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October 28, 1939
THE third, and possibly the last, United States High Commissioner to the Philippines, red-haired, polite, precise Francis Bowes Sayre, arrived in the Philippines end of last week. He emerged out of the slight fog that covered Manila bay and also his attitude toward many Philippine questions, affable and smiling, while a 19-gun salute was fired, sirens shrieked, a crowd of 20,000 cheered and the highest government officials of the Commonwealth clapped heartily.
“I am very happy to meet you again,” said High Commissioner Sayre and President Manuel Quezon to each other, with a warm embrace.
“How was the trip, Mr. Commissioner?” asked Mr. Quezon.
“Fine,” grinned Mr. Sayre.
Acting High Commissioner J. Weldon Jones and Secretary Jorge Vargas, representing the President, had gone out on the U.S. Navy launch Yacal to meet the President Cleveland outside the breakwater.
Escorted to the elegant new President’s Landing in front of the Manila Hotel, as swank an introduction to Manila as any tourist-trade-booster could wish for, Mr. Sayre went up the gangplank accompanied by Mr. Vargas; Mrs. Sayre, by Mr. Jones. There they were greeted by the President.
The High Commissioner wore a light-brown woolen suit and white shoes; the President, a white shark-skin double-breasted coat, striped brown trousers, tango shoes. Pretty Mrs. Sayre was in rose, stately Mrs. Quezon in mestiza dress.
“Hello and goodbye”
The distinguished newcomer was speedily presented to the government bigwigs gathered to receive him. He put an affectionate arm around Speaker Jose Yulo. When he came to Secretary Manuel Roxas, the President said with unexpected formality: “You know this gentleman, I presume?” Mr. Sayre knew him.
Stepping out of the neat little pagoda, the High Commissioner had his first real glimpse of the Filipino people. About half of the crowd belonged to Benigno Ramos’ Ganap party and they quickly stole the show. Defying police orders, they waved little blue flags demanding independence, displayed trenchant placards reading:
“The Filipino people demand true independence right away!”
“We object against Quezon-McNutt combination. It is slavery!”
“Greetings to Sayre: We hope you will be the last High Commissioner and not be like McNutt and Murphy who just watched while the leaders spent money!”
A suave diplomat, Mr. Sayre ignored the display. But he must have had his misgivings when President Quezon, consciously or unconsciously, echoed the “hello and goodbye” sentiments of the Ganap.
Introducing the High Commissioner to the crowd, he expressed a fervent hope: “May he be the man to turn over to the first President of the Philippine Republic, the authority and sovereignty of the United States over these islands.”
Previously he had outlined Mr. Sayre’s work on behalf of the Philippines, especially with regard to its economic welfare. “He finds a people who know him as well as he knows hem,” concluded the President. “We know of his record as adviser to the government of Siam, of his ability to treat people of a different race. We know of his deep interest in our welfare. We know that he is our friend.
Making his first speech in the Philippines, the High Commissioner startled his hearers by practically denying the Filipinos were “a different race” at all. “Until their independence is consummated,” he declared, “the Filipino people are an integral part of the American nation. We are fellow-Americans. As High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands, I shall not lose sight of this central fact.”
Eloquently, but none the less firmly, he made it clear that he would not stand in the way of the consummation of independence.
“I want to say to the Filipino people how happy and how proud I am that I have been given the chance to throw in my lot with you in helping to work out the problems which lie before us. In many ways the fundamental problem which we face is unique. Seldom if ever has a great nation in the height of its power because of its profound faith in liberty and democracy helped to create out of its own territory a new nation seeking to work out its independent destiny based upon the same principles.
Having thus painted the glories of democratic liberty, Mr. Sayre drove to the Luneta to lay a wreath at the base of the monument to a martyr to liberty, Jose Rizal. Having put this pointed period to his inaugural address, he was driven past the palace abuilding for him along Dewey Boulevard, to his temporary residence in Pasay.
He left behind a puzzled army of Benigno Ramos’ followers. Numbering 10,000 they had come from Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal, from provinces as distant as Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, and Tayabas, each one paying his own fare and bringing his own food, an impressive tribute to the rabble-rousing powers of the former Sakdal chieftain who is now campaigning for the presidency of the Commonwealth. Not even Manuel Quezon perhaps, Ramos’ old boss and probable model, could have called such a legion of faithful believers in Manila.
They had one doctrine, immediate independence, and they had one prophet, Benigno Ramos. He had told them that the Americano was going to give them freedom.
Cheers for Ramos
When Ramos walked along Katigbak drive to the landing early that morning, the Ganap ranks gave him cheer after lusty cheer. But when President Quezon drove by in his limousine, preceded by three motorcycle policemen and three Philippine army artillery units, the Ganap men fell into a sullen silence. It was an amazing, and significant, contrast.
After the High Commissioner’s speech, an old man carrying a Ganap flag asked a Manila Daily Bulletin reporter: “Are we free now?”
“Aren’t you?” countered the reporter.
“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t understand what the Americano said. I can’t understand English. The leaders of our party said we will get our freedom now. The Americano is bringing it.”
In his Pasay garden, the Americano was perhaps discussing the same subject with Mr. Quezon, under a beautiful banyan tree. Later the High Commissioner received other official calls.
He returned the President’s call that afternoon, Mr. Quezon showed his guest the palace library; Mrs. Quezon chatted amiably with Mrs. Sayre, pointed across the Pasig to her favorite Malacañang building, the luxurious Nipa Hut where a state reception for the Sayres may be held soon.
Next day, the High Commissioner held his first press conference. He had a statement ready on reexamination of independence. “It is the duty of American and Philippine officials faithfully to carry out” the provisions of the independence act, he said.
“To my mind the passage by the American Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie act and the acceptance by the Philippine people of a Constitution based upon its provisions constitute a moral obligation not to withdraw the independence program or to alter its fundamental provisions except by the wish of both peoples.
“If ever the day should come when the Filipino people should decide to change their minds and alter the policy to which they have unyieldingly adhered for over 40 years and should bring such a request before Congress, it would be for Congress, and for Congress alone, to decide what course of action the United States should pursue. Such a decision, I need hardly add, would have to be made in the light of such conditions as may then exist in the world and in the Philippines: and what these will be no one can foretell.”
“Off the record”
Suave, smiling Mr. Sayre made the assembled reporters and corespondents forget that he had made them wait for a full day for his first interview. The one American who had been able to outsmart Manuel Quezon—he had wangled the President’s signature to a statement expressing willingness to abandon preferential trade relations with the United States—the High Commissioner did not let his questioners outsmart him.
He took a lot of chaffing on his “fellow Americans” speech. Then, knowing him to be an expert on trade relations, a correspondent asked; “Do you consider the present trade relations between the United States and the Philippines mutually beneficial?”
“I do,” answered Mr. Sayre.
“Then why should they be terminated?”
The High Commissioner said that for the present he must explain “off the record.”
“Do you use such expressions here?” he asked innocently.
The reporters guffawed. His predecessors had been singularly addicted to keeping things “off the record.” Paul V. McNutt had killed many a good story by telling it before it could be told to him or anybody else, and then asking the boys to keep it “off the record.” Frank Murphy had talked even less for publication.
“Why,” cried Dick Wilson of the United Press, “the phrase originated here!”
A deeply religious man, Mr. Sayre went to church after his press conference, Mrs. Sayre motored up to Baguio the next day to enrol her children by her first marriage in Brent School.
October 21, 1939
Primer on the plebiscite
Q.—What are the bands playing for?
A.—To get you out to vote in the October 24 plebiscite.
Q.—What are we voting on?
A.—On an amendment to the Constitution, or rather the ordinance appended to the Constitution.
June 1, 1935
Why they voted against the constitution
By Teofilo G. Gelvezon
AS WAS expected, not all registered voters—including members of the fair sex—cast their votes for the acceptance of the constitution in the May 14 plebiscite. But not all of those who voted no were against the fundamental law itself. An investigation made by the writer in his bailiwick right after the plebiscite revealed many interesting facts. It should be remembered that Guimbal, the home town of the writer, has the distinction of being the municipality in which the greatest number of votes against the constitution were cast in the province of Iloilo.
Cold feet, designer, super-toaster, editorials, etc.
By James G. Wingo
Free Press correspondent in Washington
June 1, 1935–THE day before the White House signing of the Philippine constitution Resident Commissioner Francisco Delgado sent his secretary Quintin Paredes, Jr., to shop for “a very good fountain pen” with which President Roosevelt would sign the important document. Paredes showed his boss samples of $50 and $75 pens.
Delgado thought the pens too expensive. Paredes thought they were the kind for posterity. They compromised on a $7 pen.
When Franklin D. Roosevelt sat down at the big table in the cabinet room he saw no pen around. “Where’s the pen?” he asked. “Say, Mac, I want my pen.”
Delgado got cold feet. He didn’t dare offer the pen in his pocket. So Roosevelt signed several copies of the constitution with just one pen, the President’s.
• • •
The fingerprints of these young Filipinos may be discovered on the Philippine government copy of the constitution bearing the signature of President Roosevelt; Guevara’s Secretary Manuel Zamora, who took the accompanying semi-candid snapshots in front of the Executive Office after the signing of the constitution; Delgado’s Secretary Paredes, Diosdado M. Yap, who comprises the entire personnel of the Yap-founded Philippine Information Bureau; Candido Elbo Tobias, another secretary of Resident Commissioner Pedro Guevara.
When Gov. Gen. Frank Murphy went to the photographers’ room he entrusted the important document to Yap. He and the other boys took advantage of the opportunity to have something to do with it. They pressed their finger all over the constitution. Then they took it outside and had their picture taken with the document.
• • •
If Lloyd Taylor had preferred to accept his father’s offer to manage the Manila Daily Bulletin with a salary of P1,000 a month, he would not have drunk lemonade with the First Lady of the United States the other day in the Red Room of the White House. And he would not be the young hat and dress designer who is advertised by big department stores as promising and a discovery. This artist was born of Carson Taylor and his pretty blonde wife in Manila 30 years ago.
Accompanied by the wives of Sen. Key Pittman, Rep. William H. Larrabee, Rep. Richard J. Welch and Commissioner Delgado and by Vicente Villamin, Designer Taylor presented Mrs. Roosevelt with two Easter dresses. Taylor designed the dresses made of Philippine material bought with the contributions of Filipino and American friends of the Filipinos in the United States who appreciated an utterance of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt in a magazine urging the women of America to dedicate some attention to the Philippines, its people and its problems, and the work which the United States has undertaken in the islands. Mr. Villamin was the one who suggested the idea of presenting the dresses to Mrs. Roosevelt. Taylor gave his services free.
• • •
No commercial stunt
Mrs. Roosevelt was very much pleased with the two beautiful dresses, which, according to the designer, could not be duplicated for less than $600. She promised:
“I will wear one of them on the first big occasion.”
Taylor assured Mrs. Roosevelt that the presentation was no commercial stunt.
Not until Mrs. Roosevelt wears one of the dresses will Publisher Taylor be reconciled to the idea that his son, who left the University of Southern California for his own New York Studio, has become a great artist.
• • •
In creating the beige piña dress Taylor took his inspiration for the neckline from the Philippine pañuelo. This neckline gives the draped shawl effect with the point center back nearly to the waistline. The sleeves puff above the elbow, suggesting the Philippine sleeve. The gored skirt is wide, with back fullness, which recalls early Spanish influence. The dress is trimmed with real princess lace, made by the Belgian sisters of the Tondo Convent.
The other dresses, an aquamarine blue jusi, brings out the effect of modern fashion in European gowns popular with young Philippine ladies.
I understand the table Emilio Aguinaldo sent the White House has helped to revive the fashion for Philippine hardwoods here.***
• • •
The Taylor-designed dresses of Mrs. Roosevelt may create a new field for Philippine industry.
• • •
About 49 Washington college students from the Orient—Filipinos, Chinese and Japanese—met one Sunday in a dingy Chinese restaurant for luncheon. The honored guests were Dean Warren Reed West of George Washington University, Gen. Teodoro Sandiko of the last Philippine independence mission to Washington, Tswen-Ling Tsui of the Chinese legation and Kiyoshi K. Kawakami, able Washington correspondent for a Japanese newspaper.
Kawakami, in a long speech, burned the ears of the Chinese as he berated them for their non-cooperation with Japan. He found an affinity of interest, however, among the peoples of the Far East superseding alliances with nations in the West.
“Japan would be the first to sign an agreement neutralizing the Philippines,” he added. Nobody doubted that statement. Every so-called “neutral” territory in the Far East today either belongs to Japan or is under Japanese authority.
• • •
Delgado spoke of Japanese-Filipino and Chinese-Filipino friendships. He recalled his “days of adolescence’ in the United States. He also told the boys how he wooed and won his wife despite great odds.”*
And then he climaxed his speech thus:
“Gentlemen, I want you to stand up and drink with me a toast to President Roosevelt.”**
The boys stood up and picked up their glasses of water. Hardly had they resumed their seats when Delgado declared:
“Please stand up again and drink with me to the health of the Emperor of Japan.”
The boys did the same trick. And then quick-witted Delgado again declared:
“I want you once more to rise and drink with me to the well-being of the President of China.
• • •
After the hurrahs, the banzais and the lin sheis the precedent-breaking Delgado thought there should be mabuhays also. He had already hogged three toasts, but that fact did not deter him from proposing the only one left.
“Gentlemen, I am a politician,” he said. “My guesses are sometimes wrong. I don’t know who will be the first president of the commonwealth, so I will propose a toast to just the Commonwealth of the Philippines.”
Super-toaster Delgado undoubtedly holds the toasting record at a single meal in this country.
• • •
The signing of the constitution of the islands by President Roosevelt was the occasion for the blossoming of the first nationwide crop of editorials on the Philippines since Congress passed the McDuffie-Tydings act. Most of the newspapers believe that the Filipinos are not so eager now for independence as they used to be. They find that realization of the consequences of the loss of the American market and fear of Japanese have sobered the Filipinos and dampened their enthusiasm for separation from the United States. Brief excerpts:
New York Herald Tribune: It is worth noting, at the outset, that President Roosevelt’s counter-signature of the document does not mean or imply, as the Filipinos may think his approval of it. Nor does it commit him to the belief that the document itself is workable or that the experiment which it charters will be a success. In signing it the President simply certified that he found it compatible with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie independence act—a measure which provides for the release of Cuban sugar from Philippine competition within the decade and for the release of America at the end of it from the bootless responsibility and risk of guarding a defenseless economic wreck against Asiatic piracy.
Washington Post: Weighing, then, the advantages of complete autonomy against the concomitant loss of American markets together with an increased public budget, the result is not as overwhelming on the side of independence as first impulses might suggest. President McKinley is said to have gone down on his knees to beg for Divine guidance in his decision as to the disposition of the Philippines. He got up to promise them eventual independence. He could not then have conceived of the vast economic implications of his plighted altruism. But today in Manila they have no illusions on this score. And that is why, behind the torchlights and oratory of last week, there stood a far-seeing group that even now is talking earnestly of the future of the Philippines in terms of “dominion government,” perpetual commonwealth status” or “economic partnership with the United States.”
Newark (New Jersey) Evening News: With all the economic and political confusion there is in the world at present, it is safest to regard the next 10 years as a period of experiment, in which the United States, as well as the Filipinos, will need to exercise the greatest wisdom and restraint.
Pasadena (California) Star-News: Experienced observers, among them W. Cameron Forbes, a former governor general of the Philippines, believe it to be quite possible that the Filipinos may request a modification of the independence act, in view of the special dangers that are arising. Mr. Forbes said recently: “I feel, and a great many Americans and Filipinos feel, that the problems that will confront the islands, to go on without their own navy, their own guns and their own trade avenues, are extremely serious.” The responsibility of the United States in this matter is grave, as Mr. Forbes sees it.
Worcester (Massachusetts) Evening Gazette: The purpose of the [Philippine independence] law is to rid us of the islands. But we shall not be rid of them. We are not rid of Cuba. We may talk pious platitudes about non-intervention, but we shall continue to interfere at Havana as long as we have any American money invested in Cuba. The Philippines—when the native politicians fall afoul of each other, or get into a row with Japan—we shall be called upon to help them. It is doubtful that they can maintain a stable government. It is certain that they cannot, if they experience an economic collapse. And, by barring them from or market, we are doing our utmost to ruin them economically.
Chicago Daily News: These are parlous times in the Far East. The American dairy interests and American and Cuban sugar interests, which joined forces with Filipino politicos to sever ties of 35 years, have gone a long way toward accomplishing their none too noble ends. If present plans materialize the Philippines will blossom forth as a sovereign republic at the end of a decade and the United States will cease to have a territorial interest in the troublesome Far East. In some respects the United States may be better off if such a separation takes place. Under certain circumstances it might be better to have the separation completed more quickly and more definitely.
Canton (Ohio) Repository: Apparently, the prospect is pleasing to the majority of Filipinos.
Syracuse (New York) Herald: Public opinion in this country is fully reconciled to the legislation.
Salem (Massachusetts) Evening News: They have agitated for freedom so long that it will be difficult for them to turn back now.
Rochester (New York) Times-Union: The element of danger to the Philippines in a completely independent status lies in the possibility that some power might seize the islands and impose a rule less satisfactory than that of the United States.
• • •
Whatever these newspapers say
***The table also helped to revive the old question about the genuineness of the mahogany from the islands. African mahogany importers and other dealers of mahogany have been insisting that Philippine mahogany, not being real mahogany, must always go under the name “Philippine mahogany.”
**There is no law against toasting the President of the United States any time, anywhere, but tradition and official etiquette have it that he must be toasted only at official or diplomatic dinners or at those of the armed forces of the United States.
*Jose P. Melencio and his wife, the daughter of General Aguinaldo, also love to recall their courtship in their public addresses.