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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.
HOW OUR FLAG FLEW AGAIN
June 9, 1956
The flag was prohibited for 12 years. Tears of joy were shed when flag law was repealed
By Jose A. Quirino
ONE of the saddest events in Philippine history occurred on September 6, 1907, the day the Filipino flag was proscribed. The incidents which led to the first proscription of the Sun and Stars (the public display of the flag was also prohibited during the early part of the Japanese occupation) and the subsequent lifting of such a proscription bear recalling.
By the time the first Philippine republic was proclaimed and by the time the flag was proclaimed as the republic’s political symbol on June 12, 1898, almost all Filipinos realized the importance of a national standard in united them in the fight for independence.
Even with the establishment of a civil government by the American authorities of the turn of the century, Filipinos still kept their own versions of the national standard. Long before the Flag Act was approved, the public display of the Filipino flag was banned. Any person who used any button, pin, watch chain, or trinket with the colors or design of the Philippine flag could be prosecuted and incarcerated by the Constabulary.
The ban was an unwritten one, though according to international customs and usage, the ruling power could formally proscribe the display of the flag. But still, during the military occupation, the display or possession of the flag was considered an act of disloyalty, if not hostility, to the United States and its constituted government in the islands.
Although the unwritten ban on the public use of the national colors was relaxed after the establishment of a civil government, many Filipinos hid or destroyed their national standard because they did not want to be questioned by the authorities. The bolder ones, however, began publicly displaying the national colors, occasionally even during parades. This resulted in several incidents which, finally, led to the formal proscription of the flag.
For example, during the campaign for the election of deputies to the Philippine Assembly on July 30, 1907, political supporters organized parades in which were displayed Filipino flags. In several instances, the local banners were bigger than the American flags and were displayed at the right side of the latter. Then, during a public celebration in Caloocan, Rizal, a group of patriots, shouted: “Down with the Americans! Out with the Americanistas.” This caused an uproar which embarrassed the American community.
Such patriotic and revolutionary outbursts on the part of the Filipinos prompted the newspapers to editorialize on the matter. Members of the American community, on the other hand, held public meeting demanding the formal proscription of the Filipino flag.
The Manila Times, then an American newspaper, plugged for tolerance on the part of the Americans. In its editorial of August 12, 1907, it observed:
“The Filipino flag and the Filipino anthem may not be to our liking and may cause us a wry face in the swallowing, but Washington apparently thinks they are not improper and it is Washington which is running things in the Philippines: THE PHILIPPINES FOR THE FILIPINOS.”
El Renacimiento, the fighting periodical, took up the cudgels for the Filipinos and their flag. In its August 21, 1907 editorial, the paper declared:
“The prohibition of the flag is an offense to the people, we repeat. The flag is the symbol of our ideal of liberty. To prohibit it, is it not tantamount to an attempt against the most sacred of our aspirations?…”
Governor General James. F. Smith’s reaction to all of this was one of understanding when he stated: “I am interested in the welfare of the Filipino people, but I love and am interested in my mother country, the United States. I wish to be tolerant, and when the army authorities told me that such tolerance would be of evil results in the future, I answered that we should not be very exacting because the Filipino flag symbolized an ideal bathed in blood and tears.”
On August 23, 1907, members of the American community held a meeting at the Manila Grand Opera House and passed a resolution urging the proscription of the Filipino flag. On September 6, 1907, the Philippine Commission passed Act No. 1696, common known as the Flag Law, entitled: “An act to prohibit the display of flags, banners, emblems, or devices used in the Philippine islands for the purpose of rebellion or insurrection against the authorities of the United States and the display of Katipunan flags, banners, emblems, or devices and for other purposes.”
According to the late Major Emmanuel A. Baja, one of our most noted authorities on the Filipino flag, 13 bills and one resolution were drafted from 1908 to 1914 to repeal the Flag Law. Five of these were passed by the Philippine Assembly while the rest were pigeonholed. The Philippine Commission, however, did not act on the five bills passed by the Assembly.
After the creation of a Philippine legislature consisting of an upper and lower house, attempts to abrogate the Flag Law fizzled out.
On October 6, 1919, after the first World War, Speaker Sergio Osmeña, then vacationing in Japan, wrote Senate President Manuel L. Quezon and said, among other things: “In view of the fact that circumstances have totally changed…I believe that the occasion has come to submit again to the governor-general the question of our flag, that he may be persuaded this time to withdraw his objection to the repeal of the law which prohibits its use.”
Gov. Gen. Francis Burton Harrison, a man who was sympathetic toward the Filipino cause, urged the repeal of the Flag Law in his 17th annual message to the Legislature. That same day, October 16, 1919, Senator Rafael Palma, taking a cue from Harrison’s message, sponsored House Senate Bill No. 1 scrapping the ban on the flag. The senators crossed party lines and the bill was passed. The following day, October 17, the bill was sent to the House of Representatives. The fiery solon from Batangas, Rep. Claro Mayo Recto, delivered a speech on the floor in behalf of the Democratas and declared:
“…On this day, gentlemen, the representatives of the people, in the exercise of their high attributes and prerogatives, will resolve unanimously that there be hoisted, never again to lowered down… where it may be kissed by the sun or caressed by the storms, and where it may not be reached by the mud splatter of our journey or the noise of our petty grudges, that immortal banner…”
The bill repealing the Flag Law was approved in both houses and became Act No. 2871 on October 22, 1919. On October 24, 1919, Harrison issued Proclamation No. 18 setting aside October 30, 1919 as a public holiday to be known as “Flag Day.” (Since then there have been other flag days such as May 28 and June 12.)
Filipinos all over the country rejoiced over the repeal of the Flag Law and expressed their joy by holding parades and programs. Every house “blossomed” with replicas of the national standard. Even the trees were decorated with small flags.
Center of the celebration was Manila where people shouted with joy and the children waved the national colors. Jose P. Bautista, Manila Times editor, told this writer that there was one incident which marred the festivities when one American tried to haul down a Filipino flag at the Luneta. The culprit was arrested by the police.
On October 27, 1919, Gen. Aguinaldo, who was then sick and confined in the Philippine General Hospital, wrote Senate President Quezon for the honor of bearing the flag during the main program to be held on the occasion of Flag Day, October 30. But Quezon denied the request of the Grand Old Man of the revolution and was severely criticized by the newspapers for refusing to grant what one paper termed “a very reasonable request and which the old general deserves.”
The Cablenews-American, in its issue of November 1, 1919, reported: “The presence of a delegation of marines and sailors (in Cavite) together with a band from the Naval Base contributed much to make the occasion more impressive. The American and Filipino flags were hoisted simultaneously by the Provincial Governor and the Commandant of the Naval Base respectively, while the Marine Band played. The celebration was made still more impressive by the fact that the Filipino Flag which was hoisted was a historic one, it being the second Filipino Flag made, the one used by the battalion of General Trias during the revolution.”
It is said that many people shed tears of joy when the Filipino flag was publicly displayed after 12 long years (1907 to 1919) of proscription.
By Teodoro M. Locsin
Claro M. Recto and Manuel Roxas, returning from the United States after the approval of the Constitution, were met the Legaspi landing by the Sen. Elpidio Quirino, Secretary of the Interior Teofilo Sison, Speaker Quintin Paredes.
February 7, 1953–ON Feb. 8, 1935, the Constitutional Convention approved, with one dissenting vote, a new constitution. The one dissenting voter was Delegate Tomas Cabili from Lanao; he was of the unshakable opinion that Lanao was sufficiently enlightened and knew enough of democracy’s ways to be given the vote. The delegate from Ilocos Sur, Elpidio Quirino, agreed was Cabili: Lanao should be given to vote. Absolutely. The Cabili motion was defeated, but Lanao was to reward handsomely the man who stood up in support of it 14 years later, in 1949.
The convention vote was 201-to-one for the Constitution.
The near-unanimity was surprising when one considers the composition of the assembly. Among the delegates there were, as one writer pointed out, “blue-blooded nobles from the Moroland, trained intellectuals from world-famous colleges and universities, religious leaders and moral crusaders, political moguls and parliamentary luminaries, eminent educators and outstanding jurists, revolutionary generals and World War veterans, business entrepreneurs and banking magnates, opulent hacenderos and small planters, noted writers and famous orators, wealthy landowners and indigent professionals, and former school teachers and actual university professors.”
The old, familiar figures come back as one goes over the record of the convention. Manuel L. Quezon, then senate president, who welcomed the delegates assembled for the first time in the session hall of the House of Representatives and declared the existence of a quorum: One hundred ninety-nine of the 202 elected delegates showed up the first day, some as early as eight o’clock in the morning, although the session was to begin at 10:30. The American governor general, Frank Murphy, who was expected to make a brief speech but stayed away, as a matter of delicadeza: the Filipinos were about to prepare the fundamental law of their future independent state; he did to want anything he might say to influence in the least the deliberations of the body. Manuel A. Roxas, the delegate from Capiz, seconding the nomination of Jose P. Laurel of Batangas by Manuel Cuenco of Cebu as the temporary chairman of the convention, then discharging “the very pleasant duty of presenting…the distinguished jurist, able lawyer and successful statesman who will preside over your convention, the gentleman from Batangas, the Honorable Senator Recto.” Tomas Confesor of Iloilo, raising a tempest in a teapot and being ignored. Gen. Teodoro Sandiko administering the oath of office to Recto as president of the convention. Gregorio Perfecto being ruled out of order by Recto. Ruperto Montinola of Iloilo and Teodoro Sandiko of Bulacan being elected as first and second vice-president, respectively.
Quezon addressed the convention:
“In the name of the Filipino people and the Philippine Legislature, as well as in my own, I bid you welcome and extend to you the warmest congratulations for your election to this august body.”
He was dressed in a white silk suit with a gray necktie and grayish-striped shirt: trim and erect and engaging—a dandy. He enumerated the steps that led to the holding of the convention:
“On March 24,1934, the Congress of the United States approved Public Act No, 127, 73rd Congress, entitled ‘An Act to provide for the independence of the Philippine Islands, to provide for the adoption of a constitution and form of government for the Philippine Islands, and for other purposes.’ As a condition ‘sine qua non’ for the enforcement of this Act, it was provided that it be accepted either by the Philippine Legislature or by a convention called for the purpose of passing upon that question. On May 1, 1934, the Philippine Legislature, at a special session called by His Excellency the Governor-General, accepted the aforesaid Act and ordered the election of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention, and fixed this date, the 30th of July, 1934, as the date for the delegates to convene in this Hall of the House of Representatives.”
The man who seemed mainly composed of fire, charm and political cunning, whose nature and American justice tried to explain by saying that in him there were two elements, the white and the brown, with the white despising the brown and the brown hating the white, who had made himself the leader of a similarly confused people, whom it was impossible—many said of him—not to love, paused. An eyebrow twitched. The half-shrill, compelling voice went on:
“You have met here in pursuance to the call of the Philippine Legislature to organize yourself as a constitutional convention and to frame and adopt the constitution for the Government of the Commonwealth, as well as for the Government of the Philippine Republic, until such constitution is amended or abrogated by the sovereign will of the people of the Philippine Islands. It is my fervent wish and prayer that your task upon prosperity of the Filipino people will greatly depend be crowned with complete success.”
After a quorum had been declared, Bishop Alfredo Versoza of Lipa, Batangas, rose and prayed God to guide the convention. Dr. Laurel was voted temporary chairman by acclamation. He appointed House Secretary Eulogio Benitez as temporary secretary of the convention. Delegate Manuel Briones of Cebu then nominated Claro M. Recto as permanent president of the convention, was seconded by Delegate Cuenco. Recto was elected by acclamation. Then came the election of the two vice-presidents.
It was a time of hope, of blithe optimism. The United States had elected a man president that it was to reelect three times; the American people were recovering from a terrible depression, although millions remained unemployed until war-orders provided them with work. Dictatorship had raised its head in Europe, with millions coming—many of them enthusiastically—under the rule of hysterical or pompous or falsely benign men. The Japanese had taken Manchuria. But the Filipinos, as parochial then in their world view as most Americans, thought that what happened to the rest of the world could not happen to them and happily framed a constitution republican in form and outlawing war as an instrument of national policy. There would be no war, no Bataan and Corregidor, no occupation.
Just in case, however, that there should be—but the possibility was remote—a provision in the charter authorized the government to require the services of every citizen in both war and peace.
Every delegate contributed something to the Constitution—some a little, others more. Jose Lansang, writing in the Philippines Herald, tried to assess the contributions of the various members:
“The provisions on the Executive Power were prepared by Delegate Roxas, using the American constitution and the Jones Law and several contemporary constitutions as guide. President Recto, Delegate Briones, Delegate Roxas and others worked together in the drafting of the article on the Legislative Power.
“The article on the Judicial Power was prepared by Delegate Romualdez after a conference with Chief Justice Ramon Avaceña of the Supreme Court, and…was based on the report of the committee on judiciary, headed by Delegate Vicente J. Francisco….
“The bill of rights…was the one prepared by the committee headed by Mr. Laurel and is based on the English bill of rights, the Declaration of the Rights of Man of France, the American constitution and the Jones Law, with two or three provisions later on inserted by some delegates, the provision against retroactive taxation by Delegate Salvador Araneta and the prohibition of imprisonment for poll-tax delinquents by Delegate Jesus Y. Perez.
“The general provisions…referring to the nationalization of lands were from the report of the committee headed by Delegate Jose C. Locsin, and were based largely on a report of an technical committee headed by Professor Vicente Sinco of the University of the Philippines.”
Delegates Singson-Encarnacion and Cuaderno drafted the provisions on the budget, aided by an experienced auditor, Delegate Domingo Dikit. Delegates Conrado Benitez and Ricardo Nepomuceno had much to do with the provisions on education and citizenship training. The provisions on public contracts and the electoral commission were prepared by Recto, Briones, Cuenco, Roxas, Laurel and Francisco. Delegate Locsin was “identified throughout the history of the convention with movements to secure social justice through the constitution.” State universities were guaranteed academic freedom by amendment of Delegates Conrado Benitez, Manuel Lim, Ricardo Nepomuceno, Rafael Palma, Camilo Osias and others. Delegate Vicente Francisco introduced the amendment on double jeopardy.
The committee responsible for the final phraseology of the Constitution was headed by President Recto, composed of the two vice-presidents, Montinola and Sandiko, and the seven subcommitteemen of the sponsorship committee as ex-officio members (Delegates Filemon Sotto, Manuel Roxas, Vicente Singson-Encarnacion, Manuel Briones, Miguel Cuaderno, Norberto Romualdez and Conrado Benitez). The following also had something to say on the final wording of the supreme law: Delegates Francisco, Hontiveros, Romero, Laurel, Nepomuceno, Palma, Arellano, Lim, Osias, Orense, Reyes, Aruego, Delgado, Perfecto, Conejero, Caram….
The preamble to the Constitution was drafted by Recto who contributed most, it was generally held, to the Constitution. At the close of the convention, the senate president and future president of the Commonwealth, Manuel L. Quezon, said of the president of the convention:
“It has indeed been a great honor, that which you have conferred upon the Honorable Claro M. Recto, when you elected him as your President. You have given him the opportunity either to make or unmake himself. He was of course preceded by a great reputation as a scholar, as a man of letters, as a jurist, and as a statesman. But we all know that sometimes precisely those with the same qualifications, however well deserved, when faced by the realities of actually dealing with men, are the ones who do not always rise to the demands of the occasion. It is not necessary for me to say whether President Recto has been equal to his task or not. Soon every member of this convention will affix his signature to the Constitution, a document which is historical not only because to frame the fundamental law of the land is in itself historical, but because I confidently hope that this charter will guide our ship of state not only for many generations but for all generations to come. It has been your privilege to make history; and President Recto should be credited with the able leadership of this convention and the golden opportunity to place his talent and his patriotism at the service of his country.”
The president of the convention made his closing speech in Spanish. In substance, in English paraphrase, he said:
The years will pass into nothing; new generations will succeed ours; Time in its course will change our world if not destroy it; humanity, weary of itself and prey to new follies, will again and again throw the treasures of civilization into the flames of new and terrifying wars; but when those who come after us turn their faces to the past and consider what we have done in this convention, I am confident that they will say that we have done nobly, that we have done greatly. And they will not fail to note that the solicitude and the zeal which attended our efforts were not due to any desire for the praise of the present or the plaudits of the future, any wish to see our names in the bronze or marble of perishable glory, but to the desire to realize for our people, through this Constitution, to make that for which an illustrious prelate, pride of the native clergy, prayed God on the day of our inauguration: “A nation of happy people within Thy Kingdom.”
That was 18 years ago.
A mission headed by Quezon and including Recto and Roxas was sent to the United States to secure then President Roosevelt’s approval of the Constitution. The presentation of the draft was made to the American president on March 18. A Quezon joke made the presentation at the time and on the date set possible. Recto thought Roxas had the copy of the Constitution with him when they left for the White House and Roxas thought Quezon had it. “Don’t forget to bring the official copy of the Constitution with you,” President Quezon told Recto jokingly in Quezon’s room in the Shoreham Hotel where the members of the mission had gathered. The official copy was found in the briefcase of Private Secretary Guillermo Cabrera; it would have been left behind but for Quezon’s little joke.
Recto presented the copy to Roosevelt. On March 23, in the presence of Filipino and American officials, President Roosevelt approved the Constitution, congratulated those responsible for it. He called it a “great constitution.” Quezon told the Filipino people about the approval of the law by radiophone, at 1:02 a.m.
“The Constitution is signed!”
That was the signal to start the sirens going. Bells rang, firecrackers exploded, fireworks were lighted. All Manila was awake and cheering.
It was a great and happy day.
It was a great and noble work. The members of the convention had not worked alone, of course. Inspiration, as has been pointed out—from the minds of England, the United States, France. Among the presiding spirits at the convention were those of St. Thomas More, who had envisioned a “Utopia” in which all men would be free and reasonable—this, under the despotism of Henry VIII; the blind Milton, who wrote of earth, heaven and hell, and the reasons for a free press; Thomas Paine, who called it “Common Sense” to be independent and fought for “The Rights of Man” against the “divine right” of kings; Thomas Jefferson.
The Greeks and the Romans were there, and the Jews, the wedding of whose culture with the cultures of Greece and Rome produced the Western World and its concern for the rights of the individual, the soul of man.
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?”
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:
“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.”
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.
January 28, 1933
Independence in the Balance
Babel of Voices Rising on All Sides—Question Buried Under Volumes of Oratory Leaders’ Future Moves Uncertain
CONFUSION worse confounded marked the week’s developments in the unfolding of the drama of Philippine independence. From Bongao to Aparri raged the question of the hour: Should the Philippines approve the independence bill enacted by the United States congress? Of almost equal interest was the subsidiary question: Should the Philippine legislature act on the bill, or should a convention of specially elected delegates decide this momentous matter?
All eyes were focused upon the impetuous figure of Senate President Quezon, who effective ended discussion of the bill during the special session of the legislature by threatening to take an immediate vote on the question unless sponsors of the bill stopped their sniping tactics.
As staunchly opposed to the bill as ever, Senate President Quezon was unquestionably supported by a majority in both houses of the legislature. Should he have put the question to a vote, there was no doubt but that his wishes would have been followed. In spite of claims that the legislature could not act on the matter until an official copy of the bill had been received from Washington, the senate president insisted that all that was necessary for a vote was for the governor general to submit the radioed copy of the bill to the legislature.
“I have an agreement with the members of the mission not to act on the bill until they return and make their report, in order that they may defend their actions,” said Senate President Quezon, “but if sympathizers of the bill continue making speeches and waging a campaign to form public opinion in favor of the bill, the members of the legislature, in spite of my wishes, may force a vote on the measure.
Having thus effectively spiked discussion of the bill at the special session of the legislature, Senate President Quezon called a caucus of the majority party, and secured authorization to send a cable ordering the mission to return to the Philippines.
If the mission were to return, it seemed probable that Senate President Quezon had abandoned his plans to sail to the United States to work for the better bill which he felt he could secure from the forthcoming congress. Yet the next thing the mercurial leader did indicated the possibility of his departure. He had the senate elect Sen. Jose Clarin as president pro tempore, and Sen. Elpidio Quirino a majority floor leader. “As everybody knows, the question of my going to the United States has not been decided, but if I should leave there must be a president pro tempore,” explained Senate President Quezon.
The mission, in the meantime, were sitting tightly in Washington awaiting orders from Manila. Even Sen. Benigno Aquino, envoy extraordinary who joined the mission at the last moment and who had planned to start his return trip late this month, announced he had canceled his passage and would stay in Washington.
But while the senate president was charting his course in regard to the independence bill, a great barrage of opinion, pro and con, was laid down in Manila and throughout the provinces.
Among the many entities which expressed their opinions on the independence bill were: the municipal council of Manila, which opposed it after hearing a councilor make the sensational statement that the mission should be shot for treachery and the students of the Columbian institute of Manila, who “sincerely and wholeheartedly” endorsed the independence bill.
For and Against
Rafael Palma, president of the University of the Philippines, and once a member of the Big Three of Philippine politics, issued a statement deploring “the absence of perfect understanding among our leaders”. He favors the approval of the bill.
On the other side of the fence is Don Vicente Lopez, president of the International Chamber of Commerce of Iloilo, the Filipino businessman who declared before Secretary of War Hurley that independence would be ruinous without free trade for 20 years. He said:
“One need not be a prophet to predict now what will happen should the Philippine legislature accept the Hawes-Cutting Bill.
“1. Foreign capital, which constitutes more than 50% of our total, will be withdrawn as soon as possible, in two years at the most.
“2. Filipino capital, which is much more conservative than foreign capital will also be withdrawn and all the cash will be deposited with foreign banks.
“3. As a result of this withdrawal of all foreign and Filipino capital, the government of the Philippine commonwealth will be so poor after the lapse of five years that it will ask the United States to restore the Jones Bill.
“4. The Jones law may be restored but without such privileges or have gains as free trade.
“5. That, to cap it all—and in this I hope I am mistaken—we shall not say goodbye to the country, but we shall say goodbye to the home, because economic slavery will then prevail.”
Many observers chose the “middle path,” feeling that although the independence bill is far from an ideal one, it is better than nothing at all. For instance, Dr. Bernabe Africa, professor of political science at the University of the Philippines, holds that “We must meet the selfish American interests halfway. Immediate independence is impracticable. If we cannot have a whole loaf, we are wise if we take half a loaf. Under the next administration a worse bill, from the economic standpoint, might be passed.
The most interesting debate now being conducted in the daily press by Maximo Kalaw and Jorge Bocobo, the two politically minded deans of the University of the Philippines. Dean Kalaw, a member of the mission who returned early, is defending the bill, while Dean Bocobo is opposing it.
De Joya for Bill
A public clash between those favoring and those opposing the independence bill occurred Tuesday afternoon at that forum for the creation of public opinion, a convocation of students of the University of the Philippines.
For Judge Mariano H. de Joya, the principal speaker delivered a lengthy speech in favor of the bill declaring “We must accept the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill because it contains a definite and solemn promise of Independence, at the expiration of the ten year period of transition, thus eliminating the element of uncertainty.
“Furthermore, we must accept the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill, to be consistent with ourselves; and so that we may not become the laughing-stock of the World. To reject the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill would be impolitic, and treason to the rights and the welfare of future generations.
“Besides, if we should now reject the Hawes-Cutting-Hare Bill, the American Congress will charge us with ingratitude and with attempting to impose upon them, and they will treat our next petitions with scorn. We have no right to gamble away the gains already obtained, and thus be recreant to our duty to 13,000,000 souls.”
Judge De Joya then took up the controversial points of the bill one at a time, arguing that the retention of American naval bases in the Philippines would be a stabilizing influence in the Far East, that the trade relations provided in the bill are not unjust to the Philippines, that the limitation of immigration into the United States was a blessing in disguise and that the fears concerning the American high commissioner are unjustified.
The high spot of the convocation resulted from Judge De Joya’s statement that “What could President Quezon do, a sick man and alone, that the others, all strong and sound, could not do together?”
Securing permission to be heard, Dean Jorge Bocobo leaped to his feet and belabored Judge De Joya for “rejoicing over the failing health of our president, Manuel L. Quezon.” With anger surging through every word of his speech, he passionately declared, “If President Quezon’s health is failing, if he is a sick man, it is because he has spent all his life, has sacrificed it all for the welfare of the people.”
Judge De Joya protested that he had been maliciously misunderstood declaring, “I did not say I was rejoicing because President Quezon is a sick man. I was merely stating a simple fact as a lawyer ordinarily would.”
Opening shot of the Kalaw-Bocobo debate was fired Thursday morning when Dean Kalaw released to the press his first article, which he described as an account “of a once famous battle-cry whose echo has been lost in the recondite nooks and corners of Capitol hill.” The battle-cry was “immediate, complete and absolute independence,” which Dean Kalaw said “has served tremendously in arousing the people”. Therefore supporters of immediate independence, he argued, were barking up the wrong tree, were seeking something impossible to attain.
Probably one of the most vital pronouncements on the measure will be made by Senate President Quezon at one o’clock next Sunday morning, when he will address the people of the United States over a nationwide radio hook-up which will carry his voice into millions of American homes.
What the Filipino leader says then will undoubtedly have a very real and definite bearing on the final outcome of the problem.
And Now. . .
THE fevered excitement incidental to the unimagined passing of the Hawes-Cutting bill over President Hoover’s veto is subsiding, and we are moving into the more sober secondary stage.
While there is still interested discussion as to the merits and probable consequences of the measure, which debates in the press and on the platform will tend to keep alive, the general tendency seems to be toward suspended judgment.
The poll conducted by the daily press, mostly among businessmen, reveals complacence on the part of some and resignation, in lieu of the hope of anything better, on the part of others. A few, however, openly voice their dissatisfaction and apprehension and seem disposed to risk everything in an effort to avert the “slow strangulation,” the “creeping paralysis,” which they see as the inevitable outcome of the bill’s operation.
Meanwhile, in diametrical opposition, in apparently uncompromising antagonism dominating the welter of discussion and dissidence, are the well known views of the members of the mission in the United States, with Osmeña and Roxas in the forefront, and, here, Manuel Quezon. On neither side has there been the slightest sign of wavering, of change, of yielding.
For those who believe with Quezon, that there is hope of something better, the argument appears to run about as follows:
That the executive heads of the United States government, reference being had to President Hoover and four members of his cabinet, definitely opposed the bill; that in its essence it is unqualifiedly one-sided and arbitrary; that it was promoted by selfish and sordid interests; that the press of the United States generally condemns it; that it works a great moral and material wrong upon the Filipino people, gives the lie to the past lofty professions of the United States about being animated solely by motives of altruism in its dealings with the Filipino people and generally reflects dishonor upon the good name of America; and further, that it is inconceivable, if the worst came to the worst, that, with a whole people protesting against the injustice of the bill, the congress of the United States would be so cruel and inhuman as to force upon that people a bill still more drastic and merciless in its provisions.
On the other hand, apart from those who welcome the bill because of its more or less definite promise of independence, fear exists lest congress might be ruthless enough to enact a still more stringent measure. These advocates of acceptance say there is no telling what congress might do. Some Americans even go so far as to voice the belief that, should Quezon declare the Filipino people would prefer immediate and outright independence to the present bill, congress might—to use their words—“call his bluff” and pass such a bill. Better, they say, to take half a loaf than risk getting none.
Thus is the issue presented to the Filipino people, to the people of the Philippines. They stand at the crossroads of destiny, at a crisis in their history. Through their legislature or through a popular convention, they are to be called upon to play the part of the Lords of High Decision. Fate hangs in the balance.
December 24, 1932
Committee Thrashing Out Details of Independence
Hawes-Cutting Bill Approved by Senate—Goes to Conference with Hare Bill—Manila Rises Against Senate Measure
IN ONE of the commodious committee rooms in the capital building in Washington, D.C., at 10 o’clock on Wednesday morning, a group of five senators and three representatives sat down around a large conference table.
Before each member of the joint committee lay printed copies of two bills: one entitled S. 3377; the other, H. R. 7233. Popularly known as the Hawes-Cutting and the Hare bills, they were the measures which the United States senate and the United States house of representatives, respectively, had passed as Philippine independence bills.
Basically following the same broad outlines, these two bills varied in certain essential details. To compromise those differences and report out a single measure which would be acceptable to both houses was the task before the joint committee, as it settled down to work Wednesday morning. Briefly, those differences were:
How soon the joint committee can finish its task of ironing out those discrepancies was much in doubt as the eight congressmen buckled down to the task at hand. Senator Hawes, chief independence proponent in the upper house, was anxious to get a measure approved before December 25, as a Christmas present for the Filipino people. But with the traditional recess of congress over the holidays only a day or two off, it looked as though there were little hope of final action before January.
But if congress must adjourn, there was no reason why the committee could not continue its deliberations during the holidays.
Members of the committee, for the most part, are well-known in the Philippines.
Representing the upper house are Senators Hawes and Cutting, co-authors of the bill, Sen. Hiram Bingham, long-time opponent of independence, Sen. Hiram Johnson, who wants to exclude Filipinos from the United States, and Sen. Key Pittman, generally regarded as a friend of the Philippines.
From the lower house are Representative Hare, author of the independence bill bearing his name, Rep. Guinn Williams, from Texas, an unknown quantity in Philippine matters but certainly in favor of early independence, and Rep. Harold Knutson, whose Minnesota constituents are clamoring for independence in order to shut out Philippine coconut oil, which competes with their dairy products.
The question of Philippine independence was thrown into committee when the senate, last Saturday, passed the amended Hawes-Cutting bill without a record vote, after having reconsidered and disapproved the Broussard amendment which provided for independence in eight years with increasing tariffs beginning the first year. The bill as passed by the senate provides for independence in approximately 12 years, with restricted imports during the first seven years and gradually increasing tariff duties during the final five year.
As a matter of form, the house of representatives then disapproved the senate amendments to the bill, thus throwing both the senate bill and the house bill, which was passed last spring, into committee. That the compromise measure which emerges from that committee will be approved by both houses and sent to President Hoover seems probable. But what President Hoover will do with the bill is anybody’s guess.
Most controversial matter during the final discussion of the Hawes-Cutting bill was the question of a plebiscite. It is generally felt that President Hoover wants no independence bill without a plebiscite, which will allow the Philippine voters to decide, after a period of transition, whether or not they wish to be cut loose from the United States.
But Sen. Huey P. Long, self-styled Kingfish of Louisiana, who had forced through lower limitations on sugar and coconut oil, rose in his majesty and said he would filibuster until March 4 to prevent the plebiscite proviso. As a final compromise it was provided that the constitution of the Philippine commonwealth should be submitted to the people for a vote, thus allowing them to express their opinion before the period of transition.
From Manila, after the approval of the Hawes-Cutting bill, came an almost unanimous storm of protest. Said Senate President Quezon:
“While they insist upon keeping us under the American flag for a number of years our people are branded as undesirable to the American people. They want to restrict our free trade with America to a ruinous extent, and yet American free trade with the Philippines will be unlimited. Our industries will not be protected in the United States markets but American industries will be protected in the Philippines.
“It is a most unfair arrangement reminding one of the treatment accorded to the American colonies by Great Britain in the days of George the Third.
“America should grant independence to the Philippines at once, or if Americans insist upon a period of transition then let it be the shortest possible time. If in the meanwhile, America does not want our people in the United States nor our products, let there be no intermigration of the two peoples nor free trade at all. Let Congress prohibit Filipinos from entering the United States and impose customs duties on Philippine products. But let the Filipinos have the right to do the same thing in reference to the United States.
“We did not ask Congress to establish this free trade, and we are willing to have it terminated now. We only ask independence.”
William H. Anderson fairly represented the opinion of America businessmen in Manila when he said, “Better have independence tomorrow than 10 years of slow torture by economic strangulation.”
A more conservative note came from the University of the Philippines, where President Rafael Palma pointed out that the Philippines could not expect an ideal independence bill and Dean Francisco Benitez declared that “beggars cannot be choosers.” Dean Maximo Kalaw caustically remarked that the “unfair commercial provisions” had “not surprised” him as he had “always contended that the history of our tariff relations with the United States showed that America has not been actuated by liberal motives.”
The climax of the protest was scheduled for Thursday evening, when a public mass meeting was held at the Manila Opera House. Organized under the chairmanship of Dean Jorge Bocobo, the meeting was first to have been addressed by Senate President Quezon, but later the Filipino leader withdrew, stating his stand on the matter was clear and declaring he was anxious the people themselves should be given an opportunity to express their views.
A resolution of protest was prepared for the meeting, and the program included speeches by Sen. Jose Generoso, Gonzalo Puyat, Lope K. Santos and Isauro Gabaldon.
Hundred thousand greet governor
October 11, 1913–THROUGH loud leagues of cheering people, through a city thronged as never before, acclaimed by waving flags and banners, by blaring bands, and by the tumultuous roar of welcome which met him wherever he moved, Francis Burton Harrison on Monday drove to the grandstand on the Luneta, where he spoke to a nation from a nation, to the Philippines from the United States, whose representative he is. In all the history of the Islands, there has been no such demonstration as ushered him into his place as Governor General, for one hundred thousand from Manila, and from the provinces of the archipelago, met in the great gathering which did him honor.
All through the day the city was keyed to expectancy. On all the thoroughfares in the morning hours the press of vehicles, and of pedestrians in holiday attire, was such that only with difficulty and at a snail’s pace could the street cars make way from point to point. The long blast of the ice plant whistle which should tell of the sighting of the Manchuria, the vessel bringing the new chief executive, was eagerly awaited, and when, at 1:30 p.m., the signal sounded, there was an instant setting of the tide of traffic toward the Luneta, and to those points which Mr. Harrison would pass in his progress. Organizations, schools, societies, districts—all those bodies which sought special prominence on the line of march—ranged themselves about their banners on the sidewalks, and there stood patiently while the long minutes passed before the vessel should have reached Pier 5, and the party should have landed.
Meanwhile, out on the waters of the bay, there was also preparation and parade. A torpedo flotilla, with the Dale (commanded by Lieutenant Ernest Burr) at the head of the line, awaited the time when the big liner should pass Corregidor, and then steamed into their places at bow and stern. Thus convoyed she met the fleet of gaily decorated launches which had adventured several miles out into the bay, and took on board from Jolo the members of the committee of reception. So while the sirens screamed, and the band on the little craft chartered by New Yorkers played “Give my regards to Broadway,” the big vessel made her way to the pier, and made fast.
Then it was that the enthusiasm of the day really began. No sooner had the Governor General made his appearance than a roar of greeting went up, and it broke in wave on wave of sound while he moved with Mrs. Harrison down the gang plank to where Vice Governor and Mrs. Newton W. Gilbert awaited him. There greetings where exchanged, and the party moved to the carriages sent for them. In the first Mr. and Mrs. Harrison took their seats, to find themselves faced by a regular bank of flowers, while in the second came Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert, and in the third sat Speaker Osmeña and Resident Commissioner Quezon, for whom the cheers and the greetings were especially hearty.
The route along which they passed was walled by waiting crowds. By Calle Aduana and Bagumbayan they went to the Luneta, preceded by two troops of the 7th Cavalry, and as they moved Governor General Harrison raised his hat to the cheers and the music that welcomed him, while his charming wife bowed and smiled a delighted recognition. There were surprises in store for them, as when the students of the college of law of the University of the Philippines let loose the full throated Yale college yell, and the Governor thanked them for a tribute which recognized his old alma mater, but at every step of the way there was enthusiasm, and the distinguished occupants of the carriage received it with evident pleasure.
Denser and denser grew the crowds as they neared the Luneta, where their places on the grandstand from which the speeches were to be made were ready for them. The structure had been erected in front of the statue of Jose Rizal, and it was bright with the Stars and Stripes of the country whose emissary Mr. Harrison is. In a roped space the Constabulary Band stood ready, but it was shut from view as the people in thousands surged across the open space, and packed the roadway so closely that only the cavalry could make a way for the carriages. One by one the vehicles of the party drove up and discharged their occupants, but that of the Governor General and Mrs. Harrison came last, and the cheers and hand-clapping which had been given the others swelled to a roar as they appeared.
It was a remarkable sight that lay under the eyes of the Governor General as he took his place on the stand. Before him, covering all the green space of the Luneta, the people were crushed into a solid mass, and out of a sea of faces there rose here and there the head and shoulders of the taller Americans. The ubiquitous photographer was there, with hand camera and with moving picture machine, but it must have been well nigh impossible to take pictures when all about the crowd surged and swayed, ebbed and flowed. One fact was patent—that, no matter what the discomfort, absolute good humor was to prevail. The people were expecting good tidings, and they had determined to hear it in becoming fashion.
There was silence while Commissioner Palma introduced Governor Gilbert, and there was applause when, smiling with the warm geniality which always characterizes him, Mr. Gilbert presented to the people their Governor General. But when Mr. Harrison rose and moved forward to the front of the stand, Resident Commissioner Quezon (who was to interpret his speech) at his side, there was a yell of uncontrollable enthusiasm, continued while, manuscript in hand, Mr. Harrison waited an opportunity to speak. It was at this moment that the press from behind became so heavy that the great throng flowed forward like a wave to the grandstand, and it seemed for a while that an accident was inevitable. Major General Bell stepped into the breach. He strode to the side of the Governor General, an erect and soldierly figure, and called in the great voice he can summon for occasions of need: “Attention!” “Stand still!” This had the effect intended, for the throng stood steady again, and Mr. Harrison began the reading of his momentous message.
When the speeches and the excitement were over there came an informal reception on the grandstand, and then Governor General Harrison and Vice Governor General Gilbert seated together, and Mrs. Harrison, and Mrs. Gilbert in a carriage following, drove away to Malacañan, bringing to an end the first great event of the day.
The evening, however, had been reserved for the inaugural ball, and to this it seemed indeed that all Manila had gathered. The Marble Hall of the Ayuntamiento had been transformed for the occasion, and toward the building long before nine o’clock an endless line of carriages and automobiles made their way. Not a section of the most cosmopolitan community in the East was unrepresented in the throng of men and women who crowded the building, and moved slowly by the broad staircase to the ballroom. The flowers and flags of the decorations, the brilliant colors of the dresses, the sparkle of jewels, and the brilliant light in which everything was bathed, made the scene unforgettable, and there was a spirit of eager anticipation everywhere which made the atmosphere electric.
When Governor General Harrison appeared with his wife there was a murmur of admiration on all hands. Superbly tall, holding herself with rare dignity and grace, Mrs. Harrison was exquisitely gowned, and were jewels of a luster and value seldom seen here. She was a gracious and beautiful figure, admirably set off by the brilliant scene in which he moved, and her pleasant warmth of greeting won her instantly the regard, as she had already captured the admiration of all who met her.
With the arrival of the central figures of the evening a receiving line was instantly formed. Governor General and Mrs. Harrison, Vice Governor and Mrs. Gilbert, Mr. and Mrs. Clive Kingcome, Commissioner Rafael Palma and Mrs. Palma, and Commissioner Juan Sumulong and Mrs. Sumulong composed it, but after an hour in which hundreds had been introduced, Mrs. Harrison was obliged to retire. The strain of a long day of excitement, the heat and the stress of receiving, were too much for her, and, with Governor General Harrison, she left for the Malacañan.
Thus it came about that the rigodon de honor was danced without the presence of the couple whose participation was chiefly desired. There was general regret that their departure should have been necessary, but a sympathetic understanding of the reasons which had brought it about, and the great company set itself to the pleasant task of dancing through the hours that were left.