“SUCCESS BEYOND EXPECTATION”
by Chris Antonette Piedad-Pugay
The Nasugbu Landing will not be victorious without the combined efforts and cooperation between the American Army Force and the Hunters ROTC Guerillas. As we commemorate 63rd anniversary of the Nasugbu Landing, this article aims to pay recognition to the noble hard work of the Hunters ROTC Guerillas.
The Hunters ROTC Guerilla Unit: An Introduction
After the devastation of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Philippines also endured numerous bombings from Japanese aerial formations. Camp John hay in Baguio City was not an exemption. After the said bombing, the Philippine Military cadets instantly felt that the bombing was something serious, especially after they received orders that they should put on their gray uniforms, check on their ammunition boxes and their guns and a follow up order to set up defense network in Baguio City. Afterwards, these cadets were instructed to board a dozen of bus which carried them to a district in Marikina in order to set up defense position.
Few more days passed, the cadets were carried to University of Santo Tomas to attend an intensive course in Field Service, however, before Christmas day of 1941, the school was ordered for closure.
On January of the following year, former PMA cadets Miguel Ver and Eleuterio Adevoso had a chance to meet in San Juan. In due course, the two were also able to establish contacts with Gustavo Ingles from Mauban, Tayabas; Raymundo Gozon an ROTC cadet from Sta. Cruz, Manila; Vicente Estacio from Taguig, Rizal and Alfredo Foz from San Juan. On the 15th of the same month, they came up with a decision to organize themselves to a fighting unit against the Japanese. Their decision sprung from their ultimate desire to preserve and protect free institutions and to extend their loyalty to their country amidst a tumultuous situation. The membership of the group was generally composed of former PMA cadets, ROTC cadets from various colleges and universities as well as young out-of-school youth.
The group recruited new members and each recruit underwent formidable challenges that tested their hearts and souls. Due to painstaking trainings and obstacle courses, some recruits bade farewell to Lt. Ver who at that time never lost his hopes. The group eventually named itself as Hunters ROTC Guerilla, and they portrayed a major role in one of the most successful landing during the Liberation Campaign—the Nasugbu Landing.
The Nasugbu Landing
In the last few months of 1944, the Hunters ROTC Guerilla group made a final reorganization because of the increasing number of independent guerilla units overwhelming the provinces of Cavite and Batangas. The Manila-Laguna-Batangas-Tayabas area was divided by an imaginary line, areas in the east of the imaginary line were assigned to the 44th Hunters Division under the leadership of Lt. Col. Frisco Manuel while those found in the west, fell under the jurisdiction of 47th ROTC Division under Lt. Col. Emmanuel de Ocampo. The two infantry division reported to Col. Eleuterio Adevoso.
In a conference held at the camp of Capt. Bernard Anderson (USPIF) attended by selected officials of both Anderson and Adevoso organization, Lt. Com. Charles parsons forwarded the information that Gen. Douglas MacArthur showed interest in Cavite and Batangas coastal areas as potential landing areas for the Liberation Campaign.
Keen with the said statement, Adevoso guerillas conducted a study and produced a report and took possible control of the China Sea coast of Cavite and Batangas; Secondly, Adevoso established his command post in Nasugbu.
After the triumph of the Leyte Landing on October 20, 1944, the Liberation Force advanced to the north and by the month of December eventually established airfields in Mindoro in order to place Manila within the range of American war planes.
Finally on January 31, 1945, after few bombardments and assaults, the troops of the 1st Battalion and the 188th Glider of the Infantry of the Airborne Division headed by the US 8th Army took the shores of Nasugbu unopposed. At exactly 11:15 of that morning, Lt. Gen. Eichelberg, Commander of the US 8th Army commented that the reconnaissance-in-force was “successful beyond expectation.”
The Pre-Landing and Landing Participation of the Hunters ROTC Guerillas
The Hunters ROTC Guerillas played a vital part in the pre-landing and landing operation at Nasugbu, Batangas. First and foremost, the American Army Force in the last few weeks of January 1945 assigned them the task of supplying them updated information and soundings of the sea bottom of the Nasugbu Bay. Complying with the task was Lt. Com. George Rowe of the Intelligence Penetration Team with Lt. Col. Domingo Angeles of the 1st Battalion, 49th Infantry under de Ocampo’s division.
Moreover, two days prior to the landing, 1st Battalion Commander Maj. Calixto Gasilao ordered a full force survey to determine the depth of the water and the extent and nature of Japanese installations on shore. The task was dutifully performed by the Hunters guerillas headed by Lt. Col. Marcelo Castillo with an American counterpart from the 11th Airborne Division. Afterwards, an exchange of intelligence reports took place followed by the outlining of the necessary plan of action for the January 31 landing. The rest…is history.
Hartendorp, A.V.H. “The Japanese Occupation of the Philippines Vol. 1 and Vol. 2.” Manila: Bookmark,1967.
Salazar, Generoso et al. “World War II in the Philippines: Manila, Bicolandia and the Tagalog Provinces.” Manila: Veterans Federation of the Philippines and University of the Philippines Press, 1996.
“Alab ng Puso.” Manila: Department of National Defense in cooperation with The Veterans Federation of the Philippines.