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Quezon and his fights, August 1, 1961

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.

Juan Sumulong: Dreamer, not demagogue, September 17, 1938

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?”

“Several years”

“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.

Political history

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?”


“Then, why….”

“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!”

A dreamer

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.”

Sumulong enumerates:

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.


A new deal? Editorial for February 3, 1934

A new deal?

February 3, 1934–STILL tempest-tost is the bark of Philippine independence.

Buffeted by fierce winds and under lowering skies, steering no sure and certain course, it plunges onward, whither no one knows.

Never has the Philippine question been subject to such variable influences and so much the sport of apparently blind fate and changing circumstance. Scarcely a day but ushers in some new aspect, some unexpected transformation.

When the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill was passed it seemed for a time that something like finality had been reached, that at last the long struggle was at an end. But it was only a short period till that illusion was shattered and the whole question again thrown into the arena of controversy and dubiety.

More recently has come the conflict waged in Washington. There again the issue has been precipitated anew. President, cabinet, senate, and house have become involved; the press has taken up the cudgels pro and con; and different societies and organizations and interests and partisans have ranged themselves on one side or the other.

For a time it looked as if Quezon and his cause might prosper; then came the Osias coup and victory had apparently perched on the banners of the Osrox faction; now at this writing the Quezon auspices appear a little more favorable.

Meanwhile, however, into the political melee has been injected the economic factor in the form of the action of the house committee on ways and means with its levy of an excise tax on coconut oil.

Important in itself for the effect it would have on one of the chief industries of these islands, yet even more important is the influence this measure may exert on the whole question of the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill and independence. Should the negotiations now pending result in a solution satisfactory to the large farm or dairy interests of the United States, and, on top of that, should a quota agreement be reached with regard to sugar, as now seems possible, the entire aspects of the situation at Washington as concerns the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill and independence will have been changed. For essentially the main driving power behind that measure has been that of the sugar and dairy interests.

With those interests removed from the scene and indifferent as to what happens the Philippines, the independence question would take on an absolutely different complexion. The economic factor eliminated, there would be left only the political and international features, and those would depend largely on the policies of the United States with regard to the Far East and be handled chiefly administratively.

The issue is still doubtful, but the Philippines may see a new deal.


Looking back on the year of hare-splitting, Man of the Year, 1933

January 6, 1934

Looking back on the year of hare-splitting

By James G. Wingo


ON THE Philippine scene 1933 was fated to be nothing but a political year with much wrangling, squabbling, bickering and hairsplitting among the acknowledged leaders of the land over a piece of legislation passed by the last lame duck congress of the United States in its final convulsions and willed to the Philippine people as a left-handed bequest. This measure was fathered by a mediocre lame duck from the backward Carolinas, who was chairman of the lower house’s committee on insular affairs. His name was Hare, Butler B. Hare. After him must be named the year through which we have passed. Without a grain of salt your historian christens 1933 the year of Hare-splitting.

In the events of 1933, a little, thin, wizened, sharp-faced light-complexioned, graying man in his fifties played the leading dramatic role. He was the man of destiny. Upon him depended the fate of 13,000,000 people. Any gesture or remark he made was destined to go down in history. No Filipino can present better claims to be the Man of the Year than Manuel Luis Quezon, president of the Philippine senate. He outshone Sergio Osmeña in almost every political skirmish in the year of Hare-splitting.


With the Quezon missioners in Washington, June 3, 1933

June 3, 1933

With the Quezon missioners in Washington

By James G. Wingo

Free Press Correspondent in Washington

All signs pointed to reconciliation as Quezon and Osmeña-Roxas factions met in Washington

Who said there was such a thing as a Quezon-Osmeña squabble going on? You said it—and you and you and you. And I said it.

But brothers and sisters, you ought to have seen these two illustrious sons of our beloved Islas Filipinas get off the train from New York one beautiful and very springy evening at Washington’s Union Station. All smiles and arm in arm these two men, whose political exploits have featured the history of their country for the last 25 years, responded to the warm greetings of about 50 of their compatriots residing in the great capital city by waving their grey fedoras over their rapidly greying heads.

Manuel Quezon, well-protected by a heavy grey overcoat, braved the extended hands of his countrymen and pumped heartily every one that blocked his path. Sergio Osmeña did likewise. But while Quezon’s face flushed with excitement, Osmeña’s registered his usual nonchalance and self-control.

Tame statement

Osmeña went to Paris with the determination to bring back to Washington a pleasant, untruculent, placated, open-minded Quezon. He appeared to have succeeded.

However, every member of the Quezon party, during those few exciting hours after their arrival, denied that there had been any compromise which might be feared by Elpidio Quirino or Benigno Aquino. But it can be truthfully said that a Quezon much tamer and much less melodramatic than we had expected dropped into our midst.

The prepared statement he handed out to ship reporters who met the Ile de France in New York was indeed a very tame one, a most non-committal conglomeration of words. Anybody who had not read Mr. Quezon’s declarations in Manila could not possibly tell from that Ile de France statement where the renowned Filipino leader himself stood on the Hare-act, that piece of legislation recently passed by Congress which prompted him to visit Washington at a most unpropitious time.

However, a dispatch broadcast by the Universal Service, a press service owned by William Randolph Hearst, said that Quezon had stated that he would head a campaign against the bill unless the economic provisions of the independence bill were altered.

Eloquent Quezon

As soon as Missioner Quezon and his party reached Washington on April 24 he told everybody how badly he felt about the stories published by all the New York papers. At his suite at the Willard Hotel an excited but still eloquent Quezon wanted Harry W. Frantz of the United Press, the only newspaperman besides your Washington operative who met the mission at the Union Station, to understand clearly that he had been misquoted.

Senator Osmeña and the well-known newspaper editor Carlos P. Romulo also privately scored the inaccurate American newspapermen. Mr. Romulo, a valuable member of the Quezon mission, says that he was at the senate president’s side when he gave the interview to the New York reporters and he believe that they deliberately misquoted the Filipino leader.

What we who do not know much about the intricacies of missioneering can not understand is why Mr. Quezon, Mr. Osmeña, Mr. Romulo and others were so unduly perturbed by the stories in the New York papers when really what they attributed to the Philippine senate president is practically the same as the Quezon pronunciamientos in Manila.

Washington O.K.

As far as the Washington papers were concerned, the Quezon party did not have any reason to kick. On the day following the new missioners’ arrival, the Washington Post buried on page 2 a 59-word item furnished by the United Press, evidently written by Frantz, stating merely that Mr. Quezon and his party had arrived in Washington the previous night “to seek modification in the terms of the Philippine independence act.” Hearst’s Washington Herald, his Times, Scripps-Howard’s News and the Evening Star said absolutely nothing.

However, a few hours before the Quezon mission arrived in Washington, the News published an editorial attacking vigorously the Hare act and urging President Roosevelt to grant representative conference to the newly-arrived Filipinos. On that same day the New York Herald Tribune had an editorial praising Mr. Quezon highly although granting that “as a politician, Mr. Quezon naturally does not say all that he thinks and feels on all occasions.” The Herald Tribune urged him to come out clear on the independence act.

But in spite of all the perturbations caused them by the New York papers, the Quezon missioners were very glad to reach Washington and unaware that the first engagement of what was expected to be a great political war had been won by one Sergio Osmeña. The Quezon missioners had all gained weight. Mr. Quezon’s health showed amazing improvement. And they were all eager to find what’s what on this independence bill.

Quezon and Osmeña, April 22, 1933

April 22, 1933

Quezon and Osmeña

Discussions between leaders presage bitter fight over freedom bill

by James Wingo

AFTER meeting amicably in Paris last Saturday and sailing for New York Monday aboard the s.s. Ile de France, Senate President Quezon and Senator Osmeña broke sharply over the question of accepting or rejecting the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill when they settled down to a formal discussion of the matter on board the ship.

The following report of the rupture was cabled by Carlos P. Romulo, managing editor of the T-V-T publications, to his newspapers in Manila:

“Mr. Osmeña was presenting a point when Mr. Quezon, rising and facing his colleague, broke out passionately:

“‘Sergio, you and I are growing old. We shall soon pass away. Do you realize the tremendous responsibility you and I are shouldering in accepting a bill, the effects of which will tie the hands of posterity? It is mortgaging the future of our children! We are deciding their fate, knowing that when we are gone, we shall be unable to help them!’

“‘Do you realize,’ replied Senator Osmeña, maintaining his usual calm, ‘the tremendous responsibility we will be assuming in rejecting the bill, as a result of which America may stay in the Philippines forever?’

Face to face, editorial for April 22, 1933

Face to face

THE United States may stay in the islands forever if the Hawes-Cutting law is rejected.—Osmeña.

The United States may remain in the islands forever if the Hawes-Cutting law is accepted, and, with our consent.—Quezon.

Such, is condensed form, is the first main line of divergence on which the two chief protagonists in the Hawes-Cutting law battle find themselves in opposition, as reported in the daily press.

However, it appears certain that Senator Osmeña will not commit himself till Washington is reached and his colleagues have a chance to be heard. There the real battle will begin.

Senate-President Quezon will sound out President Roosevelt and leading members of congress as to the probable result of rejection of the Hawes-Cutting law, with reservations. Should the information elicited be favorable, he may be depended upon to return here still more resolved upon rejection, even in opposition to his colleagues. In that event we may see staged the battle royal which has been long impending.–April 22, 1933

Quezon maps out his Washington campaign, March 18, 1933

March 18, 1933

Quezon maps out his Washington campaign

By Frederic S. Marquardt

Free Press Staff Member


Reveals what he expects to accomplish in America in special interview—plans to return in July


GOING to the United States in connection with Philippine independence legislation has become an old, old story with Senate President Quezon. But never has the Filipino leader had to meet such a situation as he will find awaiting him in Washington when he arrives there at the head of the new “mixed mission.”

Scheduled to leave Manila today (Saturday) on the Conte Verde, the palatial Italian liner which is making a special trip to Manila at the behest of Premier Benito Mussolini, Senate President Quezon plans to be in Washington late in April.

But there he will find altogether different conditions from those which prevailed on his other visits. Formerly the senate president’s task has been to work for the passage of an independence bill. This time he will find a bill already passed, one which bears the title of an independence bill but the provisions of which he hates like the plague.

Senate President Quezon has declared his unalterable opposition to the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill. “If every other Filipino should favor this bill, I should continue to oppose it,” he has declared. Since it is up to the Filipino people to accept or reject the measure, and since the senate president is so dead set against it, several questions naturally present themselves: Why is Senate President Quezon going to Washington? What does he expect to do when he is there? How long does he plan to stay?

In better health

To secure an authoritative answer to these questions, I sought an interview with the senate president this week, on the eve of his departure for the United States via Europe. The leader consented to be interviewed and I was told to see him aboard the coastguard cutter Banahao, which was at the end of Pier 3. In order to avoid the heat and dust of Manila, Senate President Quezon has been spending his afternoons on board the cutter as it lies moored to the pier.

At the appointed hour I presented myself and within a few minutes the senate president greeted me on the aft deck of the boat. He was wearing a leather jacket, with the collar turned up high around his neck, and during most of the interview he kept his head covered with a soft cloth hat such as golfers frequently wear.

“How are you feeling, Mr. President?” I asked, noting the color in his cheeks, and the quick, nervous pace with which he walked.

“Fine,” he replied firmly, but I could not help feeling he was exaggerating somewhat. Still, remembering how he had to be carried aboard a Dollar liner the last time he sailed for the United States, I felt that his health had improved immeasurably since then.

Even since the day shortly after his arrival 17 months ago, when I had attended a lengthy press conference at his house in Pasay, I noted a vast change for the better. “Do you feel certain you will be able to stand the rigors of the trip?” I asked.

“Yes,” he said, “I’m all right now.”

“Can you tell me briefly what your plans are for this trip?” I asked, turning to the subject at hand.

“We shall leave Saturday on the Conte Verde,” he replied, “going directly to Brindisi in Italy. From there we shall go by train to Naples, where we shall board the Roma for New York. From New York we shall go directly to Washington.”

“Once in Washington,” I continued, “how do you plan to go about securing better legislation for the Philippines?”

“I don’t like the word ‘better’,” he answered, breaking into one of the few smiles of the interview. “Because to talk of getting a better bill intimates that the present one is good.”

I promptly rephrased the question, and the senate president launched into the first definite statement he has made of what he plans to do in the United States.

“I am going to talk with the president of the United States and with the members of congress and with the members of the mission. I am going to try to learn if the congressmen think this bill is in keeping with the traditions and ideals of the United States in the Philippines. I am going to try to learn their conception of the autonomy this bill would give us during the commonwealth period, and I am going to try to learn what sort of an independence they think the bill would finally give us. Then I am going to tell them what I think. I also expect to make some speeches, in order to make clear my stand to the American people.”

To reject unfair bill

The senate president was silent. Apparently that was all there was to it. That was the broad outline of his campaign in the United States. The details, of course, would have to be worked out later, and circumstances would have to be taken into consideration as they arose.

“When do you expect to be back in Manila, Mr. President?” I asked.

“In July,” he replied, “in time for the session of the legislature.”

“Will the other missioners return then?”

“I’m not sure. I haven’t been informed of their plans.”

Getting back to his work in Washington, I picked up the thread of a new question. “You have said,” I began, “that you would oppose the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill even if you knew no other measure would be forthcoming from congress for several years. You have even gone further and said you would oppose this bill even if you knew that limitations would be applied to Philippine exports without any promise of independence being given. There seems to me only one worse possibility. Would you oppose the bill if you learned in Washington that its rejection would mean the passage of another bill even more unfair to the Filipino people?”

“Yes,” replied Senate President Quezon without a second’s hesitation, “I am not going to accept what is fundamentally wrong. If congress enacts another bill over our objection, that would be a different matter. We would not be accepting it meekly, and agreeing to it. The responsibility would be with the American congress.”

Favors convention

Before agreeing to any law, he pointed out, he wants to be sure that it actually provides independence. He also wants the law to state specifically what reservations the United States proposes to maintain, and for what purposes. Briefly, he wants the bill to be a real independence measure, not a subterfuge such as he asserts the present bill is.

It was growing late and several other people were waiting to see the senate president. “There is one more question I should like to ask,” I said. “When you return in July, and the time comes for the Filipino people to accept or reject the bill, will you favor having such acceptance or rejection done by the legislature or by a special convention called for that purpose?”

“I have not publicly expressed myself on that point,” he replied. “In private conversations, I have, however, expressed myself as favoring a convention. I believe that, as the Free Press straw vote shows, the people are overwhelmingly in favor of having the question settled by a convention. But that question can be decided later.”

Posterity concerned

Senate President Quezon had smoked only one cigarette during the interview, in place of the dozens which he usually smokes during a similar period of time. His air of premeditation and the care with which he answered each question recalled a story which he himself has told on several occasions.

As soon as possible after the passage of the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill, the senate president secured a copy of the measure and for four days and four nights he did little except concentrate on its provisions. Mrs. Quezon became worried about her husband, and on the third day she sent their son to talk to him. The lad said something to his father, who was so engrossed that he paid little attention to the boy.

“Papa,” asked young Manoling, “did you hear what I said?”

“Yes,” said his father.

“What did I say?” unexpectedly countered the youth. Fortunately the senate president, by the greatest possible effort, was able to recall the words, which were still ringing in his ears, and was thus able to satisfy his son and maintain his record of always telling the lad the truth.

I suspect that Senate President Quezon thinks frequently of that son of his, as well as of his daughters, during these days of struggle against a bill which he feels will mean the absolute economic ruin of his country while, as he puts it, “there is nothing of independence in the bill except the word.”

Over there in Washington in the months to come he will probably think even more of his children, and of the hundreds of thousands of other children from Aparri to Bongao, and of the millions of Filipino children still unborn. For after all it is the destiny of future generations, far more than of the present one, with which the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill is primarily concerned.


Quezon-Palma Rift Widens During Week, February 18, 1933

February 18, 1933

Quezon-Palma Rift Widens During Week

WITH the passage of another week it became more evident than ever that Rafael Palma, former political mogul and president of the University of the Philippines, will side with his old ally, Sen. Sergio Osmeña, in case of a split over the Hawes-Cutting-Hare independence bill. Fortnight ago President Palma categorically declared, “The time has come for the country to change its leadership. We need new direction and new guidance.” U.P. faculty members promptly approved a vote of confidence in their president.

Feeling that the vote of confidence was wholly uncalled for, Senate President Quezon wrote President Palma as follows:

“I have declared in no unmistakable terms, when my attention was called to the report of your resignation, that in my opinion there was no occasion for your leaving the University because of our diverse views on the Hawes-Cutting-Hare law. I said at the time that this agreement has nothing to do with your duties as President of the University of the Philippines, and that despite the disagreement, I have never lost confidence in you.”

To which the university president replied:

“I think that in this crucial point of our history, when the ultimate freedom of our people is at stake, it is not only the privilege but the duty of every citizen to come out and express his opinion on such a momentous question. I have no regret nor apologies to offer for what I have said in the newspapers against those who believe that independence, as provided in the act, should be rejected. I think such an attitude would be a blunder in our history, and I do not want to take any responsibility for such action before the future generations.”

Most bitter shot of the exchange between Senate President Quezon and University President Palma was the following statement issued by Palma, after Quezon had urged the sending of a representative mission to the United States:

“We are rehearsing the same policy which brought us nothing but failures and disappointments this time in connection with independence. We begin by saying that Congress, by certain riders, grants us in the new law independence that does not mean anything. We argue that the National City bank of New York let loose a flood of gold to secure that law’s approval and say that many of the provisions hide many nefarious motives. And after announcing this to the public amidst applause, we promise to go to Washington, not to beg but to dictate to Congress the provisions that should go into the new law. But once in Washington, the situation changes. We begin to request and beg from one side to another, give a banquet to this and offer a drink to that person to interest him in our cause. For this the Americans have often charged us Filipinos with asking for independence but not really wanting it. Well, then, if the people want this to continue, they may continue paying for it.”

Promptly replying, Senate President Quezon declared:

“It would seem that my proposal that a national delegation composed of the representatives of all shades of opinion in our country shall go to the United States—a proposal which has been favorably received by all elements—is, however, strongly opposed  by President Palma. He says that we already have  a law, and he asks: Why try to secure another one? My answer is: Because even the advocates of the said law admit that it is very defective. This being the case, is it not our duty to strive to get one without such defects?”

The Vital Question, February 11, 1933

February 11, 1933

The Vital Question

BACK and forth across the length and breadth of the Philippines, tossed upon an apparently endless sea of speeches, the question of whether to accept or reject the Hawes-Cutting-Hare independence bill was discussed from every possible angle this week. And still there was no definite decision, still the political bosses and the intellectual leaders were divided into two opposing camps, still the people pondered upon the greatest decision which any country could possibly be called upon to make.

The main point of dissension between those supporting and those opposing the bill was whether or not it really provided independence. But in answering that question such a mass of relevant and irrelevant matter was raised that the public began to wonder what it was all about.

The most monumental event of the independence week was the wordy battle between those two staunch deans of the University of the Philippines, Maximo Kalaw and Jorge Bocobo. Their articles are reported in brief beginning on Page 28 of this issue.

The most significant event of the week was the definite stand against the bill taken by Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo, president of the short-lived Philippine republic, who presided over the annual convention of the Veteranos de la Revolucion in the Manila stadium Sunday. Asserting the bill was “the outcome of the efforts since 1930 of moneyed American and Cuban interests in sugar and other industries,” the old general declared:

Aguinaldo’s opinion

“The Bill imposes conditions that would work untold hardships upon our people, aside from the fact that it is not certain whether at the end of the 10-year period our independence would actually be granted us. About the only thing that appeals to us in this Bill is the grant of independence which is the goal of our people and for which we are sincerely thankful to America. Aside from this, however, the Bill spells an incubus on the shoulders of our people.”

Two courses of action were recommended by General Aguinaldo: “To amend the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill or to ask a better bill from the ensuing Democratic administration and congress.” He feels that “from the incoming congress a more liberal independence bill may be obtained.”

However, the convention took no action either to approve or disapprove the bill, following this sage counsel from their president: “Let us proceed with caution, my comrades and countrymen, and let us not all too hastily give our answer to the question upon which depends the destiny of our people. Let us study its provisions further and meditating over the history of our country and that of America, let us look for what would redound to the glory of our land.”

Be Prepared

Finally, General Aguinaldo enjoined his comrades in arms to be prepared for a special assembly in case the legislature attempted to take precipitous action on the question “If the legislature,” he said, “should resolve to decide before the return of the Mission, it would be our duty to make known our decision before the legislature acts. In view of this, you are requested to vote finally on the question at an extraordinary general assembly of which you will be advised in time.”

In addition to General Aguinaldo, opponents of the bill found another recruit in the person of Sen. Claro M. Recto, leader of the defunct minority party in the senate. Declared Senator Recto in Iloilo: “The bill is so bad that we cannot obtain a worse one.”

The most startling declaration during the week was made by Prof. Melquiades S. Gamboa, of the U.P. college of law. A pundit who has studied law at Oxford, he declared that the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill “is already a law” and hence already in full effect, regardless of the Philippine people or their representatives. The basis for his argument was the belief that congress had no constitutional right to refer the law to the Philippine legislation or to a special convention for ratification.

Proponents of the bill received more and comfort from U. P. President Rafael Palma, one-time member along with Quezon and Osmeña of the “Big Three” of Philippine politics. Categorically and explicitly, he declared, “The time has come for the country to change its leadership. We need new direction and new guidance.”

Since it has been bruited about that President Palma would resign as head of the university in order to reenter politics, the university faculty unanimously passed a resolution “expressing its full trust and confidence in President Palma and its wholehearted support of the continuance of his administration.” Said Senate President Quezon, “There is no reason why President Palma should resign.”

In the legislature interest was centered largely upon the fortunes of Floor Leader Francisco Varona, whose opponents attempted to take from his leadership, since he was unwilling to define his stand on the independence bill. Failing to secure the necessary number of votes to oust Representative Varona, a caucus of lower house members offered to send him to the United States along with Senate President Quezon, then proceeded to elect Rep. Jose Zulueta to act in his place should he go. Said Senate President Quezon, “I have no right to invite Representative Varona or anybody else to go with me and I can say that I have not done so.”

But Manila no longer held the center of the stage in the independence parleys this week. In Cebu a monster mass meeting on Saturday night protested against the Hawes-Cutting-Hare bill, and passed a resolution expressing “its condemnation of the work of the Philippine mission in Washington which ignored and disobeyed the instructions of the Philippine legislature and the Philippine commission of independence.”

Senate President Quezon in several public speeches said: They are at the foot of the mountain and I am far from it. What is happening with the mission is what happened to me when I was for for the enactment of the Jones bill. The only difference is that I have experience and I cannot be fooled for the second time. I was gullible  once when I was dazzled by the beauty of the preamble of the Jones bill and I failed to notice that the independence promised me by Congressman Jones was not in the law itself. The mission is now dazzled by the fixed date promise of independence and is holding to it as tightly as I held to the preamble, ignoring the other provisions of the law.”

Concerning himself the senate president said:

“Let me tell you that from a purely personal viewpoint it is foolish for me to object to the acceptance of the Hawes-Cutting act. If I were politically ambitious, there is nothing better for me than to advocate that it be accepted. Given the power that I am now represented to have, if I favor the acceptance of the Hawes-Cutting law and it is accepted by the people, I can have myself elected the first governor general of the commonwealth even by using the means resorted to by Ex-Representative Garde since, under such a law, aside from the American interests, it will be only the one fortunate enough to live in Malacañang that will be benefited by it.”

From the United States came only one significant pronouncement, the declaration by Sen. Key Pittman that the Philippines would have to accept the bill in its entirety or not at all. There could be no “acceptance with reservations,” as so many conservative Filipinos have suggested, according to the senator from Nevada. He said further that the compromise plan embodied in the bill was the inevitable solution of the question.