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Cover, April 20, 1946 issue
It’s Up to You Now!, by Leon O. Ty, November 7, 1953
My Years with the Free Press, by Frederic S. Marquardt, August 30, 1958
The death of The Guy, by Quijano de Manila, March 18, 1961
The Nation: 1965, by Quijano de Manila, June 12, 1965
Cover, April 5, 1986 issue
Madonna Power, by Teodoro M. Locsin, December 22, 1990
- Who owns this city? Editorial for October 3, 1908
- Marquardt Recounts Post-Landing Experiences, September 21, 1946 by Frederick Marquardt
- The Plight of the Displaced Population, February 22, 1947 by Federico Ayson
- They Saw Manoling for the Last Time, April 24, 1948 by Leon O. Ty
- In this corner: Lacson, May 11, 1957 by Quijano de Manila
- Strange Victory, November 23, 1957 (unsigned)
- The Phenomenon of Teilhard de Chardin, December 9, 1967 by Gregorio C. Brilliantes
- That was 1967, December 30, 1967 by Quijano de Manila
- Final round, November 1, 1969 by Napoleon G. Rama
- Remembering Teodoro M. Locsin, January 26,2002 by Manuel L. Quezon III
- No More Divorce? April 9, 1949 by Teodoro M. Locsin
- The Mind of Recto: The Wound and the Bow, June 21, 1952 by Teodoro M. Locsin
- Del Pilar, December 13, 1952 by Leon Ma. Guerrero
- Calle Azcarraga, March 4, 1961 by Quijano de Manila
- Quezon and Osmeña, December 15, 1962 by Frederick Marquardt
- From Yeh Yeh to Go Go, July 16, 1966 by Quijano de Manila
Quezon and Osmeña
From a former Free Press associate editor come these recollections of two Philippine presidents.
By Frederic S. Marquardt
December 15, 1962—SERGIO Osmeña’s long life was filled with many great services to his country, but none of them surpassed his voluntary relinquency of the presidency of the Philippines in the fall of the war year of 1943. That office was the goal of his political life. He undoubtedly wanted it more than anything else. But he gave up the presidency to which he was legally entitled. If history records a similar example of self-abnegation in any nation in the world, it has escaped my attention.
Perhaps the closest parallel in American history is to be found in the case of William Tecumseh, a Civil War general who was asked to run for the presidency. Because of his tremendous personal popularity, a move was started to draft him for the post. In terms of utter finality, General Sherman said, “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”
But Osmeña went even farther. He gave up the presidency after having been, in effect, elected to it. He signed away his right to the chief magistracy, when all he had to do was remain silent and the mantle of power would have fallen to him. He gave up what was rightfully his, in the interest of Philippine unity during time of war.
The story really began when the Philippine Constitution was drawn up. Although neither Manuel Quezon nor Sergio Osmeña was a delegate to the constitutional convention, they agreed with a charter provision limiting the presidential tenure to one term of six years. Quezon was elected president, Osmeña vice-president. They assumed office on November 15, 1935, the day on which the Commonwealth of the Philippines was officially proclaimed.
I covered the constitutional convention for the Free Press, and attended many of its sessions. It was always my opinion, although I could never prove it, that Governor-General Frank Murphy, who later became a justice on the US Supreme Court, planted the seed of the single six-year term. He also was responsible for the unicameral legislature that was written into the Philippine Constitution—and abandoned shortly after he left the Philippines.
It didn’t take much longer for opposition to mount against the single six-year term for president. There was a general feeling that it would be a mistake to rob the Philippines of the service of President Quezon, its most distinguished son and most gifted political leader. If the constitutional provision were carried out, politicians argued, it would be impossible for Quezon to be president when the Philippines achieved independence on July 4, 1946. So powerful was Quezon’s hold on his people that Independence Day without Quezon as president would have been like a wedding ceremony without a bridegroom.
So the Constitution was changed, to fix the term of president at four years and to prevent anyone from holding the office for more than eight consecutive years. It was generally understood that Quezon and Osmeña would be reelected for four-year terms in 1941. Quezon’s eight consecutive years would be up on November 15, 1943. he would step aside on that date and Osmeña would be president for two years. Then Quezon could be reelected in the 1945 elections, and he would be president when Independence Day arrived on July 4, 1946.
Things didn’t work out that way. The Quezon-Osmeña team was reelected in November, 1941, but the votes had hardly been counted before the Philippines was at war with Japan. President Quezon and Vice-President Osmeña went to Corregidor with General Douglas MacArthur, and early in 1942 made their way to Washington to establish a Philippine government in exile.
By the summer of 1943 it became evident that the Philippine presidential issue would have to be resolved. Japanese propaganda broadcasts were proclaiming that Quezon had been forced to go to the United States, and was in fact being held in Washington against his will. If Osmeña should become president, as would happen unless the constitutional limitation on the presidential term were changed, the Japanese would claim Quezon had been stripped of authority by his alleged friends, the Americans. Of course, the Japanese propaganda mills would also work the other way. If Osmeña did not become president, Radio Tokyo would say the Philippine Constitution had been altered at the behest of the US government.
A few days before the November 15, 1943, deadline, the US Congress passed a bill providing Quezon would remain president and Osmeña vice-president until their terms ended in 1945. Congressional authority to act in the matter was based on American sovereignty in the Philippines, which would run until 1946. However, such a distinguished authority as George A. Malcolm, long-time member of the Philippine Supreme Court, described the congressional action as “constitutionally indefensible” in his book, First Malayan Republic.
The bill to keep Quezon in the presidency passed the Senate unanimously, but 150 members of the House of Representatives voted against it, largely because they were opposed to allowing any president to serve more than eight years and they hoped, somehow, to stave off the bid for a fourth term that President Roosevelt was obviously going to make in 1944.
Just how was this critical decision in Philippine history made? I heard the entire story from the lips of the two major participants, Quezon and Osmeña, in Washington late in November, 1943. I had just been appointed Chief of the US Office of War Information in the Southwest Pacific, and was on my way to join General MacArthur’s headquarters in Australia. I made courtesy calls on both the President and the Vice-President. A verbatim copy of the notes I made after those conferences appears with this article. I believe it is fitting to retell this important chapter of Philippine history in the exact words that I used after talking with the two principal participants nearly 20 years ago.
Notes on a talk with Vice-President Osmeña at the Twenty-Four Hundred Hotel in Washington, Saturday, November 27, 1943
I called on Vice-President Osmeña in his hotel suite and opened the conversation by telling him what I thought the Filipinos in Washington deserved to be congratulated for having so amicably disposed of their differences. I said that unity seemed to me to be essential, and I realized that he had made unity possible by his action in the matter of presidential succession.
“I asked him to let me know exactly what he wanted to do in this case,” said Osmeña. “I said I would study the matter and that if I could conscientiously agree with him, it would be the best for all of us if we presented a unified front.
“Well, Mr. Quezon said that he didn’t believe the Constitution was applicable to our government, since it was no longer operative in the Philippines. I told him that id dint agree with the interpretation, since everything we had done was under the Constitution. We were, in fact, spending the people’s money because of the authority of the Constitution, and I could not agree that ours was merely an interim government. I thought it was the legitimate government of the Philippines. But I said that we could easily refer the matter to the department of the interior, the state department or the attorney general’s office.
“After I was out of the hospital we talked about the matter again and President Quezon said that he felt that President Roosevelt should intervene and use his emergency powers to settle the question of succession. He had apparently consulted some lawyers because he quoted Civil War precedents under President Lincoln.”
As I remember it, Osmeña did not agree with the interpretation of law either. At all events, many times during the conversation he made it clear that he always felt that Congress should act in the matter, since Congress alone had authority to alter the Tydings-McDuffie law. He also said that the attorney-general had given an opinion to the effect that President Roosevelt could not extend President Roosevelt’s term of office.
Mr. Osmeña then told me of a long conversation he had with Secretary of War Stimson. “Since the restoration of our government depended upon the United States military power,” Osmeña said, “I wanted to find out what the responsible American officials thought about it. Stimson kept me in his office for about an hour and a half. There were a lot of generals and chiefs of staff waiting to see him, but when I tried to break away he told me to stay. I told him I didn’t want to be responsible for losing a battle, and he laughed.
“Stimson painted a very compelling picture of the entire war, starting with Pearl Harbor. He told me that one great aim of the United States was to recapture the Philippines and give the Filipinos their real independence. I told him I was glad to hear that pledge repeated, although of course it had been made many times and I had never doubted it. He said that in defeating Japan the United States needed the help of the Filipinos, all of them, and that he hoped President Quezon and I would be able to help, and not only one of us, as would happen if Quezon should be replaced as president by me. I told him that I was anxious for unity too, but I asked him now, assuming that I agreed that Mr. Quezon was to remain as president, it could be done. I told him there were certain legal obstacles to be considered. He said that wasn’t in his province, and that the method of settling the issue would have to be left to the legalists, but he made it very clear that he wanted both Mr. Quezon and myself to continue in our offices as a war measure.”
At a later point in the conversation, Osmeña, referring back to this conversation, said Stimson had said that two men were essential in the reconquest of the Philippines—MacArthur and Quezon.
Osmeña then referred to the letter that Quezon had written President Roosevelt asking that he be kept in office. He asked me if I were acquainted with it, and I said yes. “One day,” said Osmeña, “Quezon called me over to the Shoreham and said, ‘Well, they’re going to throw me out in the street.’ I could see he was depressed so I asked him what made him say that. He had sent me a copy of the letter, as a matter of courtesy, but had not asked me to comment on it, so I had said nothing. If he had asked for my advice, however, I should have told him not to send the letter, as its arguments were very weak. ‘I sent a letter to the White House two weeks ago,’ he said, ‘and they haven’t even acknowledged it. They want to get rid of me.’ Well, I knew that Mr. Quezon had come out of the Philippines against his best judgment, because he was sick, but I assured him no one was trying to get rid of him. To make him feel better, I said I had tried to get an appointment with President Roosevelt but hadn’t received an answer. I said the President was very busy. I also said that I had no intention of throwing Mr. Quezon out. I told him that I had long since told mutual friends that if I should become president I would make Mr. Quezon head of a council of state and would ask him to stay in the Shoreham and retain all the perquisites of his present office. I didn’t want to move in that big hotel suite. This place is fine for me.”
The vital question, it seemed, was one of procedure. Although Osmeña apparently at no time gave his outright consent to a blanket plan of letting Quezon stay in office, he was willing to discuss any method by which it could be done. Finally, he said, he talked to Judge Sam Rosenman, presidential aide, who was handling the case for the White House. “Judge Rosenman wanted us to petition Congress to act,” Osmeña said. “I told him that if that was a request of President Roosevelt’s, of course, I would comply. A little later he called me up and said his office had drafted a letter that he was sure I would be satisfied with, and that he wanted Mr. Quezon and me to sign it. He said President Quezon had the copy. I went to Shoreham and Mr. Quezon read me the letter. But it wasn’t the one I had expected, that is one from the President asking us to take the question to Congress. Rather it was just a letter from the two of us asking Congress to act. I told Mr. Quezon I couldn’t sign it. He said he had already committed himself. I said I was sorry, but I couldn’t sign it. So he called a meeting of the Cabinet.
“He spoke to us at some length, lying there in his bed, about the whole question, and then asked for our opinions. He asked me if I wanted to be heard and I presented my side of the question. Then he said he wanted the opinion of his Cabinet members. First he called on [Jaime] Hernandez, who as auditor-general would remain in the Cabinet by law, whether I took office or not. Hernandez spoke in a very low voice for a minute or two then said, ‘This is a very vital matter, and I would like a little time to think it over.’ Then Mr. Quezon said, ‘Well, I see the Cabinet is divided. In that case, my decision is made. I have rented a home in California and I shall leave here on November 14. Mr. Osmeña will become president on the 15th. This is the final Cabinet meeting. It’s good-bye to all of you.’ They all walked out and I went to the elevator with them. Then I returned to the President’s bedroom and told him I wanted to think things over and I would see him in the morning. I thought he might change his mind. But when I saw him the next morning, he was as determined as ever.
“‘I’m disgusted with it all, and I’ll have no more to do with it,’ Mr. Quezon said.
“‘Does that stop me from settling the case?’ I asked him.
“‘No, you can go ahead and do what you like,’ he said.
“‘All right, I said, ‘but I want one promise from you. I want you to let me handle it entirely alone. Please don’t call up anyone or do anything about it.’
“‘I’ll promise that,’ Mr. Quezon said. ‘You can do anything you like. I’ll have no more to do with it.’
“Then I said that since the White House had refused to intervene, I intended to take the matter up with Senator [Millard W.] Tydings. I outlined three possible courses of action.”
I’m not sure now what one of these three courses was. One was for Congress to suspend the running of all terms of office of all Philippine officials, the terms to recommence running one month after the retaking of the Philippines. The last was to extend the present terms of office, or rather to keep Quezon and Osmeña in their present positions.
Osmeña also said that when he could not get a letter from President Roosevelt requesting him to submit the matter to Congress, he would have been satisfied with a similar letter from the secretary of war. Apparently, however, he failed to get such a letter, or perhaps he didn’t try for one.
At all events, he talked at great length of Tydings, who said that of his three plans, only the final one could be pushed through Congress, and then only if he and President Quezon would sign the request for it. So he asked Tydings to help on the draft, they revised it, and then Osmeña took it to the Cabinet. After a few changes, the Cabinet approved it, all of them initialed it, and he took it to President Quezon, who promptly agreed to sign it.
Then it went to Congress, and the Senate passed it unanimously, but there were more than 150 votes against it in the Lower House after a particularly hot debate. Osmeña could undoubtedly have killed the bill in the Lower House had he expressed any disapproval of it.
It should be added that Roosevelt’s refusal to take any part in the business was undoubtedly due to the 1944 presidential campaign. He would have been charged with perpetuating one presidency fiat as a prelude to perpetuating his own.
Notes on a talk with President Quezon at the Shoreham Hotel on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1943
President Quezon had asked me to see him regarding the possibility of taking a job with the Commonwealth government. I explained that I was going to Australia for OWI, and we discussed the situation in Australia briefly.
I was talking about the radio propaganda now being directed at the Philippines, and mentioned that the presidential succession, whereby Quezon and Osmeña were kept in their present positions for the duration, had been treated in a simple, factual manner in the broadcasts to the Philippines. I went on to say that I thought the manner in which the Filipino government in exile had worked out its problem in unison contrasted sharply with the de Gaulle-Girard rift in the French Committee of Liberation, and with the various Cabinet crises in the Polish and Yugoslav governments in exile. Then Quezon broke in and said, “I’m going to tell you some history.”
He recalled that last May President Roosevelt had told him he wanted him to remain as president of the government after November 15, the day on which, according to the Philippine Constitution, he should retire in favor of Osmeña. “I told the President not to take any action without first consulting Osmeña,” said Quezon to me. “For I earlier had spoken to Osmeña and told him we should settle this question among ourselves. I told him that if he thought he had a right to the office, he should let me know and we should work it out without asking anyone in the United States government to intervene. He agreed.
“Well, last summer when I was in Saranac, some people apparently convinced Osmeña that he should have the office according to legal right.”
Earlier Quezon had explained to me at length that he did not believe the Constitution was operative in the present emergency, since the Tydings-McDuffie Law provided the President should authority in the Philippines, and obviously he had no such authority. “I am the President of half a dozen men, not of the Philippines,” he had said laughingly.
In the fall, when he returned from Saranac, he wanted President Roosevelt to intervene and use his emergency powers to keep him in office. (In this connection, when I saw Quezon late in October, he had me read a six-page letter he had sent President Roosevelt asking him to settle the issue and giving the reasons for which he thought he should be kept in office.) Osmeña wanted Congress to act on the matter. Finally, a few days before November 15, Congress did act, on the basis of a letter signed by Quezon, Osmeña and the Philippine Cabinet.
“Rosenman [Sam Rosenman, White House adviser] called me up one night about that letter,” Quezon told me. “He said Osmeña had agreed to sign it if I would, and he read a draft of it. I told him I wouldn’t sign it. He asked me to think it over and consult Tydings, Stimson and others and let him know in the morning. I told him I wouldn’t have to think it over. I wouldn’t sign it.
“Well, the next morning Stimson came in and showed me the letter and asked me to sign it. I said I couldn’t. He said, ‘That’s your Spanish pride, Don Manuel.’ I said, ‘I resent that, Governor!’ He laughed and recalled I was talking the same way I did when he was governor-general and I stood by him on liberalizing the corporation laws, when every other Filipino opposed him. I said it wasn’t pride, but simply a matter of dignity. I wasn’t a jobseeker, and never had been one. I wasn’t going to sign a letter to Congress now begging for a job.
“Then Stimson said, ‘I’m asking you to sign the letter because we need you in the war effort, and we need you at the head of the government. It’s your duty.’
“So I said, ‘Then I’ll sign it. I have never yet failed to do my patriotic duty. If Osmeña will sign it, I will.’
“So I thought it was all settled, but that afternoon Osmeña came and said he couldn’t sign the letter and he didn’t think he should.”
Quezon didn’t make clear why Osmeña was opposed to signing the letter. But during another telephone conversation with Quezon, Rosenman said, “What’s the matter with you fellows? When Osmeña wants to sign, you don’t. and when you want to sign, he doesn’t.”
Then Quezon told me, “So I called a meeting of the Cabinet. When they were all here, I told them that I hadn’t wanted to sign the letter, but when the secretary of war told me it was my duty to do so I had agreed. However, Sergio wouldn’t sign it.”
He rested for a few seconds in his bed, where he had been during the entire interview, then said with his customary dramatic flourish, “So I said, ‘Gentlemen, I’m through.’ I turned to Hernandez [Jaime Hernandez, secretary of finance] and said, ‘Fix up a complete financial report for my term of office.’ Then I said, ‘Rotor [Arturo B. Rotor, private secretary], get all my papers for me.’ And then to all of them, I said, ‘I’m leaving here on the 14th.’”
He smiled and said, “Osmeña came over quickly and said he’d sign the paper. So did everyone else. And that’s how it happened.”
Then he paid tribute to the statement issued by Osmeña regarding the unity of the Filipinos, and saying it was a pity it had not received more publicity in this country. He didn’t feel, however, that it was of any particular propaganda value in the Philippines.
There was one other statement of particular interest in the conversation. Toward the close, Quezon said, “Marquardt, there’s one thing I want you to remember, and to spread publicly and privately when the time comes. I’m a sick man, and I may die, but I want everyone to know what a wonderful thing Roxas [Manuel Roxas] has done in the Philippines. He refused to come out with me. Three times he has refused to be the head of the new government there, although I wanted him to. He said his duty was with Wainwright. I know of no one better qualified for future leadership in the Philippines than Roxas. If I live, he will be my successor.”
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.
My Years with the FREE PRESS
By Frederic S. Marquardt
‘None of us worked for fame or glory, but I think we all had a sense of doing a good job at an exciting time in the life of a people emerging from colonial to independent status’
August 30, 1958—TWENTY-FIVE years ago I helped prepare the silver anniversary edition of the Philippines Free Press. The depression we wrestled with in those days has passed. The Japanese menace we wrote about has come and gone. The independence we discussed on all occasions is an established fact. Quezon and Osmeña and Roxas have left the scene. It’s a different world, a world of television, of Sputniks, of intercontinental ballistic missiles armed with hydrogen warheads. But the Free Press hasn’t changed, not really, during the second quarter century of its existence. It still holds fast to the high standards of good English that have marked every issue. It still is ready to break a lance on corruption in government. It still fights for a better Philippines in a world at least slightly mad. And I am happy indeed to be able to salute it on its golden anniversary.
Not many newspapers have managed to survive 50 years of what is, I suppose, the toughest competition that exists. I know of no other which has been edited and published by one man for half a century. Certainly none of the world’s other great national publications have had one hand at the tiller for so long.
Since R. McCulloch Dick probably will wield the red pencil on my copy if I say much more about him, let me get down to my assignment of describing the Free Press in the days before World War II.
When I joined the Free Press staff late in 1928, the ordinary edition contained 56 pages a week, of which 16 were in Spanish. All editorials were translated into Spanish, to achieve a maximum impact for editorial opinion. Although Don Alberto Campos and Roman Joven and the others who worked on the Spanish section were extremely able men, the times were against them. The advertisers got better results when their ads were in the English section, and the Spanish section was abandoned after it had shrunk to a meager six pages. The bilingual F. Theo Rogers, business manager and lifelong associate of Mr. Dick, felt badly when the glory that was Castile faded from the pages of the Free Press, but he too accepted the inevitable.
I think I should make at least a passing reference to the hard-headed business sense of the Dick-Rogers team. They have always known that financial stability was the only basis on which a newspaper can operate in a competitive economy. I recall reading to Mr. Dick the lead editorial in Volume I, Number 1, of one of the papers that were constantly springing up in those days. The editorial platform announced the highest possible motives, all of which Mr. Dick agreed with. “But,” said the Free Press owner, “I would give it more chance of surviving if it said it was determined to keep out of the red.” The Free Press kept out of the red. It didn’t amass a great fortune or erect a magnificent plant, but it wasn’t in hock to a bank and it always met its payrolls. The pay scale, by the way, was the highest in Manila.
For roughly the first 25 or 30 years of its existence the Free Press ran an ad on its front cover each week. The cover stock was blue, and the result was a distinctive appearance that could easily be spotted on newsstands. But the British example of printing ads on the front cover became gradually outmoded and by the early ’30s we switched over to photographs or other illustrations. I recall the indignant letters we received from old subscribers when the change was made. Some of them had failed to recognize the Free Press in its new dress, and at least one annoyed reader told us to quit copying the Saturday Evening Post. Oddly enough the change to what we considered a more attractive cover did not boost circulation, but those were depression days and new subscribers were hard to come by.
For years prior to my arrival the Free Press had occasionally been running an insert bearing the picture of a national hero, a distinguished citizen, or a Filipino beauty. It usually was printed on one side of a sheet of glossy paper, and slipped into the paper as a sort of bonus. These inserts were highly popular and they appeared throughout the Philippines as decorations in homes of all sorts. The beauty contest, glorifying Filipino womanhood in every province, was a great feature of the paper.
We expanded the insert to four pages on book stock, but made it the same size as the rest of the paper and stapled it in the center of the magazine. On special occasions we would use color, and gradually color reproductions spread throughout the paper until, shortly before Pearl Harbor, it was available for as many as 16 pages a week. The covers also blossomed like a rose, as the engravers became more proficient.
Mr. Dick never resisted change. He didn’t want to experiment needlessly, but when it came to setting type by machine instead of by hand, he quickly brought in the linotypes and Ludlows. Domingo Magsarili Sr., composing room foreman, and Agustin Foz Sr., who ran the press room, knew they could always get money for labor-saving and time-saving machinery. On the other hand, Mr. Dick vetoed the idea of a rotary printing press, which would have been faster and more economical than the Miehle flatbeds, because he knew the quality of printing would decline with the rotaries in those days before air-conditioning and other modern aids to printing.
As the years went on, Floro Santos Sr., a schoolteacher turned businessman, took on more and more of the business details of running the Free Press. I’m not sure what his title was—we didn’t put much stock in titles—but he was a combination treasurer, circulation manager, office manager, and general factotum who saw that the Free Press got out on time and was circulated into the most remote barrios. To those of us who knew it was stating the obvious to say that the Free Press would never have been the same without Floro Santos. Nor could the advertising department have developed without the patient, careful effort of Lino Gimeno.
But enough of the mechanical and business details. The heart of a newspaper is the newsroom, and its strength lies in the sincerity and honesty with which it reports the news. From 1929 through 1934 there was only one really important news story in the Philippines, and that was independence. Back in those days there were a lot of Americans and some Filipinos who felt that independence would never work. I doubt if we at the Free Press ever felt that way. It seemed to us that the only ultimate solution to Philippine-American relationships was a complete severance of political ties, although we also felt that the dictates of common sense would maintain intimate international relationships after American sovereignty had ended.
Once I discussed the problem with Ramon Navas, first of the great Filipino newspapermen I had a chance to work with. Independence, of course, was an emotional issue, and I recall Navas reading a statement by President Hoover about independence and saying, with tears in his eyes, “I’ll never live to see it.” I assured him he would, but I was wrong. He was drowned during a bad typhoon that raged across the city.
Next to the independence question, I should say the main running news stories were honesty in government (then as now) and law and order. Mr. Rogers used to say, “Unless the people learn to maintain law and order, independence will be worthless.” I agreed that there was a lot to what he said.
One of the biggest stories I recall was the Sakdal uprising of May 2, 1935. It was aimed at negating the plebiscite to be taken May 14, to ratify the Constitution of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. The Sakdalistas struck at municipal officials in 14 towns. The morning after the uprising, we assigned our top three reporters, Leon Ty, Filemon Tutay and D.L. Francisco, to go to Cavite, Pampanga and Laguna provinces. They brought back pictures and word stories that covered the uprising like one of these new sacque dresses. Malacañang Palace, then the residence of the governor-general, used our reports to guide its own fact-finding commissions.
For many years Tutay doubled as a cameraman, and set up the first darkroom we had. Then, as now, he was a fine sports writer. Ty was hired as an advertising solicitor, but at heart he was a crusading reporter. He would come in after a hard day of calling on the advertisers to sit down and write the first tentative thrusts at government abuses which were to become his hallmark. Jose Pereira and Esmeraldo Izon drew cartoons and illustrations that gave the paper a quality of its own.
We were the only Manila newspaper, back in those days, to keep a correspondent in Washington. James G. Wingo kept track of the independence bills, the congressional hearings, the resident commissioner’s office and the visiting Filipinos. His Independence Merry-Go-Round was a source of cold fact and choice gossip.
The constitutional convention was another big story, and I went to as many of the meetings as I could. But most of the reports were written by Juan Collas, whose legal mind stood him in good stead, and by Leon Ma. Guerrero, the first Filipino writer, I believe, to completely master the American idiom. Both Collas and Guerrero helped set the Free Press on its path as a patron of creative writing, by the attention they paid to our short stories and poems. Teodoro M. Locsin, who came late in my Free Press career, was another master of the English language. Two American staff members who made important contributions were Ralph Busick, now holding a high post with the US Information Agency in Washington, and Robert Yelton Robb, now a university professor in Detroit.
There are more, many more, who should be mentioned in even such a brief summary as this. But I know they will forgive me for omitting them. None of us worked for fame or glory, but I think we all had a sense of doing a good job at an exciting time in the life of a people emerging from colonial to independent status.
Mrs. Douglas MacArthur once expressed her feelings—and mine—when she said of those prewar days, “We didn’t have to wait until they were over before we knew we enjoyed them.” Filipinos and Americans alike, I believe, had a sense of destiny, a feeling of important work to be done.
When I returned to the Philippines during World War II, not long after MacArthur had landed in Leyte, an American GI handed me a copy of one of the issues of the Free Press that had been printed just before Pearl Harbor. He had found it in a home in Tacloban, and I read it with great interest.
The story I will always remember was one by Locsin. It was a piece on the tense world situation, and the current status of the Philippines. And it ended with the rejoinder, to American and Filipino readers alike: “Count your blessings, and prepare to defend them.”
I was proud to learn a little later, that many of the Free Press staff were leading the precarious life of guerrillas, as they defended those blessings. Shortly after the liberation of Manila I stood with Mr. Dick and looked at the gutted Free Press building and the twisted presses and wondered how the paper would ever be rebuilt. I should not have had any doubts. The spark that had driven the Free Press to its prewar status was still ready to push it to new postwar heights. In the 17 years since I left its editorial staff, the Free Press has become better and more powerful. But it has never lost sight of the basic aim of an honest newspaper. I, for one, am confident it never will.
The past is prelude. The second fifty years in the life of the Free Press should see it reaching new heights of journalistic achievement.
October 15, 1955
Footnote to a slogan
by Frederic S. Marquardt
ON AUGUST 10, 1943, in MacArthur’s headquarters in Brisbane, Australia, Courtney Whitney, then a colonel in charge of the Philippine section, sought permission to use the slogan, “I Shall Return—MacArthur,” on articles to be infiltrated into the Japanese-occupied Philippines. MacArthur responded, in a penciled note at the bottom of a memo, “No objection.”
But if there was no objection in Brisbane, there was plenty in Washington. In November 1943, I was asked to head up the Office of World Information in the southwest Pacific. I agreed on the condition that General MacArthur, whom I had known in prewar days, actually wanted me in Australia. When he sent a favorable reply to the Pentagon, I began preparing for the trip. It was January 1944, before I could get my shots, select the men who were to go with me, and receive a thorough briefing on what the OWI had to offer in the way of psychological warfare. Late in December (1943) I stumbled across the “I Shall Return—MacArthur” file in the OWI headquarters in New York.
From the file I learned that shortly after Whitney got his clearance for the slogan, he asked the OWI in Sydney to produce substantial quantities of cigarettes, chewing gum, chocolate bars, and sewing kits. All were to be carefully packaged and would bear the “I Shall Return—MacArthur” slogan along with the crossed Philippine and American flags. Mike Stivers, who was head of the Sydney OWI office, asked New York OWI to deliver the goods. Then started a series of orders and counter-orders that must have set a record.
Every time the production people in New York were ready to award an order for, say, ten thousand packs of cigarettes with the slogan on them, the policy people in Washington would stop the order. Washington OWI claimed it was against national policy to build up a single theater commander. New York OWI simply wanted to get the job done. The resulting orders and cancellations must have made the purchasing officer dizzy.
The real objection in Washington, of course, was that MacArthur was a potential candidate for the presidency. No one with any standing in the Roosevelt administration wanted to be responsible for anything that might result in MacArthur’s aggrandizement. The fact that the propaganda was to be used among Filipinos, who would not vote in the American elections, did not seem to make any impression on Washington.
I decided I would go to Australia until this issue was settled, and, if it was settled adversely, I decided I would not go at all. I had no political interest in the matter, but I knew that Whitney had struck on the best possible slogan for use in the Philippines. Each time the slogan “I Shall Return—MacArthur” turned up in the Philippines it would be worth more than a million words poured into radio transmitters beamed at a country in which there were very few short wave receiving sets.
After several requests for a top-level conference, I met with Robert Sherwood, who was director of the overseas branch of OWI, and Joe Barnes, who was in charge of the Australian operation. As persuasively as possible I told them of the magic of MacArthur’s name in the Philippines, and of the need for a slogan that could be understood by 18 million Filipinos speaking scores of different dialects. Both Sherwood and Barnes knew enough about the ways of publicity to concede the truth of my argument. But they expressed doubts about the advisability of boosting a commander in any single theater. I pointed out there was no comparable situation in any other theater. They said MacArthur might not survive to return to the Philippines. I said I had a hunch he would be around for a long time to come. They said we might not go back to Japan by way of the Philippines. I quoted Roosevelt’s “There are many roads to Tokyo. We shall neglect none of them. “Finally Joe Barnes turned to Sherwood and said, “Bob, I think Fritz is right. Let’s O.K. the Sydney request.”
“O.K.,” said Sherwood. Then to me he said, “At least you ought to get credit for this when you get to Brisbane.”
When I got to Brisbane I found Mike Stivers had done what any sensible man on the scene would have done. He went ahead and used the slogan on locally produced chewing gum and non-meltable chocolate bars specially produced for the tropics. He produced Volume Number I of Free Philippines, with MacArthur’s picture and the “I Shall Return” slogan on the cover. There was one mistake on it. The Philippine flag showed the blue stripe at the top, in spite of a convention that in time of war the flag is turned upside down and the red stripe is on top.
I never told Sherwood and Barnes that their decision was late if proper. Nor did I tell MacArthur or Whitney of the foot-dragging in Washington. We went ahead and got the other supplies from the United States, and Whitney sent them into the Philippines through Commander Chick Parson’s submarine fleet. The Free Philippines magazine ran through 10 numbers. The final issue had one major change. The slogan was changed to “I Have Returned—MacArthur.”
As history has shown, the political impact of using the slogan was nil so far as the American vote was concerned. I did convince a lot of Filipinos that the United States would keep its word. It sparked the only effective guerrilla movement in the Far East, and one of the most effective in the entire world.
On one occasion, General Whitney had a little trouble with his radio network. Lt. George Rowe, an ex-Manilan who served in the Navy during World War II, volunteered to man a radio station and weather bureau on Mindoro. He was outfitted in Australia, given a group to work with, and told to select the call letters for his proposed Mindoro station.
The central radio transmitter for all of the guerrilla stations was located at MacArthur’s headquarters and used the call letters ISRM. The significance was clear. The letters meant “I Shall Return—MacArthur.”
Rowe, with a sly exhibition of navy humor, asked that his stations be assigned the letters IHRR. But Whitney figured out the meaning of those letters—”I Have Returned—Rowe.”
Lieutenant Rowe was given another set of letters. But he had the last laugh. When he established his station on Mindoro he called it Camp Nimitz, after the commander in chief of the American navy forces in the Pacific. Whitney was too far away to do anything about this exhibition of lese majesty.
There is one amusing epilogue to the “I Shall Return” story. After Luzon had been liberated and the Philippine campaign was coming to an end, the OWI closed up its office in Brisbane. Like the army, it no longer needed Australia for a base of operations. The Australians, so happy to see us come, were equally happy to see us go. They were naturally anxious to get their country back.
The OWI rear echelon—we were quite military for a bunch of civilians—packed up the furniture and files. One unused bundle of “I Shall Return—MacArthur” leaflets was tossed on to the truck heading for the pier. It fell to the ground, and a passing pedestrian beat the OWI man to the broken bundle. He picked up a leaflet and read, “I Shall Return—MacArthur.”
“I bloody well hope not,” said the unhappy Aussie.
One Must Die
by Teodoro M. Locsin
May 7, 1949–I KNEW both Luis Taruc and Philip Buencamino III. Taruc has disclaimed responsibility for the murder of Philip, but in the absence of evidence other than the word of Taruc, one must conclude that Philip was killed, if not at the order of Taruc, at any rate by his men.
This is the story of two men, who had never met each other, as far as I know, yet one must die because the world apparently was not big enough for the two of them. Yet Taruc felt, I am sure, no personal animus against the dead man. What he did, he did as a matter of principle. Unless it was all a senseless accident.
I knew Philip slightly before the war. We were together when the Americans entered Manila in February, 1945. We were given a job by Frederic S. Marquardt, chief of the Office of War Information, Southwest Pacific Area, and formerly associate editor of the Free Press. Afterward, Philip would say that he owed his first postwar job to me: I had introduced him to Marquardt.
Philip and I helped put out the first issues of the Free Philippines. We worked together and wrote our stories while shells were going overhead. Philip was never happier; he was in his element. He was at last a newspaperman. He had done some newspaper work before the war, but this was big time. We were covering a city at war. Afterward, we resigned from the OWI, or were fired. Anyway, we went out together.
Meanwhile, we had, with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side.
The paper was pro-Osmeña and against the rest of the government. It was anti-collaborationist and, later, anti-parity. It leaned to the left and praised the wartime record of the Hukbalahap. One day a small, thin-faced man, timid-looking, shy, showed up at the office. He came to thank us for our editorial policy. His name, he said, was Luis Taruc.
During the war, I carried a message of Taruc’s to Negros where it was flashed to Australia by the radio station established on the island by Villamor. The message was addressed to General MacArthur and offered to the general all the forces of the Hukbalahap in the liberation of the Philippines from the Japanese. When the Americans came, Taruc was arrested and, with the most prominent collaborators, imprisoned in Iwahig.
Seeing Taruc for the first time, I thought he was a government clerk, with some petty complaint, until he gave his name. He was humbled, unobtrusive; he seemed like a man other men usually pushed around. He talked softly, in a low voice. Later, in another meeting, he was to take correction mildly, without rancor. A man who had no vanity. I did not know of the will of steel underneath, of the fire burning in his brain. I should have known, for I knew enough about Communism, that here was a man who had declared war on all the non-Communist world.
I liked him because he was brave; it was only later that I was to learn that he was also ruthless. As for Philip, he was eager to work, willing to listen, and devoted to the ideals of his craft. He was always smiling—perhaps because he was quite young. He had no enemy in the world—he thought.
After the paper closed up, Philip went to the Manila Post, which suffered a similar fate. Philip went on the radio, as a news commentator. He had a good radio voice; he spoke clearly, forcefully, well. He married the daughter of the late President Manuel L. Quezon, later joined the foreign service. But he never stopped wanting to be again a newspaperman. He would have dropped his work in the government at any time had there been an opening in the press for him.
Philip never spoke ill of Taruc. He saw the movement, of which Taruc was the head, as something he must cover, if given the assignment, and nothing more. Belonging to the landlord class though he did, he did not rave and rant against the Huks.
He had all the advantages, and he had, within the framework of the existing social order, what is called a great future. He was married to a fine girl and all the newspapermen were his friends. They kidded him; they called him Philip Buencamino the Tired, but they all liked him. He wanted so much to be everybody’s friend. he got along with everyone—including myself and Arsenio H. Lacson.
When he returned from Europe to which he had been sent in the foreign service of the Philippines, he was happy, he said, to be home again, and he still wanted to be a newspaperman. His wife was expecting a second child and life was wonderful. Now he is dead, murdered, shot down in cold blood by Taruc’s men.
He was, in the Communist view and in Communist terminology, a representative of feudal landlordism, a bourgeois reactionary, etc. I remember him as a decent young man who tried to be and was a good newspaperman, who used to walk home with me in the afternoon in the early days of Liberation, munching roasted corn and hating no one at all in the world.
At that time it seemed entirely possible and such was the belief of men like Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the Communist world could live in good faith with the non-Communist. Recent events have proved the falsity of the proposition. . . . Mentally dishonest Filipinos pay lip service to human liberty, still invoke freedom of speech and the press, but their heart is with the totalitarian system. They do not love liberty, they only make use of it. When they are in power, they will erase the infamy.
I met Luis Taruc once, twice, and I met him again before he took to the “field” in 1946, after the election of Roxas and after he (Taruc) had, anyway in my opinion, been cheated by an unscrupulous majority of his seat in the House of Representatives. I know little of the man except that he is, within his lights and according to his definition of the word, honest. He is self-denying. He believes in Marx. He loves the peasants. There is nothing he would not do for them and there is nothing he would not do to them, for what he considers their good. He is not a man but an instrument of the party to which he belongs. He cannot call his life his own, and there is no life he would spare in the pursuit of the Communist dream.
I interviewed him in a tailor shop, just before he took to the mountains. With him were dark-skinned, burly mean: his bodyguards. He spoke of being prepared to accept martyrdom. He was not afraid to die. That is what makes him so formidable an adversary. He had no pity, and he is brave. It is proper and fitting that he should be the commander-in-chief of the Hukbalahap, the military instrument of the Communist party of the Philippines.
When next we met, it was at the Quirino residence on Dewey Boulevard where he was being kept by the government in “protective custody” after the grant of amnesty. We shook hands and he embraced me. Later during the interview, I told him to stop repeating the Communist jargon, to talk like a man. He accepted the correction with a humble smile. It was the only way he could talk, he said.
What can one say of Taruc? A man without pretension, who does not live for himself, who is willing to die for his convictions. . . but who would make it impossible, with power his for others to life for theirs. He is the New Man, who has no country but Russia, no home but Moscow, and dreaming of a Communist Philippines, will take criticism, or a life, with a smile.
It is still possible to build a bridge between the two ways of life: ours and Taruc’s? Or must one die? The difficulties seem insuperable. The Communists are not the kind to tolerate any way of life other than theirs. They speak of peace, but it is only the peace of dictatorship, the peace of the slave state. And how are we girding for the struggle? Are we doing what must be done, or are we merely talking, talking about it? Must we lose the Battle of Survival?
Marquardt Recounts Post-Landing Experiences
How he felt on returning to the Philippines on the heels of the retreating Japanese and his experiences subsequent to landing are told by Frederic S. Marquardt, formerly Assistant Editor of the FREE PRESS and now Foreign News Editor of the Chicago Sun, as part of an article written for the August number of “The Rotarian.” After declaring that World War II “destroyed the economic life of the Philippines” but that it “didn’t upset the independence timetable,” and giving a rapid review of event from Dewey’s landing to the Japanese occupation and the terrible destruction they wrought in the islands, he continues with what he describes as his—”HOME-COMING.”
September 21, 1946–I HAD the unforgettable experience of seeing at first hand what the Japanese had done in the Philippines and how the Filipinos had resisted. For I Also returned. I remember the day I landed on Leyte, and as I walked ashore on the beach on which I had played as a child, I kept repeating the words of what had once been the Philippine national anthem, “This is my own, my native land.”
That night I went around to Walter Price’s house in Tacloban, where General MacArthur had established his headquarters, to chat with his aide-de-camp, Larry Lehrbas. The General was pacing up and down the wide veranda, and as he saw me he came walking toward me, hand outstretched, and said, “Hello, Fritz. I’m glad to see you. Welcome home.”
It was home all right, for him as well as for me. I had gone there as an infant in my mother’s arms. In fact, I would have been born in Tacloban instead of Manila if there had been adequate hospital facilities there. And MacArthur had gone to Leyte as a “shavetail” fresh out of West Point. He has done his first campaigning on the nearby-island of Samar, where an insurrecto’s bullet had knocked his high-peaked hat off his head.
In a way, it occurred to me, the United States was also going home. Here in the Philippines American arms had suffered the greatest military defeats in their history, on those black days in 1942 when Bataan and Corregidor had fallen. And here now, on the full tide of such military might as the world had never seen, Americans were returning to liberate 18 million Filipinos as a necessary prelude to giving them their independence. In the future, the liberation of the Philippines and the redemption of the independence pledge would stand the United States in good stead, not only in Asia, but throughout the world.
A few days later I met Colonel Ruperto Kangleon, the Filipino guerrilla leader whose forces were harrying the Japanese rear while the American troops hit them from the front. “Are you related to the blue-eyed W.W. Marquardt who expelled me from the fifth grade when he was superintendent of schools in Leyte?” Kangleon asked me.
Back in Luzon
“Sure,” I said. “He’s my father. Were you a guerrilla then too?”
“Tell him to come back to Tacloban,” Kangleon said. “We’ll give a big banquete for him. We owe a lot to those American teachers.”
In Manila I saw 80 percent of the city pulverized and destroyed as the Japanese fought their senseless lastditch stand on the south bank of the Pasig. I attended the first postwar luncheon of the Manila Rotary Club in Gil Puyat’s furniture factory, miraculously saved from the flames. It was probably the only building in town that boasted 30 chairs.
I even went out to Kawit to talk to old General Aguinaldo, who had fought the Americans so bitterly at the beginning of the American regime. During the Bataan campaign he had sent a message to MacArthur, urging him to surrender to the Japanese. After Manila had been liberated he had tried to see MacArthur and Osmeña, but neither of them would have anything to do with him. Now he sat among his autographed pictures of famous Americans, a simple old man who had been an ineffective pawn in the hands of the Japanese.
In many respects The Philippines was less prepared for independence in 1946 than it had been in 1898. The factories, the banks, the work animals, the transportation companies, the telephone systems, the power plants, the sugar and coconut and rice mills — almost the entire physical plant erected during the American regime had been destroyed. Then, after liberation, liberal spending by the American Army, in the absence of an almost complete lack of consumer goods, added a disastrous inflation to the other woes of the country. Although wages were doubled, the peso had a purchasing power of only one-sixth of its war value.
But the Filipinos had something more essential for the maintenance of independence than a going commercial and industrial plant. They had the determination born of scores of uprisings against the Spaniards; of long years of fighting against, and later cooperating with, the Americans; of the brutal injustices of the Japanese rule.
“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.