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Escape from Corregidor
by Manuel L. Quezon Jr.
(Fom the late author’s unpublished memoirs.
December 8, 2001–THE last public occasion I attended with my father (I was then 15) was when my father told the UP audience on Taft Avenue that if bombs started to drop and people was killed because there were no shelters, it would be because of the Civil Liberties Union. My father had planned to build air raid shelters all over for the safety of the people but Roosevelt had asked him not to use the special powers given him by the National Assembly because of the Civil Liberties Union. I have never liked the CLU since. If widespread bombing had occured in Manila, people would have died because of the CLU. In their self-righteous so-called defense of rights, they sometimes block higher rights —and those people should have been hanged from the lamp posts.
During the speech, my father was shouting. I never remembered any of the subject matter of my father’s speeches — what 15 years old wants to sit through hour-long public speeches — at least they seemed hours long — but that speech I do recall. The smart-alec UP students laughed.
In 1941 — December 8— the war came. The day World War II started in the Philippines, my mother, my sister Baby, Jovita Fuentes and I were at our (then) hacienda in Arayat, Pampanga, just about half an hour from the Buencamino hacienda in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. As it was the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion, Patroness of the Philippines and also of Cabiao, we went to Cabiao; we had the usual enormous breakfast of adobo, tinapa, eggs and God knows what else. I suppose Jovita Fuentes had to sing at Mass. Then we went back to Arayat, where we soon saw the smoke rising above Fort Stotsenberg, as the Japanese that had bombed it flew right over us. Jovita Fuentes fell into a ditch from fright. My mother signalled me to join her under a shrub or trees lower than her (she was only five feet tall). My sister Baby did not join us in hiding. She was one of those enviable individuals who was inmune of from fear, and bent over double with laughter at my mother and myself, hiding under the little shrub. My father was in Baguio resting at the outbreak of war — apparently he was having a resurgence of his TB, although I did not know.
That evening my father picked us all up and we we moved back to our country house in Marikina for safety. Marikina had a very well designed air raid shelter.
Government people kept coming and going. There were lots of meetings, and finally what turned out to be my father’s last cabinet meeting before evacuating to Corregidor. It was held under the shade of a large mango tree in our Marikina house, where PSBA is now.
What I was doing in the open-air Cabinet meeting I do not know but I do recall that my father got telephone reconfirmation of MacArthur’s approval of my father’s instructions — the cabinet members were to do everything to protect the Filipino people, short of swearing allegiance to Japan and the rule was followed by the Filipinos. It did them little good, as they were all tried for collaboration. Only Pres. Roxas’s amnesty saved them.
Except for our departure for Corregidor — perhaps not that — I was never told what my father intended — I was just told to move whenever we were to move.
On December 24, 1941, when we were brought to the Presidential landing to board the Mayon, the largest interisland steamer at the time, painted all white — it was obvious we were going to Corregidor. We were given life jackets. An air raid started and the ship could not move — I think the ship’s engineer was missing. But the Japanese did not know who were on board — the Philippine government. Perhaps they did not care. It was especially frightening for a terrible scary-cat like me — a terrible experience, being marooned in the bay not far from the Manila Hotel. Fortunately, no bombs were dropped on the ships. Perhaps the Japanese intended to use the ships later.
Finally, the all clear was sounded and finally we got underway. As I recall it, we reached Corregidor towards evening. The previous time my father had brought me to Corregidor, months or a year before, we were received with a 19 gun salute, in broad daylight. Now it was a humble arrival. We were brought to the hospital side-tunnel of the Malinta tunnel. At midnight Father Pacifico Ortiz, S.J., our Chaplain, said mass for us and the soldiers, in Latin of course. It was either at that mass or the New Year’s Mass that he preached to comfort us, speaking in our Lord’s words “Put your hand in mine,” referring to the darkness of the war.
Corregidor became our home from Dec. 24, 1941 to Feb. 20, 1942. If the war had not come, we should have been hearing Midnight Mass in the richly carved wooden chapel in our home in Pasay. Noche Buena was meant to be the re-inauguration of our own house in Pasay, where we were to live instead of in Malacañan. We never saw our home again, except in ruins, as was the case with our Marikina house — the Japanese or the Makapilis, or in the case of Pasay, perhaps the Americans had destroyed them.
As our Corregidor stay was prolonged, things became worse. At first we had some minutes’ air raid warning, then Cavite fell and there was no warning — shells from Maragondon would just come over, my eldest sister, Baby with her mission in life (as Nini said) of perpetually making puns, punned — May Aragon doon. The lovely presidential yacht, the Casiana had been sunk of Corregidor and US soldiers used to dive underwater to bring up bottles of liquor, champagne, etc.
I recall one air-raid that was terrifying. We were sitting outside the hospital tunnel on the small platform under a tent, where my father used to spend the day. Suddenly, siren! How we got my father inside, I don’t remember, but obviously he could still walk. But I recall my mother starting to run but with just a half-step she stopped dead and looked around for her children. Baby who was one of those irritating people who literally never experienced fear, was bent over in laughter. She had spotted Carlos P. Romulo running down the hills towards the tunnel as fast as he could, which anyone in his right mind would do. But when he saw Baby laughing, bent over, he suddenly stopped and walked. His rather foolish male pride came into operation, even though he and Baby could both have been killed. My mother shouted “Baby!” I still remember her voice and we all made it safely to the tunnel. Then the bombs started to drop closer and closer until an absolutely deafening explosion came. I thought a bomb had entered the tunnel and the lights went out. We were already in the sub-lateral we occupied, with the only light being the sanctuary lamp of the curtained-off little chapel. How long we continued sitting in the dark I do not recall.
During the raids, my father made no sound at all that I recall. He used to say that the brave man was not the one who had no fear — but the one who felt fear and still did his duty.
In the tunnel my mother prayed of course and we were comforted by the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I imagine my father prayed too, but he must have prayed in silence.
As the days went on, the shelling became more and more frequent, though I think never at night.
When my father and Don Sergio Osmeña were reinaugurated, on December 30, 1941, the ceremony was held outside one main entrance of the Malinta Tunnel. All I remember is that High Commissioner Sayre addressed Vice-President Osmeña as “Don Serjoe Osmanyo.”
On the 19th of February, 1942, Fr. Francisco Avendaño came to Corregidor to say mass on my mother’s birthday and complained to my father about the lack of food on Bataan. He also complained of the American treatment of the Filipino soldiers. One Filipino who I think was too sick to stand, was kicked by an American.
At midnight that night we boarded the submarine Swordfish. During the night we traveled on the surface, where the sub could make better speed, above 20 knots per hour. Underwater it could make only about 8 knots per hour. After a good night’s sleep, there was an alarming sound of a siren, the signal that we were submerging. On the surface the sub had moved with the waves like any other ship. The moment we submerged the sub became almost completely motionless, as there were no waves underwater. We spent the whole day submerged until we landed at San Jose de Antique. I must be one of the very people who ever received Communion under water. We were given tongue sandwiches and I threw up. The reason was the heat. Commander Smith had decided to attack Japanese troopships in Subic before picking us up (most irresponsible really) and naturally the Japanese dropped depth charges. As a result, half the air-conditioning system did not work and it was hot as hell. There were a lot of red lights meaning no smoking but the sailors were merrily smoking away.
As we were passing Mindoro, we were allowed to peep through the periscope. The sky looked a non descript color. At one time also there seemed to be sound of propellers which was alarming —possibly an enemy war ship — but it turned out to be the movement of fish tails. We remained submerged all day and surfaced after dark when the sea was quite rough. Then we approached the shore, I seem to recall there was some problem with identifying the people signaling from a boat to pick us up. If only the people on the boat had realized how close they came to being sunk, but finally we were put ashore to drive to Iloilo. I recall distinctly leaning my head and shoulders against my father’s dark brown leather jacket in relaxation, feeling safe. Fortunately during reminder of our stay in the Philippines I did not realize we were in danger all the time.
When we arrived in Iloilo later that night, we went to sleep in comfortable beds and awoke to the sound of the thin horns of Iloilo streetcars the following day. I am under the impression that we stayed at the Cacho mansion, but it may have been one of the Lopez Mansions. We spent the day there — I do not know whether my father saw any government officials. Of course, Iloilo at that time had not yet been occupied by the Japanese. Our nighttime ride from Antique to Iloilo was the first of a series of night time drives in the Philippines until we escaped.
That night we boarded the Princess of Negros, which must have been a slow ship. We went to Guimaras on the way to Negros, but spent the day there, taking a lunch, up to the river to a house where Father Ortiz baptized an infant with me as sponsor. I never saw the baby again and do not even recall his name. We disembarked from the Princess because we might be spotted by Japanese planes. We reembarked at night and went on to Bacolod where we arrived the following morning.
Humor is always involved with our family. My chronology is shaky so I am not sure whether the following funny episode happened when we landed in Bacolod or later at some other part. My father covered his face with his usual large white handkerchief and told the rest of us to do the same, which we did or did not, depending on whether or not we had suitable handkerchiefs. Some local officials approached and greeted my father, “Good morning, Mr. President”. He got quite angry at us for not covering our faces, which he blamed for his being recognized. He did not realize that his get-up, with his jodhpurs and large handkerchief and, I think, a soft white hat, and riding whip were instantly recognizable all over the Philippines, whereas our faces were not. We (the rest of the family) had a good secret laugh over it, not openly because he would have been even angrier.
I do not know who provided the cars, but we drove to the Lizares hacienda where Sonia and Lety Lizares were staying. I do not recall whether their respective husbands Peping Coroninias and Manuel del Rosario were there, but definitely Letty’s daughters and Minnie were, and became my playmates while we luxuriated there. Luxuriated is the word, after our stay in Corrigidor and our brief stop-over in Iloilo. Sonia and Lety had known me since I was a little boy. I do not remember how long we stayed, but my father took advantage of our stay to confer with government officials, among them Gov. Alfredo Montelibano, who was the uncle and later apparently guerrilla commander of Teddy Locsin. I suppose our stay there was supposed to be a secret, though how any kind of secret can be kept among Filipinos with their wagging tongues is beyond me.
One evening we drove up a zigzag to a lovely but not large house in an hacienda owned by the Aranetas. It was called Buenos Aires a very appropriate name because it was so nice and cool. I do not recall whether we went back to the Lizares hacienda or went on to our next stop on the trip which ended up in a rest house in Canlaon Volcano. We stayed there for some time, how long I don’t recall. It seems I felt quite safe there. The rest of our party must have been there too. I remember that at some time Don Andres Soriano went on a reconnaissance flight. I suppose the plane belonged to our Army Air Corps but I can’t be sure. I think they spotted a Japanese destroyer, probably the one which finally towed away the Princess of Negros, and which ended up with the Japanese announcing on the air that my father was dead. How we learned of the broadcast I don’t know; it was very brave of Don Andres and his pilot to be scouting because they could have been shot down by the destroyer. I do not think there were many, or any, Japanese Air Force planes in the area as yet.
After sometime, for purposes of security I suppose, or perhaps my father received a message from MacArthur that we should join him in Australia, we set off again. The move was supposed to be a secret but somehow my sister Baby knew where we were going and with her predilection for punning , she said “A donde Bais.” According to my sister Nini, Baby felt her mission in life was punning. I believe Bais was in Negros Oriental and belonged then to Tabacalera or some other Spanish company.
Later —how much later escapes me– we went on our usual long caravan at night. I was in the back seat of the car with Dr. Trepp my father’s Swiss TB expert and Director of Quezon Institute. It seems my mother’s driver Pedro Payumo (“Pedro Taba”) was driving — how he managed to come along I don’t know — but I distinctly remember his asking us to keep talking as he was sleepy and it was dark but we — at least I — paid no attention and went back to sleep even though we could easily have fallen into a ditch.
It turned out that our destination was Dumaguete , which was pitch dark. There were a lot of people on the side of the road with bundles or cardboard boxes on their heads and also the church bells were ringing. It turned out that the people were alarmed by the sound of the PT boat’s engines which sounded like airplane engines. The PT boat had been sent to pick us up. We drove to the wharf and boarded the PT – boat. How we all fitted in the PT-boat, I don’t know. My mother and I entered the cabin where I put my head on her lap. I suppose the rest of the family were in the cabin but I remember only my mother and the cabin was pitch dark.
After sometime there was a loud conversation on the deck and sparks could be seen. I was scared to death as usual but after a short time the sparks and the commotion stopped and everything went back to normal and we continued the high speed trip. Later on I learned that, with the rough pitching of the PT-boat a torpedo had slipped about half way out of the deck torpedo tube, the sparks being the result of the torpedo’s motor having been started. Someone had the presence of mind to fire off the torpedo. If the torpedo’s fuse had struck the deck, the torpedo would have exploded and that would have been the end of us.
In the early morning light, we were put ashore in Misamis Oriental in Oroquieta. That silly episode of my father’s being recognized the moment we went ashore may have been then.
We went to two places, one of them being Oroquieta, where we met the Ozamis sisters and, I think , Senator Jose Ozamis also, then Governor of Misamis Oriental. Perhaps it was then that my father talked to Commissioner Teofisto Guingona, whom somehow I understood was in charge of Mindanao. I turned over to him for safekeeping the case that contained my two .22 cal rifles and my .25 cal automatic pistol. For some reason I remember the encounter as being at night and I usually have a pictorial memory.
After spending the day with the Ozamis family —very mestizo looking— we set off by car for Bukidnon and the Del Monte plantation where we arrived at night. We were put in very comfortable company houses. I was put in a room with Dr. Trepp and fell sound asleep.
The following morning I was shaken awake by Dr. Trepp saying in a loud voice, “ Nonong wake up, wake up, it is air raid.” There were twin engine Japanese planes which flew over the area and went on, but no air raid.
I had been to the Del Monte plantation once before with my father and it was so beautiful. This time it was still beautiful but there was an overpowering smell of rotting pineapples, because no one was picking the fruit. Many years later, someone wrote that, during the days we spent waiting for the Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia, we spent every day in the hills surrounding Del Monte. I have no such recollection and when I checked with my sister Nini, she had no such recollection either. She recalled something else, Americans in Del Monte, which I do not recall.
We knew we were waiting for Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia and after a few days we were roused in the dead of night and drive to the airfield where there were two Fortresses waiting for us. As we drove to the Fortresses, I started to talk and my mother told me to keep quiet —I suppose my father was very pensive and my talk was out of place.
The fortresses were new models (I knew all about practically every airplane and its various models). This model had tail turrets, the latest version. Some of us — my family and others, but I do not remember who, climbed into one Fortress and the others climbed into the other. It turned out that we were in one plane and Vice-President Osmeña in the other, I suppose to increase the chance of either my father or Osmeña surviving if anything went wrong — the planes being shot down or crashing, I suppose.
My father and mother sat on a mattress on the floor. I think my father was given oxygen during the night —the cabin was not pressurized. I do not know where my sisters sat. I sat at the radio-operator’s seat, at a table. I suppose the radio transmitter could not be used or the Japanese would have spotted us.
I had always wanted to be a pilot, but as the plane picked up speed I was not excited, I was scared. I started asking God not to allow the plane to take off, but of course it did. As the plane climbed I fell asleep with my head on the table. All through the night we were bouncing up and down –it was a very rough flight. We could not really fly very high, among other reasons because of my father’s condition I suppose. Also, perhaps there were not enough oxygen masks to go around. Through the night I slept on and off. At one point of I noticed it was raining, then I saw clouds over the ocean. My nervousness at take off was gone. As day dawned the sky cleared and finally we landed at Bachelor’s Field in Northern Australia. I did not realize from my aviation reading that touch down was a little rough, not perfectly smooth.
I remember getting off the plane and being taken to a mess-hall for breakfast, together with the rest of the party, then were set to prepare to take off for Alice Springs.
Anyway, we were transferred at Bachelor’s Field to another plane, a Douglas DC-5, a bit smaller than a DC-3 and intended to replace the DC-3, but war broke out in Europe and Douglas changed to producing twin engine bombers. KLM was always up to date and the DC-5 had been delivered to KLM. The Dutch Airline had a very reliable service from Holland to the Dutch East Indies and the DC-5 had escaped to Australia, having an auxiliary gas tank in the cabin. Aside from the Dutch pilot and co-pilot, there was a young American US Air Forces man on board, whose presence I do not understand because I think he was a machine-gunner and there was not machine gun on the DC-5.
As we walked out to the DC-5, a smartly dressed Dutchman in a KLM uniform saluted. My father asked him “how do we fly?” and the Dutchman answered — “About 3,000 meters” (about 10,000 feet ) which apparently disturbed my father. He asked the next smartly dressed Dutchman the same question and the man, apparently the Captain, answered “We fly as Your Excellency wishes.” which pleased my father. Apparently some agreement was arrived at and we took off. This was in the morning and as the air started to warm up unevenly, I had one of the bumpiest flight have ever had.
My mother sat beside me and I tied a white hanky over my eyes. Every time the plane bounced my mother called out — “Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,” or “Corazon Sagrado de mi Jesus!”— I would lift the blindfold from my eyes to see if we were about to crash. We were flying over the Australian desert, with rocks all over the place. I finally started to sing hymns to my mother to calm her down. All through the flight, there would be a slight increase and then decrease in the vibration of the engines and I could see that the propellers would be rotating smoothly and then slightly roughly and smoothly again. I turned out that there was a slight nick in the propeller, how acquired I can’t guess. This went on until we landed at Alice Springs five hours later. We made a slightly rough landing in Alice Springs. When we got out of the plane, it turned out that the men were wearing sun helmets with long veils over their faces because there were large horse flies all over the place, a phenomenon I had never seen before and have never seen again. They were what we call bangaos and would not be driven away. If you tried to drive them away, you might squash them with your hand.
Vice-President Osmeña’s Fortress did not land after us. As it took longer to arrive, someone —I forget who— urged my father to continue our flight but he flatly announced that we would not continue until the Vice-President arrived. Our original Fortress had continued the flight with us and looked for the Vice-President’s Fortresses, but to no avail. Night fell and we stayed at a small inn. My mother and I saw a cat catch a small mouse, which disgusted us. All through the night we could hear drunks throwing up.
The following morning we had breakfast and our Dutch plane took off to search for the Vice-President’s plane. In a very short time the DC-5 returned followed by the missing Fortress. It seems the Dutchmen were better pilots than the Americans. While our original Fortress had no trouble finding Alice Springs — possibly by following our little twin-engine DC-5, the Vice-President’s place was lost. At least the pilot had enough sense to land in the desert before running out of fuel. Then the Americans spent the night firing off flares and rockets. When the Dutchman found the Fortress, it took off for Alice Springs. Finally Don Sergio was able to continue with us, to Adelaide this time. It was another five hours’ flight. This time, I sat beside my sister Nini, to get away from mother’s exclamations. I did not overcome the fear of flying then instilled by my mother for years.
When we landed in Adelaide towards evening we spent the night. The following morning we went to a church to give thanks for our safe flight. As we came out, my father had his first encounter with Australian English. Perhaps we were the first non-Caucasians those Australians had ever met and they were very friendly and also curious. They asked “Did you come today?” which they pronounced “to-die.” I am sure he was able to figure the question out right there but later on he embellished the exchange by saying that he had answered, “I came to live, not to die!”
We took an overnight train to Melbourne. During the day, I saw a plane overhead, and for the first time since Dec. 8, I was not afraid. The following morning we arrived in Melbourne where we were met by Gen. MacArthur.
We heard of the fall of Bataan on April 9, my sister Nini’s birthday, in Australia
However, discussions started in our government over going to the States. I do not know whose idea it was originally, but my father wanted to stay in Australia, I suppose to return more quickly to the Philippines after liberation. Don Sergio Osmeña wanted to go to Washington and when my father disagreed he said: “Send me.” I don’t know why it was decided that our whole group should go to the States — perhaps MacArthur urged it, to pressure Roosevelt to send more aid quickly to the Philippines. We sailed for the States on the President Coolidge. The Coolidge had been converted into a troopship but some twin cabin had been left in their original condition and the dining room and lounge had been left untouched. It seems there was some kind of band because there was dancing in the evenings.
At the beginning of the voyage — I had no map and thus did not realize what a long voyage it was to be — we were escorted by a New Zealand warship. Sometime later, the escort duty was taken by a US navy ship which accompanied us until we reached San Francisco. As usual my roommate was Dr. Trepp. We were a large number. From the Philippines we had lost one member of the party, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos who had insisted on remaining in Mindanao — he was finally executed by the Japanese for refusing to swear allegiance to the Japanese and for maintaining his loyalty to the United States.
However, while we were sailing to the United States, I still thought we would be going home anytime. During our voyage, we had one little exciting episode. We started to zig-zag violently; probably they had detected a submarine. But after a while, the zig-zagging stopped. It was probably a false alarm or, the submarine being under water and therefore very slow, we outran it. The rest of the voyage to the States was uneventful. Finally, we passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, which was still undergoing its finishing touches of paint when we went to the States in 1937. We were safely in port.
We were taken to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, considered one of the best at the time, where we stayed for about a week. This time my roommate was Col. Jaime Velasquez. There were newsmen swarming outside my father’s suite and when they knew who I was, they started to interview me but one of our group stopped me.
After some days in San Francisco, to give us a rest from the voyage I suppose, President Roosevelt’s special railroad carriage (called the Ferdinand Magellan) was sent for us and attached to a transcontinental train. It was a four or four and a half day train ride to Washington.
The start of a journey has always excited me. We had to drive to Oakland, CA, to catch the eastward train there. When we arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, at the exit to the Station there was FDR standing beside his car and we were photographed in memorable poses. I was so moved my lips were trembling. We were driven to the White House where we had lunch and dinner. We were entertained by President Roosevelt who was a great raconteur. Mrs. Roosevelt kept walking in and out and when I met her in a corridor, she smiled “The mail, always the mail.” She seemed terribly tall, as did every one else, which is no wonder since I was only 5’2”. We spent that night at the White House, where I was put in an enormous (to me) bedroom alone. I had the impression it was the Lincoln Bedroom but I may very well be wrong.
The following morning we were taken to the eighth floor suite of the Shell Oil Company at the Shoreham Hotel, where we stayed for a time. Then we moved to the Pat Hurley estate in Leesburg, Virginia, about forty minutes from Washington, where we stayed for the summer, until our permanent quarters at the Shoreham, were ready.
Before deciding to stay at the Shoreham, we took a look at a Waldorf Towers suite way up — the Waldorf is about 34 stories high. Since my father was terribly acrophobic, the project was dropped and thereafter whenever we went to New York we stayed at an 8th floor suite at the Waldorf.
On Corregidor my father was always outdoors in a tent, away from the dust in the tunnels, but of course he had to be active when we went to the Visayas then Australia via Mindanao; and then in the United States, having settling down in Washington, he resumed a normal life, which was a mistake. His condition worsened. Dr. Edward Hayes, the doctor who had treated him in the Monrovia Sanitarium in the thirties, came to Washington and the plan was for us to go out to California. Unfortunately, my father changed the plans.
When I graduated from high school in June of 1944, my father was already bedridden in Saranac Lake, New York.
By the first of August, 1944, a month and a half after my eighteenth birthday, my father was dead.
The strangest dictator
by Fritz Marquardt
Taken from his book, Before Bataan and After (1942)
FOR Manuel Luis Quezon y Molina, small, explosive, tubercular President of the Philippines, life came full cycle during the Battle of Bataan. From the rocky eminences of Corregidor, when there were no air raids or artillery bombardments going on, he could look out onto the blood-drenched peninsula where he himself had been a sick, battle-weary soldier fighting against impossible odds. That had been forty years earlier, and he had finally surrendered to an American soldier named Roy Squires and Bingham. But the fight never went out of Quezon, in 1901 or in 1942. After the first defeat he rose to be the undisputed leader of his people in their struggle for independence, and after the second defeat to see his country given all the honors and prerogatives of an independent nation.
When his doctors finally told him that his health could not bear up much longer under the strain of living in the foul air of Corregidor’s tunnels, he went down to Cebu and finally slipped through the Japs’ hands and reached Mindanao, after a fearsome night ride in one of Lieutenant John Bulkeley’s P-T boats. From Mindanao he flew to Australia, and then went on to the United States to establish something utterly new under the sun, an American-sponsored government in exile.
The war robbed Quezon of his home and made him a president without a country, but it gave him the one thing he had fought for all his life—recognition of the Philippines as an independent nation. All possible military honors were bestowed upon him when he landed in San Francisco, and a special train carried him across the country.
In Washington he was the object of reception that must have thrilled him to the core, for down at the station to meet him were President Roosevelt and every former Governor General and High Commissioner available, including Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, Major General Dwight F. Davis, Supreme Court Justice Frank Murphy, Manpower Administrator Paul V. McNutt, and High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre. It was a splendid tribute to Don Manuel, and an even finer one to the Filipinos who had fought so well on Bataan.
Perhaps an even greater day for Quezon and the Filipinos occurred a few weeks later, for the independence of the Philippines as a political entity was virtually recognized when Quezon signed the United Nations agreement and became a member of the Pacific War Council.
Terrible as the war had been, it had given him one pledge which he could never have secured without it. As Manila was about to die, President Roosevelt broadcast a speech to the Philippines in which he said, “I give to the freedom will be redeemed and their independence established and protected. The entire resources in men and materials of the United States stand behind that pledge.” Other presidents had promised that the Philippines would eventually be given their independence, but never before had a responsible American official gone so far as to promise that independence would be “protected.” This pledge was the capstone of a life which Quezon had dedicated to fighting for Philippine independence—and to having a swell time.
Before the war Quezon never had a good press in the United States. Most American reporters looked at his loud neckties and colored shirts, counted up the size of the retinue with which he invariably traveled, heard him issue some peremptory orders to his attendant, and concluded he was a petty dictator on the Latin American plan. John Gunther helped build up the dictatorship tradition by a magazine article for which Quezon was determined to sue for libel, until Roy Howard pointed out how futile that would be.
I watched Quezon at work for thirteen years, and if he was a dictator, then certainly he was the world’s strangest.
In the Philippine elections held a month before Pearl Harbor, Quezon was re-elected President of the Philippines without having delivered a single campaign speech in his own behalf. Four out of every five votes were cast for him, and the elections were honestly run. Ballot-box stuffing was something beneath his dignity—and something which he never had any need to resort to, which can’t be said for most dictators.
The press of the Philippines was at least ninety-five percent pro-Quezon in the years before the Japanese invasion. And it was all a voluntary support of the President. There was no censorship, direct or indirect, and I can testify that far less pressure on the press was brought by “the interests” than is the case in the United States. The editor of a Philippine newspaper could say what he liked, subject only to the customary laws of libel.
Even when the biggest Manila broadcasting company was supported by the government Quezon’s political foes were given free time to air their views. For Quezon was one dictator who wanted an enlightened public opinion. He had no false modesty about his ability. He was so sure of himself that he used to think he would get all the votes, instead of a mere eighty percent, if the electorate had all the facts.
There was complete freedom of speech in the Philippines. Quezon’s critics attacked his personal honesty, his private morals and his government record with absolute impunity. There was no Gestapo in his government, and “protective custody” was unheard of. Arrests were made by the police or Constabulary, and trials were held in the regular courts. The Philippine Supreme Court always had the power to declare any of Quezon’s pet laws unconstitutional.
Why, then, did most Americans consider him a dictator? If there were honest elections, freedom of speech, freedom of the press and an independent judiciary, how could it reasonably be charged that the Commonwealth government was dictatorship?
The answer is to be found in the complex character of Manuel Quezon, a political genius who knew what sort of government would work best in his own country, a practical politician who never allowed visionary theories to interfere with the immediate task of ruling sixteen million people in one of the world’s most critical danger spots. No matter how much he believed in democratic principles, he would never allow them to tie hands in dealing with a specific problem.
Like almost everything else about the man, Quezon’s belief in the necessity of a strongly centralized government was not consistent. When Leonard Wood was governor general of the Philippines, and attempted to concentrate power in the hands of the executive, Quezon fought him bitterly all the way down the line on the theory that the legislative leaders—including Quezon—should be supreme over the executive. However, when Quezon became the chief executive, it didn’t take him long to reduce the legislative branch to a completely subordinate position. “I shall not be so remiss in my duties to the nation,” he said at a press conference, “as to admit that a Filipino President is as unworthy of great power as an American Governor General was.”
In 1922 Quezon fought his great and good friend Sergio Osmeña on the sole issue of whether the Nationalist Party would have “unipersonalista,” or single leadership. Quezon insisted that it shouldn’t, and won the fight. But he later assumed the single leadership of the party himself, apparently without the slightest idea that he was being inconsistent. Or possibly he had read Emerson, and agreed that “a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”
Quezon bossed the Filipinos with an iron hand. After his election as President he brought all the important politicians into his own party, offering them good jobs if they joined up with him, threatening them with a political Siberia if they refused. So powerful was his party in the last elections that it elected all of the Senators and ninety percent of the Representatives to the new Congress, the one which never had a chance to meet because its inaugural was scheduled for the day before Manila fell.
Yet it is doubtful if this unusual dictator followed the one-party line of Hitler, Mussolini and Stalin merely for self-aggrandizement. Even in the days when there were two political parties of relatively equal strength in the Philippines, Quezon was always the Head Man. He gloried in a political fight, and liked nothing better than to tackle a tough opponent. And the creation of one dominating party made all of the prominent politicians, instead of just a majority of them, eligible for the limited patronage available.
No, I think Quezon built a monolithic party structure in the Philippines because he felt that the ten-year transition period leading to independence was no time for party rivalry. He figured—and quite rightly—that the Philippines needed all its able men in office, not half in and half out as there would have been with two parties of nearly equal strength. Quezon himself held no brief for the one-party system, he had set up, apparently considering it a temporary expedient. Once, in fact, he expressed an offhand opinion that there should be a “no party” system, in which candidates would be elected to office on their merits, not on the strength of their political affiliations or the size of their party’s campaign fund.
One of the things for which Quezon was the most bitterly criticized was the national defense plan, including the hiring of General MacArthur as his military adviser, and the inauguration in the peaceful days of 1936 of compulsory military training. Almost immediately charges of “dictator” were hurled at his head. I recall a press conference at his Pasay home, shortly before the Commonwealth was established, to which a group of visiting American newspapermen were invited. Over and over the “visiting firemen” wanted to know why Quezon needed an army, and what purpose he had in mind in instituting compulsory training. Was he interested in defending the Philippines from external aggression, or did he plan to use this great military force to put down domestic uprisings? A little later, in New York, Quezon was subjected to the same line of questioning when he was the guest of honor at a Civil Liberties banquet presided over by Oswald Garrison Villard. For years pacifists called him a warmonger, and liberals insisted he was building an army to keep himself in power after the United States forces left the Philippines. But the fact remains that there was a reservoir of one hundred fifty thousand trained men in the Philippines when war came. And no one was happier to have them there than the very elements which had criticized Quezon so vigorously a few years earlier.
Charges of dictatorship were heard again after the fall of France, when Quezon secured sweeping emergency powers from the National Assembly, including the right to take over industries and to move entire populations from one province to another. He never used the powers, as it turned out, but the fact that he had them strengthened his hand in dealing with problems of defense as they arose.
In fact, a good case can be made out against Quezon because he didn’t act more like a dictator in the months before the war started. For a long time he couldn’t bring himself to believe that Japan would dare attack the United States—a lot of other people made the same mistake—and when he finally came to the conclusion that war was certain he delivered a speech which sounded almost hysterical. Bombs might soon be falling in Manila, he shouted, and no one was prepared because the High Commissioner hadn’t allowed preparations to be made.
This was a great change in tune from the press conference which I attended in the late summer of 1940, during which Quezon had laughed off the possibility of any bombs falling on Manila. We had asked him what preparations were being made against the possibility of air attacks, pointing out that Tokyo, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Batavia and every important city in the Far East, with the exception of Manila, had been practicing blackouts and getting ready for the worst.
Laughing heartily, Quezon said he had no fear of war in the Pacific, and that anyway the Filipinos liked picnics. If Manila should be bombed the people could all go out in the country for a fiesta, or they could spend their time at the favorite picnic ground of Montalban, where there were some famous caves.
There was, undoubtedly, some friction between President Quezon and High Commissioner Sayre regarding the organization of civilian defense. Quezon apparently pointed out that, under the Tydings-McDuffie Law, the United States was responsible for the defense of the Philippines. That, obviously, included civilian defense. Sayre probably answered that the Tydings-McDuffie Act contemplated only military defense. He also had the eminently sound argument on his side that his overburdened office, with a staff of twenty men, was not physically able to organize civilian defense. If anyone was going to do it, the Commonwealth government would have to.
One thing is fairly certain. If Quezon had plunged in with a large-scale civilian defense plan fourteen or fifteen months before the war began, on the strength of his emergency powers, there would have been a cry of “Dictator!” which would have resounded through every newspaper in the United States.
When Quezon had the Constitution amended so he could be re-elected President—the original provision was for a single, six-year term—critics in the Philippines and the United States called him a “tyrant” and cynics at the University of the Philippines formed a “Quezon-for-King” club. But when January 1, 1942, rolled around and Quezon grimly took his oath of office in a Corregidor tunnel, everyone was glad that a new President was not being inducted into office.
Temperamental, mercurial, unpredictable, Quezon never bore a grudge long. I have seen him give a subordinate a tongue-lashing which would make a Chinese coolie cringe, and then throw his arm over the poor devil’s shoulders and call him “Amigo.” Some of the men who attacked him most viciously in the past were holding down responsible government positions before the Japanese came in, including a particularly irresponsible newspaper editor who had repeatedly cast reflections upon Quezon’s private life.
One reason for Quezon’s unparalleled hold on the people was his constant support of the underdog. He established minimum wages for government laborers, put an eight-hour working day into effect, soaked the rich with higher taxes. Once his advisers recommended that he veto, on the grounds of economy, a law giving public-school teachers full pay while on maternity leave. I’ll sign that bill if it bankrupts the treasury,” said Quezon, reaching for a pen.
One of his most celebrated battles for an “underprivileged” was set off by an innocent question which I asked him at a press conference. It involved a laborer whose name was Cuevas and big contractor named Barredo. The contractor was working on a bridge across the Pasig River, and one of his crews was unloading logs. The river was swollen as a result of the heavy rains, and one of the logs got away from the men and started down the river. A foreman on the job saw the log going and yelled at the laborer Cuevas, “Get that log or you’ll have to pay for it.” Cuevas, whose pay probably was seventy-five cents (American money) a day, plunged in after the log but was drowned in his unsuccessful attempt. When Cuevas’ family claimed workingman’s compensation the contractor Barredo refused to pay, on the ground that the laborer had taken a foolish risk and the employer was not to blame.
Through some stupid miscarriage of justice, a judge in the court of first instance upheld the contractor and ruled that Cuevas’ dependents were not entitled to collect. We ran a blistering editorial on the case in the Philippines Free Press, and demanded that the decision be appealed—which was permissible under Philippine law. As a matter of fact, the Attorney General’s office was as incensed over the case as the Free Press, and had already determined to push it through to the Supreme Court if need be.
In the course of a regular press interview at Malacañan I asked Quezon if he had read the judge’s decision in the Cuevas-Barredo case? Thereupon the peppery President literally exploded. “That’s seventeenth-century justice,” he yelled. “I was dumfounded to think that any judge in this day and age could hand down such a decision.” And he went on at that pace for fifteen minutes.
A little later, after the conference was over and one of his staff members pointed out that the case was pending final decision, Quezon issued a statement saying he hadn’t realized the matter was sub judice but expressing his confidence that the members of the Supreme Court would not allow his remarks to influence their decision. Needless to say, they decided in favor of Cuevas’ heirs. The judge who had made the original decision retired from the bench for good, and Barredo went out of the contracting business.
“The Quezon dictatorship,” explained the razor-minded Manila publisher Carlos P. Romulo, “is like the Roosevelt dictatorship. You call it the New Deal. We call it Social Justice.”
But Quezon knew how to crack down on labor, as well as how to help it secure its rights. Any strike called before the workers had resorted to government machinery for mediation got scant consideration. When employees of the government-owned Manila Hotel went on strike on Quezon ordered them locked out. “There will be no strike against this government,” he said.
Quezon’s relations with the Catholic Church have been as inconstant as most of the rest of his life. When his father brought him over the mountains from Baler to obtain an education in Manila he worked as a houseboy for a priest at San Juan de Letran College, in order to get food and lodging. Later, when his father’s small amount of money had given out, the Dominican fathers made it possible for him to study law at Santo Tomas University.
But as young man Quezon fell away from the church and became a Mason, thus joining an organization which archenemy in the Philippines.
In 1918, when he married his first cousin, Aurora Aragon, in Hong Kong, the ceremony was a civil one, performed at the American Legation. But three days later the vows were repeated before the Archbishop of Hong Kong.
Quezon continued his active interest in Masonry until 1928, when tuberculosis forced him to spend several months in bed at the Monrovia Sanitorium in California. “I felt that I was going to die—just like an animal, without any spiritual consolation or hope,” he recalled later. For several years after leaving Monrovia he studied Catholicism, largely at his wife’s behest, and finally on one of the Empress liners sailing from Vancouver to Manila he attended a special mass said by Archbishop Michael J. O’Doherty of Manila, thus signalizing his return to his childhood faith.
He told us the story once, when he was in an expansive mood, how he had come to return to the Catholic fold. “When my wife and children kept asking me why I was not a churchgoer, I decided I had better do something about it,” he said. “So I asked Father Vilallonga, an old Spanish Jesuit friend of mine, if he would care to give me some religious instruction in the hopes that I would be reconverted.
“The father was glad to help, and after a long talk he left some books with me to read. One of these books, describing the church in the Philippines during Spanish times, told of image which disappeared from its church in Manila and was found some time later in a chapel in Cavite. Since the skirts of the saint were covered with dust, the church authorities concluded that the image had walked from Manila to Cavite.
“Well, that was too much for me. ‘For goodness’ sake,’ I said to myself, ‘how can they expect anyone to believe that the wooden image of saint could walk from Manila to Cavite?’ So I just gave up the whole idea.
“But a little while later I was talking to Archbishop O’Doherty and he asked me why I didn’t return to the church in which I had worshiped as a small boy. I told him I would be glad to get religious instruction, but I didn’t want any more of that stuff about wooden images walking thirty miles over a dusty road. The Archbishop laughed and said he didn’t believe that story himself. So I began to study with him, finally I decided to re-enter the church.”
Quezon’s return to Catholicism apparently was entirely a matter of conscience. Not even the most anti-Catholic person in the Philippines ever accused him of favoring the church. Quite to the contrary, when the Commonwealth Legislature passed a bill which would allow Catholic priests and lay teachers to give religious instruction in the public schools during regular schools hours, President Quezon promptly vetoed the bill on the ground that he believed firmly in the separation of church and state. Once, during the civil War in Spain from 1936 to 1938, Quezon was the guest of honor at a banquet given by his old friends, the Dominican fathers at the University of Santo Tomas. When he entered the hall a band struck up Franco’s National Anthem. When it came his turn to speak Quezon rebuked the Dominicans scathingly, telling them that they could take sides in the Spanish war if they wanted to, but that they could not use him even covertly to secure public sympathy for Franco.
One reason why so many people have called Quezon a dictator is because he invariably surrounds himself with a big retinue. Even on Corregidor, where he was instructed to take as few people along as possible, he had his usual complement of doctors, servants and aides. He always had a large number of advisers, but he frequently ignored their advice. He felt himself competent to decide any question personally. In legal problems, national policies, educational matters, public works—all the ramifications of government—he was the final arbiter. Even in the fields of art and architecture, which he had never seriously studied, he did not hesitate to set aside the recommendation of experts. Once he noticed that it was a long walk from one entrance of Manila’s city hall to the other entrance, and ordered that a new door be opened in the building, regardless of what it did to the architecture. He must have forgotten his order the next day, because the door was never cut. Against the recommendation of every city planner whom Quezon imported from the United States—and he had some of the best—the new government center was moved from Manila to nearby Quezon city.
Before the war tension rose to fever heat, plans were being laid to hold a great international exposition in the Philippines in November 1941, to coincide with the completion of Quezon’s first term in office. The committee appointed to make the arrangements wanted the exposition held in Manila, where it would be close to the great population centers. Quezon wanted it held in barren Quezon city, then rising out of the rice paddies ten miles northeast of Manila. Finally the committee chairman wrote a long report, listing all the reasons why the exposition should be held in Manila, and took it himself to Malacañang Palace. President Quezon received the report and read it through very carefully.
“That’s a fine report,” the President said to the chairman. “I’ll be honest with you. I can’t answer a single one of the arguments you have advanced for holding the exposition in Manila.” He thought for a moment, and his nose began to quiver as it does when he gets angry.
“No,” Quezon repeated, “I can’t answer your arguments. But there is one thing I can do. I can appoint a new committee to take charge of the exposition.” This is exactly what he did. As things turned out, the fair was never held. But if it had been, you may be sure it would have been held at Quezon City.
To all great men, sooner or later, comes the desire to see their names projected down the corridors of time. Just as Russia named towns, cities, dams, buildings and highways after Josef Stalin, so did the Philippines acquire a Quezon City, a Quezon Bridge, a Quezon Boulevard, a Quezon Avenue, a Quezon Sanitarium and a Quezon Preventorium. The object of this last-named institution was to prevent tuberculosis from developing among the children of tubercular parents. There was even a Quezon Society, dedicated to the collecting of biographical material, data and information about its namesake. Mrs. Quezon came in for her share of unsought but welcome glory, by allowing a dozen towns in different provinces to be named Aurora.
President Quezon was the sort of official who didn’t know one minute what he would be doing the next. His plans were always subject to change, and whoever was in charge of a Quezon itinerary needed infinite patience. I once collected a day-by-day series of headlines for two weeks before his departure from Manila on one of his numerous trips to the United States. It ran something like this:
Quezon Will Take President Taft Monday
President Cancels Passage
Quezon Definitely Going Wednesday on Empress Boat
Malacañang Announces Trip Off
President Sailing Saturday on Hoover
Quezon Sailing Postponed
Big Crowd To See Quezon Party Off Tuesday
And so it went, until finally, much to everyone’s amazement and relief, he got away.
On his provincial trips he used to keep thousands of his admirers waiting hours to see him visit an isolated town, and then change his itinerary at the last minute. On occasion, when he reversed his route, towns had to switch the “Welcome, Quezon” and “Good-by, Mr. President” signs, to be sure the right one would greet him when he entered the town.
Once the National Assembly passed a daylight-saving law and Quezon signed it. Not long after the law went into effect, he arose at 5:30 in the morning while it was still dark. After stumbling downstairs, because he couldn’t find the light switch, he ordered the restoration of standard time!
Judged by Wall Street standards, or compared with Oriental princes, Quezon was never rich. For a long time there were rumors that he had salted away a fortune in pounds sterling in the Bank of England. If he did, he probably regretted it when the pound skidded in value, and the government placed restrictions on the withdrawal of money. The bulk of his fortune was in land, with an assessed valuation in the neighborhood of one hundred and fifty thousand dollars. But Quezon never needed millions. He lived in a palace more elaborate than the White House, and had a summer mansion in Baguio. He had a yacht and a fleet of high-powered limousines at his command. Across the Pasig River from Malacañan he had a “pleasure dome decreed,” a fairyland of beautiful gardens and sumptuous guest houses and elaborate pavilions.
But for all his imperious and regal habits Quezon was always essentially human, with a charm of manner that instantly won friends. Years ago, when he lived in Washington as Resident Commissioner, his fellow Congressmen insisted that he was an Irishman, because of his wit and his love of a fight, and they called him Casey, which they said was the proper translation of the Tagalog word “Quezon.”
I believe that it was at his first press conference after assuming the presidency that Quezon told us, “I’m going to have a human government here. We may make mistakes, but our hearts will be in the right place.”
One of his ways of being human was to go to Bilibid prison and walk down a line of prisoners asking them what they were in for.
“How long do you still have to serve?” he once asked a cochero, or rig driver, he found in the line-up.
“A month,” answered the cochero.
“What for?” asked Quezon.
Somewhat sheepishly the rig driver answered, “Well, sir, I had to answer the call of nature and I didn’t dare go back in the bushes because my horse would run away. So I relieved myself in public.”
“Get that man out of here,” Quezon roared. “Turn him free. What kind of government are we running here anyway? That man should never have been arrested, let alone sentenced to jail.”
The apologetic prison warden mumbled something about releasing the prisoner just as soon as the pardon papers were signed and delivered to him.
“Never mind about the pardon papers. I’ll sign them tomorrow. But you get that fellow out of here right now. I never heard of such a thing.”
The cochero was immediately turned loose, and the legal niceties were attended to later.
Mrs. Quezon also had a way of deciding moot questions of law without any nonsense.
When the eight-hour law went into effect a delegation of private nurses visited her and said they would prefer to work the same twelve-hour shifts they had been working, since a sick person would obviously not want to pay any more for three nurses working eight hours a day than he was already paying for two nurses working twelve hours a day. And the nurses didn’t want to take a cut in pay.
“All right,” said Mr. Quezon. “You go ahead working as you have been, and don’t say anything about it. It will be all right.”
Quezon’s people loved him for his impulsive humanity. It used to be seriously argued that half of the people in Manila would walk out to the end of Pier 7 and jump into the bay, if Quezon told them to.
That is why Quezon was, and continues to be, of such vital importance to the United States and to the United Nations. Not only does he keep the spirit of opposition to Japan alive in the Philippines, but his voice carries weight among all the enslaved peoples of Asia.
Before the war started he said, “We owe loyalty to America and we are bound to her, placing at her disposal all our man power and material resources to help her in achieving victory, for the cause for which America fights is our cause.”
Why should a dictator call America’s cause his cause, and throw his country’s weight into the struggle on the side of democracy? Simply because Manuel Quezon was not a dictator by choice. That was proved by his refusal to tamper with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary and other basic rights guaranteed by a democratic constitution. No one doubts that he ruled the Philippines with an iron hand. But that was necessity. The Filipinos had had less than fifty years of firsthand experience with democratic institutions, as against centuries of acquaintance with despotism.
Yet even then it was only by Anglo-Saxon standards that Philippine democracy could be weighed and found wanting. To hundreds of millions of politically disenfranchised Asiatics, the Philippines was an oasis of freedom in a desert of oppression. Nowhere in the Far East did the beacon light of political liberty glow so brightly as in the Philippines. Quezon was a symbol of democracy at work.
October 28, 1939
THE third, and possibly the last, United States High Commissioner to the Philippines, red-haired, polite, precise Francis Bowes Sayre, arrived in the Philippines end of last week. He emerged out of the slight fog that covered Manila bay and also his attitude toward many Philippine questions, affable and smiling, while a 19-gun salute was fired, sirens shrieked, a crowd of 20,000 cheered and the highest government officials of the Commonwealth clapped heartily.
“I am very happy to meet you again,” said High Commissioner Sayre and President Manuel Quezon to each other, with a warm embrace.
“How was the trip, Mr. Commissioner?” asked Mr. Quezon.
“Fine,” grinned Mr. Sayre.
Acting High Commissioner J. Weldon Jones and Secretary Jorge Vargas, representing the President, had gone out on the U.S. Navy launch Yacal to meet the President Cleveland outside the breakwater.
Escorted to the elegant new President’s Landing in front of the Manila Hotel, as swank an introduction to Manila as any tourist-trade-booster could wish for, Mr. Sayre went up the gangplank accompanied by Mr. Vargas; Mrs. Sayre, by Mr. Jones. There they were greeted by the President.
The High Commissioner wore a light-brown woolen suit and white shoes; the President, a white shark-skin double-breasted coat, striped brown trousers, tango shoes. Pretty Mrs. Sayre was in rose, stately Mrs. Quezon in mestiza dress.
“Hello and goodbye”
The distinguished newcomer was speedily presented to the government bigwigs gathered to receive him. He put an affectionate arm around Speaker Jose Yulo. When he came to Secretary Manuel Roxas, the President said with unexpected formality: “You know this gentleman, I presume?” Mr. Sayre knew him.
Stepping out of the neat little pagoda, the High Commissioner had his first real glimpse of the Filipino people. About half of the crowd belonged to Benigno Ramos’ Ganap party and they quickly stole the show. Defying police orders, they waved little blue flags demanding independence, displayed trenchant placards reading:
“The Filipino people demand true independence right away!”
“We object against Quezon-McNutt combination. It is slavery!”
“Greetings to Sayre: We hope you will be the last High Commissioner and not be like McNutt and Murphy who just watched while the leaders spent money!”
A suave diplomat, Mr. Sayre ignored the display. But he must have had his misgivings when President Quezon, consciously or unconsciously, echoed the “hello and goodbye” sentiments of the Ganap.
Introducing the High Commissioner to the crowd, he expressed a fervent hope: “May he be the man to turn over to the first President of the Philippine Republic, the authority and sovereignty of the United States over these islands.”
Previously he had outlined Mr. Sayre’s work on behalf of the Philippines, especially with regard to its economic welfare. “He finds a people who know him as well as he knows hem,” concluded the President. “We know of his record as adviser to the government of Siam, of his ability to treat people of a different race. We know of his deep interest in our welfare. We know that he is our friend.
Making his first speech in the Philippines, the High Commissioner startled his hearers by practically denying the Filipinos were “a different race” at all. “Until their independence is consummated,” he declared, “the Filipino people are an integral part of the American nation. We are fellow-Americans. As High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands, I shall not lose sight of this central fact.”
Eloquently, but none the less firmly, he made it clear that he would not stand in the way of the consummation of independence.
“I want to say to the Filipino people how happy and how proud I am that I have been given the chance to throw in my lot with you in helping to work out the problems which lie before us. In many ways the fundamental problem which we face is unique. Seldom if ever has a great nation in the height of its power because of its profound faith in liberty and democracy helped to create out of its own territory a new nation seeking to work out its independent destiny based upon the same principles.
Having thus painted the glories of democratic liberty, Mr. Sayre drove to the Luneta to lay a wreath at the base of the monument to a martyr to liberty, Jose Rizal. Having put this pointed period to his inaugural address, he was driven past the palace abuilding for him along Dewey Boulevard, to his temporary residence in Pasay.
He left behind a puzzled army of Benigno Ramos’ followers. Numbering 10,000 they had come from Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal, from provinces as distant as Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, and Tayabas, each one paying his own fare and bringing his own food, an impressive tribute to the rabble-rousing powers of the former Sakdal chieftain who is now campaigning for the presidency of the Commonwealth. Not even Manuel Quezon perhaps, Ramos’ old boss and probable model, could have called such a legion of faithful believers in Manila.
They had one doctrine, immediate independence, and they had one prophet, Benigno Ramos. He had told them that the Americano was going to give them freedom.
Cheers for Ramos
When Ramos walked along Katigbak drive to the landing early that morning, the Ganap ranks gave him cheer after lusty cheer. But when President Quezon drove by in his limousine, preceded by three motorcycle policemen and three Philippine army artillery units, the Ganap men fell into a sullen silence. It was an amazing, and significant, contrast.
After the High Commissioner’s speech, an old man carrying a Ganap flag asked a Manila Daily Bulletin reporter: “Are we free now?”
“Aren’t you?” countered the reporter.
“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t understand what the Americano said. I can’t understand English. The leaders of our party said we will get our freedom now. The Americano is bringing it.”
In his Pasay garden, the Americano was perhaps discussing the same subject with Mr. Quezon, under a beautiful banyan tree. Later the High Commissioner received other official calls.
He returned the President’s call that afternoon, Mr. Quezon showed his guest the palace library; Mrs. Quezon chatted amiably with Mrs. Sayre, pointed across the Pasig to her favorite Malacañang building, the luxurious Nipa Hut where a state reception for the Sayres may be held soon.
Next day, the High Commissioner held his first press conference. He had a statement ready on reexamination of independence. “It is the duty of American and Philippine officials faithfully to carry out” the provisions of the independence act, he said.
“To my mind the passage by the American Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie act and the acceptance by the Philippine people of a Constitution based upon its provisions constitute a moral obligation not to withdraw the independence program or to alter its fundamental provisions except by the wish of both peoples.
“If ever the day should come when the Filipino people should decide to change their minds and alter the policy to which they have unyieldingly adhered for over 40 years and should bring such a request before Congress, it would be for Congress, and for Congress alone, to decide what course of action the United States should pursue. Such a decision, I need hardly add, would have to be made in the light of such conditions as may then exist in the world and in the Philippines: and what these will be no one can foretell.”
“Off the record”
Suave, smiling Mr. Sayre made the assembled reporters and corespondents forget that he had made them wait for a full day for his first interview. The one American who had been able to outsmart Manuel Quezon—he had wangled the President’s signature to a statement expressing willingness to abandon preferential trade relations with the United States—the High Commissioner did not let his questioners outsmart him.
He took a lot of chaffing on his “fellow Americans” speech. Then, knowing him to be an expert on trade relations, a correspondent asked; “Do you consider the present trade relations between the United States and the Philippines mutually beneficial?”
“I do,” answered Mr. Sayre.
“Then why should they be terminated?”
The High Commissioner said that for the present he must explain “off the record.”
“Do you use such expressions here?” he asked innocently.
The reporters guffawed. His predecessors had been singularly addicted to keeping things “off the record.” Paul V. McNutt had killed many a good story by telling it before it could be told to him or anybody else, and then asking the boys to keep it “off the record.” Frank Murphy had talked even less for publication.
“Why,” cried Dick Wilson of the United Press, “the phrase originated here!”
A deeply religious man, Mr. Sayre went to church after his press conference, Mrs. Sayre motored up to Baguio the next day to enrol her children by her first marriage in Brent School.
Only Garner can tell hearings’ outcome
By James G. Wingo
Free Press Correspondent in Washington
August 20, 1938–“WHAT do you think they are going to do now?” asked Vice-President Sergio Osmeña as soon as Sen. William H. King, acting chairman, announced that the Philippine bill hearings of the Senate committee on territories and insular affairs had ended.
He was not the only one asking that question. The patient Pinoy who sat in a corner for four weeks watching the proceedings open-mouthed also asked the same question. In fact everybody wanted to know that question’s answer.
The only man who can answer that question or any question arising on Capitol Hill is that prairie politician and sagebrush statesman, John Nance Garner, who today is the most potent political figure on the American scene. Filipinos may well remember this stubby, pinkish-whitish, bushy-browed, billikenish man who headed the large congressional delegation to Manila in 1935. Yes, this man knows the answer to the current Philippine question, but he won’t talk. Since he became vice-president of the United States in 1933 he has said practically nothing for publication.
So there’s no use running to Mr. Garner now although he granted me an interview once on the Manila-bound S.S. President Grant, which was promptly radioed to Manila. But the question must be answered somehow, as your correspondent is going to do forthwith, basing his answer upon the remarks of the committee members, their intonation when asking questions or making comments, their day-by-day attitude, their personal and political interests in the problem and many other things.
The interest in the Philippines shown by the committee members reflects that of the whole United States. It is a negative interest. The sentiment against being involved again in another war is so strong that even bold Franklin D. Roosevelt would not dare to buck it.
Many senators are afraid that the Philippines is a liability which may involve the U.S. in a Far Eastern war. As economic protector of the Philippines, what would the U.S. do if Japan grabbed an independent Philippines the way Germany grabbed Czecho-Slovakia? The U.S. would certainly be placed in a position to fight for a foreign country out of the orbit of the Monroe Doctrine, something which the American people are currently violently opposed to doing. If the Philippines were still U.S. territory, the American people would feel differently.
Today Congress would not grant immediate independence unless the Philippines asks for it, but outside the Emilio Aguinaldo crowd no Filipino seems to desire immediate separation from the U.S. For Congress to cut off the Philippines now would be universally regarded as a retreat in the face of the Japanese march of empire.
The American people want to retire from the Philippines as early as possible, but the U.S. government will see to it that the sovereign power retires gracefully. The Philippine Independence Act, whatever one may think of it, gives the U.S. a graceful “out.”
Naturally the average congressman would take the attitude, “Why disturb the whole thing? The Filipinos seem to be getting along all right under the act. Why not let the law run as it is?”
For both the U.S. and the Philippines, there are excellent points in non-action on the Sayre bill. This is not the proper time for the Philippines to ask for more economic concessions or economic changes in the independence act. True enough, the export taxes start next year, but the Sayre bill does not propose to eradicate the export taxes except on a few products, in which case the diminishing quota system will apply.
Shortly before 1946 conditions may change, and the U.S. may be in a mood to treat the Philippines more liberally. There is still this chance, this last thread of hope. But once the Sayre bill or part of it is adopted, that chance is lost forever. Forever is a long time, but it is reasonable to use the word in this case.
Some seasoned observers of the situation believe that rather than let all these long hearings go for naught, congress may adopt the part of the Sayre bill pertaining to the remainder of the commonwealth period. This portion affects only coconut oil, cigars, scrap tobacco and pearl and shell buttons. Resident Commissioner Joaquin M. Elizalde described the proposed changes embodied in the Sayre bill as “of the greatest importance to our economic stability during the second portion of the commonwealth period, 1941 to 1946.”
But almost everybody here is of the opinion that extending U.S. economic protection to an independent Philippines until 1960 is something congress will not do—at this time. Congress reflects the attitude of the American people much more than the U.S. President does. And today the American people are strong for isolationism.
Of course, don’t take all this as pure gospel. Only “Cactus Jack” Garner knows what Congress will do. And he won’t talk!
So your correspondent will continue where he left off two weeks’ ago—continue to give a faithful account of the hearings. As an intelligent reader, draw your own conclusions and make your own predictions. On this question you have as much chance of hitting the mark as any of us here.
After reading his splendid brief, Commissioner Elizalde told the committee not to get the false impression from Severino Concepcion’s testimony that the “Philippine Federation of Labor,” which he represented, was a mighty organization like the C.I.O., despite its imposing name. The commissioner also informed the committee that the President of the Philippines has established
a minimum daily wage of one peso in all industries, including sugar.
“Taken in the light of American wages, this is very low, but it is the highest ever paid in the Islands,” he said. “Furthermore in a great number of our products, we have to complete with other tropical countries which pay very low wages. We cannot raise wages as we would like to.” He also pointed out that Filipino wage-earners usually get free housing and medical treatment.
Following Commissioner Elizalde, Missioner Osmeña personally took the stand for the first time. Dressed nattily in a grey suit, he read a prepared statement, intended to clarify the commonwealth government’s position.
He categorically averred that “the conformity of the Philippine government to this bill represented the permanent views of that government.” He explained the use of figures showing “that during a 50-year period Philippine purchases of American goods registered a higher percentage of increase than American purchases of Philippine goods” as primarily “to indicate the value of this trade, to portray its possibilities, and to serve as documentation…that the economic problem involved in the political separation…is one of tremendous proportions.”
Expressions of gratefulness appeared many times in Commissioner Elizalde’s statement. Mr. Osmeña reinforced them with this:
“The Filipino people have always been pleased to recognize that they have derived great benefits from the free admission of Philippine products into the United States. Previous Philippine missions have frankly and openly admitted this fact. An expression of this sentiment has been reiterated and placed in the record of the proceedings of this committee in the cablegram sent by the President of the Philippines. The sense of gratitude of the Filipino people is strengthened by the knowledge that those responsible for the initiation of the free trade policy between the two countries were animated by altruistic motives….
“And the Filipinos further believe that the gratitude they owe to the American people cannot be measures solely by the economic benefits….America brought to the Philippines the spirit of free institutions, and, in accordance with the spirit, she prepared the Filipino people for self-government. She gave to the Filipinos ungrudging assistance in transplanting to Philippine soil the blessing derived from modern science, technology, and culture,” etc., etc.
There was no doubt now that President Quezon’s “gratitude” cablegram was compelled by cabled reports of Missioner Razon’s answer to questions made by inquisitorial senators. In his remarks Mr. Osmeña pointed out that he was clarifying statements made during “the discussion concerning my statement of the views of the Philippine government.” It may be remembered Mr. Razon read the Osmeña statement and answered questions for the chief during the illness of the Missioner No. 1.
The chairman of the Cordage Institute, astute J.S. McDaniel, followed Mr. Osmeña on the stand. Said he, “In view of Mr. Elizalde’s remarks this morning, there is nothing left for me to say. I merely want to place my statement in the record.”
Really, with Mr. Elizalde’s acceptance of the Cordage Institute’s amendment to the omnibus bill (an extension of the present Cordage Act to 1946) in an answer to perspicacious Chairman Millard E. Tydings’ inquiry, there was no need to say anything further. In his prepared statement Mr. McDaniel pointed out the existence of the mutuality of interests between the Philippine people and the U.S. hard fiber, cordage and twine industry. He recalled how the Cordage Act came into being—through a compromise between Manuel Quezon (then Philippine senate president) and the Cordage Institute with the approval of certain members of congress. He termed Francis B. Sayre’s calling the Cordage Act “an unfair discrimination against those islands” an “erroneous conclusion.”
“Americans are particularly disturbed over the possibility of Filipinos’ shipping rope yarns into the United States in the form of binder twine, which, under our customs’ policy expressed in our laws, as we understand it, cannot be prevented,” he declared. “Two-thirds of the manufacturing processes of the finished produce—preparing the fiber and spinning the yarn—would be completed by cheap Oriental labor. The practical effects would be the same as if there were no quotas, limitations or tariffs on Philippine hard fiber products coming into this country….
“Certainly there is no ‘imperfection or inequality’ in preventing the Philippines from creating a new industry based on an American market already harassed by prison and foreign competition. If the Philippines were to usurp any part of the binder twine market of the United States, that would force United States manufacturers to find some use for their manufacturing capacities. In turn, this would bring about excessive competition in rope sales, depressing values, which would depress the prices of the Manila fiber (abaca)—so important to Philippine economy.”
Senatorial interest in the hearings reached a new low on the ninth day. Today only Mr. Tydings was present to listen to the most hysterical witness of the entire hearings—and perhaps in any hearings on Capitol Hill in recent years.
Chairman Tydings warned today’s witnesses: “Don’t go over ground already covered, for if you do so, we will not have any bill acted on before the Fourth of July.”
The hysterical witness was notorious Porfirio U. Sevilla, the publisher of the scurrilous Philippine-American Advocate, which has discomforted many famed Filipino politicos, especially President Quezon, Quintin Paredes and Commissioner Elizalde. The resident commissioner was absent today, but Missioner Osmeña and Camilo Osias saw this pompous Pinoy strut his stuff.
Dressed handsomely in a well-tailored grey suit, red-and-grey necktie and black-and-grey shoes, little Porfirio Sevilla strutted to one end of the committee table and promptly started banging it. “I am appearing against this bill for three cardinal reasons,” he shouted. “First, it is legally questionable whether congress can repeal or amend the Philippine Independence Act.”
The second and third “cardinal reasons” were lost in the subsequent hysteria which made it almost impossible to understand the speaker. The remarks he made before Senator Tydings are lost to posterity because the official stenographer could not follow him. He merely made this notation, “Unreportable.”
“Don’t be funny!”
While little Porfirio huffed and puffed, Mr. Tydings went on sucking at his cigaret holder, saying nothing. Even when the witness shrieked, causing consternation in the halls of the huge senate office building, the senator did not change his Mona Lisa countenance. People in other offices kept calling the Indian Affairs committee room, in which the hearings were now being held, to find out what was going on. Some thought a wild Indian had gone on the warpath.
“Quezon is coming down here again to ask for some changes in the Independence Act,” the runty Pinoy screamed. “The congress should not allow him to do so.
“All our industries are under the control of foreign interests,” he thundered next. “Let’s have the independence you have promised us—because we want it.”
Changing his voice to a sarcastic intonation, he stated, “We are coming here to ask changes, Mr. Chairman, because we are afraid of the Japanese. The Japanese are going to get us! Ha! ha! Oh, Mr. Chairman, don’t be funny.”
Mr. Tydings was now reading the Congressional Record, and did not even look up at the speaker.
“I want to emphasize the principal point,” Sevilla vociferated. “Filipinos are expecting independence in 1946. Only 25,000 Filipinos will be affected by this pending bill. How about the others? They don’t know anything about it. They only know that they will be free in 1946.
“You will be blamed, Mr. Chairman, if you will pass this bill. This is no practical joke. You will be blamed if you pass this bill.
“The Filipinos do not know the meaning of this bill. They do not know that they will be tied up until at least 1960. I warn you, Mr. Chairman, there will be a civil war if you pass this bill.
“The Filipinos believe in you, Mr. Chairman. The ratification of the Tydings McDuffie Act by my people was a blessing. And let me remind you that if you extend the Act to 1960 my people will revolt against the sponsors of this bill.”
Then busy Porfirio mentioned that only a very few people in the Philippines could read the report of the Joint Preparatory Committee on Philippine Affairs, upon which the Sayre bill was based. He brought up the problem of the Pampanga sugar workers. “They are mistreated,” he shrilled. “They are oppressed. They are getting only 20 centavos a day.”
He told the committee or rather Mr. Tydings that he had just received a cablegram, which read, “Do not testify.” “Mr. Chairman,” roared the witness, “do you think I am the man to be bribed! Don’t be ridiculous.”
If Mr. Tydings had heard that remark, he presumably passed it up as coming from a hysterical person unable to speak coherently, to speak grammatically or to weight the meaning of his words, for the senator continued to read the Congressional Record. When witness Sevilla failed to get the attention of the senator with his screaming and table-pounding, he resorted to imagining voices. “Mr. Chairman, I beg your pardon. I didn’t get that.” Mr. Tydings had said nothing, so the audience guffawed, but the senator remained immovable.
Sevilla mentioned several U.S. national heroes, and then he bellowed, “I am willing to defend my people to my last drop of blood. Don’t be misled by so-called Filipino patriots. By any means, go to it, Mr. Chairman.
“President Roosevelt was misled by the JPCPA. This bill was planned in the Manila Hotel, where the members of the JPCPA had a good time. You can’t get a true picture of the Philippines that way.
“I appeal to you now. Please give our independence in 1946. There will be a revolution if you don’t do it.”
Such a witness as Porfirio Sevilla would undoubtedly not last one minute before a Philippine National Assembly committee if he would be allowed to appear at all. But in the U.S. conception of democracy, this fellow had as much right to say what he wanted as Sergio Osmeña or President Quezon. Mr. Tydings permitted the witness to bellow until he was exhausted. When the witness stopped fulminating, the senator said, “Thank you, Mr. Sevilla. Who’s next?”
Next was J.M. Crawford, manager of the Philippine Packing Corp., a 100 percent American-owned pineapple company in Mindanao, which started investigating the field in 1921, planting pineapples in 1928 and canning in 1930. The company is now canning more than half a million cases annually and practically 100 percent of this is shipped to the U.S., according to Manager Crawford.
On behalf of U.S. interests
“We followed the American flag to the Philippines not as philanthropists to spread American industry or to improve conditions for the Filipinos but to make money for ourselves,” testified Mr. Crawford frankly. “To date we have not recovered our investment. We have however assisted in developing an American industry. We have also definitely assisted the Filipinos, particularly those living in northern Mindanao…. We have found the Filipinos to be good, conscientious, loyal employees, who like the Americans and are grateful to the United States.
“We would like to have Senate Bill 1028 become a law for this would give us more time to recover and make a return on our investment. I have no authority to speak for other citizens of the United States living in the Philippines but I believe the position of my company is typical of other American investors in the Philippines.”
Two other senators, John E. Miller and Bennett Champ Clark, showed up, while Mr. Crawford was speaking, to reinforce the lone Mr. Tydings.
After Mr. Crawford there was nobody else on the docket for the day. The chairman wanted to know whether there were some more who wanted to be heard. Vicente Villamin stood up and said that he would like to speak the next day.
“Why not now?” asked Mr. Tydings, and the best known of all U.S. Filipino economists pulled out his prepared statement, walked to the large table and began giving the defects of the pending measure. Said he:
“The first defect is this: The bill sets forth a plan of a limited, declining preferential trade between the United States and the Philippines from 1946 to 1960. This plan is to be incorporated in an executive agreement. This agreement is made immune from denunciation for seven years. But…it is subject to revocation on six months’ notice…. The effect of this provision is to deprive the Philippine government of the treaty-making power which it should acquire automatically with the assumption of independent sovereignty….
“The second defect is this: The plan of trade dissolution, euphemistically called a readjustment program, will take the form…of an executive agreement between the President of the United States and the President of the Philippines. The pertinent provision of the bill gives the former only permissive, not mandatory, authority to enter into such agreement…. There is no reasonable or rational certainty that there is going to be any agreement at all when the fateful year of 1946 rolls around….
“Two questions arise: Firstly, would not progressive disintegration of the Philippine-American commerce…be more painless to the Philippines than its abrupt cessation…in 1946? My answer is this: It is preferable…to have five years more of the existing free trade arrangement of no tariff duties and no declining quotas and trust not only to the magnanimity of the United States but also to the eventual recognition of the relative value of Philippine economic potentialities for a new deal for the period after 1946….
“Secondly, what is a reasonable alternative to the bill? My answer is this: Let congress proceed to repeal the export-tax provision of the Tydings-McDuffie Act…. The provision is unnecessary now. According to the report of the Joint Preparatory Committee, the Philippine net bonded debt in 1946 will be but approximately $21,000,000. Today the Philippine government has a cash surplus six times that amount.”
The committee disposed of Mr. Villamin without asking him a single question. The senators seemed to be thinking of anything but the Philippines.
John J. Underwood, representing the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, was the first speaker on the tenth day. When he began reading his statement he had three senators to listen to him—Tydings, Arthur H. Vandenberg and Key Pittman. Also present were Missioner Osmeña and Commissioner Elizalde.
“A committee of the chamber has studied the bill under consideration,” Mr. Underwood droned, “and has reached the very definite conclusion that any premature change in the economic relationship between the United States and the Philippines, without opportunity for adjustment, will result in chaotic and unstabilized conditions to the great detriment of the United States as a whole, and in particular to the Pacific Northwest.
“One-third of the exports of the Northwestern area to Asia are marketed in the Philippines. The citizens of Seattle are now negotiating with the Maritime Commission a proposal to establish a new American line of steamships on this essential trade route. Many thousands of dollars have been spent by Northwest business enterprises in building up trade at Manila and other points in the Far East and this money was expended in anticipation of permanent trade relations with the Islands and on a basis of favor of competing with other countries for this business….
“It is the belief of many Pacific Coast businessmen who have been close to the situation that the American interests who are proponents or who lobbied on behalf of the plan to abrogate the present preferential trade agreement between this country and the Philippines had but one object in mind. It was not philanthropy which influenced their sentiment on behalf of the Philippine people to give them their right to self-government; their purpose was to convert the status of the Philippines into a foreign country…. These interests reason that any barriers against Philippine imports will place similar products from Cuba on a preferential basis in entering the United States.
Pacific Northwest interests
“The proximity of the Atlantic Coast to Cuba naturally gives that section a greater interest in Cuban trade than in the Philippines. These Atlantic Coast interests fail to realize that the Pacific Coast as a part of the United States of America is entitled to share the benefits of this country’s trade with all sections of the world and should not be discriminated against in favor of other parts of this country….
“The State of Washington has considerable interest in any national or international policy agreed upon which will affect the trans-Pacific trade of this section of the United States. The exported products are the very life of the United States Pacific Northwest industries and include lumber, flour, fruits, vegetables, dairy and poultry products, canned salmon, condensed milk, paper, pulp, mill and mining machinery…. The proposed new American steamship service which contemplates operating out of Seattle to the Philippines and trans-Pacific countries is dependent upon the inbound and outbound cargo from and to that country for its regular service. Continuation of preferential trade relations…is essential to those industries, for if a policy between the two countries is established upon a non-preferential basis it will mean absolute elimination of a large percentage of our exports and this trade will revert to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Japan and other countries…. Foreign shipping lines…would be stimulated by this direction of trade at the expense of…American lines….
“For the reasons stated we respectfully urge this committee favorably to report S. 1028 now under consideration.”
Mr. Underwood’s handsome grasp of the Pacific Northwest situation as it would be affected by the Sayre bill evoked a mere “Thank you” from the committee. It was unfortunate for the Sayre bill that Washington’s Homer T. Bone was not present to listen to the arguments propounded by Seattle businessmen. Mr. Bone had not acted friendly at all to the Sayre proposal.
Herman Fakler, vice-president of the National Millers Association, the national trade organization of the U.S. wheat flour milling industry, reinforced the Pacific Northwest’s opposition to “the abrupt elimination of trade relations” between the U.S. and the Philippines, as voiced by Mr. Underwood. “We do not feel that it is economic to liquidate our present trade relations,” he said, “but rather that we should endeavor by some means to preserve our existing trade.
“Our principal competitors in wheat flour in the Philippines are Australia, Canada and Japan. The elimination of preferential treatment for American wheat flour, therefore, would merely mean handing over our very valuable trade…to our competitors….
“The Philippine market…is of great economic value to the wheat growers of the Pacific Coast. It offers an outlet for their surplus wheat…. Therefore, we favor the objective of the bill now before your committee.”
Astute Senator Vandenberg elicited the information from Mr. Fakler that the flour sent to the Philippines is subsidized by the U.S. government at about $1 a barrel. “You would be more interested in the subsidy than in long-range planning for Philippine trade,” the senator crackled. “You wouldn’t need this bill if you had the subsidy.”
“But we don’t know if the subsidy will continue,” replied the witness.
“That’s right, you don’t,” shot back Mr. Vandenberg, who may become the next U.S. President and who, if elected, will surely scrap many of the New Deal projects which are now costing U.S. taxpayers plenty of money.
U.S. citizenship for Pinoys
V.N.P. Zerda, Filipino lawyer in Washington, proposed an amendment to the Sayre bill providing for U.S. citizenship for Pinoys married to U.S. women and who have lived in this country since May 1, 1934. However, he made excursions to many other subjects.
He mentioned a book which purported to say that beet sugar “smells bad.” Promptly the senator from a U.S. beet district, Mr. Vandenberg, growled, “What did you say about beet sugar?” The witness replied that he was quoting a book.
“The book smells worse,” the senator said.
Witness Zerda continued to read his statement: “The most sorrowful of Filipino life in this country comes when he knows that he is not a citizen of the United States and cannot become one….
“I also heard…here last Thursday that England takes good care of the English anywhere in the four corners of the globe. I happen to know that England takes good care of her colonies, as well…. If there is democracy at all it is in England….
“There has been a saying that if you can save a soul, nothing else matters. Gentlemen of this honorable and distinguished committee, your just and equitable appraisal of Filipino rights, privileges and preferences would save you a great race of people who have already proved to you to be worthy of erecting a monument in the name of American Western civilization, in the name of Ferdinand Magellan.”
In the name of Ferdinand the Bull, I wish I could end the account of these hearings this week and get to doing something else. But we still have to take up “Gold King” John Haussermann, who made a stirring plea for kindness to the Filipinos; that “garrulous general,” William C. Rivers, who kept committee members splitting their sides with laughter; grand, old Harry B. Hawes, who took up two hours to say what he admitted could have been boiled down to a few minutes, and two or three others. So then until next week!
July 23, 1938
Is Quezon courting Japan?
by James G. Wingo
Free Press Correspondent in Washington
REPORTS about President Quezon’s dealing directly although unofficially with high Japanese officials on various international matters are harming the Philippines as far as the United States is concerned. Local observers of U.S.-Philippine affairs see eventual manifestations of U.S. resentment to Manuel Quezon’s activities in Japan, which will hurt Philippine interests.
Especially at a time when U.S.-Japanese relations are strained, President Quezon’s hobnobbing with Japanese officials is considered indiscreet, to put it mildly. Secretary of state Cordell Hull refused to comment on Mr. Quezon’s visit to Japan. He said the only thing he knew about it was that the commonwealth president was in Japan. Ordinarily he would have praised the visit of a high official of one country to another country as a splendid “good neighbor” gesture.
Purpose of Quezon’s visit
During Mr. Quezon’s last visit here after receiving flattering honors from the Chinese and Japanese, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who did not like the commonwealth president’s dealing with high foreign officials, let President Quezon know how he felt.
No territorial ambitions
“This correspondent has learned on high authority that Japanese officials are prepared to go to great lengths in assuring President Quezon that he need have no fear as far as Japan’s aim toward the Philippines is concerned. He will be told emphatically that Japan has no territorial ambitions in the Philippines, and Japanese officials may go as far as to propose the conclusion of a pact guaranteeing the independence of the Philippines-Japanese officials realize that Quezon has no jurisdiction over the foreign affairs of the Philippines as yet, but they may suggest that he propose such a pact to the United States.”
Flattering were the honors awaiting Mr. Quezon in Tokyo, according to Correspondent Fleisher, whose story was front-paged by the Herald Tribune together with Mr. Quezon’s photograph. High Japanese officials would meet him at the railroad station. He would have a conference with Foreign Minister General Kazushige Ugaki, who later would give a dinner in his honor to be attended by Premier Prince Fuminaro Konoye himself.
And had members of Mr. Quezon’s entourage not called his visit “incognito” he would have been received by Emperor Hirohito also. That makes President Quezon the first non-member of royalty or nobility to travel incognito. When Republican officials want to forego state honors due them, they travel unofficially or in disguise—never incognito.
Correspondent Fleisher reported further: Quezon’s present visit to Japan seems to have been arranged directly with his Japanese friends, without passing through the intermediary of American officialdom.
Puzzles U.S. observers
The report from Manila that President Quezon has submitted a proposal to buy some ships from the U.S. Shipping Board to haul iron from Mindanao to Japan and coal from Japan to Manila puzzled U.S. observers still more. They could not say for sure whether or not Mr. Quezon was beginning to tie up Philippine economy with Japan.
• • •
Current Washington interest in the proposed purchase of Church estates by the Commonwealth government has been aroused by constant news dribbles about Philippine tenant troubles and by Manuel Quezon’s letter last year to Chairman Francis B. Sayre of the Inter-departmental Committee on Philippine Affairs, in which the President of the Philippines stated that he would use part of the coconut oil excise tax refunds to buy Church lands.
The socialistic labor uprisings in recent months have caused concern among people here interested in Philippine affairs. Early in the U.S. regime Washington officialdom was made familiar with the unrest within the Church estates.
Gov. Gen. William H. Taft believed that the purchase of these estates and their reselling in subdivisions to the tenants would end the serious and oftentimes bloody agrarian controversies. To raise the money to buy some of the church estates the Philippine government in 1904 issued bonds worth P14,000,000.
Eventually the so-called friar lands did not go to worthy tenants but to politicos, many of whom, according to an authority, have not paid yet for their purchases. The tillers of the soil were not helped at all by the change of masters.
However, when Frank Murphy was governor general, the Philippine Legislature passed a resolution calling the Friar Land Purchase of 1904 a complete success and stating that purchase of additional church lands was the only practical means of terminating serious agrarian controversies. Governor Murphy was authorized to negotiate for the purchase of 15 more Church estates. Then the Coalition party which kept Sergio Osmeña from opposing Mr. Quezon for the presidency, included the purchase of these lands in its platform.
Just a few weeks before the Commonwealth inauguration Governor Murphy submitted a tentative report not too favorable to the purchase, in as much as the Church authorities were asking approximately twice the value placed on the estates by his secretary of agriculture and natural resources, Eulogio Rodriguez. Soon after Mr. Quezon became president, he told the National Assembly that further negotiations should be undertaken to determine the price and other conditions of purchase.
Pres. Quezon’s message
But as early as June, 1936, President Quezon stated: “After a careful study of this question, I have reached the conclusion that such a step would not remedy the situation, nor could it be carried out without exposing the country to great financial losses…. It is now my earnest conviction that the purchase of these haciendas by the government will not solve the agrarian and social problems existing therein, but will only transfer to the government the difficulties which the tenants now have with the present land owners….
“The investment, therefore, of several millions of pesos by the government in the purchase of the friar lands has only been, with a few exceptions, for the benefit of people not contemplated by the government…I, for one, despite the commitment in the Coalition platform do not wish to impose upon our people the burden of a national debt which our children will have to bear merely to give a few individuals the opportunity to acquire these particular areas at the expense of the people when there is so much available fertile and untouched public lands in many regions of the country, particularly in Mindanao.”
In connection with this message Mr. Quezon concluded by recommending the purchase of those portions of the estates which are urban in character and occupied by the tenants’ homes. A few months ago he signed a bill appropriating P2,000,000 for the purchase of barrios within Church lands. Another million was appropriated in 1937 for this same purpose.
The developments in recent years raise the question of why President Quezon, who had favored the plan to purchase Church estates, never did anything to carry it out when able to do so. He has already given the Assembly quoted above.
But to keen observes here a pertinent reason is that Mr. Quezon does not want to see the Church receive a large cash payment—not at this time anyway. The President of the Philippines is currently in an excellent position to tell the Roman Catholic Church a few things. And he will need all this advantage when the Church in its relentless fight for compulsory religious instruction in the public schools, attempts to apply punitive measures upon Mr. Quezon for his courageous and democratic veto of a bill which is a throwback to the time when church and state were one in the Philippines.
Mr. Quezon knows that the church is in difficulty with respect to its bonded indebtedness and that a cash payment would enable it to retire the bonds now due and probably leave it with a cash surplus. He also knows that the difficulty the church is having with its tenants is hurting the church’s prestige and the hierarchs’ popularity.
It is apparent Mr. Quezon is playing a long-range game with the Church. The scoreboard indicates that he is ahead.