BALITANG BETERANO: FILIPINO-CHINESE GUERRILLA IN WW2
LAS VEGAS, NEVADA, November 25, 2004 (By Col.(Ret) Frank B. Quesada USA Former Senate Committee Secretary Veterans and Military Pensions Associate, PMA Class ‘44
Very little have been said about the Filipino-Chinese freedom fighters in the Philippines during World War II. Without them, history would not be complete how the war was also fought by a Filipino minority – who have acquitted themselves in the resistance movement during the war of the United States against Japan that involved both Filipinos and Chinese-Filipinos (Chilipinos). When the Japanese Imperial Forces landed in the Philippines in 1941 – Chilipinos, were also suspects. They were not respected by the enemy. As a matter of fact, they were maltreated by the Japanese, like their kin in mainland China.
A Distinguished Unit
This particular story accounts for one guerrilla organization that have distinguished itself in the struggle for freedom and democracy in Luzon, which this author can account for from first-hand knowledge. I am referring to heroic group that started as an effective and simple intelligence and combat unit called the “Ampaw Unit” of the famed Marking’s Fil-American Guerrilla. The Marking’s originally operated in Eastern Manila, more particularly in Rizal and Laguna provinces. Since the Japanese landed and pursued its quest for the USAFFE ni Bataan and Corregidor – a patriotic resistance group earned its name as “Ampaw Unit”- posing as “puff rice” vendors, highly disciplined and trained intelligence operatives, with its own combat unit.
Leak in Enemy Secrets
The Japanese military forces in Manila, Rizal and Laguna were at a loss how so much of their vital military secrets could leak into the hands of Marking’s guerrillas. From Manila and adjacent provinces the Japanese Kempai Tai (military police) was in a great quandary and could not figure out how the resistance movement could secure well-kept secrets from the Japanese occupation forces. And as far as the Japanese forces are concerned, they have been quite careful in enforcement of security procedures. The enemy were quite strict in containing movements of civilian population everywhere. Enemy Security Measures Identification passes were issued to civilians and checkpoints were established n strategic areas n Manila city and the suburbs as well. They though they have the Capital City well-sealed and under control. Nevertheless, guerrillas have been aggressively harassing the Japanese from the rear inflicting heavy losses. Little did the Japanese know that there was an effective network of underground chain of guerrilla intelligence operating under their nose. Japanese movements and strength were easily and always known to the guerrillas, which posed as threat to the Japanese military troops. They never suspected civilian vendors were in reality an intelligence unit of the Marking's guerrilla that relayed enemy vital information to guerrillas. Impeccable Spies They have roamed around Greater Manila area selling puff rice, however, in reality were covert collectors of information pertinent to any Japanese movement and destination.
The “Ampaw Unit” have disguised themselves as “puff rice” vendors all over the city and greater Manila area – with a relay system that fed the guerrillas when and where the Japanese troops would be going. Puff rice was a popular snack among Filipinos being sold on a house-to- house basis by these well-disguised vendors. During my guerrilla days in the area as coordinating intelligence officer for the resistance movement – I came to comer across a very succinct unit of Filipino-Chinese dedicated to furnish Marking’s and other guerrilla units that have been ambushing Japanese patrols operating in the city and the adjacent provinces.
The Real Chua Sy Tiao
I later came to know and identify their skilful leader in the name if, Col. Chua Sy Tiao, with a nom-de-guere (an alias) “Tomas.” Tomas, as he was known was a wily operator posing as a businessman who have trained a chain of intelligence operatives using the Chinese language as their means of communication. Tomas, in person appears as harmless but disguised lowly vendor. In my long association with this unit, I quietly discovered that Tomes was a reserve Captain in the Chinese Koumintang (Nationalist) Army, with a specialist training in mainland China before the war since 1934-36, He was purposely sent to the Philippines in anticipation of Sino-Japanese War in Manchuria. He knew too well the brutalities perpetrated by the Japanese invaders in China (the Rape of Nanking) and exploitation of China by the Japanese military forces. In the Philippines Col. Chua Sy Tiao (Tomas) vowed to avenge the inhumanities by the Japanese against his countrymen. Thus – when the Japanese invaded the Philippines, he seized the moment to fight them together with the Filipino freedom fighters. His men were Filipino-Chinese extraction (meztisos) – hybrids called - Chilipinos.
Birth of Ampaw Unit
Tomas was very cautious in forming this compact but efficacious conglomeration of Chinese Filipinos who were sworn to fight to the last man, where they started in Antipolo, Rizal – a town overlooking the city of Manila from the Sierra Madre mountain. Antipolo, was then the cross-routes of USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Fart East) of Bataan escapes and un-surrendered soldiers who refuse of take defeat from the triumphant Japanese invaders. The sought refuge from the vast mountain forests of the Sierra.
Initial Area of Operations
From Antipolo, this unit operated in the adjacent towns of Pillilia, Tanay, Morong, San Guillermo, Teresa, Marikina, Taytay, Pasig, Montalban, Pasay and Manila city. In the process, they collected food and supplies for the combat unit of Marking’s Fil-American Guerrilla. Without this seemingly small but efficient unit, the Markng’s combat force could not have survived the privations in the rugged Sierra Madre mountain isolated by the enemy from civilian population. Japanese Retaliation I know this by heart because the Japanese have already mounted an effective manhunt and hamletting (Zona) operations against the guerrillas operating in the area like: Marking’s the Hunters guerrillas led by Cols: Mike Ver (PMA ’43) and Terry Advoso PMA Class ’44); the Fil-American Irregular Troops of Col. Hugh Straughn (USA Ret.). they all were roaming around the Sierra hunting for Japanese patrols. As I have also been ducking Japanese rangers, I have witnessed their runner system, food procurers, arms and ammunition collectors, saboteurs and foot soldiers – who supported the resistance movement.
No sooner, the Japanese closed in on this suspected unit as guerrillas were herded to the Japanese garrison in Antipolo. They were tortured and beaten by the Japanese, however, these intrepid men endured the punishment. Tomas intervened and convinced the Japanese that those men were only looking for food. The food procured was later turned over by and his second-in-command, Major Clinton C. Tan to Marking.
My Capture as POW
As a matter of fact, in July 1943, I was caught by the Japanese in a hamlet-ting operation in Paete, Laguna where all men were rounded up and were incarcerated in the Catholic church. There about 2,500 men – concentrated for 8 punishing days and nights san food and we were beaten continuously while being interrogated. We are subjected to the infamous “water cure” by the enemy guards. It was a brutal devise to drawn the victims by covering the faced with wet burlap and a pail of water is pour over the face while laying down. The victim is rendered drowning until a forced confession is secured by the enemy. Many succumbed to the punishment, while a few of us swore to go for broke, knowing that the Japanese never respected anyone who squeal sand turn stool pigeon against their comrades.
Enemy Brutality and Sadism
A few were beheaded (by decapitation) being found guilty of admitting as guerrillas. Most of those Chilipinos with us also suffered and tolerated the beatings and were later released. For my part, I wound up with broken ribs and injured which up to now bothers me. Many Filipinos and Chinese as well also survived this punitive experience. However, returned to guerrilla activities upon recuperation.
Country’s Liberation Period
The American and allied liberation forces arrived b January of 1945 – and the Ampaw Unit was attached to the U.S. 43rd Infantry Division under the command of Maj.. Gen. Leonard Wing, assisted by Brig. Gen. Alex Stark. I personally saw this unit in their best – during the battle of Ipo Dam led by Col. Agustin Marking, head of the Marking’s Guerrillas, assisted by Col. Yay Curtis Marking. As a matter of fact, the Marking’s Guerrilla was awarded by the U.S. Army the credit of capturing Ipo Dam after so many month of bloody fighting. Roster of Ampaw Unit In fairness and due respects to all of them, I am herewith mentioning all their names whom I salute as my heroes: Col. Chua Sy Tiao – Commanding Officer; Major Clinton C. Tan – Exec. Officer. Ltc Chua Sy, Maj. Nga Sieng, Lt. Wong Si Yew, Sgt. So Peng, Sgt. Chua Tian, Lt. Cheng Te, Lt. Tan Pok, Dgt. Ag Se, Sgt. Tan Lit, Pfc. Yu Go Kee, Sgt. Ang Ka, Major. Robert Tiongson, Col. Tan Tiam, Sgt. See Kio, Capt. Chua Hu, Lt. Co Heng, Sgt. Se Ban, Capt. Ernesto Ang,Sgt. Tuan Chua, Sgt. Lim Tan Pee, Lt. Co Tan Yian, Capt. Lim Song, Sgt.Chang Too, Capt. Sy Ban, Sgt. Ricardo Cheng, Sgt.Tan Kim Sing, Maj. Ong Hai, Sgt. Tiu Chieng Chao, May. Ong Kiao, Lt. Go Sy Chiong, Lt. Ang Liong, Sgt. Go Ban, Sgt. Li Siong, Sgt. Sy Chuy, Sgt.Ngo Guan, Lt. Kaw Lin Sgt.,Hua Bang, Sgt. Tan Li Kim, Sgt. Ching Kiat, Sgt. Chua Dy, Capt. Ng Tee, Lt. YuOng Chaw, Sgt. Chan Lai, Sgt. Lao Bio, Sgt. Tek Him, Ltc. Ong Ko Lim, Sgt. Ong Chua, Pfc.Tan Khi, Sgt. Cua Lit, Lt. One Lian Tee, Sgt. Chua Pue Hong, Cpl. Uy Lim, Lt. Au Yong Lit, Sgt. Chua Hian, Sgt. Li San, Sgt Ching Pong, Lt. Chan Heng, Sgt. Tan Bon, Sgt. Chan Heng, Sgt. See Lak BGen.Marking’s Testimonial I personally commend the Ampaw Unit for their heroic and gallant contribution for the sake of our beloved country and the United States. I have seen them in the their most heroic hour as their Commanding Officer in World War II. As for the Chinese nationals who chose to fight on the side of freedom and democracy of the Philippines and the U.S. they have carved in the niche of fame in the saga of the struggle during World War II. They deserved our respect and gratitude in the name of justice and liberty. As for our fellow Chinese-Filipinos who also shed blood for God and Country along side us – they deserve our high esteem and utmost camaraderie. All the members of the Ampaw Unit – whose contribution to the cause of freedom and democracy – should not be suckers of class legislation. I stand against any discrimination that downgrades these men of honor. And all my comrades in World War-II up to now have been denied their wartime benefits by the U.S. government. What is good for any Filipino or American (as servicemen) must be good for any of them who saw the face of the enemy in battle. They will always be my comrades in war and in peace. U.S. Gen. L. Wing and Gen. Stark of the 43rd U.S. Infantry Division stand beside me in awarding them the same honor and reward entitled to any World War II servicemen like them who shed blood and died for those who would live. In peace time – these men have returned to their respective stations in life and now have contributed to the socio-economic well-being of the countries they served so well. Before I quietly fade away from this world - these men must be afforded the same privileges and benefits any member of the armed forces deserve. They are no more, no less than any war veteran that honorably served God and the flag. # #
nota.bene. Col. Frank B. Quesada USA Ret., has written several World War II stories, i.e., “Freedom At Dawn” about his participation in the assault-rescue of all the 2,146 Americans and allied prisoners-of-war who were about to be massacred by the Japanese guards in February 23, 1945 at Los Banos in World War II, and also another account of the POW torture and beating by the Japanese of guerrillas, of which he was one of the prisoners, in an account - entitled: “ In War’s Hell”. And another account of his participation in: (a) the daring escape from, and captivity by the Chinese Communist Army in Lunghua, China, that culminated the instant evacuation of Gen. Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan, (b) his participation on the U.N. Airlift Operations in the Korean War, and (c) participation on mass “Reverse Exodus” return of the Jews as Palestinians to Jerusalem for resettlement in the Middle East. (d) the mass evacuation of stateless refugees (White Russians, Estonians, etc) for repatriation from China and Russia temporarily to Guiuan Islands and the United States and South America .(e) was a counter-intel and psy-war observer in Laos during the Vietnam Conflict who co-produced a psy-war film, “The Bamboo Cross.” Also co-produced the video “The Battle of Bataan and Corregidor,”for the Pacific Island Production, Consultant, to Ryan Hurst, Co-Producer of “Rescue At Los Banos,” of 2,146 American POWs in 1945, consultant to Patricia Brooks of New Zealand, in the video, “Epitaph” of the martyrdom of Rev. Fr. Francis Vernon Douglas, a fellow POW of Quesada, in 1943 in the Philippines.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
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