candidate for the Member of the House of Representatives for the first district of Batangas last April 23, and in order to gain the votes of the voters of San Luis, he made that promise and after election, he was elected in the town of San Luis but unfortunately he lost in the whole district.

Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit was formed only upon news that other guerrilla units have received their liberation pay. Just please see the date when the papers of the unit were submitted. Oraña alleges that the papers of the unit were locked up when he went to Palawan upon arrival of the Americans. Yes, he went to Palawan, but it was before the outbreak of the war on Dec. 7, 1941. When the Americans arrived at Lemery, Batangas, Oraña was at Durungao, San Luis, Batangas and immediately upon arrival of the 11th Airborne Division at Lemery, Batangas, he (Oraña) went to Lemery to seek for a job and became a kitchen boy. Afterwards, he became a kitchen guard, and afterwards he became a guard of the whole division. How could a Colonel bear to become a civilian guard if he were really already a Colonel at that time? It would be a shame for the founder of a guerrilla unit, a Colonel, to be only a kitchen boy of the 11th Airborne Division when he (Oraña) knew that at that time, the other guerrilla officers were reporting for duty to the Philippine Army. And besides, I could never think that a person of his (Oraña) educational attainment and capability could afford to become a Colonel and a person of his personality could command the respect of his subordinates (if he had been a superior) during the Japanese occupation when everybody knew that to be a guerrilla was really foreseen death if ever one was even suspected of being a guerrilla. No native of the town of San Luis would follow such a leader as he during the Japanese period. The lower ranked officers and privates who are now under him became only willing to join the unit he formed because they saw and realized that other guerrilla units like the Blue Eagle Brigade have received their liberation pay, and besides they no longer fear of risking their lives because the Japs were already licked.

As alleged by [the] Oraña Unit’s History that Capt. Felipe Caballo had engaged in combat with the Japs was far from being true. There were no engagements made by him for he had never been a guerrilla before. And the men whom they alleged to have been killed in action were really killed but not as guerrilleros but as civilians. Like, for example the death of Sgt Medina and others in their list. Sgt. Martin Medina and others were killed by the Japs while they attempted to get some of the properties

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left by the Japs at their camp in Durungao. Thinking that the Japs were already away, these men looted the camps of the Japs but unfortunately they were killed by the Jap guards who were left at the camp to guard their belongings. Another proof that Oraña’s unit is fake is the fact that [the] Oraña Unit alleged that Sgt Illuminado Declaro was killed in action, which is neither true. That truth is that Illuminado Declaro engaged in the business of selling thread and sewing machine needles during the Jap occupation at Alaminos and Calamba, Laguna barrios but he failed to return until now. No news about him. But it is the general belief that he was killed by some lawless persons or that guerrilleros of those towns killed him for having been suspected of being a Jap spy because they (guerrilleros) believed that selling thread and needles during those times would never make a living. Otherwise, there are some reasons for his selling thread and needles.

And see another proof. All the members of the Cabello family are officers of the unit. Vicente Cabello, the father, is a Captain; Felipe Cabello is a Captain also; Jesus Cabello, son, is a 1st Lieutenant; Antonio Cabello, son, a small boy of 14 yrs. old is a Sgt.; Dely Cabello, daughter, is a Sgt. This was such only because Vicente Cabello, the father, helped and furnished or contributed some men to the membership of the unit to form the battalion. Leopoldo Cabello, the brother of Vicente Cabello, is also a Lieutenant. How could all the members of the Cabello family be guerrilleros, when during the Jap occupation, when some members of the Blue Eagle Brigade Guerrillas of the barrio of San Jose, San Luis were having military drills at some secret places in the barrio, this Vicente Cabello and his wife Asunsion Siscar scolded and branded these guerrilleros as fools and got angry with them and despised them and even branded them as barriers to the peace and security of the barrio, if ever the Japs knew that there were guerrilleros in San Jose, San Luis, Batangas. If ever there was any family who was afraid of being guerrilleros during the Jap occupation, it is the Cabello family. The male members of the Cabello family, Felipe, Jesus and Ernesto and Vicente were engaged in buy and sell business when the Americans came. They bought stolen American goods from the Americans and made lots of money. He (Vicente) built a store at Mozon, a restaurant as an agent for his buy and sell business with the Negroes. When there were a few stolen American goods for sale, this Cabello family, the three brothers, Felipe, Ernesto and Jesus shifted to buying parachutes at Mozon, and when there were no more parachutes for sale, they resorted to stealing parachutes at the files. These three brothers were wanted by the M.P. at Base R for being members of the band of parachute stealers.

The Japanese weapons which the unit claims to have been captured by them, such as grenades, Jap rifles and ammunition were the rifles and ammunition of the Japanese who were killed by the Americans at Durungao, San Luis, Batangas and at San Martin, San Luis, Batangas during their (Jap) retreat to Macolot Mt. These rifles were taken by Filipino civilians who aided the Americans in spying where the Japs were hiding. As for example, the Jap rifle of Sgt. Elias Bonsol. Mr. Bonsol was never a guerrillero. He consented only to become a guerrillero of [the] Oraña Guerrilla Unit after being given explanations that he (Bonsol) would receive plenty of money provided Bonsol would give the Jap rifle as captured property of the unit.

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Yes it is true that Elias Bonsol got this Jap rifle from a Jap. It happened like this.

Weeks after the Japs retreated from Durungao, San Luis, Batangas to Macolot Mt., while Mr. Zacarias Buni of the barrio of Tungal, San Luis, Batangas was his farm, saw a Japanese soldier a distance of about 300 meters from him. The Jap soldier beckoned to Zacarias Buni to come near him but Buni, fearing that he might be shot by the Jap, didn’t approach him. Not until the Jap, knowing perhaps that Buni was afraid of the rifle, put down his rifle. Buni approached the Jap. He accompanied the Jap who was already very thin, haggard and pale because of hunger to his hut, and gave the Japanese soldier some ripe bananas in exchange for a package of Japanese cigarettes. While the Jap was eating bananas, Zacarias Buni ordered his son, who was at the time with him, to go to Elias Bonsol, whose house was near their hut, and tell him that there was a Jap there. The boy did as was ordered. So Elias Bonsol went to the hut where the Jap was. Thereupon, while the Jap was not looking, Elias Bonsol grabbed the rifle from behind and afterwards tied the Jap. There was no struggle among them because the Jap was already very thin and weak. After that, many persons arrived at the place. Among them was Francisco Magbuhat, and Emelio Bonsol, a Barrio Lieutenant of San Jose, San Luis, Batangas. The Jap was taken to Lemery, Batangas where the Americans had their Headquarters. But the rifle was left at the care of Elias Bonsol who was at that time the Barrio Lieutenant of Tungal, San Luis, Batangas, the place where the Jap was captured. The rifle is the one claimed by Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit to be their property. The other weapons were the weapons of the Japs who were killed by the Americans at Durungao, San Luis, Batangas and at San Martin, San Luis, Batangas. These weapons were taken by the Filipino civilians and now these civilians are members of the fake guerrilla unit of Oraña so that Oraña could have the rifles and other weapons as their captured property.

The guerrilla unit of Oraña includes also many women members. It’s impossible for these women members to join such a guerrilla unit during the Jap occupation. Their hearts couldn’t stand such a position. As for example, Conchita Lasala. She is really a nurse. But she was on duty with the St. Luke’s Hospital since the Japanese occupation for she was studying there, and until now she is on duty there. She has never been with any guerrilla unit. Just see in the records of the St. Luke’s Hospital if she was not there during the whole Jap occupation.

As alleged by Capt. Catalino Aseron, he had made contacts with Veluncio’s Guerrillas at Mindoro. This is neither true. He has never been to Mindoro during the Jap occupation and if ever he went there, he was engaged in business as [a] merchant. He was a traveling merchant, a businessman during the Jap occupation and he went oftentimes to Occidental Negros and had business transactions. Inquire from Veluncio whether Catalino Aseron made contacts with him, and I can rest assured he can tell you nothing about it.

Other members like 1st Lt. Julian Bonsol and 2nd Lt. Silvino Bonsol, his son, lived at Libmanan, Camarines Sur during the Jap

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occupation because they had a large farm there and besides, they had a store there. Before the outbreak of the war, they were living there, and they went to San Jose, San Luis, Batangas only to visit their relatives.

If you take into consideration the history of the Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit, I believe you won’t doubt its genuineness because its history was made by a lawyer, Apolinar Villostas of Taal, Batangas and if you investigate the unit and investigate the members, cross-examine them, I am sure you would believe that it were true, because the members would answer your investigation questions correctly, because they were trained in that, but to tell you the truth, it is really fake and was organized only on February 10, 1946, that [is] why it applied for its recognition only on March 10, 1946 upon knowing that the date for the submission of application for recognition papers was March 15, 1946.

If Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit will be recognized, the United States Government would be a victim of a first class racket.

Please withhold my name because I fear that the members of the Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit might know me and take revenge on me in case the unit will not be recognized. I did this only to give justice to the real guerrilleros, the Bataan veterans who sacrificed their lives for the sake of democracy but who have not received their just compensation. Inquire from some prominent natives of Taal, Lemery, Alitagtag, Bauan, Cuenca, Batangas, and San Luis towns, if ever they heard of any guerrilla unit as the Oraña Unit before the Japanese were licked and [I] assure you they can’t tell you of any. I have many more proofs but I think this is already enough to convince you that Oraña’s Guerrilla Unit is fake.

Yours respectfully,

[Sgd.] JOSE CASTRO

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

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