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Notes on the Eve of July 4
By Teodoro M. Locsin
Random Thoughts and a Trial Balance of the First Year of the Philippines Republic
June 28, 1947–HOW free is the Philippines? How real is Philippine independence?
To answer those questions best, one should first take a look around, compare and take notes. How free and independent is any nation in the world? Today two giants bestride the world: the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. A third giant, the British Empire, is on the decline. The rest are political satellites or economic dependencies of either of the first two powers, or their uneasy neighbors. The world is slowly coming into unity—it is in the throes of the last great revolution preceding the creation of a single world state—and national independence, in the insular sense of the term, is a conception that is increasingly obsolete. The world must federate or perish.
Toward the United States the hand of almost every nation is stretched for aid, at the same time there is the haunting fear of “dollar domination.” An unreasonable attitude, perhaps, for if you are seeking a loan, if not an outright gift, you must consider, in fact you will only get the loan or gift if you accept, the lender’s or donor’s terms. Yet, even as one receives, one resents. The creditor, though one goes to him gladly and willingly enough, is the object of hard thoughts. And such is human nature that one finds it easier to forgive one’s enemies than those to whom one owes favors.
In this regard, the United States should not be surprised if, in giving but at the same time bargaining, the recipients should accept and at the same time prove resentful. America, perhaps, should give freely, without conditions, without reservation, regardless of the kind of government of the country she gives to. Perhaps she should help and strengthen those of rival ideology. Then she would no longer be accused of exerting pressure, of resorting to political dictation. Then se would be universally praised if in private considered a damned fool.
Toward the Soviet Union, those communist persuasion look as to a New Rome. Salvation lies there. The triumph of the Soviet Union is the triumph of the workers of the world. Russia comes first—thus the native communist line goes, for if Russia succeeds, can communism in every country be far behind? In brief, the communist denies that he places Russia’s interests over and above his country’s. In his mind there is no opposition between the two. His country’s and Russia’s interests are one. That is the Marxist outlook, the Leninist view.
The question, therefore, does not arise in the communist mind as to the possibility of Russian domination. All communists are of one faith. As the Pope of Rome is to all Catholics their spiritual father, so Stalin is to communists everywhere, their political mentor and guide. Russia is where they fly to, when trouble comes. Russia, which had provided safe harbor for such distinguished refugees from counter-revolution as Madame Sun Yat-sen and Bulgaria’s present communist boss, Georgi Dimitrov. Russia can do no wrong.
In the Philippines, the searching and liberal mind harbors no similar illusion, that the United States can do no wrong. At the same time it is confronted with benefits undoubtedly received from the United States, with aid actually extended, with favors conferred. The United States has been a friend, but is it nothing else? Is it not also, by the conditions of dependency it has helped to create, a threat to Philippine independence and sovereignty?
A year of republican existence shows the Philippines politically free—but economically bound to the United States. The United States has supported and maintained the present government of the Philippines; had it withdrawn its support, that government might have collapsed in less than the 12 months of its existence. Inflation, unemployment and social disorder would have gripped the country.
The Begging Attitude
American money has kept Roxas in Malacañan. The alternative to American relief is trouble. Let the Americans withdraw and who will provide the arms to equip the Philippine Army and the money to pay the man now in the field containing the forces of agrarian revolt?
The Philippines is politically free—have no doubt about that. Its government has granted base sites to the United States after negotiation and without duress. What has been given has been freely given. Both parties agreed to the terms.
The Philippines has exercised other acts of sovereignty—at the same time the independence of a nation is no different from that of a man. An empty sack, it has been well put, cannot stand alone.
The Philippines asks for American loans and relief, it has opened, in exchange for the payment of war-damages, its natural wealth to American exploitation. The exchange has been ratified by popular vote in a national plebiscite. Nobody stuck a gun in the back of the people: they wanted American money and were prepared to pay the price for it. If the Philippines is not as free as it might be, that is the will of its people and government. Nobody forced it to give anything away.
Which is not to say that it is independent and free. A man who has mortgaged his property, who is increasingly in debt and sees little prospect, as he conducts his affairs, of achieving solvency, cannot be said to be free. He is tied to his creditor. Need compelled him to it, but he signed that mortgage deed willingly enough.
How long will American money be poured into the islands and keep its government going and the people out of the breadlines—and out of the radical camp? And has such aid been as effective as it might have been?
Today, as fast as the United States is pouring money into the Philippines, money is leaving it. There is a fearful disparity between Philippine imports and exports. Meanwhile, Philippine industrialization—which free trade, in the opinion of many, has rendered complex and difficult if not impossible—is largely on paper. When American dollars run out, what then? Will the Philippines then be able to stand on its own? Or will it collapse like an empty sack?
Must the Philippines be in a state of perpetual economic dependency on the United States—like an idiot child or a lunatic ward, a hopeless cripple? Ahead are only more and more American loans, assuming that one gets them all. Not discernible are a balanced budget, full employment and agrarian peace. Before us is only the perpetually extended hand. The begging attitude.
Meanwhile, much of American relief is going into the hands of a few who, as in China, are slowly and quietly consolidating their economic monopoly over the islands’ resources. One hears, more and more often, of this million-peso deal and that multi-million-peso transaction in which some great industry or business passed into the ownership of a Malacañan-connected few. One hears of trips abroad by some Liberal where money is being secretly cached. Rumors only, perhaps—but the air is thick with them. Everywhere one seems to smell corruption. Thus it was, before the Czarist throne fell—it had no American hand-out to prop it up. Where are the classic capitalist virtues of hard work, honesty and thrift?
Meanwhile, a new prophet, accusing the present administration of puppetry, comparing it—the last insult—to his Jap-dictated own, has risen. Jose Laurel, president of the Japanese puppet republic of the Philippines, promise or hints at salvation from American relief ad loans. Under him as President, his people would be sovereign and finally free of the Americans. Philippine independence would be, after so many centuries of alien rule, a reality.
His attacks are well received, for he is appealing to a legitimate and inemdicable sentiment: the nationalist one. One is shame-faced at biting the hand that fees one, but the desire for economic independence in addition to political freedom is in every true citizen. In the end, a man becomes calloused and think’s that if the Americans are giving us money, it is for a purpose of their own, and to thank them would be superfluous and even impractical. It is a bargain, involving in no way the sentiment of gratitude, and both parties benefit by it, and pay the price agreed.
Besides, how little of it is going to the people! Let those who owe the Americans pay them. Those who become rich overnight, who ride in limousines, who own tall and imposing buildings: the surplus millionaires, the import magnates, the flourishing professionals. The people—most of them—still live in nipa huts, go without medical attention, are little more than peons to their landlords, scratching a bare living off the earth. They own nobody a thing,
What America has given has not reached the right people. In the midst of recrimination, it should be of some consolation to her that the firmest faith in her still abides in those she has least benefited, that among the common people to whom only the littlest bit of her great beneficence has filtered remains a warm and unshakable confidence in her ideals.
Meanwhile, I remember Luis Taruc—the last time I saw him, before that famous exchange of letters with Roxas, before he took to the field. Today he is an outlaw, he faces extermination. There is no hope for him. He will die.
Even then he knew that he would die. He was prepared for what he called his martyrdom. In the eyes of the law he is worse than a brigand, he is a rebel against the government, an enemy of the state. But for his convictions he was prepared to die, to give up his life for something outside himself.
That is reassurance, to know today that there are such Filipinos. His side may be the wrong side, or his methods wrong, or his ideas not right—but he was ready to sacrifice all so that, as he thought, those who live after him may live better, more decently, as freemen. In a time and in a country where the men in authority seem to have only one thought: money, loot—it is comfort to know that there is still iron in our spirit.
Ideologies change, philosophies are overthrown. The social order of today is only a historical footnote to tomorrow. But one thing stands, without which nothing much can be achieved under whatever social order: integrity. Character.
If a man is a man, in such times of change as these, it is enough. He may be wrong, but how many are wrong and are not even men! He may be an enemy, but one respects him.
I, for one, find it good to know that there are, when everything seems for sale, Filipinos who cannot be bought, who stand for something outside their own comfort. For it is not enough to have the right principles, one must have the necessary integrity and strength of character.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
September 3, 1910
Sandiko and Sanity
IN ALL this independence agitation with its tempestuous mutterings of revolution it is refreshing to hear above the discord one clear, clarion note summoning the leaders of the Filipino people to reason and a frank and fearless facing of the facts. The call issues from the lips of Teodoro Sandiko, formerly governor of Bulacan.
In a lengthy communication to La Vanguardia, the former governor discusses, with a clarity and dispassionateness beyond the ordinary politician, the situation as it presents itself. Taking exception, as we do, to some of the strictures he passes upon the administration and some of the imputations he lays against it, we nevertheless find ourselves in general sympathy with the broad policy he urges upon his people: cessation from any senseless and suicidal talk of revolution, concentration on Washington of the agitation for independence and at home a practical and persistent effort to initiate and effect administrative reforms.
To such extremists as Ricarte the program of Sandiko doubtless appears pale and anemic. But Sandiko’s feet are planted on the ground and he is carried away by no delirious visions and deluding dreams. There may be those who believe that Japan would go to war with the United States for the sake of the Philippines—there may be those who believe that in the event of war Japan would be victorious and that despite her recent annexation of Korea, she would turn over to the Filipinos, with a generosity unparalleled, the only prize she might hope to gain, the Philippines—there may be those who believe that Japan, almost bankrupt, stands ready to sacrifice the American market which consumes one-third of her exports —there may be those who believe such things but evidently Sandiko is not one of them.
It is time that the leaders of the Filipino people were urging more of the Sandiko sanity upon their people, that they were getting their feet on the solid ground and facing the facts, however unpleasant they may be. Only by a frank recognition of the things that are can there be any hope of a realization of the things that might. Ideals need to be mixed with brains or they will forever remain ideals, and mere sentiment in itself never yet accomplished anything. The man who agitates aimlessly is not a reformer; he is only a disturber.
Saturday, October 9, 1909
Whatever opinions may be held as to the political views of the Hon. Pablo Ocampo, no one who listened to his speech at the banquet of last Saturday night but must have been impressed with the man’s earnestness and sincerity. His nobility was also shown in his frank and open appreciation of the people of the United States even while contending that they are wrong in withholding political independence from the Filipino people at this time. The bitterness which might have been expected was conspicuously absent.
Had Mr. Ocampo confined himself solely to voicing the aspiration of himself and his people for immediate independence his address might have left itself open to the criticism that is was of no practical benefit at this juncture, but he went farther than that and showed something of statesmanship in his recognition of one of the prime and pressing requirements of the situation: the necessity of the Filipino people arousing themselves to the changed economic conditions surrounding them and adopting themselves to their new environment. There was in that something of the frank facing of the fact—the acceptance of the condition as against the pining for the theory, which we think essential to the best interests of the Filipino people. As we view it, the leaders of the Filipino people are too prone to dwell on the things that might be to the exclusion of the things that are.
The per capita wealth of a people may not be the best guide to its political capacity, but, constituted as the American people are, it would mean in the present case a great deal to them in forming their estimate of the Filipino people and their preparedness to assume full responsibilities of self-government. It should also mean a great deal to the Filipino people themselves. More wealth is not everything, but in the world of nations today wealth is power and power is in a manner independence. And we do not hesitate to say that one critical time in their history had the Filipino people been a wealthier people they would come immeasurably nearer achieving and might even have achieved their independence under certain conditions.
The Filipino people showed their valor on the field of battle and they made sacrifices in behalf of the common cause. The same valor and the same self-sacrifice demanded and given in time of war are just as necessary now in time of peace, and their end is the same—independence or self-government. If independence was worth fighting for, it is worth working for.