Hundred thousand greet governor
October 11, 1913–THROUGH loud leagues of cheering people, through a city thronged as never before, acclaimed by waving flags and banners, by blaring bands, and by the tumultuous roar of welcome which met him wherever he moved, Francis Burton Harrison on Monday drove to the grandstand on the Luneta, where he spoke to a nation from a nation, to the Philippines from the United States, whose representative he is. In all the history of the Islands, there has been no such demonstration as ushered him into his place as Governor General, for one hundred thousand from Manila, and from the provinces of the archipelago, met in the great gathering which did him honor.
All through the day the city was keyed to expectancy. On all the thoroughfares in the morning hours the press of vehicles, and of pedestrians in holiday attire, was such that only with difficulty and at a snail’s pace could the street cars make way from point to point. The long blast of the ice plant whistle which should tell of the sighting of the Manchuria, the vessel bringing the new chief executive, was eagerly awaited, and when, at 1:30 p.m., the signal sounded, there was an instant setting of the tide of traffic toward the Luneta, and to those points which Mr. Harrison would pass in his progress. Organizations, schools, societies, districts—all those bodies which sought special prominence on the line of march—ranged themselves about their banners on the sidewalks, and there stood patiently while the long minutes passed before the vessel should have reached Pier 5, and the party should have landed.
Meanwhile, out on the waters of the bay, there was also preparation and parade. A torpedo flotilla, with the Dale (commanded by Lieutenant Ernest Burr) at the head of the line, awaited the time when the big liner should pass Corregidor, and then steamed into their places at bow and stern. Thus convoyed she met the fleet of gaily decorated launches which had adventured several miles out into the bay, and took on board from Jolo the members of the committee of reception. So while the sirens screamed, and the band on the little craft chartered by New Yorkers played “Give my regards to Broadway,” the big vessel made her way to the pier, and made fast.
Then it was that the enthusiasm of the day really began. No sooner had the Governor General made his appearance than a roar of greeting went up, and it broke in wave on wave of sound while he moved with Mrs. Harrison down the gang plank to where Vice Governor and Mrs. Newton W. Gilbert awaited him. There greetings where exchanged, and the party moved to the carriages sent for them. In the first Mr. and Mrs. Harrison took their seats, to find themselves faced by a regular bank of flowers, while in the second came Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert, and in the third sat Speaker Osmeña and Resident Commissioner Quezon, for whom the cheers and the greetings were especially hearty.
The route along which they passed was walled by waiting crowds. By Calle Aduana and Bagumbayan they went to the Luneta, preceded by two troops of the 7th Cavalry, and as they moved Governor General Harrison raised his hat to the cheers and the music that welcomed him, while his charming wife bowed and smiled a delighted recognition. There were surprises in store for them, as when the students of the college of law of the University of the Philippines let loose the full throated Yale college yell, and the Governor thanked them for a tribute which recognized his old alma mater, but at every step of the way there was enthusiasm, and the distinguished occupants of the carriage received it with evident pleasure.
Denser and denser grew the crowds as they neared the Luneta, where their places on the grandstand from which the speeches were to be made were ready for them. The structure had been erected in front of the statue of Jose Rizal, and it was bright with the Stars and Stripes of the country whose emissary Mr. Harrison is. In a roped space the Constabulary Band stood ready, but it was shut from view as the people in thousands surged across the open space, and packed the roadway so closely that only the cavalry could make a way for the carriages. One by one the vehicles of the party drove up and discharged their occupants, but that of the Governor General and Mrs. Harrison came last, and the cheers and hand-clapping which had been given the others swelled to a roar as they appeared.
It was a remarkable sight that lay under the eyes of the Governor General as he took his place on the stand. Before him, covering all the green space of the Luneta, the people were crushed into a solid mass, and out of a sea of faces there rose here and there the head and shoulders of the taller Americans. The ubiquitous photographer was there, with hand camera and with moving picture machine, but it must have been well nigh impossible to take pictures when all about the crowd surged and swayed, ebbed and flowed. One fact was patent—that, no matter what the discomfort, absolute good humor was to prevail. The people were expecting good tidings, and they had determined to hear it in becoming fashion.
There was silence while Commissioner Palma introduced Governor Gilbert, and there was applause when, smiling with the warm geniality which always characterizes him, Mr. Gilbert presented to the people their Governor General. But when Mr. Harrison rose and moved forward to the front of the stand, Resident Commissioner Quezon (who was to interpret his speech) at his side, there was a yell of uncontrollable enthusiasm, continued while, manuscript in hand, Mr. Harrison waited an opportunity to speak. It was at this moment that the press from behind became so heavy that the great throng flowed forward like a wave to the grandstand, and it seemed for a while that an accident was inevitable. Major General Bell stepped into the breach. He strode to the side of the Governor General, an erect and soldierly figure, and called in the great voice he can summon for occasions of need: “Attention!” “Stand still!” This had the effect intended, for the throng stood steady again, and Mr. Harrison began the reading of his momentous message.
When the speeches and the excitement were over there came an informal reception on the grandstand, and then Governor General Harrison and Vice Governor General Gilbert seated together, and Mrs. Harrison, and Mrs. Gilbert in a carriage following, drove away to Malacañan, bringing to an end the first great event of the day.
The evening, however, had been reserved for the inaugural ball, and to this it seemed indeed that all Manila had gathered. The Marble Hall of the Ayuntamiento had been transformed for the occasion, and toward the building long before nine o’clock an endless line of carriages and automobiles made their way. Not a section of the most cosmopolitan community in the East was unrepresented in the throng of men and women who crowded the building, and moved slowly by the broad staircase to the ballroom. The flowers and flags of the decorations, the brilliant colors of the dresses, the sparkle of jewels, and the brilliant light in which everything was bathed, made the scene unforgettable, and there was a spirit of eager anticipation everywhere which made the atmosphere electric.
When Governor General Harrison appeared with his wife there was a murmur of admiration on all hands. Superbly tall, holding herself with rare dignity and grace, Mrs. Harrison was exquisitely gowned, and were jewels of a luster and value seldom seen here. She was a gracious and beautiful figure, admirably set off by the brilliant scene in which he moved, and her pleasant warmth of greeting won her instantly the regard, as she had already captured the admiration of all who met her.
With the arrival of the central figures of the evening a receiving line was instantly formed. Governor General and Mrs. Harrison, Vice Governor and Mrs. Gilbert, Mr. and Mrs. Clive Kingcome, Commissioner Rafael Palma and Mrs. Palma, and Commissioner Juan Sumulong and Mrs. Sumulong composed it, but after an hour in which hundreds had been introduced, Mrs. Harrison was obliged to retire. The strain of a long day of excitement, the heat and the stress of receiving, were too much for her, and, with Governor General Harrison, she left for the Malacañan.
Thus it came about that the rigodon de honor was danced without the presence of the couple whose participation was chiefly desired. There was general regret that their departure should have been necessary, but a sympathetic understanding of the reasons which had brought it about, and the great company set itself to the pleasant task of dancing through the hours that were left.