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Articles and items added as of January 21, 2013
Cover, April 20, 1946 issue
It’s Up to You Now!, by Leon O. Ty, November 7, 1953
My Years with the Free Press, by Frederic S. Marquardt, August 30, 1958
The death of The Guy, by Quijano de Manila, March 18, 1961
The Nation: 1965, by Quijano de Manila, June 12, 1965
Cover, April 5, 1986 issue
Madonna Power, by Teodoro M. Locsin, December 22, 1990
Articles added as of January 13, 2013
The Other Manila, by Quijano de Manila, December 13, 1952
The Masks of Filipinos, by Teodoro M. Locsin, June 17, 1961
The Week the Free Press Said Goodbye, by Gregorio C. Brillantes, December 12, 1964
The Choice, by Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., August 28, 1971
Articles and items added as of January 5, 2013
Our wonderful Philippine University, editorial for June 26, 1909
Interview with the General, by Teodoro M. Locsin, June 11, 1949
Cover, June 11, 1949 issue
Revolt of the Masses—Marcos Style, by Teodoro L. Locsin Jr., January 30, 1970
Ferdinand E. Marcos: An Appreciation, by Gregorio C. Brillantes, August 29, 1970
Mary, by Teodoro M. Locsin, December 11, 1971
New additions, December 14-15, 2012
- Who owns this city? Editorial for October 3, 1908
- Marquardt Recounts Post-Landing Experiences, September 21, 1946 by Frederick Marquardt
- The Plight of the Displaced Population, February 22, 1947 by Federico Ayson
- They Saw Manoling for the Last Time, April 24, 1948 by Leon O. Ty
- In this corner: Lacson, May 11, 1957 by Quijano de Manila
- Strange Victory, November 23, 1957 (unsigned)
- The Phenomenon of Teilhard de Chardin, December 9, 1967 by Gregorio C. Brilliantes
- That was 1967, December 30, 1967 by Quijano de Manila
- Final round, November 1, 1969 by Napoleon G. Rama
- Remembering Teodoro M. Locsin, January 26,2002 by Manuel L. Quezon III
New additions, December 1-11, 2012
- No More Divorce? April 9, 1949 by Teodoro M. Locsin
- The Mind of Recto: The Wound and the Bow, June 21, 1952 by Teodoro M. Locsin
- Del Pilar, December 13, 1952 by Leon Ma. Guerrero
- Calle Azcarraga, March 4, 1961 by Quijano de Manila
- Quezon and Osmeña, December 15, 1962 by Frederick Marquardt
- From Yeh Yeh to Go Go, July 16, 1966 by Quijano de Manila
Remembering Teodoro M. Locsin, January 26,2002
Remembering Teodoro M. Locsin
by Manuel L. Quezon III
January 26,2002—ANECDOTES told by those who knew him in his prime assure me that Teodoro M. Locsin was a man who possessed a sense of humor, indeed a sense of fun, even what could be said to be an impish wit. He liked good drink and song; we all know he wrote well. But it is the elusiveness of this characteristic that has always intrigued me. If the sons of a man are any reflection of the father, then the assurances given me by my elders that Teddy Locsin, Sr. had a sense of humor must be true; one only has to see his two elder sons to know they have a sense of humor in spades. Yet Teddy Locsin, Sr., if one depends on his writings, comes across as a man of manic anger, of near-hysterical indignation. That was the public man, the crusading journalist.
He described himself, many years ago, reminiscing right after the death of a close friend and recalling the days of Liberation then merely a few years back:
“We had,” he wrote in 1949, recalling the time before the FREE PRESS reopened after being shut down by the Japanese, “with Jose Diokno, the son of Senator Diokno, put out a new paper, the Philippines Press. Diokno was at the desk and more or less kept the paper from going to pieces as it threatened to do every day. I thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials. Philip was the objective reporter, the impartial journalist, who gave the paper many a scoop. That was Philip’s particular pride: to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side.”
Teddy Locsin, Sr. was famous –or infamous, depending on who was reading his editorials and articles and who was being attacked in them– for “jumping on people.” His was the the anger of the man who had fought for his country as a guerrilla; his was the highly-developed moral conscience inculcated by his love of books and the mentorship of Robert McCullough Dick; his was the mind of a poet turned to penning the philippics and jeremiads of a reformist, a man who would give and take no quarter as he was proxy for Juan de la Cruz in fighting corruption, stupidity, cupidity and avarice in and out of government.
Yet there is one instance of his writing reflecting a wit, though, since written as a journalist, the merciless kind of wit. One of my favorite pieces is one he wrote on then Senatorial Candidate Pacita M. Warns on October 22, 1955.
He began the piece self-deprecatingly, writing, that when it came to tackling controversies involving women leaders, “It is difficult to write critically about a woman. Whether you are right or wrong makes no difference; you are being hard, it will be said, on the weaker sex. At the same time, it isn’t fair that just because a woman occupies an office, it should be above reproach. Where does chivalry end and civic duty begin? One cannot always tell. A gentleman has been defined as one who never inflicts pain; a newspaperman sometimes seems to do nothing else but inflict it. It is no use arguing, with people and with oneself, that it is a job that must be done. ‘How can you be so cruel to a lady!’ is the first and last reaction. And when the official, upon meeting you, instead of scratching your eyes out, speaks of the high standard of your paper and how, in only this case, it has fallen from that high standard, how she has admired your writing and thought you a man of principles, fair and objective in your reporting, and how disappointing that you have been less than fair and objective in dealing with her, what a gentleman she always thought you were, and look at you now—as she goes on heaping compliments and reproaches on your head, what can you do but say, ‘I am a dog?’”
In the process of the interview, the self-deprecation remained even as he let his subject pillory herself:
“. . . .Last Wednesday, we had an interview with Mrs. Warns. It was arranged by an officer of the SWA, Victor Baltazar, who came to the office and asked us if we would talk things over with the former SWA head. Certainly, we said.
“We met Mrs. Warns at the Jai Alai Keg Room. With her were Baltazar and two women connected with SWA. With us was Melecio Castaños of the FREE PRESS….”
Locsin asked a question concerning the controversy of the day: “How about those pictures of yours which we saw in the SWA? They were glamour shots and were autographed. Is the SWA supposed to distribute them?”
And Mrs. Warns replied, “Oh, they are my personal property, left there when I resigned. People kept asking for my pictures while I was administrator. The poor pasted them on the wall of their huts alongside the picture of the Virgin Mary. . . .”
Locsin writes that he responded,”No.” And the interview goes on to its –to this writer, anyway– hilarious conclusion:
“Yes.” [replied Mrs. Warns] “ If you could only see how the poor greet me wherever I go! They kiss my hand and tell their children to kiss the hem of my dress.”
“’Do they really paste your picture along that of the Virgin Mary?’
“’You may find it hard to believe, but they do. If you could come with me, I would show you. . . . Ah, you do not know what it is like to be poor! If you had lived with them, eaten with them, seen how wretched they are, you would understand how they feel toward me, why they would paste my picture beside that of the Virgin Mary and kiss my hand and tell their children to kiss the hem of my dress.’
“Speechless, we listened. She went on.
“’I have always admired the FREE PRESS for its crusading spirit and I have read your articles and thought you to be fair, just, principled newspaperman and when you do not even give me a chance to explain. . . .’
“’But I did give you a chance. I called you up, you will remember, and you told me you did not know how much the SWA spent for photographic materials but you gave your salary to the poor. . . .’
“’Not only my salary, I gave my own money daily to the poor. I only wish I could go on helping the poor. . .’
“’I am sure you can afford to do that immediately.’
“She looked at us with eyes full of pity.
“’Do you know what they are saying about the FREE PRESS now? In the provinces, in the barrios, wherever I go, the people are saying, having read your story about me and the SWA, ‘The FREE PRESS has become just like of the tabloids. It has attacked our Virgin Mary.’ That is what some would say. Others would correct them: ‘Not our Virgin Mary but our goddess.’ That is what the people of this country are saying about the FREE PRESS after your article.’
“’Will you please repeat that.’
“’Well, to show you how objective the FREE PRESS is, I am going to report what people are saying about it and about you in my next article.’
“’But do not say that I said I am the Virgin Mary and a goddess. It is the people who are saying that.’
“’I shall say that the people are saying that the FREE PRESS has become just like one of the tabloids because it has attacked their Virgin Mary or goddess. Is that correct?’
Magnificent. And one of the few examples I’ve found of Locsin letting his sense of humor shine through any of his articles.
He was always a shrewd observer; his journalism is replete with telling details and observations that endure. A short piece he wrote on August 10, 1946, titled “The Big Scramble,” could have been written yesterday, and can be written tomorrow. Just change the names, and the scramble is still there –the only thing different is the uncompromising morality of Locsin, then and always anti-collaborator.
“The young men of Capiz,” Locsin wrote, (referring to the new administration of Manuel Roxas), “according to reports reaching the FREE PRESS, are flocking to Manila, to shake the hand of their province mate, the President of the Philippines, to congratulate him on his election—and to ask for a job.
“Thus it was in Quezon’s time, and it was no different during the Osmeña administration. When Malacañan corridors still echoed with the oaths and curses of the High-Strung One [Quezon] as some cabinet member was called to account for some act of omission or commission, as the Church puts it, the Chosen People came from Tayabas. During the brief reign of Sergio the First and probably the Last, the Lucky Ones spoke English with a thick Cebuano accent. In the 2604th year of the reign of Showa, when Laurel was ‘President,’ Malacañan was a home away from home for Batangueños. Now, in the first year of Roxas, the Palace by the Pasig is being stormed by determined Capiceños, all animated by one single thought—a government job.
“In the palace itself, according to intelligence reports received by the Minority Camp, there are intra-mural hostilities between the De Leon side and the Acuña side of the Presidential family. The Acuñas are said to be increasingly bitter at the way the Bulakeños are getting the best jobs, and there are many dark references to blood, how it should be thicker than water.
“Meanwhile press communiqués indicate that while the Bulakeños and the Capiceños were arguing with each other who should have this job and who should have that, the Ilocanos—Quirinos—boys—have quietly infiltrated the lines and taken over the choicest offices. Determined to hold their positions at all cost, the Ilocanos were last reported to be forming suicide squadrons and building road blocks against future counter-attack by the boys from Bulacan and Capiz. In the face of a common enemy, they may even join forces and as one united army attack the Ilocano positions.
“From Capiz itself comes a report—the author keeps himself anonymous, and wisely, too, probably—that school teachers who made the simply unforgivable error of voting for Osmeña are finding themselves either dropped or assigned to distant barrios where nothing more is heard of them. Osmeña himself was given an honorary elder statesman’s job, but those who voted for him the last time are being slowly—and not so slowly — frozen out of the government, the report concludes.
“In Manila, things are not so bad. Many government employees took the precaution of voting for Roxas during the last election. If Osmeña won, they would still have their jobs, but if Roxas won—well they voted for him, didn’t they?”
And Locsin concluded with an observation that still speaks to us, today:
“Most government jobs are low paid, and one wonders why there is such scramble for them. Then one recalls the story of the pre-war Bureau of Customs employee who had a two story house, a car, and who sent his two daughters to an expensive private school—all on a salary of less than P100 a month. Who knows, once you are in the government, when such an opportunity will strike? The thing is, be prepared—and enter the government.”
Teddy Locsin, Sr. was not a prophet; he was a journalist, but the best kind; from his early post-war writing one is moved to jump to one of his last pre-martial law interviews, this one of his close friend Ninoy Aquino. The same Ninoy he advised, in 1983, not to return to the Philippines because, as Locsin’s middle son once recalled, “bravery achieves nothing, my father told him [Aquino], especially in a country of cowards. Yet that putdown of courage may have tipped the scale for Ninoy’s return. The worse the odds, the more inviting the challenge.”
This is only part of an interview, titled “Mission Impossible?” Locsin wrote on March 21, 1971. The issue of the day was the Jabidah massacre; there was an officer whose wife was looking for her husband. Locsin wrote,
“Captain Titong’s wife wonders, not only where her family’s next meal will come from, but where the hell her husband is.
“What happened to Captain Titong?
“’Five possibilities,’ said Aquino:
“’First, he could be absent without leave. The law demands that if he is AWOL, he should be court-martialed. But, thus far, no charge has been filed against him.’
“’Second, he could have been killed in action.’
“’Third, he could be missing in action.’
“’If the second or the third, then his dependents must receive a decent compensation, but this has been denied them.’
“Fourth, he could have deserted. But before one can prove desertion, one must first prove that the accused has no intention of returning or that he has joined the enemy. If he has deserted, then the officer who sent him on this last mission, even while he was facing charges before a General Court-Martial, has a lot to answer for.’
“’The fifth possibility is that he could be on a mission. This is the army position. But who would be so stupid as to send an exposed agent on a mission? Even the foreign press knew of Captain Titong.’”
Having allowed his readers to see Ninoy’s mind at work, now came Locsin’s turn to reach his own sinister conclusions:
“To send an exposed agent into the field of espionage,” Locsin continued, surely speaking from experience during the War, “again is like leading a sheep to slaughter. In October 1970 a Filipino secret agent identified as Capt. Solferiano Titong was reported to have been apprehended by Malaysian security forces. Some sources say that he has already been executed; others that he is still a prisoner in Kota Kinabalu.
“Where is Captain Titong and what is his fate? If he has been killed while on a mission his dependents should be supported. It is not only the humane, but also the legal thing to do. But if he is on a mission—or was, if he has been captured or killed—why was he sent on a mission while he still faced charges before a General Court-Martial? If he is a deserter or AWOL it could only be because he was given more freedom of movement than he was entitled to. He should have been closely watched. Why was he not?”
Locsin steps back to let Ninoy pose a question that Locsin then answers:
“’I will continue blocking General Ramos’s appointment until he satisfactorily explains what happened to Captain Titong,’ Aquino told the press. It is not true that he is blocking it because General Ramos is President Marcos’s second cousin or because he is ‘an anti-Huk fighter,’ as Malacañang has alleged…
“’Who is more responsible,’ Aquino retorted, ‘I or the man who put the lives of our young men in danger and most probably pushed this country to the brink of conflict?’
“Suddenly Senator Aquino realized that there was something odd about Malacañang’s reaction to his questions about Captain Titong’s fate. Why its deep concern? At the same time he heard from Moslem leaders about a certain individual who stood to profit greatly if the Sabah claim was pressed.
“Malacañang called Aquino, ‘unpatriotic.’
“Against whom? Aquino asked. President Marcos is not the Filipino nation. Or is he? …” Locsin goes on to go into the details on the claim on Sabah and the claim by Ferdinand Marcos that he had a power of attorney from the heirs of the Sultan of Sulu –a complicated question, but which, in the end, boils down to a question pregnant with foreboding:
“Either President Marcos does not envision anyone ever succeeding him as President or it is legal for a private individual to deal with himself as the highest official of the government.”
And so it came to pass. Locsin could see it coming. When the knock came on September 23 he was ready; he went into capitivity willingly. A country unwilling to resist tyranny might as well have examples of those willing to suffer imprisonment for principles upheld. Released, he kept silent –he would not dignify the dictatorship with his journalism. He took up his pen and wrote poetry, his true love; he wrote short stories, he brooded in his library and advised his friend Ninoy that a nation of cowards deserved what it was getting.
But when Ninoy died –the time had come for Locsin’s last crusade. In a sense, it was his Indian Summer, the last hoorah of a mind rejuvenated; he would praise Ninoy and exalt his widow; he would nod at the way a nation redeemed itself –only to keep pounding away at his typewriter as his country degenerated into the same sort of scrambling he had so trenchantly written about as a young man.
The mind of Teodoro M. Locsin, Sr. is best understood as the mind of a romantic; and like any lover of romance, he had his paramour –his country. He had the heart of a minstrel poet yet set it aside in order to be the guardian of the country he loved, betray her though she might, dissapoint her as often she may have done; still –to the end, the would be the man of the days of Liberation who would jump on anyone should they try to take advantage of the country he loved.
There is no other way to make sense of a man who seemed to be so violent in his prose and so forbiddingly distant when it came to his public persona, and yet who was the doting father and loving husband who would sing and drink his scotch and later, wine. The man who, in the twilight of his life said so little, even as he decided to write no more, is the man we see all over. The man who loved, and loved true; and yet refused all recognition for his long arduous hours of guardianship.
Escape from Corregidor, December 8, 2001
Escape from Corregidor
by Manuel L. Quezon Jr.
(Fom the late author’s unpublished memoirs.
December 8, 2001–THE last public occasion I attended with my father (I was then 15) was when my father told the UP audience on Taft Avenue that if bombs started to drop and people was killed because there were no shelters, it would be because of the Civil Liberties Union. My father had planned to build air raid shelters all over for the safety of the people but Roosevelt had asked him not to use the special powers given him by the National Assembly because of the Civil Liberties Union. I have never liked the CLU since. If widespread bombing had occured in Manila, people would have died because of the CLU. In their self-righteous so-called defense of rights, they sometimes block higher rights —and those people should have been hanged from the lamp posts.
During the speech, my father was shouting. I never remembered any of the subject matter of my father’s speeches — what 15 years old wants to sit through hour-long public speeches — at least they seemed hours long — but that speech I do recall. The smart-alec UP students laughed.
In 1941 — December 8— the war came. The day World War II started in the Philippines, my mother, my sister Baby, Jovita Fuentes and I were at our (then) hacienda in Arayat, Pampanga, just about half an hour from the Buencamino hacienda in Cabiao, Nueva Ecija. As it was the Feast of the Immaculate Concepcion, Patroness of the Philippines and also of Cabiao, we went to Cabiao; we had the usual enormous breakfast of adobo, tinapa, eggs and God knows what else. I suppose Jovita Fuentes had to sing at Mass. Then we went back to Arayat, where we soon saw the smoke rising above Fort Stotsenberg, as the Japanese that had bombed it flew right over us. Jovita Fuentes fell into a ditch from fright. My mother signalled me to join her under a shrub or trees lower than her (she was only five feet tall). My sister Baby did not join us in hiding. She was one of those enviable individuals who was inmune of from fear, and bent over double with laughter at my mother and myself, hiding under the little shrub. My father was in Baguio resting at the outbreak of war — apparently he was having a resurgence of his TB, although I did not know.
That evening my father picked us all up and we we moved back to our country house in Marikina for safety. Marikina had a very well designed air raid shelter.
Government people kept coming and going. There were lots of meetings, and finally what turned out to be my father’s last cabinet meeting before evacuating to Corregidor. It was held under the shade of a large mango tree in our Marikina house, where PSBA is now.
What I was doing in the open-air Cabinet meeting I do not know but I do recall that my father got telephone reconfirmation of MacArthur’s approval of my father’s instructions — the cabinet members were to do everything to protect the Filipino people, short of swearing allegiance to Japan and the rule was followed by the Filipinos. It did them little good, as they were all tried for collaboration. Only Pres. Roxas’s amnesty saved them.
Except for our departure for Corregidor — perhaps not that — I was never told what my father intended — I was just told to move whenever we were to move.
On December 24, 1941, when we were brought to the Presidential landing to board the Mayon, the largest interisland steamer at the time, painted all white — it was obvious we were going to Corregidor. We were given life jackets. An air raid started and the ship could not move — I think the ship’s engineer was missing. But the Japanese did not know who were on board — the Philippine government. Perhaps they did not care. It was especially frightening for a terrible scary-cat like me — a terrible experience, being marooned in the bay not far from the Manila Hotel. Fortunately, no bombs were dropped on the ships. Perhaps the Japanese intended to use the ships later.
Finally, the all clear was sounded and finally we got underway. As I recall it, we reached Corregidor towards evening. The previous time my father had brought me to Corregidor, months or a year before, we were received with a 19 gun salute, in broad daylight. Now it was a humble arrival. We were brought to the hospital side-tunnel of the Malinta tunnel. At midnight Father Pacifico Ortiz, S.J., our Chaplain, said mass for us and the soldiers, in Latin of course. It was either at that mass or the New Year’s Mass that he preached to comfort us, speaking in our Lord’s words “Put your hand in mine,” referring to the darkness of the war.
Corregidor became our home from Dec. 24, 1941 to Feb. 20, 1942. If the war had not come, we should have been hearing Midnight Mass in the richly carved wooden chapel in our home in Pasay. Noche Buena was meant to be the re-inauguration of our own house in Pasay, where we were to live instead of in Malacañan. We never saw our home again, except in ruins, as was the case with our Marikina house — the Japanese or the Makapilis, or in the case of Pasay, perhaps the Americans had destroyed them.
As our Corregidor stay was prolonged, things became worse. At first we had some minutes’ air raid warning, then Cavite fell and there was no warning — shells from Maragondon would just come over, my eldest sister, Baby with her mission in life (as Nini said) of perpetually making puns, punned — May Aragon doon. The lovely presidential yacht, the Casiana had been sunk of Corregidor and US soldiers used to dive underwater to bring up bottles of liquor, champagne, etc.
I recall one air-raid that was terrifying. We were sitting outside the hospital tunnel on the small platform under a tent, where my father used to spend the day. Suddenly, siren! How we got my father inside, I don’t remember, but obviously he could still walk. But I recall my mother starting to run but with just a half-step she stopped dead and looked around for her children. Baby who was one of those irritating people who literally never experienced fear, was bent over in laughter. She had spotted Carlos P. Romulo running down the hills towards the tunnel as fast as he could, which anyone in his right mind would do. But when he saw Baby laughing, bent over, he suddenly stopped and walked. His rather foolish male pride came into operation, even though he and Baby could both have been killed. My mother shouted “Baby!” I still remember her voice and we all made it safely to the tunnel. Then the bombs started to drop closer and closer until an absolutely deafening explosion came. I thought a bomb had entered the tunnel and the lights went out. We were already in the sub-lateral we occupied, with the only light being the sanctuary lamp of the curtained-off little chapel. How long we continued sitting in the dark I do not recall.
During the raids, my father made no sound at all that I recall. He used to say that the brave man was not the one who had no fear — but the one who felt fear and still did his duty.
In the tunnel my mother prayed of course and we were comforted by the presence of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. I imagine my father prayed too, but he must have prayed in silence.
As the days went on, the shelling became more and more frequent, though I think never at night.
When my father and Don Sergio Osmeña were reinaugurated, on December 30, 1941, the ceremony was held outside one main entrance of the Malinta Tunnel. All I remember is that High Commissioner Sayre addressed Vice-President Osmeña as “Don Serjoe Osmanyo.”
On the 19th of February, 1942, Fr. Francisco Avendaño came to Corregidor to say mass on my mother’s birthday and complained to my father about the lack of food on Bataan. He also complained of the American treatment of the Filipino soldiers. One Filipino who I think was too sick to stand, was kicked by an American.
At midnight that night we boarded the submarine Swordfish. During the night we traveled on the surface, where the sub could make better speed, above 20 knots per hour. Underwater it could make only about 8 knots per hour. After a good night’s sleep, there was an alarming sound of a siren, the signal that we were submerging. On the surface the sub had moved with the waves like any other ship. The moment we submerged the sub became almost completely motionless, as there were no waves underwater. We spent the whole day submerged until we landed at San Jose de Antique. I must be one of the very people who ever received Communion under water. We were given tongue sandwiches and I threw up. The reason was the heat. Commander Smith had decided to attack Japanese troopships in Subic before picking us up (most irresponsible really) and naturally the Japanese dropped depth charges. As a result, half the air-conditioning system did not work and it was hot as hell. There were a lot of red lights meaning no smoking but the sailors were merrily smoking away.
As we were passing Mindoro, we were allowed to peep through the periscope. The sky looked a non descript color. At one time also there seemed to be sound of propellers which was alarming —possibly an enemy war ship — but it turned out to be the movement of fish tails. We remained submerged all day and surfaced after dark when the sea was quite rough. Then we approached the shore, I seem to recall there was some problem with identifying the people signaling from a boat to pick us up. If only the people on the boat had realized how close they came to being sunk, but finally we were put ashore to drive to Iloilo. I recall distinctly leaning my head and shoulders against my father’s dark brown leather jacket in relaxation, feeling safe. Fortunately during reminder of our stay in the Philippines I did not realize we were in danger all the time.
When we arrived in Iloilo later that night, we went to sleep in comfortable beds and awoke to the sound of the thin horns of Iloilo streetcars the following day. I am under the impression that we stayed at the Cacho mansion, but it may have been one of the Lopez Mansions. We spent the day there — I do not know whether my father saw any government officials. Of course, Iloilo at that time had not yet been occupied by the Japanese. Our nighttime ride from Antique to Iloilo was the first of a series of night time drives in the Philippines until we escaped.
That night we boarded the Princess of Negros, which must have been a slow ship. We went to Guimaras on the way to Negros, but spent the day there, taking a lunch, up to the river to a house where Father Ortiz baptized an infant with me as sponsor. I never saw the baby again and do not even recall his name. We disembarked from the Princess because we might be spotted by Japanese planes. We reembarked at night and went on to Bacolod where we arrived the following morning.
Humor is always involved with our family. My chronology is shaky so I am not sure whether the following funny episode happened when we landed in Bacolod or later at some other part. My father covered his face with his usual large white handkerchief and told the rest of us to do the same, which we did or did not, depending on whether or not we had suitable handkerchiefs. Some local officials approached and greeted my father, “Good morning, Mr. President”. He got quite angry at us for not covering our faces, which he blamed for his being recognized. He did not realize that his get-up, with his jodhpurs and large handkerchief and, I think, a soft white hat, and riding whip were instantly recognizable all over the Philippines, whereas our faces were not. We (the rest of the family) had a good secret laugh over it, not openly because he would have been even angrier.
I do not know who provided the cars, but we drove to the Lizares hacienda where Sonia and Lety Lizares were staying. I do not recall whether their respective husbands Peping Coroninias and Manuel del Rosario were there, but definitely Letty’s daughters and Minnie were, and became my playmates while we luxuriated there. Luxuriated is the word, after our stay in Corrigidor and our brief stop-over in Iloilo. Sonia and Lety had known me since I was a little boy. I do not remember how long we stayed, but my father took advantage of our stay to confer with government officials, among them Gov. Alfredo Montelibano, who was the uncle and later apparently guerrilla commander of Teddy Locsin. I suppose our stay there was supposed to be a secret, though how any kind of secret can be kept among Filipinos with their wagging tongues is beyond me.
One evening we drove up a zigzag to a lovely but not large house in an hacienda owned by the Aranetas. It was called Buenos Aires a very appropriate name because it was so nice and cool. I do not recall whether we went back to the Lizares hacienda or went on to our next stop on the trip which ended up in a rest house in Canlaon Volcano. We stayed there for some time, how long I don’t recall. It seems I felt quite safe there. The rest of our party must have been there too. I remember that at some time Don Andres Soriano went on a reconnaissance flight. I suppose the plane belonged to our Army Air Corps but I can’t be sure. I think they spotted a Japanese destroyer, probably the one which finally towed away the Princess of Negros, and which ended up with the Japanese announcing on the air that my father was dead. How we learned of the broadcast I don’t know; it was very brave of Don Andres and his pilot to be scouting because they could have been shot down by the destroyer. I do not think there were many, or any, Japanese Air Force planes in the area as yet.
After sometime, for purposes of security I suppose, or perhaps my father received a message from MacArthur that we should join him in Australia, we set off again. The move was supposed to be a secret but somehow my sister Baby knew where we were going and with her predilection for punning , she said “A donde Bais.” According to my sister Nini, Baby felt her mission in life was punning. I believe Bais was in Negros Oriental and belonged then to Tabacalera or some other Spanish company.
Later —how much later escapes me– we went on our usual long caravan at night. I was in the back seat of the car with Dr. Trepp my father’s Swiss TB expert and Director of Quezon Institute. It seems my mother’s driver Pedro Payumo (“Pedro Taba”) was driving — how he managed to come along I don’t know — but I distinctly remember his asking us to keep talking as he was sleepy and it was dark but we — at least I — paid no attention and went back to sleep even though we could easily have fallen into a ditch.
It turned out that our destination was Dumaguete , which was pitch dark. There were a lot of people on the side of the road with bundles or cardboard boxes on their heads and also the church bells were ringing. It turned out that the people were alarmed by the sound of the PT boat’s engines which sounded like airplane engines. The PT boat had been sent to pick us up. We drove to the wharf and boarded the PT – boat. How we all fitted in the PT-boat, I don’t know. My mother and I entered the cabin where I put my head on her lap. I suppose the rest of the family were in the cabin but I remember only my mother and the cabin was pitch dark.
After sometime there was a loud conversation on the deck and sparks could be seen. I was scared to death as usual but after a short time the sparks and the commotion stopped and everything went back to normal and we continued the high speed trip. Later on I learned that, with the rough pitching of the PT-boat a torpedo had slipped about half way out of the deck torpedo tube, the sparks being the result of the torpedo’s motor having been started. Someone had the presence of mind to fire off the torpedo. If the torpedo’s fuse had struck the deck, the torpedo would have exploded and that would have been the end of us.
In the early morning light, we were put ashore in Misamis Oriental in Oroquieta. That silly episode of my father’s being recognized the moment we went ashore may have been then.
We went to two places, one of them being Oroquieta, where we met the Ozamis sisters and, I think , Senator Jose Ozamis also, then Governor of Misamis Oriental. Perhaps it was then that my father talked to Commissioner Teofisto Guingona, whom somehow I understood was in charge of Mindanao. I turned over to him for safekeeping the case that contained my two .22 cal rifles and my .25 cal automatic pistol. For some reason I remember the encounter as being at night and I usually have a pictorial memory.
After spending the day with the Ozamis family —very mestizo looking— we set off by car for Bukidnon and the Del Monte plantation where we arrived at night. We were put in very comfortable company houses. I was put in a room with Dr. Trepp and fell sound asleep.
The following morning I was shaken awake by Dr. Trepp saying in a loud voice, “ Nonong wake up, wake up, it is air raid.” There were twin engine Japanese planes which flew over the area and went on, but no air raid.
I had been to the Del Monte plantation once before with my father and it was so beautiful. This time it was still beautiful but there was an overpowering smell of rotting pineapples, because no one was picking the fruit. Many years later, someone wrote that, during the days we spent waiting for the Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia, we spent every day in the hills surrounding Del Monte. I have no such recollection and when I checked with my sister Nini, she had no such recollection either. She recalled something else, Americans in Del Monte, which I do not recall.
We knew we were waiting for Flying Fortresses to take us to Australia and after a few days we were roused in the dead of night and drive to the airfield where there were two Fortresses waiting for us. As we drove to the Fortresses, I started to talk and my mother told me to keep quiet —I suppose my father was very pensive and my talk was out of place.
The fortresses were new models (I knew all about practically every airplane and its various models). This model had tail turrets, the latest version. Some of us — my family and others, but I do not remember who, climbed into one Fortress and the others climbed into the other. It turned out that we were in one plane and Vice-President Osmeña in the other, I suppose to increase the chance of either my father or Osmeña surviving if anything went wrong — the planes being shot down or crashing, I suppose.
My father and mother sat on a mattress on the floor. I think my father was given oxygen during the night —the cabin was not pressurized. I do not know where my sisters sat. I sat at the radio-operator’s seat, at a table. I suppose the radio transmitter could not be used or the Japanese would have spotted us.
I had always wanted to be a pilot, but as the plane picked up speed I was not excited, I was scared. I started asking God not to allow the plane to take off, but of course it did. As the plane climbed I fell asleep with my head on the table. All through the night we were bouncing up and down –it was a very rough flight. We could not really fly very high, among other reasons because of my father’s condition I suppose. Also, perhaps there were not enough oxygen masks to go around. Through the night I slept on and off. At one point of I noticed it was raining, then I saw clouds over the ocean. My nervousness at take off was gone. As day dawned the sky cleared and finally we landed at Bachelor’s Field in Northern Australia. I did not realize from my aviation reading that touch down was a little rough, not perfectly smooth.
I remember getting off the plane and being taken to a mess-hall for breakfast, together with the rest of the party, then were set to prepare to take off for Alice Springs.
Anyway, we were transferred at Bachelor’s Field to another plane, a Douglas DC-5, a bit smaller than a DC-3 and intended to replace the DC-3, but war broke out in Europe and Douglas changed to producing twin engine bombers. KLM was always up to date and the DC-5 had been delivered to KLM. The Dutch Airline had a very reliable service from Holland to the Dutch East Indies and the DC-5 had escaped to Australia, having an auxiliary gas tank in the cabin. Aside from the Dutch pilot and co-pilot, there was a young American US Air Forces man on board, whose presence I do not understand because I think he was a machine-gunner and there was not machine gun on the DC-5.
As we walked out to the DC-5, a smartly dressed Dutchman in a KLM uniform saluted. My father asked him “how do we fly?” and the Dutchman answered — “About 3,000 meters” (about 10,000 feet ) which apparently disturbed my father. He asked the next smartly dressed Dutchman the same question and the man, apparently the Captain, answered “We fly as Your Excellency wishes.” which pleased my father. Apparently some agreement was arrived at and we took off. This was in the morning and as the air started to warm up unevenly, I had one of the bumpiest flight have ever had.
My mother sat beside me and I tied a white hanky over my eyes. Every time the plane bounced my mother called out — “Sagrado Corazon de Jesus,” or “Corazon Sagrado de mi Jesus!”— I would lift the blindfold from my eyes to see if we were about to crash. We were flying over the Australian desert, with rocks all over the place. I finally started to sing hymns to my mother to calm her down. All through the flight, there would be a slight increase and then decrease in the vibration of the engines and I could see that the propellers would be rotating smoothly and then slightly roughly and smoothly again. I turned out that there was a slight nick in the propeller, how acquired I can’t guess. This went on until we landed at Alice Springs five hours later. We made a slightly rough landing in Alice Springs. When we got out of the plane, it turned out that the men were wearing sun helmets with long veils over their faces because there were large horse flies all over the place, a phenomenon I had never seen before and have never seen again. They were what we call bangaos and would not be driven away. If you tried to drive them away, you might squash them with your hand.
Vice-President Osmeña’s Fortress did not land after us. As it took longer to arrive, someone —I forget who— urged my father to continue our flight but he flatly announced that we would not continue until the Vice-President arrived. Our original Fortress had continued the flight with us and looked for the Vice-President’s Fortresses, but to no avail. Night fell and we stayed at a small inn. My mother and I saw a cat catch a small mouse, which disgusted us. All through the night we could hear drunks throwing up.
The following morning we had breakfast and our Dutch plane took off to search for the Vice-President’s plane. In a very short time the DC-5 returned followed by the missing Fortress. It seems the Dutchmen were better pilots than the Americans. While our original Fortress had no trouble finding Alice Springs — possibly by following our little twin-engine DC-5, the Vice-President’s place was lost. At least the pilot had enough sense to land in the desert before running out of fuel. Then the Americans spent the night firing off flares and rockets. When the Dutchman found the Fortress, it took off for Alice Springs. Finally Don Sergio was able to continue with us, to Adelaide this time. It was another five hours’ flight. This time, I sat beside my sister Nini, to get away from mother’s exclamations. I did not overcome the fear of flying then instilled by my mother for years.
When we landed in Adelaide towards evening we spent the night. The following morning we went to a church to give thanks for our safe flight. As we came out, my father had his first encounter with Australian English. Perhaps we were the first non-Caucasians those Australians had ever met and they were very friendly and also curious. They asked “Did you come today?” which they pronounced “to-die.” I am sure he was able to figure the question out right there but later on he embellished the exchange by saying that he had answered, “I came to live, not to die!”
We took an overnight train to Melbourne. During the day, I saw a plane overhead, and for the first time since Dec. 8, I was not afraid. The following morning we arrived in Melbourne where we were met by Gen. MacArthur.
We heard of the fall of Bataan on April 9, my sister Nini’s birthday, in Australia
However, discussions started in our government over going to the States. I do not know whose idea it was originally, but my father wanted to stay in Australia, I suppose to return more quickly to the Philippines after liberation. Don Sergio Osmeña wanted to go to Washington and when my father disagreed he said: “Send me.” I don’t know why it was decided that our whole group should go to the States — perhaps MacArthur urged it, to pressure Roosevelt to send more aid quickly to the Philippines. We sailed for the States on the President Coolidge. The Coolidge had been converted into a troopship but some twin cabin had been left in their original condition and the dining room and lounge had been left untouched. It seems there was some kind of band because there was dancing in the evenings.
At the beginning of the voyage — I had no map and thus did not realize what a long voyage it was to be — we were escorted by a New Zealand warship. Sometime later, the escort duty was taken by a US navy ship which accompanied us until we reached San Francisco. As usual my roommate was Dr. Trepp. We were a large number. From the Philippines we had lost one member of the party, Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos who had insisted on remaining in Mindanao — he was finally executed by the Japanese for refusing to swear allegiance to the Japanese and for maintaining his loyalty to the United States.
However, while we were sailing to the United States, I still thought we would be going home anytime. During our voyage, we had one little exciting episode. We started to zig-zag violently; probably they had detected a submarine. But after a while, the zig-zagging stopped. It was probably a false alarm or, the submarine being under water and therefore very slow, we outran it. The rest of the voyage to the States was uneventful. Finally, we passed beneath the Golden Gate Bridge, which was still undergoing its finishing touches of paint when we went to the States in 1937. We were safely in port.
We were taken to the Mark Hopkins Hotel, considered one of the best at the time, where we stayed for about a week. This time my roommate was Col. Jaime Velasquez. There were newsmen swarming outside my father’s suite and when they knew who I was, they started to interview me but one of our group stopped me.
After some days in San Francisco, to give us a rest from the voyage I suppose, President Roosevelt’s special railroad carriage (called the Ferdinand Magellan) was sent for us and attached to a transcontinental train. It was a four or four and a half day train ride to Washington.
The start of a journey has always excited me. We had to drive to Oakland, CA, to catch the eastward train there. When we arrived at Union Station in Washington, DC, at the exit to the Station there was FDR standing beside his car and we were photographed in memorable poses. I was so moved my lips were trembling. We were driven to the White House where we had lunch and dinner. We were entertained by President Roosevelt who was a great raconteur. Mrs. Roosevelt kept walking in and out and when I met her in a corridor, she smiled “The mail, always the mail.” She seemed terribly tall, as did every one else, which is no wonder since I was only 5’2”. We spent that night at the White House, where I was put in an enormous (to me) bedroom alone. I had the impression it was the Lincoln Bedroom but I may very well be wrong.
The following morning we were taken to the eighth floor suite of the Shell Oil Company at the Shoreham Hotel, where we stayed for a time. Then we moved to the Pat Hurley estate in Leesburg, Virginia, about forty minutes from Washington, where we stayed for the summer, until our permanent quarters at the Shoreham, were ready.
Before deciding to stay at the Shoreham, we took a look at a Waldorf Towers suite way up — the Waldorf is about 34 stories high. Since my father was terribly acrophobic, the project was dropped and thereafter whenever we went to New York we stayed at an 8th floor suite at the Waldorf.
On Corregidor my father was always outdoors in a tent, away from the dust in the tunnels, but of course he had to be active when we went to the Visayas then Australia via Mindanao; and then in the United States, having settling down in Washington, he resumed a normal life, which was a mistake. His condition worsened. Dr. Edward Hayes, the doctor who had treated him in the Monrovia Sanitarium in the thirties, came to Washington and the plan was for us to go out to California. Unfortunately, my father changed the plans.
When I graduated from high school in June of 1944, my father was already bedridden in Saranac Lake, New York.
By the first of August, 1944, a month and a half after my eighteenth birthday, my father was dead.
The poet, the fighter, the Locsin of memory, February 5, 2000
The Poet, The Fighter, The Locsin of Memory
(Cover Story in the commemorative issue of the Philippines Free Press, February 5, 2000)
By Manuel L. Quezon III
In his library
Alone with dead men’s thoughts
Listen to him singing.
—“Solo,” Teodoro M. Locsin
IN the end, all he could communicate with were his eyes. There seemed little pain expressed in them but there was anger: indignation over being taken from his home, confined to a hospital bed, violated by a breathing tube, punctured by IV drips.
Anger at life: he had lived it well; he had no apologies to make; it was time to go —so why was he being detained? His heart would not let him go. It kept pumping life, refusing to surrender, refusing to let go.
Those eyes: piercing, probing, stoic. How they shone with a sardonic humor when he would be approached. You see me an old man and show me respect, they seemed to acknowledge. And yet, as you greeted him his eyes would seem to say —what? His eyes would communicate a message, a poem, his own:
Let me think of you
When you were young and without guile
Not a wise old man
Waiting to die.
But how can one ever think of him as having ever had guile —or been foolish? He was a man who had no time or patience to waste on fools. He had nothing but contempt for guile, for deceit, the weapons of the weak. Only the frontal attack, the formal duel for him. In his last years, the contempt, the rage still smoldered. What have you done to my country? his eyes seemed to say.
An image: Teodoro M. Locsin Sr., sitting on a chair, scanning the newspapers, a glass of iced red wine on the table before him. A young writer, in awe, watches his every move. He looks up, gives the paper in his hand a little shake, and says, “God damn it!” His eyes flash.
God damn it, indeed. Reams and reams of paper, on them hundreds of thousands of words-half a century and more of words, angry words, eloquent words. Years of pounding them out on a typewriter to explain the wrong and convey the outrage, to educate the ignorant, to exhort the decent not to surrender to what was convenient and wrong. But for what?
Fools stayed fools. The crooked got clever and completely unscrupulous. “It was different in my time,” he tells his daughter-in-law. “Even the crooks were decent, knew limits. Now they are just plain shits. They observe no rules, no rules should be observed them.”
The good and the well-meaning caved in to tyranny and shrugged off injustice, feigning contempt when what they felt was abject fear. He saw this. Tried to shrug it off as life. Hadn’t he written that the just deserts of slaves is slavery? Let them be slaves. He would not, And yet —“God damn it!” They did not have to be. And the anger boiled over again.
The Jesuits, under whom he had been educated, and who produced a man in the mold of Rizal -a man who valued his conscience above the easy consolations of a facile faith and the rewards of a material society- would have called it righteous anger. The faith of his teachers taught that God reserved his most awesome wrath and retribution for those sins that cried out for vengeance: the oppression of widows and orphans, the weak, defenseless and meek.
But Teodoro M. Locsin Sr. would not leave to heaven the justice we can mete out here and now if we but had the fortitude. And what was faith most of the time but pious words? He had better: fighting words. Indignant words. Wounding, merciless words that humbled the proud, drove back the oppressor, exposed crime to retribution and pointed out with embarrassing clarity what was lacking and what needed to be done.
At what point in his life did Teodoro M. Locsin, privileged lover of books, a man with a gift for writing, who had been to the manor born, decide that submission would never be his condition, that slavery would never be his lot? His own words give us a clue.
His journal entry for December 23, 1941:
“The war reveals the parasite, the nonessential man self-confessed. He who does not produce is regarded, with suddenly clear eyes, as an enemy. In peacetime he often occupies an honored position, being then only a thief who lives lawfully on what his neighbor makes.
“The war leaves us with only human values to go by. It is not very comfortable. It either shoes a man or shows him up. Out of this new revelation may come a new society, a true society.
“There are economic problems because there are rich men and poor men. There are wars because there are economic problems. Let us, simply, eliminate the rich men?”
He answers his own questions in his entry for December 29, 1941:
“The rich and the influential are the pitiful ones. They have so much to lose! They shake for their lives, they shake for their office, they shake for their bank accounts. They read all the literature on the established methods of avoiding death and damage by bomb, bullet and gas. They sit in a circle all day and worry over every rumor and report of disaster. They scan every threat to their security with the passion of scholars poring over a newly recovered line from the Greek Anthology.
“The war freshly illumines a paradox:
“One may be casual about one’s life but rarely over one’s property.
“In high good humor the people are compiling a list of dishonor. With infinite malice they treasure each new story of how their lords and masters have disgraced themselves.”
Though he came from the class of “lords and masters,” he also belonged to the elite of intellectuals. He would not disgrace himself. His thought is not unique. Throughout Europe, in farm houses and attics, basements and empty warehouses where the resistance met, men placed their hopes of a corrupt society’s self-destruction on the elite’s betrayal of their countries. There would be no need for a revolution from the streets to overturn the established order. That would self-destruct in shame. When Europe was finally free of the Nazis-the Philippines of the Japanese-they would also be free from their corrupt and compromised elites. It would not happen.
In the same journal he marveled at the coming of war, giving him time to catch up with his reading, even as he noticed his reading being drawn to the philosophers instead of the crime writers he had favored in the past. Yet this was no longer the time for sitting down to read or even worrying about the fate of his library.
“To everything there is a season.” He read that in a fine edition of Ecclesiastes he would keep through the war. It was the time to fight. He joined the resistance.
Besides what else was there to do? The Free Press had been shut down. Writing for the pro-Japanese Philippine media was out of the question.
Writing shortly after the war, he would explain with the exceptional clarity that would always be his hallmark, what the choice he had made-to fight-had been all about. It was not a romantic choice; it was a choice rationally made.
“Collaboration or resistance -all of us were captives of war. War was a prison; some cells were bigger than the others but the walls were there. We were all hemmed in -those in the cities and towns, and those in the jungles. In the ‘free’ areas, communication was possible with the outside world, and breaks from the prison for a few by submarine; that was all. The resistance may be compared to rioting in prison…
“No, that is not quite accurate. The resistance undermined the power and authority of the warden; even if it did not succeed in taking him prisoner, it made the opening of the prison and the release of the prisoners easier, the liberators did not lose so many men. When the resistance in Negros flashed the move of the Japanese fleet before a battle, that was more helpful, surely, to the cause of freedom than collaboration.”
He had nothing but contempt for the collaborators. Even before he joined the Free Press, he had returned to being a journalist, founding Free Philippines with, among other writers, Philip Buencamino. (He would turn his back on his communist comrades in arms in the anti-Japanese resistance when they ambushed the Quezon family and killed Buencamino, and join Magsaysay for the final solution to the Huk challenge.) He said of himself, during the time, that “I thundered and shrilled —that is, I wrote editorials.” Journalism during the heady —and for many, vengeful— days of liberation involved “jumping on a man,” as Locsin described it. Sobriety and balance were for other practitioners of the craft.
Then the Free Press resumed publication, and star writer of the publication was he. A division of labor became evident: Filemon Tutay and Leon O. Ty were to prowl about and keep their ears to the ground; theirs were the scoops and big exposés. To Locsin was given the task of the probing interview, the devastating revelation of his subject’s hubris and idiocy. And the serious, reflective pieces, the essays on society, sovereignty and liberty: those were reserved for Locsin.
Were these early days the days of “foolishness” and “lack of guile” that he alludes to in his poem? Heady days, indeed: and perhaps, to him, in looking back, days of naiveté. If they were, they were not to last long.
Days of Liberation flowed into the early days of Independence, then a new war, against the Huks, and though he always gave them their due for their bravery against the Japanese, he saw little romance in what they were doing to a country crying to recover from an earlier war. Then they crossed the line and murdered his friend.
The Fifties were years of exposing the cruelty of the military and the communists both, though his words were particularly harsh against the communists. Not just because of what they had done to his friend, but because he knew, from their implacability, what they held in store for his country if they triumphed. Once again, the freedom of the prison yard, the security of the barbed-wire fence.
And hadn’t he resolved never to be a slave?
Then came the Sixties. His time to be at the helm had come. The passing of “Mr. Dick,” founder of the Free Press, who had made Locsin his heir, saw the transformation of Locsin from staff member to publisher and editor in chief. He was in command now. He built the Free Press up, made it bigger, richer and far better equipped, giving it the most modern printing facilities in the country. The Free Press had become a battleship with only one mission: putting out a single issue a week to perfection. He would not allow the Free Press facilities to be used for any ancillary business, even printing comic books like his friend Don Ramon Roces had started to do, just in case newspapering became too dangerous. His machines were so fast they turned out the second-biggest print run in the industry in a few hours. The rest of the week was devoted to cleaning the machines, oiling them, buffing them to a sparkling finish, like a dreadnought.
It would be 20 years of steady, relentless campaigning: for land reform, against logging, against the criminal and exponential growth of the population, against a supine foreign policy that would involve us, “the showcase of democracy in Asia,” in an unjust colonial war in Vietnam, against creeping militarism, the coming of martial law.
This is how he would conduct his campaigns. He would call in his editors and writers, he would farm out the different aspects of the campaign, and then he would relentlessly pursue it. Giving them their cue in his editorials. His fingers would pound away at the keys of his typewriter; the Free Press would pound away at the enemy.
Against landlords and for real, not naive, solutions: “A sentimental approach will not do; hearts bleeding for the poor are not enough. Too many congressmen and landlords or tools of landlords -from whom they get campaign funds, retainers, etc.- for emotion to prevail in the Senate and the House. And the Mexican experience has shown that it is not enough to give land to the landless if they do not know what to do with it, if they are not provided with the necessary credit facilities for increasing production. A poor landowner is still a poor man.”
And against “tutas” — whether of the Americans or Malacañang, whether by omission or commission:
“Dogs are dogs. Their canine behavior should surprise no one; for them to act with the dignity of human beings would be unnatural. But there are parliamentarists who are so from conviction. Their arguments in favor of the parliamentary system are, however, arguments articulated in a vacuum. Without the adoption of a Ban-Marcos or Ban-the-Marcoses provision in the new charter, they would be acting-objectively, judging from the results of their action, not their intention-no differently from the professional tuta of Malacañang… Parliamentarists would be the same dog, with a different collar. Whatever the intentions, they would be paving the road to hell.
“By their fruits should you judge them.”
And the Free Press would pound away against loggers and reactionary princes of the Church.
For 20 years he led the fight; he would deny his countrymen the privilege of pleading ignorance to their eventual enslavement.
There would be a bitter interlude before the climax of the fight: a rebellion within the walls. Society —the same society whose defects he had so clearly seen, so eloquently pointed out, so vehemently condemned— and its evils were projected on his person by his own people in the Free Press —supported by his enemies in the Palace. He was called an oligarch; oppressor of the working man who gave 14th-to 16th-month bonuses because he believed that a company he kept completely free from debt should distribute its excess wealth —a throwback to his days in the anti-Japanese communist resistance. His comrades in arms tried to seize control of the Free Press, he showed them the door: leave. They left. All his old friends, his drinking companions, the men whose talents he had encouraged, whose reputations he had built up with more care than his own.
He would continue to fight, harder than ever with a handful of his former complement. The Free Press was now in the trenches against the coming dictatorship and soon it was over the top. Challenging the Palace to do its worst. And it did.
Darkness fell and then the morning came when he was taken away by the military. The heir of the editor in chief arrested by the Japanese was under arrest by order of the president he had helped get elected because it was preferable to have a murderer from the Ilocos who had feigned resistance to the Japanese to an enthusiastic collaborator from Cebu.
When Ferdinand Marcos, in gratitude for his support, offered him the portfolio of the Department of National Defense, Locsin declined, joking, “It isn’t right for the secretary of defense to limp in review past the troops because he has gout. He would really look like a lame duck.” The position, in a few years, would go instead to Locsin’s jailer. Locsin had no regrets for, had he accepted, he would have been arrested anyway or he would have to arrest his best friends— Soc Rodrigo, Ninoy Aquino, Chino Roces, the others.
The sons of the soldiers by whose he had fought to liberate the Republic from the Japanese and then to save it from the communists, now padlocked the Free Press. Philippine Marines took on the role last taken up by Japanese imperial troops. Locsin was kept in detention in Fort Bonifacio, and given a choice.
He had written the response to the choice he was given a decade before: journalism without freedom was not journalism. Marcos, thinking he had in his hand all the aces, gave him the devil’s option: keep what you have, only publish.
Publish, under such circumstances? Never. He would not even deign to bid on Marcos’s hand. Very well then, if Locsin would not play his game, Marcos would take everything. And he did: a forced sale-confiscation. If Locsin would not publish the Free Press, the Marcos would take it away. The physical plant, the assets —they would go to a crony, for a song. The most modern printing plant in the country.
Locsin’s own son would recall what that crony told Marcos: it is better to kill him than take his life’s work away. But that was what Marcos was all about: he knew how to hit a man where it hurt.
Years of seclusion followed. The betrayal of his own people in the Free Press was nothing to the cavalier way his countrymen took the loss of their liberties. Locsin had done his part, his countrymen now had to do theirs. Few cared about the silencing of the Free Press -very well, he would be silent since anyway he could not be heard.
Years spent writing stories and poems—things dear to his heart, which had been set aside because there were more mundane but pressing things to attend to. Now, as in the first weeks of the war, he had time to be with his books, a respite from journalism in a hurry. Years in which to attend to his craft. Years of rest, though still of rage. The slave deserves slavery. But what man can abide slavery?
He took up his journalistic pen when his countrymen showed they were ready to break their chains. The Free Press returned; the byline of Teodoro M. Locsin was back. From him, however, flowed no words of congratulation, essays to encourage the smugness felt by those to whom democracy had been given back on a silver platter, for not a drop of blood had been shed except that of his friend, Ninoy Aquino.
Locsin was back, on his own terms, and with a mission still left to fulfill. He began where he had left off: it would be the same causes, the same warnings, the same criticism, the same lack of pity for the foolish and the same intolerance of crooks and tyrants, petty or big, fascist or left-leaning.
As for the Free Press, did he get it back? He had it for the asking from Mrs. Aquino. But that would have been the height of bad taste. In a sense he was in power, which he had never been: his son was in Malacañang. He chose to file a lawsuit to recover what had been taken from him only after Mrs. Aquino had stepped down. The result, thus far, has been predictably grim.
He was in the field again, fighting. Would his causes be defeated again? Would his words be again in vain? From 1985 to 1994, he would write and publish. But for what?
In 1986 he wrote, “Defeat it usually termed ignominious unless one fights to the end, against overwhelming odds, then it is called honorable. Thus, Spartan mothers told their sons setting forth to war to return with their shields or on them.
“But there is another kind of defeat, and it’s a rare one. Rare in history and most rare in political history, for politics seems to bring out only the worst, the meanest in men. It’s more than just honorable, it’s glorious, and that is defeat from self-denial: to lose when one might have won, out of a sense of high purpose.”
Was there such a thing as victory for a man who fought with words?
If in politics, which he keenly observed throughout his life, victory was only the pretext for a new round of corruption, did Locsin ever seek a victory? Or simply to state the case for right?
He wrote for hopeless causes -hopeless in that even the victory of his causes meant their distortion, their rhetorical triumph and substantive defeat. He would get an award for his singular championship of land reform from the man who buried it in a flood of rhetoric and empty promises —Ferdinand Marcos.
His words were the raging of the just, of the righteous. And yet if justice was finally achieved it had still to be maintained. The struggle would never end.
Teodoro M. Locsin as Sisyphus —condemned, not by the gods but his own heart —a heart that would not give up.
The enigma of a life. What is left but to find solace in a poem, his own, “Past Midnight”:
The music is ended
The hall is deserted
all the dancers are gone
Drink to the empty chairs.
He had called his column “The Uneasy Chair.” To the end, he was restless: he could not come to terms with the causes of his anger. And so, anger never left him. You could see it in his eyes.
He left behind his books, and the words he wrote. He left behind his anger, too —for others to feel. And having felt, perhaps to do as he did —fight.
Corazon Aquino: Person of the Century, December 30, 1999
Philippines Free Press Person of the Century:
Corazon C. Aquino
By Manuel L. Quezon III
December 30, 1999–YEAR after year, for nearly three generations, the Philippines FREE PRESS has bestowed the distinction of Man or Woman of the Year on the Filipino who has had the most influence on the country for the year in question. Over the past 91 years of its existence, this magazine has seen leaders come and go; it has seen them rise and fall; and it knows, as no other institution can, which leaders have made a positive difference in the destiny of the Philippines and its people. Having covered leaders, having seen them up close -faults, foibles, virtues and all- the FREE PRESS knows that the leaders (and the leadership) that counts is what the American writer Garry Wills defined as “Trinitarian”: not just the push and pull between a leader and his followers, not merely the stories of people who have had great numbers either pushing them forward or being hectored onward by them, but rather the leaders who mobilized “others toward a goal shared by leader and followers.” As Wills points out, “one-legged and two-legged chairs do not, of themselves, stand. A third leg is needed. Leaders, followers, and goals make up the three equally necessary supports for leadership.”
Of the leaders entitled to consideration as the Philippines Free Press’s Person of the Century a short list of six comes to mind: Manuel L. Quezon, Sergio Osmeña, Ramon Magsaysay, Claro M. Recto, Ninoy Aquino and Corazon Aquino. All of them were leaders, successful in their political careers and admired by their contemporaries; they had followers and they had goals which their followers shared. All of them have been both hailed and lambasted in the pages of this magazine over the years. And yet, time and again throughout its long history, the FREE PRESS has always returned to these leaders as exemplars of positive leadership –in contrast to that other Filipino, Ferdinand E. Marcos, who affected our lives and our history completely negatively: he was, after all, a leader, and had followers; but his goals, many of them achieved only at gunpoint, were rejected by the majority of his people.
Madonna Power, December 22, 1990
by Teodoro M. Locsin
December 22, 1990—That’s what she is after: power.
And she has it. Power over the feelings of hundreds of millions of the young who go ecstatically delirious as she gyrates, bounces, quivers, throws her body all over the stage and sings—barely audibly over the backup music of the rock band behind her. The teen-age and early twenties audience go wild and clap her back to the stage for more of the same, and she obliges after an hour of physical exertion in a music and dance Olympiad. She puts a champion long-distance runner to shame. To watch (and listen to) her Tokyo performance on videotape is as pleasurable as it is exhausting. What other human being, male or female, is capable of that?
And power over the livelihood of hundreds who depend on her for their jobs, whose dependency she matches with an equal sense of responsibility. That is power in the high sense of the word: power to be good to others.
“It’s a great feeling to be powerful. I’ve been striving for it all my life. I think that’s just the quest of every human being: power. There’s a constant struggle for power in a relationship too—no matter what…I’m not interested in anyone I can’t compete with. There’s got to be that fight.”
(As in the best marriages. Without competition over who has the emotional and other forms of ascendancy in the union, without love plus combat, marriage is “stale, flat and unprofitable” as Hamlet calls the uses of this world.)
Madonna’s world is far from that. She has made $90 million in the last four years and has this company and that to make the most money out of her untiring act. Unlike God, she never rests:
“I sleep a certain number of hours every night. Then I like to get up and get on with it. I set aside the three hours I have to make phone calls and do business. Then I set aside the hours I have to exercise. [Jogging miles everyday.] Then I set aside the hours for creativity…Yes, I can summon my creativity.”
Creating a new act.
All for power. Power is not a dirty word as the despots of history including ours, not to mention those who make a joke of power, have made of control over human destiny. Power could lie in the creation of works of art—literary, musical, pictorial and the rest of human achievement of the sublime. It could be religious: power over the souls of men—which the religious record both extols and warns against. It could be, in its grossest form, financial and political. But power is the prime human motivation, as Bertrand Russel elaborates in his book with that title. (The FREE PRESS editor read it on a mountainside in a guerilla camp during the war.) Power is what all are after—before attaining its true consummation—no longer feeling the need for it: peace.
Madonna, at 32, is not looking for peace. What a piece of womanhood she is, putting men in their place as she outdoes them in command of worldwide audiences. She’s woman triumphant—careless of male-imposed convention, uninhibited, completely letting go, shocking and exhilarating. Crazy? Crazy like a fox—making tens of millions. How will she be when time, which she holds in bay, finally catches up with her? Time alone can tell. But now it’s go-go-go Madonna!
What made the Italian-French Canadian-born child, Madonna Louise Ciccone, just, superbly “Madonna”? (The word is derived form Mia Donna, Italian for “My Lady”, and she is the “lady” of the world of the young though not in the genteel sense, having slept casually around.) Her records—Like a Virgin, have sold millions. “you make me feel”—thrusting her hips—“like a virgin”—rolling her belly—“touched for the very first time,” mocking the no longer revered institution of virginity. “this is a material world. And I am…a material girl.”
A power-full girl. Whence came originally the power? Perhaps form her mother—or memory of her:
“I have a memory if my mother in the kitchen scrubbing the floor. She did all the housecleaning, and she was always picking up after us. We were really messy, awful kids. I remember having these mixed feelings. I have a lot of feelings of love and warmth for her but sometimes I think I tortured her. I think little kids do that to people who are really good to them. They can’t believe they’re not getting yelled at or something so they taunt you. I really taunted my mother. I remember also I knew she was sick for a long time with breast cancer, so she was very weak, but she would continue to go on and do the things she had to do. I knew she was very fragile and kept getting more fragile. I knew that, because she would stop during the day and just sit down on the couch. I wanted her to get up and play with me and do the things she did before.
I know she tried to keep her feelings inside, her fear inside, and not let us know. She never complained. I remember she was really sick and was sitting on the couch. I went up to her back and saying, ‘Play with me, play with me,’ and she wouldn’t. She couldn’t and she started crying and I got really angry with her and I remember, like, pounding her back with my fist and saying, ‘Why are you doing this?’ Then I realized she was crying. [Madonna stops talking and covers her face with her hands and cries.] I remember feeling stronger than she was. I was so little and I put my arms around her and I could feel her body underneath me sobbing and I felt like she was the child. I stopped tormenting her after that. That was the turning point when I knew. I think that made me grow up fast. I knew I could be either sad or weak and not in control and say it’s going to get better.”
Madonna is in control of her life as few are. And she did it all on her own. Stole from no one.