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80 years of the Free Press
After 80 years, the commitment to people and country lives on
Free Press, August 13, 1988
By Gigi Galang
FOR a publication that’s a byword in Philippine magazine publishing, the Philippines FREE PRESS ironically began life as a newspaper during the first decade of the American occupation of the Philippines. Its maiden issue came out on January 20, 1907 and contained both English and Spanish sections. Owned by Judge W. A. Kincaid and edited first by Percy Warner Tinan and then by Pat Gallagher, the first FREE PRESS was set up as an organ of the Moral Progress League, a group engaged in a crusade against vice in Manila.
The early venture proved to be a dismal failure. Unable to generate enough revenue, the paper, after only a year in circulation, stopped publication in 1908. Before the year was over, however, the FREE PRESS would experience a quick revival at the hands of a Scotsman and this time to stay and become an institution in the Philippine scene.
R. McCulloch Dick had worked on newspapers in the United States and Hong Kong before coming to the Philippines in 1900. Shortly after arriving in Manila, he found employment with the Manila Times, first as reporter and later as editor. It was during his eight year with the Times that Dick thought of reviving Kincaid’s Philippines FREE PRESS.
In 1908, Dick asked Martin Egan, then correspondent of Associated Press in Manila and managing editor of the Manila Times, to allow him to take the two-week vacation leave due him. He explained that he was going to sound out some businessmen on his idea of a new publication. Granted his leave, Dick set out on his project.
Of the 12 businessmen he approached to help bankroll the project, two came out in favor; three or four were lukewarm; the rest predicted doom. Despite lack of financial support, Dick went ahead and put his lifetime savings of P8,000 as capital for the venture.
Meanwhile, Kincaid had departed for the United States, but he had left behind a power of attorney with Charles A. McDonough. It did not take long for ownership of the defunct paper to change hands. With Kincaid’s approval, Dick paid the token amount of one peso for the newspaper’s list of subscriptions, name and goodwill.
A magazine for harmony
On August 29, 1908, a new Philippines FREE PRESS reappeared with Dick as reporter, editor and publisher rolled into one. Now in magazine format, the FREE PRESS was printed on 16 pages of cheap paper and newsprint. As before, it contained English and Spanish sections. The new edition was priced at five centavos per copy.
In the maiden issue of the new magazine, Dick spelled out the policy that his publication would adopt:
The FREE PRESS will be conducted as an independent journal. It’s chief aim will be to promote, in its humble way and in so far as it may, a friendly feeling between Filipinos and Americans think they are, and the Americans are much better than some Filipinos think they are. In any case it holds that more is to be gained by harmony and mutual forbearance than by suspicion, irritation and discord.
The new FREE PRESS offices were located at No. 44 Escolta, on the second floor of the same building which housed Manuel Pellicer, Manila Shirt Factory and Dry Goods Store, and another fledgling publication—the Daily Bulletin, which had offices and printing plant in the building. By arrangement with Daily Bulletin owner Carson Taylor, the FREE PRESS was printed by the Bulletin press.
Joining Dick on the staff were Don Alberto Campos who stood as first assistant and later editor of the Spanish section, Percy Warner Tinan who took charge of the advertising, and F. Theo Rogers who helped solicit ads and refused to be paid for his services. Rogers was later to become the magazine’s general manager.
Years of hardship
The early years were a struggle for the magazine. After just seven months of publication, Dick original investment had been exhausted and he was compelled to borrow P2,000 at 8 per cent interest per annum to continue publishing.
It was during this touch-and-go period for the FREE PRESS that dick displayed a strict sense of frugality. One of the off-cited accounts of his parsimony related to the time when the Spanish section editor left his light on overnight. When Dick discovered the deed the next morning, he called the electric company to find out how much it cost for a bulb to burn all night, then ordered the business department to deduct the amount from the Spanish editor’s salary.
After another six to seven months following the P2,000 loan, Dick had borrowed another P1,000 to keep the FREE PRESS going. The fresh capital infusion proved sufficient to sustain the project. Shortly after, the FREE PRESS began to turn a profit.
When the Bulletin transferred offices to the Cosmopolitan Building the FREE PRESS went along because of the printing services. The magazine continued to be printed on the Bulletin press until 1921 when the FREE PRESS finally erected its own building on Rizal Avenue and installed its own printing plant.
By 1925, with the publication doing good business and established as a regular reading fare, the FREE PRESS began publishing short stories, a new feature then in journalism. Not long after, it launched its annual short story contest.
In 1929, the P1,000 prize in the short story contest was won by Jose Garcia Villa for his story “Mir-i-nisa.” In 1936, the first prize was bagged by Manuel Arguilla for his “Epilogue to Reconciliation.”
The Free Press Staff
Aside from the handful of people who joined Dick in the early years of the FREE PRESS, the pre-war staff members of the magazine included composing room foreman Domingo Magsarili, writers Leon Guerrero, Frederic Marquardt, Leon Ty, Filemon Tutay, Juan Collas, Alfonso Torres, D.L. Francisco, Ramon Navas, Roberto Anselmo, Federico Calero, Jose Joven, Jose G, Reyes and Teodoro Locsin, Sr. Artist Esmeraldo Izon drew the satirical cartoons that appeared on the magazine’s first page.
By the time World War II broke out, the FREE PRESS had become the most popular weekly publication in English and Spanish. Before the conquering Japanese closed the magazine in 1941, FREE PRESS circulation had gone past 80,000 copies per week.
Besides the paper’s becoming a journalistic casualty during the Japanese occupation, both Dick and Rogers were incarcerated at Fort Bonifacio. There, the Japanese attempted but failed to destroy the formidable Dick who kept his sanity by lecturing on Shakespeare before his fellow prisoners.
After the liberation and on the eve of the restoration of Philippine independence in 1946, Dick resumed publication of the FREE PRESS. In its post-war issue which came out on February 23, 1946, Dick explained the reasons for resuming publication of the FREE PRESS in an editorial entitled, “A Word to our Readers”:
After four years of “Blackout,” the FREE PRESS resumes publication. It is not the old Free Press as our readers know it. But we trust they will make allowances. We had really intended to postpone publication to a “more convenient season,” when conditions would be normal, but demand became so insistent with so many people asking “When is the FREE PRESS coming out?” that we finally capitulated—whether wisely or not, time will show.
Besides Dick and Rogers, of the pre-war staff members of the FREE PRESS only the triumvirate of Locsin, Ty and Tutay, plus artist Izon and composing room foreman Magsarili remained. But the magazine was joined by new talents, among them writers Nick Joaquin and Napoleon Rama, Artist Gene Cabrera, and Robert Hendry who was associate editor from 1947 to 1955, and who was later succeeded by Dick Kennewick.
Locsin, aside from writing two or three feature articles each issue, wrote almost all the editorials and was for some time the short story editor. (Teodoro L. Locsin Jr. would join the editorial staff in the sixties when he was barely 20. Later, Supreme Court justices would candidly tell Locsin Senior that they preferred his son’s pieces to his.)
The nation’s premier magazine
The years following the liberation of the Philippines from Japan were exciting, eventful and glorious for the FREE PRESS. Shortly after its revival, it won more and more readers and advertisers. By the time it reached circulation of 100,000, the vigor that marked the FREE PRESS’ style of journalism had made it the most successful magazine venture in the country.
The FREE PRESS came to be known as the publication that explored every significant event and issue without regard for the influence of people involved. During the American administration of the country, the magazine vigorously campaigned for an early independence of the Philippines from the United States. It also did not waver in its expose of venalities even in the highest office of the government.
For the FREE PRESS, exposing graft and abuse of public office was nothing less than a crusade. The commitment brought unrivalled influence on public opinion. It was said that no public official could afford to overlook the publication.
Nor was recognition limited to just inside the country.
In its August 26, 1955 issue, the New York Times paid tribute to the influence of FREE PRESS on Philippine life:
“Philippine elders have laboriously learned to read English so they could spell out for themselves the printed words of the FREE PRESS.
There’s many an argument in the barrios, a long-time American resident of the Islands said recently, that is settled for good at exactly the moment when someone remarks, “Well, the FREE PRESS said…”
“One reason for is that readers write more than half of the FREE PRESS. Subscribers report on a gay village fiesta; on an energetic mayor who gives medical injections and legal advices, teaches the catechism class and ghost writes all the letters of the community; on the successful mechanization of a small farm; the problems of a little barrio where all the water has to be carried by a cart a distance of three miles; a wedding of tribespeople in Zamboanga; a community ruined by hot feelings over politics; the only Filipino woman in Congress.”
One more significant fact that might be pointed out—the FREE PRESS was a newsmagazine long before Hadden and Luce developed Time. To this may be added that the many exclusives, explosive and otherwise, written by Locsin, Ty and Tutay came from tips furnished by people who had complaints against the government, other people or articles printed in the magazine.
A touch of libel
Proof of the courage that made the FREE PRESS a standout in the industry were the many libel cases brought against Dick (for an editorial written by then staffer Teodoro Locsin) by former governor Eliseo Quirino. The court acquitted the accused with commendation for service to the cause of good government. Governor Quirino gave a lechonada for Dick and Locsin. There was also the libel case filed at the behest of then Senate President Manuel L. Quezon. Dick himself was once ordered deported by Governor General Francis Burton Harrison. The case even reached the Supreme Court of the United States. It was later dropped when Harrison left the Philippines and placed administration of the country in the hands of Vice-Governor General Charles Emmet Yeater.
In August 1958, during the celebration of the FREE PRESS’ 50th anniversary, Dick and Rogers were awarded the Philippine Legion of Honor by the Philippine government for their service to the cause of Philippine freedom. The same year, Dick received the Ramon Magsaysay award for literature and journalism.
On June 16, 1965, the FREE PRESS came out with a weekly Pilipino edition. Called the Philippine FREE PRESS Sa Wikang Pilipino, it had the same format and content as the original FREE PRESS. It reached a circulation of 40,000 quickly, largely the provincial school system which used it as reading material. Then it experimented with radical articles and “sexy” stories by avant garde writers. Circulation took a nose-dive. In December 1970, the Pilipino edition was closed; it was a flop.
The pioneer passes away
In September 1960, R. McCulloch Dick passed away. His death marked the end of his more than 50 years of influence on Philippine Journalism. At the time of his demise, Dick owned 99 percent of FREE PRESS stocks, which he bequeathed to Rogers and his own employees under certain conditions. The corporation eventually bought the stocks of Rogers who had returned to the United States and lost interest in the magazine. Rogers died in the United States in late 1963.
In the hands of Teodoro Locsin Sr. as publisher and editor, the FREE PRESS remained the fightingest publication in the country.
Twenty months before Marcos imposed martial law, the FREE PRESS painted the scenario of life under military rule:
With the courts and Congress reduced to impotence and the independent press shut up—with publishers who dare to disagree with Marcos placed under house arrest or in concentration camps where they would be joined sooner or later by outraged justices of the Supreme Court, senators and representatives who would not lick the boots of Marcos, as well as others who would not submit to tyranny—the nation would be polarized. The Philippines would be divided into Marcos collaborators and those who love liberty and are branded misguided elements (as during the Japanese Occupation) and declared enemies of the Marcos state.
Life under a regime of martial law or a Marcos military dictatorship would be little different from the life during the Japanese Occupation. How many would submit to it? And how would Marcos ever dare restore civil law? Would he dare to leave Malacañang? Would he not be compelled to declare himself President for life, that is, a dictator forever? And how long would forever be?
On September 21, 1972, martial law was declared. The following day, Marcos issued Letter of Instruction No. 1 ordering the Press and Defense Secretaries to “take over and control or cause the taking over and control of the mass media for the duration of the national emergency, or until otherwise ordered by the President or his duly designated representative.”
Newspapers and magazines, including the FREE PRESS, were closed down, Leading media men, including Manila Times’ Chino Roces and the FREE PRESS’ Teodoro Locsin and Napoleon Rama, were arrested and imprisoned—without charges.
With the government clampdown, the FREE PRESS ended its many years as the country’s premier weekly magazine. It was not until 1986, 14 years after it was closed down, that the FREE PRESS reappeared in the country.
The magazine came out shortly before the February 7, 1986 snap elections to join the candidate Corazon Aquino’s campaign for the presidency.
After the EDSA revolution and the accession of a new regime, the FREE PRESS was relaunched as a fortnightly publication. But if the frequency was altered, the commitment to good government and the public interest never wavered.
That commitment—from the very birth of the magazine in 1908 to the present—in a sense explains the return in August 1988 of the FREE PRESS as a weekly journal of news and opinion.
Eighty years now lie behind the FREE PRESS. Unless catastrophe once more descends on the Philippines, it is certain to complete its first century of publication and offer more years of service to the life of the Filipino nation.
Quezon and his fights
by Rodrigo C. Lim
Everything he did, he did with style and elegance, which is why even his political feuds seem so dramatic and glamorous, especially when compared to the sordid political squabbles of today.
THE CURRENT POWER STRUGGLE among the country’s top political leaders, particularly that between President Garcia and NP and Senate President “Amang” Rodriguez, reminds us of the fights the late President Quezon had in in his over 30 years of public life.
In one respect Quezon’s political career was unique, singular. It could be perhaps duplicated but surely not surpassed by that of any other Filipino leader, or any other country for that matter. For not once in his incessant political strifes did he suffer a single defeat – and in many of them he was pitted against the most formidable opponents of his time.
Foremost of these battles was his historic fight for political supremacy in the early 20s against then Speaker Osmeña on the issue of collective versus unipersonal leadership. For over 15 years the two leaders had been disinterestingly and unselfishly collaborating in the common effort of nation building, forming a political partnership without parallel anywhere else then or today. Times there were when, because of conflict of opinion on vital national questions and of diametrically opposed characters and temperaments, a clash appeared imminent and inevitable. Each time, however, one or the other sacrificed personal prid and ambition for the good of the country, particularly the cause for which both had fought in war and in peace – Philippine independence.
But even the sweetest of honeymoons cannot last forever and in due time, the Quezon-Osmeña combine ended as any such political alliance is bound to end somehow, sometime. The formal parting of the ways came in the evening of February 17, 1922 when, before a mammoth crowd that overflowed the pre-war Manila Grand Opera House, Quezon declared war against his life-long friend and partner.
“When one is convinced that the conduct of a party is no longer in consonance with the will of the people and does not respect the demands of public opinion”, he told the teeming thousands that jammed that huge theater, “then no member is under any obligation to remain in that party.” It was then that he pronounced his classic now off-quoted dogma: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.”
Talking of the conflict, which some wiseacres of the time called a fight between autocracy as represented by Osmeña and democracy as typified by Quezon, the late Teodoro M. Kalaw, then secretary of interior and one of the geatest minds the Philippins has ever produced, said:
“The split came as a result of the disagreement over the leadership which question. Our faction stood for the so-called collective leadership which puts responsibilty in each department of the government. In other wotds the unipersonalists supported the introduction of the parliamentary form of government in the Philippines and the collectivitists the presidential form.”
While a good many people sincerely believed that Quezon only wanted to establish “a government by the people by means of a voluntary expression of sovereign will of the people” and “not the people’s rule without the expression of the popular will”, there were others who accused him of provoking the split to take control of the party and pertpetuate himself in power.
To those critics he retorted:
“Can I find a position in the Philippine government and in the gift of the Filipino people higher than that of president of the Senate, the highest position to which a Filipino could be sent by his countrymen? If I wanted to perpetuate myself in power, is there anything better for me than to remain in the Nacionalista Party?”
From the thundeous ovation the greeted his memorable pronouncements that evening at the Opera House, could be foreseen the outcome of the first clash between the two Filipino titans. In the subsequent election, in June, 1922, during which both were in the United States as joint chiefs of an independence mission, Quezon’s Collectivistas won with such a convincing majority that he thereafter became the acknowledged leader of Filipino participation in the government.
The Quezon-Osmeña divorce did not last long however. Quezon did not have a sufficient majority in the Lower House to elect the speaker of his choice, the then rising political star from Capiz, Manuel Roxas, and as between his former partner and the Democratas, he chose to coalesce with former. Neither did the Cebuano leader want any coalition with the oppositionists. Thus was formed the Nacionalista Consolidado Party with Quezon as head.
No sooner had Quezon and Osmeña kissed and made up when MLQ had to face a greater fight with no less than the representative of American sovereignty in his country – Governor-General Wood.
An arch-enemy of Philippine Independence, Wood was set on undoing all that his predecessor, Francis Burton Harrison, ahd done to give the Filipinos ample powers and responsibilities in preparation for self-government. Among other things, he turned his cabinet secretaries into glorified office clerks, solely responsible to him and under his absolute control, although their appointments were subject to control and approval of the Philippine legislature. To advise him in matters that were purely the concern of the Filipinos, he insteaf formed what then Editor Carlos P. Romulo called the “Kitchen Cabinet” or “Cavalry Cabinet” as others dubbed it, composed of U.S. Army officers including his playboy son, Lt. Osborne C. Wood.
Quezon was not one to take such affront to Filipino dignity lying down. The open break was precipitated by Governor Wood’s reinstatement of an American police detective who had been suspended by the city mayor with the approval of the interior. Quezon considered this act a clear violation of the fundamental law of the land and “a backward step and a curtailment of Filipino autonomy guaranteed by the organic act and enjoyed by the Filipino people continously since the operation of the Jones Law”. Shortly before midnight of July 17, 1922, the department secretaries led by Quezon and Speaker Roxas marched to Malacañan and presented their resignations from the cabinet and the council of state.
Wood accepted the resignations which he considered “a challenge and a threat which cannot ignore”. He likewise accepted the resignation of City Mayor Ramon J. Fernandez which was simultaneously presented with those of the cabinet men.
Quezon had so presented the issue that the people readily rallied around him. Only dissenters who saw in the crisis a chance to assume the powers formerly enjoyed by Quezon and company, were the Democratas led by Judge Juan Sumulong who branded the resignations as “fictitious, artificial, ridiculous and frivilous”. The case was later submitted to the people when a special election was held in the fourth senatorila district to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Senator Pedro Guevara who was chosen resident commissioner to Washington.
Never had the people witnessed such a battle royal in which all available instruments of political warfare were utilized. Quezon went to the people to the people in behalf of his man, Ex-Mayor Fernandez, with no other issue but “A vote for Fernandez is a vote for the people; a vote for Sumulong is a vote for Wood”. The result was an overwhelming majority for Fernandez and once again, Quezon scored one of the biggest victories in his political career.
A consequence of his rift with Wood which ended with the latter’s death on August 7, 1927, was Quezon’s equally acrimonious controversy with his former revolutionary chief, General Aguinaldo, whom he had served as an aide with the rank of major. Aguinaldo did not only express support for Wood but tried to strengthen the latter’s position here and in America by expelling Quezon from his Veterans of the Revolution Association. The bomb that was expected to discredit the Filipino leader in the eyes of both Filipinos and Americans proved a dud however. It turned out that Quezon had never been a member of the association and he could not therefore be expelled therefrom.
“While I am a veteran I have never affiliated with the association”. Quezon pointed out, “and from the time General Aguinaldo, for purely personal motives, came out in support of General Wood I have considered any association with it not only an inconsistency but a betrayal of public trust on my part.”
Offshoot of that controversy which lasted for quite a time was the withdrawal by the legislature of Aguinaldo’s P12,000 annual pension.
Last but not least of Quezon’s major political battles was his second break with Osmeña on the question of the H-H-C (Hare-Hawes-Cutting) Law. As everyone failiar with Philippine history knows, that law which provided for independence after a transition period of ten years, was passed by the U.S. Congress through the efforts of the so-called OSROX mission headed by Senator Osmeña and Speaker Roxas. Quezon objected however to the economic provisions of the law and caused the legislature to reject it.
With the OSROX group, aside from Osmeña and Roxas, were such political stalwarts as Rep. Benigno Aquino, Sen. Jose O. Vera, Commissioner Osias and U.P. President Palma. On Quezon’s side were his righthand men Senator Jose Ma. Clarin, Senator Elpidio Quirino and Reps. Quintin Paredes and Jose Zulueta. A tribute to Quezon’s political sagacity, he won to his side such former enemies as Aguinaldo, Sumulong, Recto and other lesser oppositionists.
The bitter fight had its first repercussions in the legislature when Osmeña men or “pros” were eliminated from key positions. Foremost of those “decapitated” was Speaker Roxas who was replaced by Rep. Paredes. The senate re-elected Quezon as president; Clarin, president-protempore, and Quirino, floor leader. There was then no question that Quezon and his “antis” were masters of the situation.
Quezon’s stock rose to greater heights when, despite dark predictions of failure voiced by the “pros”, he went to America and came back with another law – the Tydings-McDuffie Act – which was admittedly a much better law in so far as the Filipinos were concerned. Without a dissenting vote the legislature later accepted the law which became the foundation of the present Republic.
Once more, the people gave eloquent evidence of their confidence in Quezon when, in the election held barely a month after the acceptance of the T-M law, his men swept to victory throughout the country.
The foregoing are but a few of the fights that made Quezon’s political career colorful and dramatic. As has been already said, is not one of them did he ever taste the bitter pill of defeat. This, many of those who knew him attributed to his great and winning personality, his deep insight into human nature and his fighting spirit. To this the writer would add: if Quezon never lost a fight, it was because before he plunged into a battle he made sure of his backing, political or otherwise. I still remember that on the eve of his declaration of war against Osmeña and Roxas on the H-H-C law, he gathered at his home in Pasay the biggest men in business, finance and industry to ask for their support.
“Somos or no somos” he asked them, and when everyone chorused “Somos,” he fired the following day the first salvo against the OSROX.
The FREE PRESS Story
By Filemon V. Tutay
Highlights of its first 50 years, including its wobbly start, its many libel suits and how the publisher was nearly deported.
August 30, 1958—WHEN R. McCulloch Dick first thought of starting a paper of his own over 50 years ago, he was editor of the old Manila Times with a handsome salary of P550 a month. He had two weeks’ vacation coming to him and one day he told Martin Egan, the Times’ managing editor and Associated Press correspondent, that he wanted to take the two weeks off and canvass some businessmen to find out what they thought of his idea to put out his own paper.
Egan, who also left the Times later and joined the business firm of J.P. Morgan & Co. in New York, replied simply: “All right, go ahead!”
During the couple of weeks that followed, Dick made the rounds and consulted about a dozen businessmen, most of whom had their offices on the Escolta. Only two of the businessmen were in favor, a few had their doubts, while the rest predicted failure for his project.
In the face of these gloomy prospects, however, Dick decided to “go ahead.” His total resources amounted to P8,000 which represented his savings during the five years that he worked for the Times. How to begin was his next problem.
Before proceeding any further, however, a word of explanation is in order.
Dick’s decision to publish a weekly was probably influenced somehow by his close association with F. Theo Rogers, who was then a vocational teacher connected with the Bureau of Education. After his day was done as a teacher of carpentry in the old Philippine School of Arts and Trades, Rogers used to drop around almost every afternoon at the Times’ office for a chat with his close friend. They invariably talked about the political issues of the day, especially those bearing on the political aspirations of the Filipino people.
When Rogers was sent to Bacolod, Negros Occidental, to organize a school of arts and trades, he kept track of happenings in Manila through his correspondence with Dick. Rogers says that the mails were pretty slow that time and he received letters from Manila only once every two weeks. He recalls that in one of his letters to Dick, he stated that “the paper for this country is a weekly magazine costing about 10 centavos a copy and P2.00 for one year’s subscription.”
So, while Dick was groping for a solution to his problem on how to begin, he thought of the Philippines FREE PRESS which was started by Judge W.A. Kincaid as an organ of the Moral Progress League. The league had been organized to crusade against vice in Manila. The paper was in circulation for about a year and then died a natural death. It was a losing proposition. The paper had been dead for some time when Dick thought of reviving it.
Judge Kincaid was in the United States at the time but he had left a power of attorney with Atty. Charles A. McDonough. Upon being consulted by Dick, McDonough informed him that Kincaid would be glad to see him revive the paper. McDonough added, however, that there was not much to start with; only a few lists of subscriptions, the title and the good will. For all these, Dick paid the token amount of one peso.
The New Free Press
Two weeks after this transaction, the first issue of the Philippines FREE PRESS of today hit the streets. Old subscribers of Kincaid’s organ of the Moral Progress League were without doubt pleasantly surprised to receive copies of the new FREE PRESS. The issue, which had English and Spanish sections, was dated August 29, 1908. Whereas the old FREE PRESS had been a newspaper, the new one was a magazine.
The paper was then published on the second floor of the same building at No. 44 Escolta where Carson Taylor’s Manila Daily Bulletin also had its offices and printing plant. Through an arrangement with Taylor, the FREE PRESS was printed on the press of the Bulletin.
The FREE PRESS occupied only two rooms in the building, a composing room and an office, the latter combining the business and editorial departments. Quite a bit of the original P8,000 capital was spent for type and furniture for the composing room and office equipment. Except for Dick who had his hands full as editor and business manager all rolled into one, nearly everybody else on the staff was on a part-time basis.
Editor of the Spanish section was Don Alberto Campos who, among other things, was then also associate editor of El Mercantil, professor of Spanish at the Centro Escolar de Señoritas (now Centro Escolar University) and translator of the Bulletin’s editorials into Spanish. The indefatigable Don Alberto came to the Philippines as a major in the Spanish army. Upon his retirement from the service, he remained in Manila and engaged in newspaper and educational work.
To help get things done in the advertising department, Percy Warner Tinan was taken in. At that time, Tinan was handling the streetcar advertising for Meralco. Rogers also helped in soliciting advertising for the FREE PRESS whenever his time allowed but refused to be paid for his efforts. Eventually, however, when funds became available, he was persuaded by Dick to join the FREE PRESS to look after the business end of the publication. Rogers now holds the position of general manager of the paper.
Dick and Rogers recall that the early days of the FREE PRESS were days of continuous struggle and hard work. Working up to one or two o’clock in the morning seemed to be the order of the day. But no one on the staff complained about the heavy routine. Rogers recalls with a glint in his eyes that, when walking home from work in the wee hours of the morning during those hectic days, he always took care to use the middle of the street to avoid stepping on some people “squatting” on the sides of the streets for lack of toilet facilities.
From the beginning, the public response to the publication was generally friendly. There were instances of strangers who solicited subscriptions without accepting the usual agent’s commission while some businessmen helped along with advertising.
But the friendly response of the public was not good enough. After seven months, the P8,000 capital was gone. Dick was in dilemma. What to do? Give up the whole thing as a total failure? Or, “go ahead?” Characteristic of the “Old Man,” Dick chose to “go ahead.”
Much as he hated to go into debt as a matter of principle, Dick was forced to borrow money to keep the FREE PRESS going. Through a friend, he borrowed P2,000 at 8-percent interest per annum. But in six or seven weeks, this was also gone. Dick was still determined to “go ahead” and secured an additional loan of P1,000. This turned the trick and the paper started to making a little money. There were occasional periods of stringency, it’s true, but the FREE PRESS had definitely become a going concern.
Later, when the Bulletin moved to the Cosmopolitan Building on the north approach to Sta. Cruz (now MacArthur) Bridge, the FREE PRESS went along. The paper continued to be printed on the press of the Bulletin. It was not until sometime in 1921 that the FREE PRESS erected its own building on its present location on Rizal Avenue and installed its own printing plant.
Tinan did not stay very long with the FREE PRESS. After leaving the FREE PRESS, he worked for La Estrella del Norte where he took charge of the automobile department. Then he went to South America and became the manager of the Studebaker agency in Buenos Aires. It seemed, however, that he could not stay put in any one place. He returned to the Philippines later and put out various automobile publications. Tinan had the distinction of driving the first car to Baguio.
Don Alberto stayed with the FREE PRESS as long as its Spanish section held its appeal for a substantial Spanish-speaking segment of the publication. The Spanish translations of the English editorials were especially appreciated in the homes of the aristocracy and in the high places in the government which were held by Spanish-educated Filipino officials.
The Spanish Section
This appeal, however, wore off with the years. More and more English-speaking Filipinos were being turned out by the public school system and FREE PRESS readers clamored for more space for English than Spanish in the publication. More significant was the fact that very few businessmen cared to buy advertising space in the Spanish section.
Don Alberto was succeeded by Roman Joven, a Filipino from Pampanga, as editor of the Spanish section. Antonio Ma. Cavanna, who is now with El Debate, was the last Spanish editor of the FREE PRESS.
Of the Grand Old Men of the FREE PRESS, Frederic S. Marquardt, one of the ablest associate editors ever to work for this paper, had the following to say in his book, Before Bataan And After: “It would be difficult to find two men more radically different in temperament than R. McCulloch Dick and F. Theo Rogers. Dick was an intellectual type, an introvert who shunned social gatherings and had only a few intimate friends. Rogers was an extrovert, who numbered his friends by the thousands and was at his best in a convivial gathering or on a speaker’s platform. Yet they pulled in harness together amazingly well, and they built a new magazine which influenced the lives and thoughts of many thousands of Filipinos.”
Dick was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, some 86 years ago. He emigrated to the United States while he was in his teens and attended Park College in Missouri. He spent some time in California where he held various jobs, including one in a grocery store. Then he went east and found employment on a weekly newspaper in New Rochelle, New York.
As to how he finally wound up in Manila is a long story. Suffice it to say that when he discovered to his dismay that his hair was falling out in alarming quantities, he consulted a doctor who advised him to take a long sea voyage. Naturally anxious to keep his hair, Dick went to the waterfront in New York and shipped, as a deck hand at $14 a month, on a sailing ship bound for the Far East.
He left his ship in Hong Kong with the intention of getting a job on a newspaper in the British crown colony. He eventually took passage for Manila when he was told that English-speaking newspapermen were badly needed in the Philippine capital. Dick started as a reporter on the American owned Manila Times.
Rogers comes from Boston where, he says, “the best Americans come from.” At 14, he volunteered for service in the US Army and was sent to the Philippines to help quell the insurrectos. After a semblance of peace had been restored in many provinces of the islands, he was pressed for service as a vocational teacher in the old Philippine School of Arts and Trades.
Gifted with the knack of making friends very easily, Rogers was soon counting his friends by the thousands, both great and small. He became immensely popular not only among Filipinos but also among the various foreign communities in the Philippines. He is the only non-Spaniard who was extended an honorary membership in the Casino Español. He enjoys the same privilege in the exclusive Swiss Club.
Even as a humble vocational teacher in the early days, Rogers was already rubbing elbows with the highest officials in the Philippine government. On the recommendation of then Speaker Sergio Osmeña, Rogers was designated to accompany then Assemblyman Manuel Luis Quezon on a mission to the International Navigation Congress in St. Petersburg, Russia, some time in 1908. The third member of the group was the late Teodoro Kalaw, who acted as technical assistant to Quezon.
By virtue of an Act of Congress, Rogers, a couple of years ago, was made “an adopted son of the Philippines” with the same rights as any Filipino citizen.
Not a few people have often wondered how Dick and Rogers, radically different in temperament as they are, have been able to pull smoothly together and build up the FREE PRESS to what it is today. The only plausible explanation for this seems to be that the nature of their work on the paper does not necessarily throw them together. They have entirely different and distinct responsibilities. While Dick takes care of the editorial end, Rogers looks after the business side of the publication.
Both loved to travel in their younger days and they were seldom together in Manila after the paper had attained a state of financial stability before the war. When one was abroad, for periods ranging from six months to three years, the other got things done in the office. Since liberation, however, only Rogers has gone abroad.
They are held with the highest respect by the FREE PRESS personnel and are never addressed without the “Mr.” Not that they ask for it, but it is given voluntarily. (The customary “Mr.” has been purposely left out from this write-up for reasons of space.)
As Fritz Marquardt put it in his Before Bataan and After, Dick was and still is “a fiend for orderliness.” When he walks around the office and spots a paper clip, or a small piece of paper, he never fails to stop and pick it up. Naturally, everybody in the office takes the hint and no one wants to be caught with any such thing, or worse still, a cigarette butt on the floor near his desk. He knows that the “Old Man” is sure to spot it and pick it up and make him look like a fool.
Dick is a stickler for correct spelling and grammar in accordance with the rules. An error in spelling or grammar is enough provocation for him to raise the roof anytime. He is a perfectionist. When he takes up something with any of his employees, he expects that employee (no matter if he is only a janitor) to speak out his mind without fear. The “Old Man” definitely hates a “yes” man.
This, as in many other things, is where Rogers differs with him. You cannot argue with Rogers. This is because he will insist on doing all the talking. And, of course, he is always right. He is “the boss.” On at least four occasions before the war, Rogers “fired” this writer on the spot for talking back. Being really stubborn, however, the writer came back each time. As for Rogers, an impulsive Irishman, he soon cools off after outbursts of temper.
Among the many men, too numerous to mention, who have contributed to the growth of the FREE PRESS, two may be mentioned: Domingo Magsarili Sr., and Robert S. Hendry. Magsarili, now 75 years old, started his career with the magazine with its very first issue 50 years ago, and is still going strong. As a composing room foreman, it is doubtful whether he has a peer. He has the touch of an artist in his skillful handling of ads and editorial copy and pictures.
Robert S. Hendry was the associate editor for nine hectic years from 1947 to 1955. Those were exciting, eventful years for the FREE PRESS in which it more than doubled its prewar circulation. His astute editorial judgment and honorable conduct greatly impressed those privileged to work with him. Leaving the FREE PRESS at the end of 1955, he died in 1956.
The FREE PRESS story will not be complete without a word about the many libel suits brought against the paper and its editor and the various members of its staff because of its militant policy. About the biggest libel suit ever instituted against the FREE PRESS was filed at the instance of the late President Quezon when he was Senate President. A libel suit filed against Dick and staff member Teodoro M. Locsin by former Gov. Eliseo Quirino took some four years to thresh out in the Court of First Instance of Vigan, Ilocos Sur. Besides the libel suits, there have been death threats against the magazine’s staff members.
Dick himself was once ordered deported from the islands by then Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison. But before the order became effective, Harrison left the administration in the hands of Vice-Governor General Charles Emmett Yeater. By the time that Harrison returned to the country, he had undergone a change of heart and the deportation order was eventually abrogated.
How does the FREE PRESS manage to maintain its circulation at a high level? That is the pet problem of Circulation and Office Manager Floro A. Santos, a veteran of 46 years on the FREE PRESS. The beauty contests held by the FREE PRESS before the war might have had something to do with it, but it has been largely the industry and resourcefulness of Floro which kept the circulation of the paper consistently high. However, if you ask Rogers how the FREE PRESS has managed to maintain its high circulation during those years, he will tell you that this paper’s circulation manager used to be his pupil in the old Philippine School of Arts and Trades.
HOW OUR FLAG FLEW AGAIN
June 9, 1956
The flag was prohibited for 12 years. Tears of joy were shed when flag law was repealed
By Jose A. Quirino
ONE of the saddest events in Philippine history occurred on September 6, 1907, the day the Filipino flag was proscribed. The incidents which led to the first proscription of the Sun and Stars (the public display of the flag was also prohibited during the early part of the Japanese occupation) and the subsequent lifting of such a proscription bear recalling.
By the time the first Philippine republic was proclaimed and by the time the flag was proclaimed as the republic’s political symbol on June 12, 1898, almost all Filipinos realized the importance of a national standard in united them in the fight for independence.
Even with the establishment of a civil government by the American authorities of the turn of the century, Filipinos still kept their own versions of the national standard. Long before the Flag Act was approved, the public display of the Filipino flag was banned. Any person who used any button, pin, watch chain, or trinket with the colors or design of the Philippine flag could be prosecuted and incarcerated by the Constabulary.
The ban was an unwritten one, though according to international customs and usage, the ruling power could formally proscribe the display of the flag. But still, during the military occupation, the display or possession of the flag was considered an act of disloyalty, if not hostility, to the United States and its constituted government in the islands.
Although the unwritten ban on the public use of the national colors was relaxed after the establishment of a civil government, many Filipinos hid or destroyed their national standard because they did not want to be questioned by the authorities. The bolder ones, however, began publicly displaying the national colors, occasionally even during parades. This resulted in several incidents which, finally, led to the formal proscription of the flag.
For example, during the campaign for the election of deputies to the Philippine Assembly on July 30, 1907, political supporters organized parades in which were displayed Filipino flags. In several instances, the local banners were bigger than the American flags and were displayed at the right side of the latter. Then, during a public celebration in Caloocan, Rizal, a group of patriots, shouted: “Down with the Americans! Out with the Americanistas.” This caused an uproar which embarrassed the American community.
Such patriotic and revolutionary outbursts on the part of the Filipinos prompted the newspapers to editorialize on the matter. Members of the American community, on the other hand, held public meeting demanding the formal proscription of the Filipino flag.
The Manila Times, then an American newspaper, plugged for tolerance on the part of the Americans. In its editorial of August 12, 1907, it observed:
“The Filipino flag and the Filipino anthem may not be to our liking and may cause us a wry face in the swallowing, but Washington apparently thinks they are not improper and it is Washington which is running things in the Philippines: THE PHILIPPINES FOR THE FILIPINOS.”
El Renacimiento, the fighting periodical, took up the cudgels for the Filipinos and their flag. In its August 21, 1907 editorial, the paper declared:
“The prohibition of the flag is an offense to the people, we repeat. The flag is the symbol of our ideal of liberty. To prohibit it, is it not tantamount to an attempt against the most sacred of our aspirations?…”
Governor General James. F. Smith’s reaction to all of this was one of understanding when he stated: “I am interested in the welfare of the Filipino people, but I love and am interested in my mother country, the United States. I wish to be tolerant, and when the army authorities told me that such tolerance would be of evil results in the future, I answered that we should not be very exacting because the Filipino flag symbolized an ideal bathed in blood and tears.”
On August 23, 1907, members of the American community held a meeting at the Manila Grand Opera House and passed a resolution urging the proscription of the Filipino flag. On September 6, 1907, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 1696, common known as the Flag Law, entitled: “An act to prohibit the display of flags, banners, emblems, or devices used in the Philippine islands for the purpose of rebellion or insurrection against the authorities of the United States and the display of Katipunan flags, banners, emblems, or devices and for other purposes.”
According to the late Major Emmanuel A. Baja, one of our most noted authorities on the Filipino flag, 13 bills and one resolution were drafted from 1908 to 1914 to repeal the Flag Law. Five of these were passed by the Philippine Assembly while the rest were pigeonholed. The Philippine Commission, however, did not act on the five bills passed by the Assembly.
After the creation of a Philippine legislature consisting of an upper and lower house, attempts to abrogate the Flag Law fizzled out.
On October 6, 1919, after the first World War, Speaker Sergio Osmeña, then vacationing in Japan, wrote Senate President Manuel L. Quezon and said, among other things: “In view of the fact that circumstances have totally changed…I believe that the occasion has come to submit again to the governor-general the question of our flag, that he may be persuaded this time to withdraw his objection to the repeal of the law which prohibits its use.”
Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison, a man who was sympathetic toward the Filipino cause, urged the repeal of the Flag Law in his 17th annual message to the Legislature. That same day, October 16, 1919, Senator Rafael Palma, taking a cue from Harrison’s message, sponsored House Senate Bill No. 1 scrapping the ban on the flag. The senators crossed party lines and the bill was passed. The following day, October 17, the bill was sent to the House of Representatives. The fiery solon from Batangas, Rep. Claro Mayo Recto, delivered a speech on the floor in behalf of the Democratas and declared:
“…On this day, gentlemen, the representatives of the people, in the exercise of their high attributes and prerogatives, will resolve unanimously that there be hoisted, never again to lowered down… where it may be kissed by the sun or caressed by the storms, and where it may not be reached by the mud splatter of our journey or the noise of our petty grudges, that immortal banner…”
The bill repealing the Flag Law was approved in both houses and became Act No. 2871 on October 22, 1919. On October 24, 1919, Harrison issued Proclamation No. 18 setting aside October 30, 1919 as a public holiday to be known as “Flag Day.” (Since then there have been other flag days such as May 28 and June 12.)
Filipinos all over the country rejoiced over the repeal of the Flag Law and expressed their joy by holding parades and programs. Every house “blossomed” with replicas of the national standard. Even the trees were decorated with small flags.
Center of the celebration was Manila where people shouted with joy and the children waved the national colors. Jose P. Bautista, Manila Times editor, told this writer that there was one incident which marred the festivities when one American tried to haul down a Filipino flag at the Luneta. The culprit was arrested by the police.
On October 27, 1919, Gen. Aguinaldo, who was then sick and confined in the Philippine General Hospital, wrote Senate President Quezon for the honor of bearing the flag during the main program to be held on the occasion of Flag Day, October 30. But Quezon denied the request of the Grand Old Man of the revolution and was severely criticized by the newspapers for refusing to grant what one paper termed “a very reasonable request and which the old general deserves.”
The Cablenews-American, in its issue of November 1, 1919, reported: “The presence of a delegation of marines and sailors (in Cavite) together with a band from the Naval Base contributed much to make the occasion more impressive. The American and Filipino flags were hoisted simultaneously by the Provincial Governor and the Commandant of the Naval Base respectively, while the Marine Band played. The celebration was made still more impressive by the fact that the Filipino Flag which was hoisted was a historic one, it being the second Filipino Flag made, the one used by the battalion of General Trias during the revolution.”
It is said that many people shed tears of joy when the Filipino flag was publicly displayed after 12 long years (1907 to 1919) of proscription.
“The bible of the Filipinos”
By Frederic S. Marquardt
Taken from his book, Before Bataan and After (1942)
THE Philippines Free Press was a brilliant example of man’s ability to adapt himself to the circumstances in which he finds himself. I’m sure there was no publication quite like it in the world.
The Free Press was published weekly, in a magazine format much like that of the Saturday Evening Post. It was basically a news magazine, and it had been in existence for fifteen years before Time evolved the present news-magazine technique of handling the news.
But the Free Press offered much more than résumé of the week’s news. Its political cartoons were probably the most powerful single force in Philippine journalism. These always appeared on the first page and were accompanied by an explanatory text, in something like the fashion that Arthur Brisbane used for his full-page editorials in the Hearst newspapers.
There was another page of editorials which everyone in the government, from the chief executive down to the village presidents, used to read closely. There was an illustrated short story, written usually by a Filipino, and a column of verse, partly contributed by Filipinos and partly taken from the work of the better-known American and English poets.
There were feature articles covering nearly everything in the Philippines and a lot of things outside of the islands. There were plenty of pictures from home and abroad, and there was a column of Philippine news from Washington written by a resident correspondent. For a while the Free Press also had its own correspondents in Tokyo and Paris. There was column of jokes and a letter-to-the-editor page and a pen-pals column. At one time or another nearly every type of feature that has appeared in any newspaper or magazine cropped out in the Free Press.
I don’t want to give the impression that the Free Press was a catchall. It was edited with care that would amaze many editors in the United States. But its primary purpose was to interest the readers, and anything that was interesting was likely to pop up between its covers.
Dreamer, not demagogue
By Leon Ma. Guerrero
Free Press staff member
September 17, 1938–THE day before, Nationalist Campaign Manager Benigno Aquino had said: “Juan Sumulong would be an ideal critic. He is a profound thinker, an effective writer. But as a leader of the opposition he will not be successful. A person who considers thoroughly what he is going to do and say, because he is afraid of what may be said against him, cannot lead a successful opposition. Juan Sumulong is a dreamer, an idealist.”
Sitting at a quiet window in native shirt and slippers, looking out occasionally at the great tree an arm’s length away or down at the quiet street, the old man I was talking with looked indeed like a dreamer, an idealist.
He laughed when he heard what Aquino had said. It was a kindly laugh, springing from real amusement. I could not make up my mind whether he was laughing at Aquino or laughing at himself. Ever afterward, after explaining a plank in the opposition platform, he would stop and add an ironic footnote. “But of course, I am an idealist,” he would chuckle tolerantly, “just a dreamer.”
“Every man a king”
Once I interrupted his careful exposition of the opposition’s plans. “That is all very well. But the masses can’t understand that.” It was a complicated explanation of tariffs.
“No, they can’t,” he admitted.
“Why don’t you get something popular, something dramatic and easily understood, like President Quezon’s social justice, for example?”
He frowned. “Unfortunately,” he said, “there are no demagogues in the opposition.”
It sounded like a death sentence—for the opposition.
What does the opposition need? Above all things it needs a demagogue. It also needs an issue, money, a machine, etc., etc. But a rip-roaring, hell-raising, heaven-promising, unscrupulous demagogue could make everything an issue. He wouldn’t need money or machine.
An opposition party is the party of the outs, the party of the dispossessed. That is its weakness, and its strength. If it can appeal successfully to the grumbling and the groaning, the out of money and the out of sorts, no political machine can stop it, no lack of funds can handicap it; its issue will be the sure and simple Huey Long formula of “Every man a king.”
The Russian Revolution was not won with the abstruse economics of Karl Max. It was won with three alluring words, easy to remember, hard to refute: “Peace and Bread.”
Philosopher in an easy chair
The new deal did not sweep America in two presidential campaigns on the party platform of a balanced budget and states’ rights. It won 46 out of 48 states with a budget deliberately unbalanced to feed the hungry, raise wages, give government work to the jobless. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, with the Democratic machine wrecked by the overwhelming defeat of Al Smith, led a discouraged opposition to unprecedented victory by deliberately fostering an electoral class war: the poor against the rich, the bottom against the top.
In spite of fusions and coalitions, the Philippines is fertile soil for such an opposition. The coconut planters are dissatisfied—promise them the repeal of the excise tax, which feeds the party in power! The price of rice is high—promise to force it down to P5, P4, P3 a cavan! Tenants on the big estates are grumbling—promise them free land, good prices, no taxes! Every man a king! If and immediately when elected!
The laws of economics? The constitution? The demagogue doesn’t know and doesn’t care. Neither do the people.
But such a demagogue, the opposition party in the Philippines, whatever there is of it, emphatically does not have.
“There are no demagogues in the opposition.”
Instead there is a philosopher in an easy chair, a man who thinks like a judge and talks like a teacher.
“What do you think of President Quezon’s social justice program?” I asked Juan Sumulong.
“The opposition is not in favor of class war.”
“Well, do you admit that there are injustices and sufferings to be remedied?”
“Yes, but we disagree with the remedies offered by the party in power. The minimum wage, the distribution of land, the tenancy contract law, do not go to the root of the trouble.”
“What do you propose instead?”
“Our plan is to establish agricultural banks. The main defect in our system is that we have the very poor and the very rich, with very little middle class. The very poor never have any money, they must always go into debt. Whether you give them land or not, they eventually lose it, because they must borrow money to buy materials; they must mortgage their lands and eventually they lose those land.”
Sumulong went on to discuss tariffs, free trade, provincial autonomy, permanent U.S. naval bases, commercial zones.
“But how long would all these plans take?”
“Several years,” he said frankly. Or perhaps frankly is not the word; perhaps it is carelessly. What is a year or two to a philosopher?
Sumulong is definitely not a demagogue. He does not have the demagogue’s frenzy, his irresponsibility, his glorious generosity; he does not promise everything, now!
Conversely Juan Sumulong does not have the demagogue’s fierce hatreds, his artificial vote-getting enemies. He does not ask for the President’s head.
“What do you think of Quezon?”
“He’s a good man, but his advisers are ruining him. We were classmates, you know, at Santo Tomas. I remember that when we were students, I and several others at the university were affiliated with the Katipunan. We used to get revolutionary pamphlets from Spain, and between classes we would gather in corners to discuss them. But whenever we saw Quezon coming, we changed the subject. We never showed him the pamphlets either. You see, Quezon was a Spanish mestizo and he had been brought up by the friars, so he leaned to their side.”
“I am a sick man”
It was the only slight on the President’s career made that afternoon by Sumulong and it was made with a chuckle, as if he had been reminded of the President’s recent autobiographical speeches, in which the latter spoke of his witnessing the fall of Manila, and of his fighting in Tayabas, as an officer of the revolution.
“We were classmates.”
After a time one begins to get the all flavor of that sentence. Manuel Quezon and Juan Sumulong do not look now as if they had been classmates, contemporaries.
Manuel Quezon looks years younger; the skin on his face is taut and pink with good living, his step is springy, his voice and mind are vibrant with the impulsiveness of youth.
Juan Sumulong’s face is ridged with wrinkles, the skin is loose and pale. He likes to sit by the window and look down on the street, like an old man.
He admits it. I asked him: “Do you intend to run for the Assembly?” “I am too old,” he answered. “My health won’t let me. I am a sick man.” He said it cheerfully, with resignation. One Manuel Quezon was sick too, but he took it rebelliously, with an angry haste to get back on his feet.
At a banquet last week for Vice President Sergio Osmeña, President Quezon analyzed himself and his old partner: “We are temperamentally opposite. He was by nature an evolutionist, and I have been all my life a revolutionist. He always built upon the past and I always ignored the past. He never took but one step at a time and I always wanted to jump….I moved and was inspired by a rebellious spirit, always in a hurry, never satisfied; I wanted to go on without looking back. And he, always measuring the distance, always looked ahead but without forgetting what was behind.”
The President might have been speaking of another classmate, Juan Sumulong. Sumulong, like Osmeña, is an evolutionist, a cautious philosopher going one step at a time. That is why neither Sumulong nor Osmeña ever was any good as leader of an opposition. They are temperamentally suited for power, for deliberate direction without opposition.
Manuel Quezon, the rebel—almost, one might say, the demagogue—would be infinitely more fit to lead the opposition today than Sumulong; and would feel infinitely happier about it.
Now in power, surrounded by yes-men, Quezon misses the fights he used to have. He flails about, looking for trouble. He puts up straw men, just for the pleasure of knocking them down. Deprived of the pleasure of an opposition in politics, he has picked a fight with corrupt government and corrupt capital.
Juan Sumulong, on the other hand, does not even want to run for election. He prefers to have others do the fighting for the opposition. We are depending on the younger men. The students in the towns and barrios. They are intelligent enough to understand our platform, to explain it to the voters of their towns. You know how it is in the provinces. Whenever a man cannot understand something, he sends for the town student to explain it to him. These are the men on whom the opposition builds its hopes.”
Sumulong was once such a young man, in the hilly pilgrimage town of Antipolo, just as Quezon and Osmeña were in their towns in Tayabas and Cebu, respectively. But the careers of the three diverged sharply from the outset.
Quezon and Osmeña became two of the founders and leaders of the Nationalist party, whose platform was immediate, complete, and absolute independence. Sumulong, characteristically, aligned himself with the Federal party, whose platform was the entrance of the Philippines into the American Union as a state.
Quezon and Osmeña plunged into politics together. Last week the President reminisced: “The Vice President and I have been friends ever since we were in college. We entered politics in the same year. We were elected provincial governors on the same day. We took our oath of office on the same day. We were elected to the National Assembly on the same day, and we took that oath of office on the same day.”
While his two classmates were in the thick of elections, scrambling for votes and power, Sumulong became a judge of the court of first instance. As early as that his judicial mind, his natural detachment from the hurly burly of politics, was becoming evident. Evident also was his idoneity for calm counsel instead of rabble-rousing opposition. As a Federalist, Sumulong was a friend of the Americans. On March 1, 1909, he was appointed to the Philippine Commission, the upper appointive legislative house at the time, as commissioner without portfolio.
When pro-Filipino Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison came to power, he demanded the resignation of all four Filipino commissioners to make place for the Nationalists. Sumulong resigned October 10, 1913.
It was a humiliation and a rebuke hard to take. Sumulong had remained with the Federal party through its change into the Progressive party, advocating gradual transition to independence. Disillussioned perhaps, he helped organize the Democrata party in 1917, asking for absolute and immediate independence.
At long last, step by step, Evolutionist Sumulong had arrived at the position Quezon and Osmeña had taken from the beginning.
But he did not immediately enter politics. He waited until 1925 to launch his candidacy for senator from the fourth district. He was elected, became the floor leader of the Democrata minority in the senate until his retirement in 1931.
The only time Sumulong tasted party victory was when he allied himself Manuel Quezon against the Hare-Hawes Cutting bill. Perhaps there was much of personal jealousy in Quezon’s stand; in Sumulong’s there could have been only intellectual conviction. But it was Quezon’s fire, his contradictory but magnetic speeches, his boasting and promising, that gave the anti opposition an overwhelming victory. It showed once more Manuel Quezon’s genius as a rebel.
But it also showed Sumulong’s fatal consistency, the careful consideration and intellectual honesty which have proved his political undoing. In the heat of that campaign, Sumulong, like Quezon and the other antis, assailed many provisions in the HHC law that are now embodied in the Tydings-McDuffie law, as accepted by Quezon and the party in power.
But Sumulong still believes that the establishment of permanent U.S. naval bases will prove disastrous to an independent Philippines.
He still believes that the longer free trade is continued, the harder it will be for the Philippines to shake off economic bondage.
The first and last anti
He is, in a way, the Last Anti.
He was also, in a way, the First Anti. As one of the founders of the Progressive party, he advocated just such a transition to independence as we have now, under the Tydings-McDuffie law.
Immediate, absolute and complete independence has now lost much of its glamour, but in the provinces it is still as potent a political platform as it was when Manuel Quezon used it to rise to power. An unscrupulous opposition, a demagogue, could still use it now with great effect.
The Sakdals under Benigno Ramos won the only opposition victories in the Philippines in recent years with that old slogan. The new opposition under Juan Sumulong could win even greater victories. Manuel Quezon knows this: periodically he hints that it’s just the thing.
But when the opposition party met to formulate its platform recently, Sumulong put his foot down and kicked out the magic plank. Why? He didn’t think it was beneficial, or even possible!
“We may have won a few votes with it,” he said. And then he shrugged. Votes were not everything.
Instead of political independence, Sumulong wants to wave economic independence at the voters. He accuses the Nationalist Party of working to keep us in indefinite economic bondage to the U.S., with transition tariffs extended until 1960, the ceaseless grabbing after quota concessions, even the JPCPA.
Economic independence! A fresh slogan, a vital problem, but….
“Will the masses understand it?”
“There are no demagogues in the opposition.”
One wonders why Sumulong is in the opposition at all. His fellow Democrats who sided with Quezon in 1934 went high. Claro Recto became president of the constitutional convention, associate justice of the supreme court. Gregorio Perfecto is a powerful Assemblyman, chairman of the Little Senate.
Why did Sumulong break with Quezon? It is a question which Sumulong wants to keep until he writes his memoirs. He contents himself now with telling an anecdote. In the midst of the campaign, Quezon was discussing a measure at a council of the antis. Immediately, says Sumulong, most of the antis moved to give him a vote of confidence.
“I objected, of course,” says Sumulong. “Quezon hadn’t asked for confidence; no difficult question had been proposed. It was a routine discussion, and these fellows wanted to give him a vote of confidence!”
Sumulong thinks that Quezon is still plagued with yes-men.
“The poor man is being led astray by sycophants. Sí, señor; sí señor. That’s all he hears. No wonder he commits all his mistakes.”
The plans for industrialization are “ill digested.”
Provincial and municipal governments should be given more autonomy. This is possible by making them financially independent of the central government through greater powers of taxation.
The senate should be revived under the old plan. Older heads could restrain and counsel the younger Assembly. The army and insular police should be divorced from politics. The President should not be Commander-in-Chief of the army….
Juan Sumulong is not an opposition leader. He is not a demagogue. He is too careful, too kind, too intellectual. He likes to dream, to plan quietly for an ideal state, sitting by the window above a quiet street. He is not the man to shout on a soapbox and light the fire of opposition. He would be happier and more useful as a judge, a senator, or an adviser at Malacañan, this wise and tired old man.
October 21, 1916
Inauguration of New Senate and First Completely Filipino Legislature
In the same historic McKinley plaza which sixteen years ago witnessed the transfer of the government of these islands from the military to the civil authority of the United States, there was witnessed last Monday another epoch-making act in the great political drama being unfolded here in the benevolent emancipation of the Filipino people under the protecting aegis of America. For the first time in their history the Filipino people gazed upon a senate or upper house of their own choosing. They saw the passing of a legislative body selected by the sovereign will of the American people as represented in the President and Congress of the United States, and the birth of a body chosen by the sovereign will of the Filipino people as expressed in the popular vote. In such transformation there was recorded another momentous advance in the political evolution of the Filipino people, and another aspiring dream of the years come true.
The scene of the gathering was befitting such an historic occasion, the setting being the foreground of the Ayuntamiento or seat of government. From the large pillared portals of the building out over the street in front there extended a platform where sat Governor General Harrison, Speaker Osmeña, Senate President Quezon, the members of the upper and lower houses, and other official functionaries. In front and facing the platform sat members of the judiciary and other branches of the government, and representatives of the army and navy, the consular corps, the church, and commercial and other organizations. Behind them and spreading out fanwise under the shady acacia trees of the plaza and on the adjoining streets, stood an enormous throng, estimated at between 15,000 and 20,000 people. Guarding the avenues of approach and holding back the immense throng from pressing too closely to the platform, were serried files of the United States troops and the Philippine constabulary, their uniforms and accoutrements lending a martial touch to the occasion.
It was about eleven o’clock when the imposing strains of the overture by the constabulary band heralded the opening of the ceremonies. As the music ceased the members of the senate and the lower house filed through the spacious doorway and took their seats on the platform, being followed almost immediately by Governor General Harrison, accompanied by the passing Philippine commission, and Speaker Osmeña and Senate President Quezon, both of whom had been elected to their respective posts just previous to the grand ceremony. In the presence of the vast throng, President Quezon and Speaker Osmeña each called his house to order, and then Governor General Harrison advanced to the speaker’s desk and read the messages received from President Wilson and Secretary of War Baker, which evoked enthusiastic responses. The chief executive then read (in Spanish) his message to the legislature, being greeted on several occasions with loud cheers.
Bank and Railroad
Described as “two acts of the greatest importance to the economic development of the islands,” the governor general referred to the creation of the Philippine National bank and the purchase of the controlling stock of the Manila Railroad company. Of the former he said that under wise management it would go far to “secure the freedom of Philippine commerce” and would stimulate agriculture and industry, and of the latter that it would greatly profit the Filipino people to hold in their own hands the power and direction of their principal system of land transportation. Thus they could “stimulate and distribute the commerce of the islands in the interests of the people as a whole, instead of primarily for the benefit of foreign stockholders.” The railroad would prove the “very backbone” of the plans of the Filipino people for “the fiscal independence and financial development of the archipelago.”
On this subject the chief executive said the civil service roster of July 1, 1916, showed: approximately 1500 Americans and 8,200 Filipinos in the civil service. Under the present policy of steady filipinization the position was gradually being reached where every bureau or office of the government would be under a Filipino chief or have a Filipino assistant. The terms of the new act showed clearly that congress intended that Filipino citizens should be given an opportunity to demonstrate their own capacity to establish a stable government here. “Should it be your pleasure, therefore, to reorganize the departments of the insular government, it should be the policy for the governor general to appoint a Filipino to be head of each department of which the law gives him the right of nomination.”
Hundred thousand greet governor
October 11, 1913–THROUGH loud leagues of cheering people, through a city thronged as never before, acclaimed by waving flags and banners, by blaring bands, and by the tumultuous roar of welcome which met him wherever he moved, Francis Burton Harrison on Monday drove to the grandstand on the Luneta, where he spoke to a nation from a nation, to the Philippines from the United States, whose representative he is. In all the history of the Islands, there has been no such demonstration as ushered him into his place as Governor General, for one hundred thousand from Manila, and from the provinces of the archipelago, met in the great gathering which did him honor.
All through the day the city was keyed to expectancy. On all the thoroughfares in the morning hours the press of vehicles, and of pedestrians in holiday attire, was such that only with difficulty and at a snail’s pace could the street cars make way from point to point. The long blast of the ice plant whistle which should tell of the sighting of the Manchuria, the vessel bringing the new chief executive, was eagerly awaited, and when, at 1:30 p.m., the signal sounded, there was an instant setting of the tide of traffic toward the Luneta, and to those points which Mr. Harrison would pass in his progress. Organizations, schools, societies, districts—all those bodies which sought special prominence on the line of march—ranged themselves about their banners on the sidewalks, and there stood patiently while the long minutes passed before the vessel should have reached Pier 5, and the party should have landed.
Meanwhile, out on the waters of the bay, there was also preparation and parade. A torpedo flotilla, with the Dale (commanded by Lieutenant Ernest Burr) at the head of the line, awaited the time when the big liner should pass Corregidor, and then steamed into their places at bow and stern. Thus convoyed she met the fleet of gaily decorated launches which had adventured several miles out into the bay, and took on board from Jolo the members of the committee of reception. So while the sirens screamed, and the band on the little craft chartered by New Yorkers played “Give my regards to Broadway,” the big vessel made her way to the pier, and made fast.
Then it was that the enthusiasm of the day really began. No sooner had the Governor General made his appearance than a roar of greeting went up, and it broke in wave on wave of sound while he moved with Mrs. Harrison down the gang plank to where Vice Governor and Mrs. Newton W. Gilbert awaited him. There greetings where exchanged, and the party moved to the carriages sent for them. In the first Mr. and Mrs. Harrison took their seats, to find themselves faced by a regular bank of flowers, while in the second came Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert, and in the third sat Speaker Osmeña and Resident Commissioner Quezon, for whom the cheers and the greetings were especially hearty.
The route along which they passed was walled by waiting crowds. By Calle Aduana and Bagumbayan they went to the Luneta, preceded by two troops of the 7th Cavalry, and as they moved Governor General Harrison raised his hat to the cheers and the music that welcomed him, while his charming wife bowed and smiled a delighted recognition. There were surprises in store for them, as when the students of the college of law of the University of the Philippines let loose the full throated Yale college yell, and the Governor thanked them for a tribute which recognized his old alma mater, but at every step of the way there was enthusiasm, and the distinguished occupants of the carriage received it with evident pleasure.
Denser and denser grew the crowds as they neared the Luneta, where their places on the grandstand from which the speeches were to be made were ready for them. The structure had been erected in front of the statue of Jose Rizal, and it was bright with the Stars and Stripes of the country whose emissary Mr. Harrison is. In a roped space the Constabulary Band stood ready, but it was shut from view as the people in thousands surged across the open space, and packed the roadway so closely that only the cavalry could make a way for the carriages. One by one the vehicles of the party drove up and discharged their occupants, but that of the Governor General and Mrs. Harrison came last, and the cheers and hand-clapping which had been given the others swelled to a roar as they appeared.
It was a remarkable sight that lay under the eyes of the Governor General as he took his place on the stand. Before him, covering all the green space of the Luneta, the people were crushed into a solid mass, and out of a sea of faces there rose here and there the head and shoulders of the taller Americans. The ubiquitous photographer was there, with hand camera and with moving picture machine, but it must have been well nigh impossible to take pictures when all about the crowd surged and swayed, ebbed and flowed. One fact was patent—that, no matter what the discomfort, absolute good humor was to prevail. The people were expecting good tidings, and they had determined to hear it in becoming fashion.
There was silence while Commissioner Palma introduced Governor Gilbert, and there was applause when, smiling with the warm geniality which always characterizes him, Mr. Gilbert presented to the people their Governor General. But when Mr. Harrison rose and moved forward to the front of the stand, Resident Commissioner Quezon (who was to interpret his speech) at his side, there was a yell of uncontrollable enthusiasm, continued while, manuscript in hand, Mr. Harrison waited an opportunity to speak. It was at this moment that the press from behind became so heavy that the great throng flowed forward like a wave to the grandstand, and it seemed for a while that an accident was inevitable. Major General Bell stepped into the breach. He strode to the side of the Governor General, an erect and soldierly figure, and called in the great voice he can summon for occasions of need: “Attention!” “Stand still!” This had the effect intended, for the throng stood steady again, and Mr. Harrison began the reading of his momentous message.
When the speeches and the excitement were over there came an informal reception on the grandstand, and then Governor General Harrison and Vice Governor General Gilbert seated together, and Mrs. Harrison, and Mrs. Gilbert in a carriage following, drove away to Malacañan, bringing to an end the first great event of the day.
The evening, however, had been reserved for the inaugural ball, and to this it seemed indeed that all Manila had gathered. The Marble Hall of the Ayuntamiento had been transformed for the occasion, and toward the building long before nine o’clock an endless line of carriages and automobiles made their way. Not a section of the most cosmopolitan community in the East was unrepresented in the throng of men and women who crowded the building, and moved slowly by the broad staircase to the ballroom. The flowers and flags of the decorations, the brilliant colors of the dresses, the sparkle of jewels, and the brilliant light in which everything was bathed, made the scene unforgettable, and there was a spirit of eager anticipation everywhere which made the atmosphere electric.
When Governor General Harrison appeared with his wife there was a murmur of admiration on all hands. Superbly tall, holding herself with rare dignity and grace, Mrs. Harrison was exquisitely gowned, and were jewels of a luster and value seldom seen here. She was a gracious and beautiful figure, admirably set off by the brilliant scene in which he moved, and her pleasant warmth of greeting won her instantly the regard, as she had already captured the admiration of all who met her.
With the arrival of the central figures of the evening a receiving line was instantly formed. Governor General and Mrs. Harrison, Vice Governor and Mrs. Gilbert, Mr. and Mrs. Clive Kingcome, Commissioner Rafael Palma and Mrs. Palma, and Commissioner Juan Sumulong and Mrs. Sumulong composed it, but after an hour in which hundreds had been introduced, Mrs. Harrison was obliged to retire. The strain of a long day of excitement, the heat and the stress of receiving, were too much for her, and, with Governor General Harrison, she left for the Malacañan.
Thus it came about that the rigodon de honor was danced without the presence of the couple whose participation was chiefly desired. There was general regret that their departure should have been necessary, but a sympathetic understanding of the reasons which had brought it about, and the great company set itself to the pleasant task of dancing through the hours that were left.
October 11, 1913
Not alone to the tens of thousands who surged about the grandstand on the Luneta last Monday, but to every Filipino in every island the archipelago, from Tawi-tawi to the Batanes Islands, was the message governor General Harrison delivered.
Mr. Harrison told the country that he had come to inaugurate a new era. Step by step the Democratic administration will prepare the Philippines for the independence which is to come, and the first step taken is to be the giving of a Filipino majority on the appointive commission.
This is President Wilson’s decision, and it means the placing in Filipino hands of the legislative powers of government.
Thus, in a sense more complete than ever before, the Filipino people is on trial. The Great Experiment has moved forward a step. The issue will be awaited with extraordinary interest.