The Battle in Guila-Guila, Bagalnga
The Battle in Guila-Guila, Bagalnga

Col. Manuel F. Segura, who became regimental adjutant and S-1 of the 82nd Regiment of the United States Armed Forces in the Far East (USAFFE), in his book “Tabunan: The Untold Exploits of the Famed Cebu Guerillas in World War II narrated that when resistance fighters organized 1,777 men by end of August 1942, all they needed were leaders. 

In Compostela, then mayor Gervasio Wagas Sr., who at 27 years old was elected mayor in November 1939, turned over all firearms of the Municipal Government to the guerillas’ general headquarters in Tabunan. An article in the January 2008-issue of Anahaw, Compostela’s official publication, states that Gervasio was the only mayor in Cebu’s northern area who was not killed by the guerillas. 

The guerrillas had made several offensives against the Japanese, one of these the Battle in Guila-guila that killed 232 Japanese soldiers. Early morning of March 5, 1943, they were warned of Japanese soldiers approaching Barangay Yati, Liloan on foot. The message was received by Capt. Ruperto Mahinay, who immediately informed Maj. Fabian Sanchez. Sanchez ordered Lt. Pedro Pusta of Liloan to set up an ambush. Pusta’s platoon met the enemy in Lo-oc. Near a small culvert, Cpl. Amado Castro shot a Japanese field grade officer, believed to be at least a major or perhaps even a colonel, judging from the uniform he was wearing. Castro then taunted the Japanese to come and get him as he ran back to where his companions were deployed. Castro was hit in the leg. Seeing that the enemy outnumbered his men, Pusta ordered them to withdraw to the road across the Jubay Bridge towards the bridge in Cotcot. In the confusion, the badly wounded Castro was left behind at Jubay Bridge where the Japanese found him and killed him.   

The Japanese followed the retreating guerillas from Lo-oc to the bridge in Jubay, which had nipa swamps on both sides. There, the Japanese were fired against by Lt. Demetrio ‘Metring’ del Castillo’s unit, which were waiting at the railroad station of Cotcot. The mortar fire was “inaccurate” as the weapon was made locally from a water pipe but it slowed down the enemy and gave the guerrillas a chance to form a line along the banks of the Cotcot River. The Japanese soldiers spread out and after a brief firefight, the guerrillas withdrew to Estaca.  Sanchez predicted that the Japanese were on their way to the guerilla stronghold in Tabunan so he ordered his men to take position at Sitio Guila-Guila. A trench with barbed wire in front of it was dug, the trench connecting two hills wherein machine guns were put in place. The third machine gun was set up on what is now the Bagalnga Primary School.

The Japanese soldiers stopped for lunch after the three-and-a-half kilometer chase. After this, the crossed the bridge and when they were near enough to the hiding guerillas led by Lt. Agapito Admana, the Filipino soldiers fired, raining bullets on the Japanese from the machine guns and all other firearm available to the guerillas at that time. At 5 o’clock in the afternoon that day, Admana reported that they were running low on ammunition and that a truckload of Japanese reinforcements were coming. An officer from the guerillas’ general headquarters, Maj. Alfredo Vargas, told Sanchez to withdraw his men as they could not fight without ammunition. Sanchez initially resisted, saying he was ashamed to order a withdrawal. But Vargas told him, “This is a guerilla war, you hit and run. Why sacrifice the boys?” Sanchez then sent a written order for his men to withdraw. He survived the second world war and became the first post-war chief of police of Cebu City. There is now a street in Compostela named after him. The official report on that battle say there were 232 Japanese soldiers who were killed, but civilians said they saw nine truckloads of Japanese dead. 

Aside from the clash in Guila-guila and Tubigan there was also a reported fighting between the Japanese and guerillas in Tag-ube and Magay but not much has been written about them, except for Magay, wherein the death of two Japanese officials in the hands of guerillas led to the massacre of its residents and the burning of its two schoolbuildings.

 The Battle in Guila-Guila, Bagalnga
 The Capture of Cebu Governor Hilario “Dodong” Abellana
 The Estaca Bay Fight
 Municipal Mayors