Peace and order in Vizcaya continue to be good so the Japanese Army’s total strength is now reduced to Bn. size. The American POWs are all transferred to Cabanatuan Camp. Meanwhile, the two Grla. Companies of Capt. Aban in Bagabag and Capt. Asuncion in Solano continue with their every Saturday Taisho program taught by Japanese Army instructors that gave them reason to assemble and conduct their close order and extended drills after. These Companies secretly under my command are about ready for future operations and are adhering from standing instructions on training, intelligence collections, laying low and awaiting orders. I am happy that latest scuttlebutts indicate Japanese advances towards Australia was stopped when Guadalcanal was taken back by the US Marines and the airfield there can be used now against the major Japanese Base in Rabaul.
It is gratifying to note that the 14th Inf. Grlas. was the first guerilla unit to contact Gen. MacArthur in Corregidor late Jan. 1942 through the effort of my classmate, Lt. Ed Navarro who took his transceiver all the way from Camp Allen to Kiangan, then to Bayombong during their retreat. This transceiver was used to send messages to USAFFE HQ by the 14th Inf. Grlas. but was lost after Col. Nakar was captured. Lately, I learned another PMA Classmate, Capt. Amos Francia Signal O. of Panay Grlas. under Col Peralta, through his ability and resourcefulness, was also able to fix a radio transmitter in their mountain hideout and able to contact SWPA HQ of Gen.MacArthur late last month. Francia is not only a classmate but also a blood relative and fellow Bulakeño.
This morning I passed by Capt. Ikeda’s office with my BC Squad for our scheduled Saturday Taisho Training Instructions. Capt. Ikeda told me he can not come with me as he has some official schedule this morning but he loaned me his truck that we used with his two Taisho Instructors. We proceeded to barrio Paniqui, Bagabag where “barrio Captain Guillermo Aban” and his neighborhood watchmen were waiting in the school grounds. Without much ado, Taisho Instructions started at 0800H with my BC men assisting this time. The Instructions were executed very well I could see how impressed the Japanese Instructors were at their students enthusiasm. While the instructions were going on, I told Aban who was with me on the sideline, to start close order drills after we leave. Also beginning tonight, he can maintain two posts at the extremities of the barrio where they can start performing guard duties as part of their renewed military training.
Taisho Training Instructions terminated 0930H in Bagabag and we proceeded to barrio Ibung, Solano where “Barrio Captain Fernando Asuncion” and his men were waiting and started Taishyo Training at 1000H. Like at Barrio Paniqui, the men at Barrio Ibung performed very well with enthusiasm and while they were going into the motions, I gave the same instructions to Capt. Asuncion about conducting close order drills and guard duty training, the same instructions I gave Capt Aban.
Taisho Training in Solano terminated 1130H with the Japanese Instructors saying their students in Solano as well as in Bagabag performed so well that they felt they have completed their job in two sessions. I was happy to hear what they said and requested that they make that report to Capt. Ikeda. We arrived back in Bayombong at noon and thank Capt. Ikeda for the services of his two Instructors for a job well done.
I visited Capt. Ikeda of the local Japanese Army Garrison at his office this morning and he received me cordially. While we were having tea, he announced that the instructors I requested to teach “Radyo Taishyo’ to the barrio neighborhood association of Bagabag and Solano are ready for three Saturdays sessions starting next Sat. which will be Jan 16 followed by Jan 23 and Jan 30. Capt. Ikeda thinks three teaching sessions will be enough. I am elated Capt. Ikeda is interested in the idea that shows those ‘barrio people have the proper attitude’. We agreed that the first training session starts at 0800H at Barrio Paniqui, Bagabag followed at 1000H at nearby barrio Ibung, Solano. Capt. Ikeda expressed his desire to witness the first training session January 16 and we agreed that we will ride together in his car.
After returning to my office, I summoned Capt. Guillermo Aban and Fernando Asuncion and late in the afternoon, had a conference. I told them about the ‘Radyo Taisho’ training schedule for the next three Saturdays starting Jan. 16, furnishing them each the printed schedule — 0800H in Bagabag and 1000H in Solano. I told them I will introduce them as barrio captains and your men are members of your neighborhood association eager to perform barrio watch. That many of them were former trainees and had some military training before. From then on, we will play it by ear. However, I asked them to prepare the barrio very well on Jan 16 as Capt. Ikeda will be with me and I want to impress him.
Yesterday, I got a P2,000.00 remittance from the local PNB Bank sent by Don Juan Elizalde as he promised for our intelligence fund. This will help a lot for the travels of SA Pablo Naval, my special liaison with Lt. Col. Manolo Enriquez.
This morning, I had an hour private secret conference with Capt. Guillermo Aban and Capt. Fernando Asuncion, COs of two companies laying low in Bagabag and Solano. I told them about the neighborhood association idea approved by the local Japanese military as a means to assemble their men for “radyo taisho” training exercises when Japanese instructors become available. I alerted them to be ready when I set the dates after I get the schedule from the local Japanese Garrison under Captain Ikeda. Needless to say how happy and excited are Capts. Aban and Asuncion at the prospect of assembling their men again without fear. I cautioned them to act naturally as humble barrio inhabitants interested in the peace and order of their neighborhoods. Before they departed, I also gave Capts. Aban an Asuncion Special Agent of BC I.D. Cards like the one issued to SA Pablo Naval to facilitate their contact with me.
Today we got S.O, BC HQ, relieving Sr. Insp. Antonio C. Diano ’19, Trfd BC HQ Manila. I am designated Actg. Sr. Insp. effective this date. (The Senior Inspector Post is what was known as PC Prov. Comdr. before). As Actg. Sr. Insp., I made courtesy calls on the Governor, Chief of local Kempei-tai and Japanese Army Garrison. In my conversation with N. Vizcaya’s Gov D. Quirino, I noted that he is converted as a rabid pro-Jap in contrast with his young son, Jose or Joe, a fanatic pro-American who used to bring food from my kitchen to American POWs in the local garrison. The Gov house is just across the street from my residence, we are close but strange neighbors.
During my call with local Japanese military heads, I informed them of the desire of barrio people from Bagabag and Solano to form neighborhood association watch to help us in our peace and order effort. They were happy to hear about the idea and I even requested if Japanese instructors can be assigned to teach them ‘radyo taisho’ which is Japanese calisthenics popular in the military. They also promised me to do that. My purpose in bringing this subject is to have a reason to gather the men of Capt. Guillermo Aban in Bagabag; and of Capt. Fernando Asuncion in Solano for training while laying low. In this manner, they can perform guard duties and basic drills — valid reason to assemble our underground men.
This morning I gave SA (Sp. Agent) Pablo Naval his first mission to contact LCol. Enriquez with following msg: “That I have visited all towns and met their officials; Aban, Asuncion & Naval have SA IDs; Units under control but laying low. I will be in Manila to get my family first week Dec to transfer them to Bayombong. While in Manila I would like to contact other associates, if possible. Peace and order good. Situation looks good”. As msg. is not in writing for security reason, I required Naval to repeat the msg. verbally and to my satisfaction he did it verbatim to my surprise. I am happy Naval is very intelligent and a safe courier.
This afternoon, Lt. Leandro Rosario, a surrendered Int. O. of Nakar, visited me with interesting revelations. That there are a few American POWs still in the local Japanese Army garrison who helped in the surrender campaign of guerrillas led by LCol. Theodore Kalakuka, emissary of Gen. Wainwright; LCol. E. Warner; Capt. Arnold A. Warning; Lt. Albert Ziegler; Lt. Hurley Hieb. Rosario said Warner surrendered to Kalakuka; but Warner was responsible for the capture of Nakar in Jones, Isabela with the help of the Chief of Police of Jones who earned ₱1,000.00 cash reward from the Japs. However, last Oct 31, Kalakuka died of cerebral malaria and buried at Bayombong Catholic Cemetery according to Rosario. Lt. Ziegler also died four days after my arrival in Bayombong due to dysentery. Lt. Rosario claims that LCol. Warner is also very sick with malaria.
With the concurrence of my BC Sr Inspector, I formed an Intelligence Unit initially composed of BC Sgt. Norberto Aquino (Nautical School Grad), Guillermo Aban, Fernando Asuncion & Pablo Naval. Aban, Asuncion & Naval are key members of the underground 14th Inf, considered civilian informers I issued official I.D. Cards to facilitate our contacts. Sgt. Aquino is my close confidant but does not know the three civilian informers are underground members.
Today, Lt. Leandro Rosario paid me a courtesy call telling me he is a surrendered former Intelligence O. of LCol. Nakar 14th Inf., now working with Gov. Demetrio Quirino with a group that were former GANAP followers of Benigno Ramos an anti-govt subversives during the Commonwealth years. Lt. Rosario said he and his group are working for peace and order and wants to coordinate with the BC.
Yesterday, Mrs. Reyes found a house of the Sadang family available by Dec. 15 for rent. I found the house spacious with three bedrooms, big sala and dining room so I signed a month to month lease at P35.00 per month. The house is only a block from my office, in an excellent neighborhood in front of the governor’s residence.
Since my arrival in Bayombong, I started familiariazing myself with the town area and people. I visited all sectors and met many families such as the Madellas, Mendozas, Zuraeks, Gonongs, Prudenciado-Lozano, Reyeses aside from the provincial and municipal officials appointed by the Japanese Adm. The peace and order appears artificial as the people live in fear of the Japanese that committed atrocities during the early part of the occupation. I can gauge their true feelings from the Madellas I gained rapport as one of the members of the family I knew lived in Malolos, Bulacan when I was in high school.
With permission from my Sr. Inspector, I began familiarizing myself with other towns. There are only seven towns in N. Vizcaya and last Nov. 13, I went to Bagabag town accompanied by two NCOs. Bagabag is the northern most town, met the town officials and police chief who briefed me on peace and order. In the afternoon, I visited barrio Paniqui where Capt. Guillermo Aban is waiting. I conferred with him in private reminding him to keep control of the members of his company while laying low and to keep the 15 firearms secured under his personal care. He gave me a roster of his troops totaling 55. I am impressed with barrio Paniqui and the people’s attitude.
The following day, Nov. 14, I visited Solano town, met the town officials and had a briefing by the Police Chief. Then I visited remote barrio Ibung at the foot of Cordillera Mt. where Capt. Fernando Asuncion and Cpl. Pablo Naval were waiting. I was specially happy to see Naval to know that he belongs to Capt. Asuncion’s Co. with the rank of Cpl. I adviced them in private to be careful, that they are lucky not to be in the Watch List of the Kempei-Tai and to facilitate their contact with me, I will appoint them BC Special Agents by the end of the month. Capt. Asuncion furnished me also a roster of his troops totaling 53 with twenty firearms hidden at the foot of the Mt. I reminded them to lay low, keep control of the troops and gather intelligence to be reported by Naval verbally, nothing in writing.
Yesterday, Nov. 15, I spent the whole day in Bambang town and today, in Dupax to meet their town officials and briefings by their Police Chiefs. It also serves as my courtesy call on them which was appreciated. After visiting five of the seven towns of N Vizcaya and observing the peace and order conditions, I am beginning to think this place is much better place to reside at present than Manila or Bulacan. I therefore, requested Mrs. Reyes to help me find a house I can rent to bring my family in Bayombong before Christmas.
Go Beng’s Truck came to pick me up at 0830 three days ago (Nov 3) at my Tennessee residence for my trip to N. Vizcaya. It was a pleasant surprise to see Mr. Go Beng himself who told me he was going to Tuguegarao. Before bidding my wife goodbye I introduced her to Mr. Go Beng, then started our trip with me seated in the front seat with Mr. Go Beng and the driver. There were five other passengers accommodated with the merchandise area. I developed a good rapport with Mr. Go Beng who owns six trucks trading merchandise from Manila to Cagayan Valley. Trucks like he has are rare with shortage of fuel and travel very slow with the mixture of alcohol and gasoline as fuel. We finally arrived in San Jose, N. Ecija (after a short stop in Cabanatuan for lunch) at 5:00 P.M. or eight hours that normally only takes four. We stayed overnight in San Jose and early the following day, Nov. 4, we were climbing the rugged Cordillera Mt. towards Santa Fe, the first town of Vizcaya. The area we just passed is an excellent place for ambuscade, reason for not traveling at night. We then passed the town of Aritao and had lunch in Bambang after which we proceeded to Bayombong arriving at Bayombong Hotel at 1400H.
While checking at the hotel, the Manager, Mr. Verzosa, handed me a note from Lt. Col. (not Major anymore) Manuel Enriquez that he wanted to see me ASAP. I have an excellent accommodation and at 1700H, Pablo Naval knocked at my door and once inside, told me the bad news that L.Col. Nakar and his men were captured by the Japanese at Jones, Isabela area and that L.Col. Enriquez took over the command while the rest of the units are on the run. Naval told me that Enriquez wanted to see me ASAP and since he knows where he is, I agreed to go as soon as it gets dark. He had a caretela ready and took off towards Solano as soon as dusk fell. At barrio Bonfal, we debarked, walked about two kms westward and arrived at the place where I will meet Enriquez. It is 9:00pm and I waited another half hour at this place which is at the foot of the mountain, where a group of men that included Enriquez arrived.
Manolo Enriquez was excited and embraced me like a long lost brother. Needless to say I was very happy and grateful. He then introduced me as Major Alcaraz, handing me my appointment with the 14th Inf. He said it was unfortunate Col. Nakar was captured but we have to carry on the mission. I was to Command the new N. Vizcaya Bn. to compose the company under Capt. Guillermo Aban and the company under Capt. Fernando Asuncion together with the BC Company. Capts. Aban and Asuncion were introduced to me and then we moved to another room for confidential intructions and info that include the fact that the 14th Inf. is on the run, the need for secrecy discipline and that he is moving his HQ to Baguio area. I demanded that there be no written communications, that messages between him and me would be transmitted verbatim by an intelligent loyal courier for which Pablo Naval was agreed upon. It was also agreed that our initial activities are to lay low, organize and collect intelligence while I familiarize myself with the people and terrain of N. Vizcaya.
I stayed the entire evening catching up events with L.Col. Enriquez as we slept on adjacent cots. He told me he will inform other unit Comdrs. in the Field like Maj. Romulo Manriquez, Capt. Patricio Dumlao and Lt. Luis Casumpang about me and the new Bn. I will command. He also mentioned that Don Juan Elizalde is our Financial Supporter and that other associates like Col. Alfredo Ramirez and Capt. Juan Calvo may contact me later.
Early this morning, after breakfast, Pablo Naval escorted me back to barrio Bonfal where the caretela was waiting and I went back alone to Bayombong Hotel. After lunch, I dressed up with my BC uniform as 5th Class Inspector, and reported to HQ, BC Bayombong whose Senior Inspector Antonio C. Diano ’19 is so happy to welcome me. I found that we have a BC Company composed mostly of former PA and Phil. Scout soldiers many of whom are Bataan veterans. I like my assignment here specially the temperate climate like Baguio. My reporting formally to this BC post makes my written obligations signed as a POW fulfilled. I feel free again!