Home » Other readings » “The bible of the Filipinos,” 1942

“The bible of the Filipinos,” 1942

“The bible of the Filipinos”
By Frederic S. Marquardt

Taken from his book, Before Bataan and After (1942)

THE Philippines Free Press was a brilliant example of man’s ability to adapt himself to the circumstances in which he finds himself. I’m sure there was no publication quite like it in the world.

The Free Press was published weekly, in a magazine format much like that of the Saturday Evening Post. It was basically a news magazine, and it had been in existence for fifteen years before Time evolved the present news-magazine technique of handling the news.

But the Free Press offered much more than résumé of the week’s news. Its political cartoons were probably the most powerful single force in Philippine journalism. These always appeared on the first page and were accompanied by an explanatory text, in something like the fashion that Arthur Brisbane used for his full-page editorials in the Hearst newspapers.

There was another page of editorials which everyone in the government, from the chief executive down to the village presidents, used to read closely. There was an illustrated short story, written usually by a Filipino, and a column of verse, partly contributed by Filipinos and partly taken from the work of the better-known American and English poets.

There were feature articles covering nearly everything in the Philippines and a lot of things outside of the islands. There were plenty of pictures from home and abroad, and there was a column of Philippine news from Washington written by a resident correspondent. For a while the Free Press also had its own correspondents in Tokyo and Paris. There was column of jokes and a letter-to-the-editor page and a pen-pals column. At one time or another nearly every type of feature that has appeared in any newspaper or magazine cropped out in the Free Press.

I don’t want to give the impression that the Free Press was a catchall. It was edited with care that would amaze many editors in the United States. But its primary purpose was to interest the readers, and anything that was interesting was likely to pop up between its covers.

My knowledge of the Free Press was extremely tenuous when I received the cable from my father saying he had been asked to recommend someone for an editorial job on the Free Press and I could have it if I wanted it. When I arrived in Shanghai en route to Manila several recent copies of the magazine were waiting for me, and I retired to my cabin to find out what sort of publication I was going to work on.
In the first copy I picked up there was a blistering editorial demanding the resignation of three justices of the Philippine Supreme Court because their relatives had been mixed up in a smelly scandal concerning the admission of lawyers to practice in the Philippines. I closed the Free Press and went back on deck, sure that I was going to like working on a newspaper which didn’t hesitate to say what it thought. On that score at least I never had to change my mind.

The Free Press was owned and edited by R. McCulloch Dick, a Scotsman who emigrated from Edinburgh to the United States when he was in his teens. Dick attended Park College in Missouri, where he could earn his living expenses, then spent some time in California working, among other places, in a grocery store. Later he drifted back east and secured a job on a weekly newspaper in New Rochelle, New York.

While he was working there Dick’s hair began to fall out, apparently as the result of a severe attack of typhoid fever. He was in his middle twenties, and the thought of being prematurely bald was naturally distressing. But his efforts to save his hair were of no avail. It kept coming out by the handful.

Finally a doctor advised him that he might be able to stop the hair from falling out by taking a long sea voyage. The doctor’s theory was that the salt air would help his scalp. By this time Dick was ready to take any suggestion, so he went down to the waterfront in New York and shipped as a deck hand on a sailing ship bound for the Far East.

Dick remembered his months before the mast as happy ones, and in later years he would occasionally sing the old sea chanties he had learned on that voyage. But the trip didn’t do his hair any good. He left his ship at Hong Kong, determined to get a job on a newspaper in the British crown colony.

As he waited for something to turn up in Hong Kong word came that English-speaking newspapermen were badly needed in Manila, where the United States was establishing a new government. With a self-assurance that he later remembered with considerable amazement Dick walked into a British shipping company’s office and persuaded the manager of the office to advance him a ticket to Manila.

“I’ll get a job as soon as I land there, and I’ll mail you the money for the ticket as soon as I earn it,” he said. The manager decided he was a good risk. A week later Dick was in Manila and had a job on the American-owned Manila Times as a reporter. A month later he sent the money for his ticket back to Hong Kong.

It was 1900 and justice was being dispensed in Manila by handful of army officers presiding over provost courts. Dick covered two or three of these a day, usually walking the miles from one court to the next. He was struck by the frequency with which the name Juan de la Cruz turned up on the police blotters, and he often wrote little verses for the Times about the manner in which Juan was brought to trial for his various petty crimes.

Gradually he enlarged his conception of Juan until he came to regard Juan de la Cruz as the typical Filipino, the friendly, humble, self-respecting fellow who titled the fields and built the roads and worked in the mills of the Philippines. The idea was picked up by other newspapermen, and Juan de la Cruz came to hold in the Philippines a combination of the positions which Uncle Sam holds in the United States, John Bull in England and Marianne in France.

After he had been in Manila for two or three years Dick decided to return to the United States to work. I never asked him why, but I presume it was the same ambitious streak that made all Manila Americans want to test their mettle against the competition which only the United States offered. Dick returned to New York in the middle of a business slump which was affecting the newspapers particularly. For several months he had no success in his search for a job. He did some free-lancing with fair results, and had followed a lead on one of the New York daily papers which promised to develop into regular employment.
Then the winter came.

It must have been a cold one, and Dick’s rooming house was not equipped to make someone fresh from the tropics feel comfortable. It was heated by an open gas grate. When he lighted the grate the fumes would make him choke. When he opened the window to air out the room the cold would make him shiver. He endured the winter for several weeks. Then one day he told himself, “I can stand it here if I have to. But I don’t have to.” Whereupon he walked down to a steamship office and bought a ticket to Manila.
Manila was to remain his home from that time on, even when the Japanese stuck him in a tiny dark cage in Fort Santiago.

Dick went back to work on the Manila Times, and soon became its editor, a job an amiable Englishman named Bill Lewis was told to hold later, before he was knighted by his King and became Sir Willmott Lewis, Washington correspondent of the Times of London. Another Manila Times man was Martin Egan, a brilliant young fellow who was the hero of one of Jack London’s stories and who was later to be associated with J.P. Morgan and Company in New York.

In his years on the Manila Times Dick saw the whole panorama of the “empire days” unfold. He knew William Howard Taft well, and he watched William Jennings Bryan gorge himself at a Philippine independence banquet. John T. McCutcheon, William E. (Pussyfoot) Johnson and George Ade were among his more colorful Philippine newspaper contemporaries.

As the years rolled by, Dick decided it was time he went into business for himself instead of working for the corporation which owned the Times. Since he didn’t have the capital required to get control of a daily newspaper he toyed for some time with the idea of starting a weekly.

Finally he went to his publisher and asked for a week’s vacation in which he could survey the field. The publisher, somewhat amazed that anyone drawing a substantial salary as an editor should want to take on the troubles of owning his own paper, gave him the week off.
“I don’t think you can make a go of it,” he told Dick, when asked about the advisability of starting a paper. “You know the writing end all right, but you don’t know anything about business.”

“I’ll trust to my Scotch blood for that,” said Dick.
Of the twelve important Manila businessmen whose opinion he sought, only two gave him the slightest encouragement. The others said there were too many publications in the field already. Besides, independence might come at any time and put him completely out of business.

But Dick decided to go ahead with his plan. His survey showed him that none of the Manila newspapers had any circulation outside of the Manila area. So he decided to start a paper which would be read throughout the Philippines, thus giving business houses an advertising medium which would carry their sales messages from Aparri on the northern tip of Luzon to Tawi Tawi in the southernmost Sulu Isles.
The basis of his editorial policy, he decided, would be a square deal for the Filipinos. That was a radical idea ten years after Dewey had won the Battle of Manila Bay, although it seems reasonable enough now. The American newspapers of the time without exception were violently opposed to Philippine independence, and felt that the Filipinos were incapable of governing themselves. They opposed Filipinization of the important government jobs and every other step which would take the reins of government out of American hands.

Dick may have been smart enough to see the complete futility of such a policy. He may have launched his “square-deal” policy because he figured an increase in importance of Filipinos in Philippine life was certain. But I believe the real reason for his radical departure from the accepted norm of foreign-owned newspapers in Manila lay in his simple desire to do the fair thing. He certainly never toadied to the Filipinos. The biggest libel suit the Free Press ever got mixed up in was brought by Senate President Quezon. Governor General Francis B. Harrison, who espoused the Filipino cause more than any other governor general, once ordered Dick deported from the islands. On more than one occasion Dick was charged with being “anti-Filipino.” Of course, he wasn’t.

Dick also determined that his paper would be fair to the American interests. In other words he decided he would not support or oppose a man because of the color of his skin. If an American official deserved censure, he would be censured; if he deserved praise, he would be praised. The same would go for Filipinos.

Having clearly in mind the type of paper he wanted to publish and the sort of circulation he would go after, Dick decided to revive the moribund Philippines Free Press instead of starting a new paper from scratch. The name was an excellent one, especially among a people who were continually demanding their freedom, and it symbolized Dick’s determination to publish a “strictly independent” newspaper. Incidentally, those two words remained on his masthead until the day the Japs closed up his shop.
The Free Press had been published for perhaps a year by Judge Kincaid, an American lawyer who had been more successful at the bar than publishing, and the paper had been dormant for several months when Dick bought it. He paid one peso (fifty American cents) for the name, good will and subscription lists, and no one thought he was getting a bargain.

Dick’s first issue of the Free Press, published in August 1909, contained twenty pages, half in English and half in Spanish. The press run was 3,000 with about 1,500 of the copies going to the amazed subscribers of Judge Kincaid’s paper. Most of them had long since written off their investment.

Dick had to hire a Spaniard to handle the Spanish section for him, and he had to hire an artist to draw the cartoon for page one, but he did all the rest of the editorial, advertising and circulation work himself. In his first page-one cartoon a caricature of Juan de la Cruz appeared, thereby setting the pattern for thousands of subsequent drawings of the typical Filipino.

There was also in that edition an interview with a rising young Filipino politician named Manuel L. Quezon. Already Dick had his finger on the pulse of Filipino opinion, and was laying the foundations of what was to become the most successful and most influential publication in the islands.

Filipinos throughout the provinces responded with amazing enthusiasm to the new paper, and several of them voluntarily went out and secured subscriptions for the Free Press without asking for any compensation. Advertisers realized that Dick had hold of a good thing, and those with provincial outlets began putting their ads in the Free Press.

It didn’t make money right at the start. With customary Scotch thrift Dick had accumulated a couple of thousand dollars while working on the Times, and he used his savings for his initial capital. But it wasn’t quite enough. Three or four months after he had started the Free Press he was forced to borrow another thousand dollars to keep it going. That turned the trick. Before this new working capital had been exhausted the income was exceeding the outgo. For the next thirty years the Free Press continued to make money for its owner, and to pay the best salaries and wages of any newspaper in the Philippines.

One of the Manila Americans who was particularly interested in the revival of the Free Press was F. Theo Rogers, a Bostonian of Irish extraction who had enlisted in the army at the age of sixteen and gone to the Philippines to quell the insurrectos. After the fighting was over Rogers had become a schoolteacher, and he was on the faculty of the Trade School in Manila when Dick revived the Free Press.

Rogers had always cultivated the friendship of the Filipinos, both great and small. He spoke Spanish fluently and Tagalog almost as well. When he lived in Negros the Filipino political leaders liked him so much, they wanted him to run for governor of the province. I am sure Rogers knew more Filipinos better than any other American who ever lived in the Philippines. But his contacts were by no means limited to Filipinos. The Spaniards in Manila counted him almost as one of them, and the Casino de Español in later years voted him a special honorary membership, an honor they had never before awarded to a foreigner. He was well liked by the Chinese, who frequently entertained him at their elaborate dinners, and he belonged to the Swiss club.

Rogers accompanied Quezon on his first trip abroad, a junket to Russia on which Quezon was sent to give him some broadening contacts with the outside world. The third member of that party was Ramon Avanceña, a young Visayan who was later to become Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court.

When the Free Press was struggling through its early days Rogers frequently dropped in on Dick and gave him inside political news which Dick could not have acquired in any other way. The two men found a common interest in their sincere friendship for the Filipinos, and Rogers became so interested in the Free Press that he began soliciting advertising for the new paper. His wide friendship among the European businessmen, who were an important factor in Manila, proved an invaluable asset. Rogers’ connections with the paper were voluntary and informal for a couple of years. But when it was on a strong enough financial foundation Dick asked him to work on a full-time basis as advertising manager.

It would be difficult to find two men more radically different in temperament than R. McCulloch Dick and F. Theo. Rogers. Dick was an intellectual type, an introvert who shunned social gatherings and had only a few intimate friends. Rogers was an extrovert, who numbered his friends by the thousands and was at his best in a convivial gathering or on a speaker’s platform. Yet they pulled in harness together amazingly well, and they built a news magazine which influenced the lives and thought of many thousands of Filipinos.

By the time I arrived in Manila in 1928 the Free Press was prospering to such an extent that Dick and Rogers were seldom in Manila at the same time. Both of them enjoyed travel and liked to live in Europe, so while one stayed in Manila and tended to the paper the other went abroad on an extended vacation, running anywhere from six months to three years.

Dick was a stickler for correct spelling and punctuation, and even when he was living abroad he would read every word in each issue of the Free Press, and send back the mistakes which invariably creep into the best-edited of publications. It might seem strange to put so much emphasis on English in a country where English was not too well spoken by the native people. Most Manila papers were filled with English errors, and some of them were written in Filipino, or bamboo, English. But Dick’s policy paid big dividends. The Filipinos soon learned that the English appearing in the Free Press was correct, and they used the magazine as a textbook, both in the schools and out. Because it tried to be fair on all issues, because it had no ax to grind for or against independence and because it was carefully edited, it achieved such a reputation that it was often referred to as “the Bible of the Filipinos.” However, it was not put out by saints. Having been a member of its staff for nearly fourteen years, I can testify to that.

Dick—incidentally, he was always “Mr.”-and I still think of him subconsciously in that way-was a fiend orderliness. He worked behind an old-fashioned roll-top desk, with a score of cubbyholes in front of him. But he knew exactly what was in each cubbyhole, and nothing was ever out of place. Frequently, as he strode across the floor of the editorial room, he would stoop over and pick up a tiny scrap of paper or burned-out match that had been dropped on the floor. The members of the staff naturally took the hint, and the floor was always as clean as that of a well-kept living room.

Cobwebs grow quickly in the Philippines, and Dick could spot them and call the janitor before most of the rest of us even suspected they were present. Dust was always a problem in Manila, especially in the hot season, and Dick had a couple of men assigned to the job of seeing that desks in the office were frequently dusted off.

He abhorred waste in any fashion, undoubtedly as a result of his early training in Scotland. Once he came into the office early in the morning and found that Don Alberto Campos, the Spanish editor, had left an electric light burning over his desk all night. Dick called up the Manila Electric Company. Found out how much it would cost to supply that particular-sized bulb with current for a night, and took the amount out of Campos’ pay. But after Campos had left the Free Press and gone into semi-retirement, Dick used to send him a very substantial check as a Christmas present each year.

Dick’s strictness in running his office had nothing to do with his openhanded generosity in cases he considered deserving. Nearly forty years after his graduation he sent checks for one thousand dollars each to two women who had cared for him while he was sick at Park College. Every man on the Free Press received a cash Christmas present which frequently amounted to a month’s pay, and during the lush years of prosperity he set aside a percentage of the profits each month for an annual distribution among the Filipino employees in the form of a bonus. The bonus also in good years was nearly equal to a month’s pay. Yet in every case with which I acquainted the men received larger salaries and wages than were paid for similar jobs on other Manila newspapers.
Of course, the thing worked both ways. I never saw a newspaper on which the employees, from the reporters through the pressmen, took such pride in their paper and were so willing to work overtime without thought of extra pay as were the men on the Free Press.
The Filipinos loved Rogers for his spontaneous warmth of nature, and I personally on more than one occasion knew the worth of his complete and loyal support. When one of the Free Press employees was in debt or in trouble he could get Dick’s help if he were deserving, but if he was responsible for his own plight he usually went to Rogers and tried to work on his sympathies.

I have often wondered how Rogers-whom everyone knew as Theo-managed to duck all the requests for employment of relatives which his political friends must have made on him. Whatever excuse he used, the Free Press was evidence that he never hired a man simply because a senator or department secretary asked him to.

Rogers believed in putting out a hell-for-leather crusading newspaper. His pet subject was law and order and the Manila police force-which wasn’t much to brag about in later years-was the constant focus of his attention. Dick had been a crusader in his younger days, but took a more philosophical view of things in the period I worked with him.

During Governor General Harrison’s administration Dick got mixed up in deportation proceedings which became something of a cause célèbre in Philippine history. He had taken occasion during the closing months of the First World War to lambaste the Philippine National Guard, which Harrison and Quezon had raised in the hope of getting overseas and helping in the war against Germany. As military units go the Guard was not to be compared with such great Filipino fighting outfits as the Scouts and the Constabulary. Most of its recruits were entirely undisciplined and lacking in military training. A few of them were involved in theft cases. I never checked back on Dick’s editorials about the ability of the guardsmen, but I presume they were pretty strong. At all events, Governor General Harrison ordered him deported as an undesirable alien. Although Dick’s outlook was far more American than British, and the Free Press was generally regarded as being American-owned, Dick had never taken out American citizenship papers. Hence he could be deported alien, where other Manila editors who were either Filipinos or Americans were not subject to such drastic treatment. A libel suit in this particular case probably would not have resulted in conviction or at most would have resulted in a nominal fine, but Harrison by executive action, from which there was no appeal, could drive Dick from the islands.

The case hung fire for several months, during which Dick was forbidden to have any connections with the Free Press. Rogers took over direction of the paper and got L.H. Thibault, the editor of the Times who later started the T-V-T chain of Manila newspapers, to help him on the editorial side. Dick played golf.

The story of how Dick finally received word that he was to be deported is characteristic of the man. He was about to tee off on the fifteenth hole of municipal golf links, which had been built on the old filled-in moat of Manila’s Walled City. It was a par-three hole, and Dick needed a par in order to turn in a good card for the round.

As he prepared to tee off, a messenger came across the golf links with that deportation order had been signed. Apparently Dick would have to leave Manila for good, which would mean a forced sale of his newspaper and starting life all over again when he was over forty years old.

Dick thought for a minute, then set his lips in the thin firm line they took when his finger was aroused, and said, “To hell with Harrison. I’m going to get par on this hole.” And he did.

Before the date set for Dick’s deportation Harrison left the Philippines on a trip. Charles E. Yeater was Acting Governor General, and from all reports he was one of the most capable administrators we ever sent to the Philippines. Many of Dick’s friends, including Rogers and my father, went to Yeater and asked him if he couldn’t save Dick from being deported.

It was a ticklish situation. Yeater was convinced that deportation was too severe a punishment in this case. On the other hand he was only the Vice-Governor General, and since his superior had decided Dick should be deported he ought to enforce the order. But one evening while Yeater and my father were walking on Dewey Boulevard, one of them suddenly got an idea which solved the entire impasse. All Yeater had to do was sign an order suspending the effectiveness of Harrison’s deportation order on the ground that Dick hadn’t had sufficient time to settle his private affairs. This wouldn’t have the appearance of going over Harrison’s head, but it would allow an opportunity for the matter to hang fire long enough for another solution to be found.

By the time Harrison finally returned from his vacation he apparently had undergone a change of heart. The original deportation order was eventually abrogated, and Dick was allowed to edit the Free Press in peace.

Dick lived in horror of libel suits. He had had several, and knew what a drain on one’s time and energies they could become. Under Philippine law a person in Zamboanga or Cebu could sue the Free Press for libel, and if the case went to court he could require the presence of the editor in the town in which the suit was filed, even if it were several hundred miles away from Manila. Since we always had a small staff the loss of one burden on the rest of the men.

But Dick differentiated between libel suits. The ones he objected to were the ones you didn’t expect. I remember his cautioning me time and again, “For Heaven’s sake, don’t get into libel suit without intending to. If some particular situation is so bad that it stinks and the only way you can bring it to public attention is to risk a libel suit, then go ahead and publish the story. But never get yourself sued for some unintentional crack that you have taken at someone.”

Quezon’s celebrated libel suit against the Free Press was filed when he was President of the Philippine Senate. I believe Dick was in Europe, and Rogers was running the paper. The trouble began when the Free Press ran a contributed article which said that Quezon had been acquitted on a criminal charge early in his career. What the writer meant was that he had been acquitted on a civil charge. Quezon, who had never been criminally charged, claimed his reputation had been damaged and sued Dick, the Free Press and my predecessor, Hiram Merriman, for twenty-five thousand dollars each. Merriman said he had never been so flattered in his life as by this assumption that he had twenty-five thousand dollars. The case eventually was quashed, mainly through Rogers’ intercession.

Thin as a rail and straight as a ramrod, Dick always kept himself in the best of physical condition. Even in his sixties he thought nothing of playing thirty-six holes of golf two or three times a week, and he always did setting-up exercises every morning when he woke up. He never took a drink until he was fifty, because of a promise he had given his mother, but in later years he developed a mild liking for wine and liquers.

Rogers’ only form of exercise was dancing, which he always enjoyed. He frequently met his friends at Santa Ana Cabaret, or at Tom’s Dixie Kitchen, both of them good places in which to keep an ear to the ground for political news.

I’m not sure whether it was Dick or Rogers who dreamed up the first Free Press beauty contest, but succeeding ones were held annually for over thirty years. Undoubtedly it helped instill pride of race in the Filipinos to publish week after week the pictures of beautiful Filipino girls from every part of the islands.

Between them Dick and Rogers were responsible for the Philippine publication which more than any other affected the lives of the educated Filipinos. It was a sort of balance wheel, as I learned soon after arriving in Manila. On successive weeks I asked a hard-bitten American general and an aggressive, independence-advocating Filipino lawyer to write articles for the Free Press. The American refused because he said that the paper was pro-Filipino, while the Filipino declined because he believed it was opposed to independence! But for the great mass of English-reading Filipinos it was enough that the Free Press tried to be fair.

I would like to end this chapter on the two men with whom I was closely associated for so many years on a cheerful note. But I’m afraid I can’t.
Almost the last word I had from Rogers was in July 1941, when he thought I had undergone a major stomach operation at the Mayo Clinic. “Best of luck and God bless you,” he cabled. “Come back when you are well.”

The last time I saw Dick was in San Francisco in October 1941. He had expected that England would be invaded by Germany in the spring of 1941, and had gone to London on what he though would be the last great adventure of his life. He had experienced one terrible bombing, but when Germany attacked Russia he knew that the invasion of England was postponed indefinitely. So he was flying back to Manila, where he arrived about six weeks before Japan struck.

“Get that stomach cleared up before you come back,” was his final injunction. “Health is the most important thing in the world.”

After the Battle of the Philippines started I exchanged cables with each other of them. First I sent Dick the following message:

UNITED STATES WON’T LET YOU DOWN. WISH I WERE WITH YOU.

To which Dick replied, with his customary candor

HOPE YOU ARE RIGHT. WOULD GLADLY CHANGE PLACES.

Then couple of days before Manila fell I sent Rogers a cable saying:

WE ARE ALL PROUD YOUR GREAT FIGHT. SORRY WE CAN’T HELP. NEXT YEAR WILL BE DIFFERENT.

Rogers replied:

HEARTFELT THANKS YOUR INSPIRING AND ENCOURAGING MESSAGE. DOING OUR BEST. TELL STEVE EARLY, NATIONAL PRESS CLUB OTHER FRIENDS FOR GOD’S SAKE HURRY UP.

I relayed the message to the National Press Club in Washington and Steve Early in the White House.

Following these cable exchanges word from the Philippines always came in roundabout fashion and by second hand. However, I know that on January 11, eight days after the capture of Manila, the Japanese went to the Free Press office and arrested Dick. For three weeks he was kept at Villamor Hall on the campus of the University of the Philippines, where he was in paradise compared to what was to come later. For while he was at Villamor Hall he was allowed to walk on the campus for exercise, and the building itself was well lighted and well ventilated.

Then he was removed to Fort Santiago, the military headquarters of Manila since Spanish times. Here arrangements had been made for retaining permanently those the Japs considered their prime enemies-newspapermen, members of the enemy consulates, and so on. Eighteen cages had been placed in a completely darkened, hangarlike building. Dick was put in one of these tiny cages with four others on about February 1. He was still there on June 22, and although I have had no word since, this meant at least five months of confinement in a tiny dark cell, living on the customary Japanese diet of handful of rice a day with a fishhead thrown in once in a while. Dick required medicine regularly and I understand that he became so sick without it that the Japs finally gave it back to him.

With the methodical precision that characterized his entire life he took his exercises regularly every morning in the cage, and persuaded his prison mates to do the same, in order that they might maintain some sort of physical well-being. Then, falling back on the tremendous amount of reading and traveling he had done, he tried to keep his spirits up with long discussions about literature and life.

One of Dick’s greatest loves was Shakespeare, from whose works he could quote for hours on end. A fellow prisoner who was released and repatriated said that Dick taught the rest of them more about Shakespeare in that dark cage in Fort Santiago than the average person learns in a college course.

Dick always a great believer in the apt quotation and invariably sprinkled his editorials with excerpts from some authority or other. The two most used books in the Free Press library were the Biblical Index and the Shakespeare Concordance, and I have spent hours on both tracking down an elusive quotation which we needed to bolster an editorial or an article.

But in spite of his determination to make the best of it I’ m sure that Dick often wished his career might have ended during a Jap bombing, instead of in a Japanese prison cage. He prided himself on his health, on remaining young and vigorous, on his general neatness. Japanese prison life is hard on anyone, but it must have been doubly bad for Dick. The great hero of his life, however, was Napoleon, and I can visualize Dick setting his lips in a firm thin line and thinking to himself in all humility, “If Napoleon could take it, I can.”

Rogers was a little more fortunate. After four days in the cages at Fort Santiago he was released and taken to the civilian concentration camp at Santo Tomas University. But after a lifetime of saying what he pleased, he had difficulty in adjusting himself to the realities of enemy occupation. He must have talked out of turn at Santo Tomas, for he was slapped back in Fort Santiago for eight more days. Then, I understand, he was taken to Dominican monastery where the Spanish fathers, always his friends, guaranteed his good conduct.

Somewhere in the lives of Dick and Rogers there is, I presume, a moral. I prefer not to look for it. They have left their records in the bound volumes of the Free Press –of which the Library of Congress has a complete set-and in the lives of countless thousands of Filipinos for whom it was a textbook in English, a bible of democracy and living example of Anglo- American square dealing.

Advertisements

1 Comment

  1. carmen rozales says:

    We must to learn spanish is our language for over 4 centurys

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: