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Luzon note issues are sparse

By Neil Shafer

Note: This article is one of a continuing series of newer or better information relative to updating my 1974 publication, Philippine Emergency and Guerrilla Currency of World War II. A significant portion of the data presented here is based on reports from C.M. Nielsen, the premier researcher in this field. Much of his work may be found in the Philippines section of the Standard Catalog, Specialized Issues.

Luzon is the largest island of the whole Philippine archipelago and is the most northerly of the main islands. According to information supplied by C.M. Nielsen, there were a number of issues made for the several guerrilla units operating on Luzon. Most of the official information about these issues was reportedly captured and destroyed during the war and occupation by the Japanese.

As Manila is located on Luzon, it stands to reason that the island was heavily garrisoned, thus making it more difficult for any clandestine guerrilla groups to operate effectively. The result is a smaller number of organizations and a lot fewer note issues than one might expect from such a large part of the country.

Luzon Usaffe Guerrilla Army Forces 1942

Walter Cushing was a mining engineer and part owner of the Rainbow gold mining area in the northerly Luzon province of Abra. He was the first to develop a fighting guerrilla group, and his action on Jan. 1, 1942 initiated the anti-Japanese exploits of other guerrilla units. The commanding officer of a force of Philippine Scouts in Mountain Province, Col. John P. Horan, heard of Cushing’s actions and gave him a commission of major. Cushing was also given authority to organize guerrilla activity in Abra and both Ilocos provinces. After the fall of Bataan his unit was designated the 121st Infantry by Gen. Wainwright.

After having been severely wounded in a Japanese ambush, Cushing killed himself rather than fall into enemy hands. By then he had become a legend in northern Luzon.

Little official information is known concerning his currency issue. It is believed that the notes were printed by Saint Mary the Virgin Mission press in Sagada, Mountain Province. (Notes issued by Mountain Province were also made at the same place.) The total amount printed for Cushing is reportedly over 2.3 million pesos, but there is no way to verify this number.

LUZ-101-100. 100 Pesos Feb. 22, 1942. Black on pink paper. Face: Portrait of FDR at left. Eagle in V emblem of the Army Air Force with motto, “Keep ‘Em Flying” at right. Embossed seal with emblem at center, black serial number beneath. Text in nine lines across center citing official status of the issue. Printed signatures below of Captain W.H. Stephens at left, Major Walter M. Cushing at right. Back: Black print, value at center. Size, 163 x 67mm. VF: $75, AU: $125

LUZ-101-500. 500 Pesos Feb, 22, 1942. Total description as above. VF: $100, AU: $200

Note: Beware of counterfeits of both the above denominations.

Marking’s Guerrillas ND – South Central Luzon

This unit was formed by Marcos V. Agustin using the nom-de-guerre of Augustin V. Marking. He was given the authority to organize a guerrilla force in the area. From nothing at first, he began to build what eventually became one of the larger guerrilla organizations on Luzon. Ms. Yay Panlillo, formerly a reporter and U.S. Army Intelligence agent, joined his group in mid-1942.

A retired Army officer, Col. Hugh Straughn, was accepted as leader; he was trying to unify guerrilla units under an alliance he named Fil-American Irregular Forces. Straughn was captured on Aug. 5, 1943 and soon afterward executed. This event caused the breakup of his organization, whereupon Marking pursued an independent course, expanding into several provinces.

All official data on Marking’s currency issues was destroyed during the war. The only information on any of them comes from the written memory of Yay Panlillo in 1947. There appear to be certain inconsistencies in the precise information relative to differences between the respective issues, but these cannot be resolved at this point.

The first issue was printed by mimeograph in October 1942 under authority of Col. Straughn. He called for an issue of 10,000 pesos with a promise of personal redemption if necessary. Panlillo believes around 50,000 pesos was the actual total for this issue.

A second issue was prepared in summer of 1943; it was printed in blue, supposedly from engraved (?) plates. Hugh Straughn is mentioned on the notes, but as he was captured shortly afterward, some notes have his name x’d out by typewriter and that of Gen. W.W. Fertig typed in.

The third issue is said to be similar to the second, the only difference being the substitution of Fertig’s name instead of Straughn’s in the printing plates.

Panlillo estimated the total amount made for both second and third issues at 25,000 pesos. As large quantities of these notes were destroyed by the Japanese, all issues under the Marking name are now very rare in collectors’ hands. A small group of several third-issue 10 pesos notes was discovered in 1979. That same year noted Philippine researcher Aldo P. Basso published an illustration and information about the notes in a World Coin News article dated May 8.

Notes from a fourth issue are described as originally named Exchange Notes, given in exchange for cash contributions in Japanese military notes. Later they were called Liberty Bonds and sold for their face value in these military notes. The diagnostic feature is supposed to have been the handwritten denomination in corners, thus various values could exist. As Japanese military notes lost value consistently, Panlillo believes this fourth issue could have totaled not less than 1 million and possibly up to 3 million pesos.

All issued notes bore three thumbprints: Col. Marking, Col. Enrique Zulaybar and Yay Panlillo. Zulaybar was the assumed name of Lt. Col. Ruperto Batora, commanding officer of Marking’s II Corps. He was later killed by the Japanese.

First Issue (1942)

LUZ-201-5. 5 Pesos. Reliably reported but not confirmed.

LUZ-201-10. 10 Pesos ND (1942). Face: Mimeo print on white paper, no date or serial number. Text on upper and lower borders reads “South Central Luzon Guerrillas.” (There are two typographical errors in the word “Central,” both on left side: “Contral” at top, “Centran” at bottom.) Along left and right edge vertically, “WAR NOTE.” Hand signature of Marcos V. Agustin at left center. Back: Three thumbprints on an otherwise blank back. Size: 163 x 54mm.

Second Issue (1943)

Notes with phrase “Advised by Col. Hugh Straughn.” No examples of any denomination representing this issue have been found. The 1,000 pesos listed below could possibly have been originally from this Second Issue, even though it has a handwritten denomination.

Third Issue ND (1943)

LUZ-301-10. 10 Pesos ND. Plate print in light blue on off-white paper. Face: American flag at upper left corner, Philippine Commonwealth flag at upper right. Third line at upper center: “Advised by Gen. W. W. Fertig.” Value at left, advancing soldier with tank and bursting shells at center, serial number in red below. E PLURIBUS UNUM at lower center. At center right, WAR NOTE / PAYABLE /TO THE BEARER / BY THE / U.S.A. Back: At top, MORE VICTORIES AHEAD. Large V at center. Three signature blocks, one on V, the other two at left and right, respectively. Three thumbprints were to be shown as well. Names of Marcos V.Agustin, Commanding Officer; Enrique Zulaybar, Col. U.S.A. V-03305; Yay Panlillo, Intelligence Badge 67. Size: 155 x 68mm.

LUZ-301-1000. 1000 Pesos ND. Plate print in light blue on off-white paper. Face: Denomination placed in both upper corners and lower center by hand; ONE THOUSAND PESOS typed above handwritten value at lower center. Originally printed with the Hugh Straughn phrase in the plate but those words x’d out and the phrase with Gen. Fertig’s name typed in underneath. Palm tree and Mt. Mayon at left; American flag and Filipino insurgent flag at center left and right, respectively; hut and palm tree at right. WAR NOTE heading and “Payable…” text similar to the 10 pesos. E PLURIBUS UNUM at lower center border. Three light red serial numbers, each with an embossed seal. Back: Handwritten denomination at both upper corners, typed at lower center. Design, text, signature blocks and three thumbprints as the 10 pesos. Three hand signatures at their respective blocks. Size: 151 x 68mm.

Fourth Issue – Exchange Notes or Liberty Bonds (1944?)

Even though Panlillo describes a large issue she believed could have amounted to as much as 3 million pesos, not a single piece has surfaced that bears any text connecting it to this supposed emission of hand-denominated notes. The one item shown here was in Nielsen’s collection of Luzon items. Its value of 1,000 pesos is written by hand, it is a receipt for a donation and it bears a date of Aug. 3, 1944. It was issued by The Hunters or ROTC Guerrillas in the 4th Military District, Lion Sector. Size: 101 x 133mm. The Hunters-ROTC is an acknowledged guerrilla unit. Whether this form was used as part of the Fourth Issue Is not known.

PQOG – President Quezon’s Own Guerrillas – Emergency Certificate, II Corps- ND

This unit was one of the larger organizations in Central Luzon. Formed and commanded by Col. Vicente Umali, prewar mayor of a town in Tayabas. The II Corps was the Propaganda Section of the PQOG under Lt. Col. Benedicto Valenzona. Its members included journalists, artists and newspapermen who first published the underground newspaper Liberator in 1944 which was distributed in Manila under the very noses of the occupiers.

Any information about the PQOG notes was lost during the war. Only this single denomination is known.

LUZ-501-100. 100 Pesos ND. Face: Black mimeograph print on plain pink paper. PQOG and eagle with Philippine arms in red underprint at center, value at left and right. Guerrilla fighter barefoot with rifle, dressed in ragged trousers and sitting on a hill at center. Printed signature of Benedicto S. Valenzona, Comdg. Officer, at lower right. PQOG in circle at right. Back: Red. PQOG and eagle with Philippine arms at center. Value at left and right. Size: 161 x 71mm.

A 10 pesos JIM note was used to create a civilian pass into military areas on Luzon.

 

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