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Institutionalizing state interventionism, May, 1996

Institutionalizing state interventionism
By Manuel L. Quezon III

WHEN it was inaugurated on November 15, 1935, the Commonwealth of the Philippines found itself facing a daunting task accomplish the readjustments of the Philippine economy from that of a colony to that of an independent state. As Teodoro Agoncillo put it, “The Commonwealth was conceived as an experiment in self-government, an interim period of adjustment in the political, social and economic, spheres.”

The Philippines, during the American colonial period, operated as most other colonies did. It provided a range of raw materials with goods for its own consumption and that of the colony, not to mention the world. And so while American accomplishments in infrastructure and business were quite extensive, they were found to be wanting from the perspective of nation which aimed to be modern and industrialized.

Two trivial items help to illustrate the state of the Philippines at the time. Five days after the inauguration of the Commonwealth, the commercial transpacific flight from California, inaugurating a regular service which would continue until the outbreak of the war. And yet it would only be under the new government that the railroad line—which had existed since Spanish times—leading to the provinces, was extended to Legaspi in the Bicol region and San Jose, Nueva Ecija. And this, despite such herculenean feats as the construction, thirty years before, of the road leading to Baguio. The reason for this, of course, was the United States was eager to develop a market for American automobiles, but did not particularly care about giving a market to the British, who specialized in locomotives.
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Quezon and Osmeña, December 15, 1962

Quezon and Osmeña

From a former Free Press associate editor come these recollections of two Philippine presidents.

By Frederic S. Marquardt

December 15, 1962—SERGIO Osmeña’s long life was filled with many great services to his country, but none of them surpassed his voluntary relinquency of the presidency of the Philippines in the fall of the war year of 1943. That office was the goal of his political life. He undoubtedly wanted it more than anything else. But he gave up the presidency to which he was legally entitled. If history records a similar example of self-abnegation in any nation in the world, it has escaped my attention.

Perhaps the closest parallel in American history is to be found in the case of William Tecumseh, a Civil War general who was asked to run for the presidency. Because of his tremendous personal popularity, a move was started to draft him for the post. In terms of utter finality, General Sherman said, “If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve.”

But Osmeña went even farther. He gave up the presidency after having been, in effect, elected to it. He signed away his right to the chief magistracy, when all he had to do was remain silent and the mantle of power would have fallen to him. He gave up what was rightfully his, in the interest of Philippine unity during time of war.

The story really began when the Philippine Constitution was drawn up. Although neither Manuel Quezon nor Sergio Osmeña was a delegate to the constitutional convention, they agreed with a charter provision limiting the presidential tenure to one term of six years. Quezon was elected president, Osmeña vice-president. They assumed office on November 15, 1935, the day on which the Commonwealth of the Philippines was officially proclaimed.

I covered the constitutional convention for the Free Press, and attended many of its sessions. It was always my opinion, although I could never prove it, that Governor-General Frank Murphy, who later became a justice on the US Supreme Court, planted the seed of the single six-year term. He also was responsible for the unicameral legislature that was written into the Philippine Constitution—and abandoned shortly after he left the Philippines.

It didn’t take much longer for opposition to mount against the single six-year term for president. There was a general feeling that it would be a mistake to rob the Philippines of the service of President Quezon, its most distinguished son and most gifted political leader. If the constitutional provision were carried out, politicians argued, it would be impossible for Quezon to be president when the Philippines achieved independence on July 4, 1946. So powerful was Quezon’s hold on his people that Independence Day without Quezon as president would have been like a wedding ceremony without a bridegroom.

So the Constitution was changed, to fix the term of president at four years and to prevent anyone from holding the office for more than eight consecutive years. It was generally understood that Quezon and Osmeña would be reelected for four-year terms in 1941. Quezon’s eight consecutive years would be up on November 15, 1943. he would step aside on that date and Osmeña would be president for two years. Then Quezon could be reelected in the 1945 elections, and he would be president when Independence Day arrived on July 4, 1946.

Things didn’t work out that way. The Quezon-Osmeña team was reelected in November, 1941, but the votes had hardly been counted before the Philippines was at war with Japan. President Quezon and Vice-President Osmeña went to Corregidor with General Douglas MacArthur, and early in 1942 made their way to Washington to establish a Philippine government in exile.

By the summer of 1943 it became evident that the Philippine presidential issue would have to be resolved. Japanese propaganda broadcasts were proclaiming that Quezon had been forced to go to the United States, and was in fact being held in Washington against his will. If Osmeña should become president, as would happen unless the constitutional limitation on the presidential term were changed, the Japanese would claim Quezon had been stripped of authority by his alleged friends, the Americans. Of course, the Japanese propaganda mills would also work the other way. If Osmeña did not become president, Radio Tokyo would say the Philippine Constitution had been altered at the behest of the US government.

A few days before the November 15, 1943, deadline, the US Congress passed a bill providing Quezon would remain president and Osmeña vice-president until their terms ended in 1945. Congressional authority to act in the matter was based on American sovereignty in the Philippines, which would run until 1946. However, such a distinguished authority as George A. Malcolm, long-time member of the Philippine Supreme Court, described the congressional action as “constitutionally indefensible” in his book, First Malayan Republic.

The bill to keep Quezon in the presidency passed the Senate unanimously, but 150 members of the House of Representatives voted against it, largely because they were opposed to allowing any president to serve more than eight years and they hoped, somehow, to stave off the bid for a fourth term that President Roosevelt was obviously going to make in 1944.

Just how was this critical decision in Philippine history made? I heard the entire story from the lips of the two major participants, Quezon and Osmeña, in Washington late in November, 1943. I had just been appointed Chief of the US Office of War Information in the Southwest Pacific, and was on my way to join General MacArthur’s headquarters in Australia. I made courtesy calls on both the President and the Vice-President. A verbatim copy of the notes I made after those conferences appears with this article. I believe it is fitting to retell this important chapter of Philippine history in the exact words that I used after talking with the two principal participants nearly 20 years ago.

Notes on a talk with Vice-President Osmeña at the Twenty-Four Hundred Hotel in Washington, Saturday, November 27, 1943

I called on Vice-President Osmeña in his hotel suite and opened the conversation by telling him what I thought the Filipinos in Washington deserved to be congratulated for having so amicably disposed of their differences. I said that unity seemed to me to be essential, and I realized that he had made unity possible by his action in the matter of presidential succession.

“I asked him to let me know exactly what he wanted to do in this case,” said Osmeña. “I said I would study the matter and that if I could conscientiously agree with him, it would be the best for all of us if we presented a unified front.

“Well, Mr. Quezon said that he didn’t believe the Constitution was applicable to our government, since it was no longer operative in the Philippines. I told him that id dint agree with the interpretation, since everything we had done was under the Constitution. We were, in fact, spending the people’s money because of the authority of the Constitution, and I could not agree that ours was merely an interim government. I thought it was the legitimate government of the Philippines. But I said that we could easily refer the matter to the department of the interior, the state department or the attorney general’s office.

“After I was out of the hospital we talked about the matter again and President Quezon said that he felt that President Roosevelt should intervene and use his emergency powers to settle the question of succession. He had apparently consulted some lawyers because he quoted Civil War precedents under President Lincoln.”

As I remember it, Osmeña did not agree with the interpretation of law either. At all events, many times during the conversation he made it clear that he always felt that Congress should act in the matter, since Congress alone had authority to alter the Tydings-McDuffie law. He also said that the attorney-general had given an opinion to the effect that President Roosevelt could not extend President Roosevelt’s term of office.

Mr. Osmeña then told me of a long conversation he had with Secretary of War Stimson. “Since the restoration of our government depended upon the United States military power,” Osmeña said, “I wanted to find out what the responsible American officials thought about it. Stimson kept me in his office for about an hour and a half. There were a lot of generals and chiefs of staff waiting to see him, but when I tried to break away he told me to stay. I told him I didn’t want to be responsible for losing a battle, and he laughed.

“Stimson painted a very compelling picture of the entire war, starting with Pearl Harbor. He told me that one great aim of the United States was to recapture the Philippines and give the Filipinos their real independence. I told him I was glad to hear that pledge repeated, although of course it had been made many times and I had never doubted it. He said that in defeating Japan the United States needed the help of the Filipinos, all of them, and that he hoped President Quezon and I would be able to help, and not only one of us, as would happen if Quezon should be replaced as president by me. I told him that I was anxious for unity too, but I asked him now, assuming that I agreed that Mr. Quezon was to remain as president, it could be done. I told him there were certain legal obstacles to be considered. He said that wasn’t in his province, and that the method of settling the issue would have to be left to the legalists, but he made it very clear that he wanted both Mr. Quezon and myself to continue in our offices as a war measure.”

At a later point in the conversation, Osmeña, referring back to this conversation, said Stimson had said that two men were essential in the reconquest of the Philippines—MacArthur and Quezon.

Osmeña then referred to the letter that Quezon had written President Roosevelt asking that he be kept in office. He asked me if I were acquainted with it, and I said yes. “One day,” said Osmeña, “Quezon called me over to the Shoreham and said, ‘Well, they’re going to throw me out in the street.’ I could see he was depressed so I asked him what made him say that. He had sent me a copy of the letter, as a matter of courtesy, but had not asked me to comment on it, so I had said nothing. If he had asked for my advice, however, I should have told him not to send the letter, as its arguments were very weak. ‘I sent a letter to the White House two weeks ago,’ he said, ‘and they haven’t even acknowledged it. They want to get rid of me.’ Well, I knew that Mr. Quezon had come out of the Philippines against his best judgment, because he was sick, but I assured him no one was trying to get rid of him. To make him feel better, I said I had tried to get an appointment with President Roosevelt but hadn’t received an answer. I said the President was very busy. I also said that I had no intention of throwing Mr. Quezon out. I told him that I had long since told mutual friends that if I should become president I would make Mr. Quezon head of a council of state and would ask him to stay in the Shoreham and retain all the perquisites of his present office. I didn’t want to move in that big hotel suite. This place is fine for me.”

The vital question, it seemed, was one of procedure. Although Osmeña apparently at no time gave his outright consent to a blanket plan of letting Quezon stay in office, he was willing to discuss any method by which it could be done. Finally, he said, he talked to Judge Sam Rosenman, presidential aide, who was handling the case for the White House. “Judge Rosenman wanted us to petition Congress to act,” Osmeña said. “I told him that if that was a request of President Roosevelt’s, of course, I would comply. A little later he called me up and said his office had drafted a letter that he was sure I would be satisfied with, and that he wanted Mr. Quezon and me to sign it. He said President Quezon had the copy. I went to Shoreham and Mr. Quezon read me the letter. But it wasn’t the one I had expected, that is one from the President asking us to take the question to Congress. Rather it was just a letter from the two of us asking Congress to act. I told Mr. Quezon I couldn’t sign it. He said he had already committed himself. I said I was sorry, but I couldn’t sign it. So he called a meeting of the Cabinet.

“He spoke to us at some length, lying there in his bed, about the whole question, and then asked for our opinions. He asked me if I wanted to be heard and I presented my side of the question. Then he said he wanted the opinion of his Cabinet members. First he called on [Jaime] Hernandez, who as auditor-general would remain in the Cabinet by law, whether I took office or not. Hernandez spoke in a very low voice for a minute or two then said, ‘This is a very vital matter, and I would like a little time to think it over.’ Then Mr. Quezon said, ‘Well, I see the Cabinet is divided. In that case, my decision is made. I have rented a home in California and I shall leave here on November 14. Mr. Osmeña will become president on the 15th. This is the final Cabinet meeting. It’s good-bye to all of you.’ They all walked out and I went to the elevator with them. Then I returned to the President’s bedroom and told him I wanted to think things over and I would see him in the morning. I thought he might change his mind. But when I saw him the next morning, he was as determined as ever.

“‘I’m disgusted with it all, and I’ll have no more to do with it,’ Mr. Quezon said.

“‘Does that stop me from settling the case?’ I asked him.

“‘No, you can go ahead and do what you like,’ he said.

“‘All right, I said, ‘but I want one promise from you. I want you to let me handle it entirely alone. Please don’t call up anyone or do anything about it.’

“‘I’ll promise that,’ Mr. Quezon said. ‘You can do anything you like. I’ll have no more to do with it.’

“Then I said that since the White House had refused to intervene, I intended to take the matter up with Senator [Millard W.] Tydings. I outlined three possible courses of action.”

I’m not sure now what one of these three courses was. One was for Congress to suspend the running of all terms of office of all Philippine officials, the terms to recommence running one month after the retaking of the Philippines. The last was to extend the present terms of office, or rather to keep Quezon and Osmeña in their present positions.

Osmeña also said that when he could not get a letter from President Roosevelt requesting him to submit the matter to Congress, he would have been satisfied with a similar letter from the secretary of war. Apparently, however, he failed to get such a letter, or perhaps he didn’t try for one.

At all events, he talked at great length of Tydings, who said that of his three plans, only the final one could be pushed through Congress, and then only if he and President Quezon would sign the request for it. So he asked Tydings to help on the draft, they revised it, and then Osmeña took it to the Cabinet. After a few changes, the Cabinet approved it, all of them initialed it, and he took it to President Quezon, who promptly agreed to sign it.

Then it went to Congress, and the Senate passed it unanimously, but there were more than 150 votes against it in the Lower House after a particularly hot debate. Osmeña could undoubtedly have killed the bill in the Lower House had he expressed any disapproval of it.

It should be added that Roosevelt’s refusal to take any part in the business was undoubtedly due to the 1944 presidential campaign. He would have been charged with perpetuating one presidency fiat as a prelude to perpetuating his own.

Notes on a talk with President Quezon at the Shoreham Hotel on Thanksgiving Day, November 25, 1943

President Quezon had asked me to see him regarding the possibility of taking a job with the Commonwealth government. I explained that I was going to Australia for OWI, and we discussed the situation in Australia briefly.

I was talking about the radio propaganda now being directed at the Philippines, and mentioned that the presidential succession, whereby Quezon and Osmeña were kept in their present positions for the duration, had been treated in a simple, factual manner in the broadcasts to the Philippines. I went on to say that I thought the manner in which the Filipino government in exile had worked out its problem in unison contrasted sharply with the de Gaulle-Girard rift in the French Committee of Liberation, and with the various Cabinet crises in the Polish and Yugoslav governments in exile. Then Quezon broke in and said, “I’m going to tell you some history.”

He recalled that last May President Roosevelt had told him he wanted him to remain as president of the government after November 15, the day on which, according to the Philippine Constitution, he should retire in favor of Osmeña. “I told the President not to take any action without first consulting Osmeña,” said Quezon to me. “For I earlier had spoken to Osmeña and told him we should settle this question among ourselves. I told him that if he thought he had a right to the office, he should let me know and we should work it out without asking anyone in the United States government to intervene. He agreed.

“Well, last summer when I was in Saranac, some people apparently convinced Osmeña that he should have the office according to legal right.”

Earlier Quezon had explained to me at length that he did not believe the Constitution was operative in the present emergency, since the Tydings-McDuffie Law provided the President should authority in the Philippines, and obviously he had no such authority. “I am the President of half a dozen men, not of the Philippines,” he had said laughingly.

In the fall, when he returned from Saranac, he wanted President Roosevelt to intervene and use his emergency powers to keep him in office. (In this connection, when I saw Quezon late in October, he had me read a six-page letter he had sent President Roosevelt asking him to settle the issue and giving the reasons for which he thought he should be kept in office.) Osmeña wanted Congress to act on the matter. Finally, a few days before November 15, Congress did act, on the basis of a letter signed by Quezon, Osmeña and the Philippine Cabinet.

“Rosenman [Sam Rosenman, White House adviser] called me up one night about that letter,” Quezon told me. “He said Osmeña had agreed to sign it if I would, and he read a draft of it. I told him I wouldn’t sign it. He asked me to think it over and consult Tydings, Stimson and others and let him know in the morning. I told him I wouldn’t have to think it over. I wouldn’t sign it.

“Well, the next morning Stimson came in and showed me the letter and asked me to sign it. I said I couldn’t. He said, ‘That’s your Spanish pride, Don Manuel.’ I said, ‘I resent that, Governor!’ He laughed and recalled I was talking the same way I did when he was governor-general and I stood by him on liberalizing the corporation laws, when every other Filipino opposed him. I said it wasn’t pride, but simply a matter of dignity. I wasn’t a jobseeker, and never had been one. I wasn’t going to sign a letter to Congress now begging for a job.

“Then Stimson said, ‘I’m asking you to sign the letter because we need you in the war effort, and we need you at the head of the government. It’s your duty.’

“So I said, ‘Then I’ll sign it. I have never yet failed to do my patriotic duty. If Osmeña will sign it, I will.’

“So I thought it was all settled, but that afternoon Osmeña came and said he couldn’t sign the letter and he didn’t think he should.”

Quezon didn’t make clear why Osmeña was opposed to signing the letter. But during another telephone conversation with Quezon, Rosenman said, “What’s the matter with you fellows? When Osmeña wants to sign, you don’t. and when you want to sign, he doesn’t.”

Then Quezon told me, “So I called a meeting of the Cabinet. When they were all here, I told them that I hadn’t wanted to sign the letter, but when the secretary of war told me it was my duty to do so I had agreed. However, Sergio wouldn’t sign it.”

He rested for a few seconds in his bed, where he had been during the entire interview, then said with his customary dramatic flourish, “So I said, ‘Gentlemen, I’m through.’ I turned to Hernandez [Jaime Hernandez, secretary of finance] and said, ‘Fix up a complete financial report for my term of office.’ Then I said, ‘Rotor [Arturo B. Rotor, private secretary], get all my papers for me.’ And then to all of them, I said, ‘I’m leaving here on the 14th.’”

He smiled and said, “Osmeña came over quickly and said he’d sign the paper. So did everyone else. And that’s how it happened.”

Then he paid tribute to the statement issued by Osmeña regarding the unity of the Filipinos, and saying it was a pity it had not received more publicity in this country. He didn’t feel, however, that it was of any particular propaganda value in the Philippines.

There was one other statement of particular interest in the conversation. Toward the close, Quezon said, “Marquardt, there’s one thing I want you to remember, and to spread publicly and privately when the time comes. I’m a sick man, and I may die, but I want everyone to know what a wonderful thing Roxas [Manuel Roxas] has done in the Philippines. He refused to come out with me. Three times he has refused to be the head of the new government there, although I wanted him to. He said his duty was with Wainwright. I know of no one better qualified for future leadership in the Philippines than Roxas. If I live, he will be my successor.”

Quezon and his fights, August 1, 1961

Quezon and his fights

by Rodrigo C. Lim

 

Everything he did, he did with style and elegance, which is why even his political feuds seem so dramatic and glamorous, especially when compared to the sordid political squabbles of today.

 

THE CURRENT POWER STRUGGLE among the country’s top political leaders, particularly that between President Garcia and NP and Senate President “Amang” Rodriguez, reminds us of the fights the late President Quezon had in in his over 30 years of public life.

 

In one respect Quezon’s political career was unique, singular. It could be perhaps duplicated but surely not surpassed by that of any other Filipino leader, or any other country for that matter. For not once in his incessant political strifes did he suffer a single defeat – and in many of them he was pitted against the most formidable opponents of his time.

Foremost of these battles was his historic fight for political supremacy in the early 20s against then Speaker Osmeña on the issue of collective versus unipersonal leadership. For over 15 years the two leaders had been disinterestingly and unselfishly collaborating in the common effort of nation building, forming a political partnership without parallel anywhere else then or today. Times there were when, because of conflict of opinion on vital national questions and of diametrically opposed characters and temperaments, a clash appeared imminent and inevitable. Each time, however, one or the other sacrificed personal prid and ambition for the good of the country, particularly the cause for which both had fought in war and in peace – Philippine independence.

But even the sweetest of honeymoons cannot last forever and in due time, the Quezon-Osmeña combine ended as any such political alliance is bound to end somehow, sometime. The formal parting of the ways came in the evening of February 17, 1922 when, before a mammoth crowd that overflowed the pre-war Manila Grand Opera House, Quezon declared war against his life-long friend and partner.

“When one is convinced that the conduct of a party is no longer in consonance with the will of the people and does not respect the demands of public opinion”, he told the teeming thousands that jammed that huge theater, “then no member is under any obligation to remain in that party.” It was then that he pronounced his classic now off-quoted dogma: “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins.”

Talking of the conflict, which some wiseacres of the time called a fight between autocracy as represented by Osmeña and democracy as typified by Quezon, the late Teodoro M. Kalaw, then secretary of interior and one of the geatest minds the Philippins has ever produced, said:

“The split came as a result of the disagreement over the leadership which question. Our faction stood for the so-called collective leadership which puts responsibilty in each department of the government. In other wotds the unipersonalists supported the introduction of the parliamentary form of government in the Philippines and the collectivitists the presidential form.”

While a good many people sincerely believed that Quezon only wanted to establish “a government by the people by means of a voluntary expression of sovereign will of the people” and “not the people’s rule without the expression of the popular will”, there were others who accused him of provoking the split to take control of the party and pertpetuate himself in power.

To those critics he retorted:

“Can I find a position in the Philippine government and in the gift of the Filipino people higher than that of president of the Senate, the highest position to which a Filipino could be sent by his countrymen? If I wanted to perpetuate myself in power, is there anything better for me than to remain in the Nacionalista Party?”

From the thundeous ovation the greeted his memorable pronouncements that evening at the Opera House, could be foreseen the outcome of the first clash between the two Filipino titans. In the subsequent election, in June, 1922, during which both were in the United States as joint chiefs of an independence mission, Quezon’s Collectivistas won with such a convincing majority that he thereafter became the acknowledged leader of Filipino participation in the government.

The Quezon-Osmeña divorce did not last long however. Quezon did not have a sufficient majority in the Lower House to elect the speaker of his choice, the then rising political star from Capiz, Manuel Roxas, and as between his former partner and the Democratas, he chose to coalesce with former. Neither did the Cebuano leader want any coalition with the oppositionists. Thus was formed the Nacionalista Consolidado Party with Quezon as head.

No sooner had Quezon and Osmeña kissed and made up when MLQ had to face a greater fight with no less than the representative of American sovereignty in his country – Governor-General Wood.

OPEN BREAK

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.

BATTLE ROYAL

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.

SECOND BREAK

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.

ELOQUENT EVIDENCE

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.

Sayre arrives, October 28, 1939

October 28, 1939

Sayre arrives

THE third, and possibly the last, United States High Commissioner to the Philippines, red-haired, polite, precise Francis Bowes Sayre, arrived in the Philippines end of last week. He emerged out of the slight fog that covered Manila bay and also his attitude toward many Philippine questions, affable and smiling, while a 19-gun salute was fired, sirens shrieked, a crowd of 20,000 cheered and the highest government officials of the Commonwealth clapped heartily.

“I am very happy to meet you again,” said High Commissioner Sayre and President Manuel Quezon to each other, with a warm embrace.

“How was the trip, Mr. Commissioner?” asked Mr. Quezon.

“Fine,” grinned Mr. Sayre.

Acting High Commissioner J. Weldon Jones and Secretary Jorge Vargas, representing the President, had gone out on the U.S. Navy launch Yacal to meet the President Cleveland outside the breakwater.

Escorted to the elegant new President’s Landing in front of the Manila Hotel, as swank an introduction to Manila as any tourist-trade-booster could wish for, Mr. Sayre went up the gangplank accompanied by Mr. Vargas; Mrs. Sayre, by Mr. Jones. There they were greeted by the President.

The High Commissioner wore a light-brown woolen suit and white shoes; the President, a white shark-skin double-breasted coat, striped brown trousers, tango shoes. Pretty Mrs. Sayre was in rose, stately Mrs. Quezon in mestiza dress.

“Hello and goodbye”

The distinguished newcomer was speedily presented to the government bigwigs gathered to receive him. He put an affectionate arm around Speaker Jose Yulo. When he came to Secretary Manuel Roxas, the President said with unexpected formality: “You know this gentleman, I presume?” Mr. Sayre knew him.

Stepping out of the neat little pagoda, the High Commissioner had his first real glimpse of the Filipino people. About half of the crowd belonged to Benigno Ramos’ Ganap party and they quickly stole the show. Defying police orders, they waved little blue flags demanding independence, displayed trenchant placards reading:

“The Filipino people demand true independence right away!”

“We object against Quezon-McNutt combination. It is slavery!”

“Greetings to Sayre: We hope you will be the last High Commissioner and not be like McNutt and Murphy who just watched while the leaders spent money!”

A suave diplomat, Mr. Sayre ignored the display. But he must have had his misgivings when President Quezon, consciously or unconsciously, echoed the “hello and goodbye” sentiments of the Ganap.

Introducing the High Commissioner to the crowd, he expressed a fervent hope: “May he be the man to turn over to the first President of the Philippine Republic, the authority and sovereignty of the United States over these islands.”

Previously he had outlined Mr. Sayre’s work on behalf of the Philippines, especially with regard to its economic welfare. “He finds a people who know him as well as he knows hem,” concluded the President. “We know of his record as adviser to the government of Siam, of his ability to treat people of a different race. We know of his deep interest in our welfare. We know that he is our friend.

Making his first speech in the Philippines, the High Commissioner startled his hearers by practically denying the Filipinos were “a different race” at all. “Until their independence is consummated,” he declared, “the Filipino people are an integral part of the American nation. We are fellow-Americans. As High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands, I shall not lose sight of this central fact.”

Eloquently, but none the less firmly, he made it clear that he would not stand in the way of the consummation of independence.

“I want to say to the Filipino people how happy and how proud I am that I have been given the chance to throw in my lot with you in helping to work out the problems which lie before us. In many ways the fundamental problem which we face is unique. Seldom if ever has a great nation in the height of its power because of its profound faith in liberty and democracy helped to create out of its own territory a new nation seeking to work out its independent destiny based upon the same principles.

Having thus painted the glories of democratic liberty, Mr. Sayre drove to the Luneta to lay a wreath at the base of the monument to a martyr to liberty, Jose Rizal. Having put this pointed period to his inaugural address, he was driven past the palace abuilding for him along Dewey Boulevard, to his temporary residence in Pasay.

He left behind a puzzled army of Benigno Ramos’ followers. Numbering 10,000 they had come from Laguna, Bulacan, Rizal, from provinces as distant as Nueva Ecija, Tarlac, Pampanga, and Tayabas, each one paying his own fare and bringing his own food, an impressive tribute to the rabble-rousing powers of the former Sakdal chieftain who is now campaigning for the presidency of the Commonwealth. Not even Manuel Quezon perhaps, Ramos’ old boss and probable model, could have called such a legion of faithful believers in Manila.

They had one doctrine, immediate independence, and they had one prophet, Benigno Ramos. He had told them that the Americano was going to give them freedom.

Cheers for Ramos

When Ramos walked along Katigbak drive to the landing early that morning, the Ganap ranks gave him cheer after lusty cheer. But when President Quezon drove by in his limousine, preceded by three motorcycle policemen and three Philippine army artillery units, the Ganap men fell into a sullen silence. It was an amazing, and significant, contrast.

After the High Commissioner’s speech, an old man carrying a Ganap flag asked a Manila Daily Bulletin reporter: “Are we free now?”

“Aren’t you?” countered the reporter.

“Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t understand what the Americano said. I can’t understand English. The leaders of our party said we will get our freedom now. The Americano is bringing it.”

In his Pasay garden, the Americano was perhaps discussing the same subject with Mr. Quezon, under a beautiful banyan tree. Later the High Commissioner received other official calls.

He returned the President’s call that afternoon, Mr. Quezon showed his guest the palace library; Mrs. Quezon chatted amiably with Mrs. Sayre, pointed across the Pasig to her favorite Malacañang building, the luxurious Nipa Hut where a state reception for the Sayres may be held soon.

Next day, the High Commissioner held his first press conference. He had a statement ready on reexamination of independence. “It is the duty of American and Philippine officials faithfully to carry out” the provisions of the independence act, he said.

“To my mind the passage by the American Congress of the Tydings-McDuffie act and the acceptance by the Philippine people of a Constitution based upon its provisions constitute a moral obligation not to withdraw the independence program or to alter its fundamental provisions except by the wish of both peoples.

“If ever the day should come when the Filipino people should decide to change their minds and alter the policy to which they have unyieldingly adhered for over 40 years and should bring such a request before Congress, it would be for Congress, and for Congress alone, to decide what course of action the United States should pursue. Such a decision, I need hardly add, would have to be made in the light of such conditions as may then exist in the world and in the Philippines: and what these will be no one can foretell.”

“Off the record”

Suave, smiling Mr. Sayre made the assembled reporters and corespondents forget that he had made them wait for a full day for his first interview. The one American who had been able to outsmart Manuel Quezon—he had wangled the President’s signature to a statement expressing willingness to abandon preferential trade relations with the United States—the High Commissioner did not let his questioners outsmart him.

He took a lot of chaffing on his “fellow Americans” speech. Then, knowing him to be an expert on trade relations, a correspondent asked; “Do you consider the present trade relations between the United States and the Philippines mutually beneficial?”

“I do,” answered Mr. Sayre.

“Then why should they be terminated?”

The High Commissioner said that for the present he must explain “off the record.”

“Do you use such expressions here?” he asked innocently.

The reporters guffawed. His predecessors had been singularly addicted to keeping things “off the record.” Paul V. McNutt had killed many a good story by telling it before it could be told to him or anybody else, and then asking the boys to keep it “off the record.” Frank Murphy had talked even less for publication.

“Why,” cried Dick Wilson of the United Press, “the phrase originated here!”

A deeply religious man, Mr. Sayre went to church after his press conference, Mrs. Sayre motored up to Baguio the next day to enrol her children by her first marriage in Brent School.

 

Primer on the plebiscite, October 21, 1939

October 21, 1939

Primer on the plebiscite

Q.—What are the bands playing for?

A.—To get you out to vote in the October 24 plebiscite.

Q.—What are we voting on?

A.—On an amendment to the Constitution, or rather the ordinance appended to the Constitution.
(more…)

Cold feet, designer, super-toaster, editorials, etc., June 1, 1935

Independence Merry-Go-Round

Cold feet, designer, super-toaster, editorials, etc.

By James G. Wingo

Free Press correspondent in Washington

June 1, 1935–THE day before the White House signing of the Philippine constitution Resident Commissioner Francisco Delgado sent his secretary Quintin Paredes, Jr., to shop for “a very good fountain pen” with which President Roosevelt would sign the important document. Paredes showed his boss samples of $50 and $75 pens.

Delgado thought the pens too expensive. Paredes thought they were the kind for posterity. They compromised on a $7 pen.

When Franklin D. Roosevelt sat down at the big table in the cabinet room he saw no pen around. “Where’s the pen?” he asked. “Say, Mac, I want my pen.”

Delgado got cold feet. He didn’t dare offer the pen in his pocket. So Roosevelt signed several copies of the constitution with just one pen, the President’s.

• • •

The fingerprints of these young Filipinos may be discovered on the Philippine government copy of the constitution bearing the signature of President Roosevelt; Guevara’s Secretary Manuel Zamora, who took the accompanying semi-candid snapshots in front of the Executive Office after the signing of the constitution; Delgado’s Secretary Paredes, Diosdado M. Yap, who comprises the entire personnel of the Yap-founded Philippine Information Bureau; Candido Elbo Tobias, another secretary of Resident Commissioner Pedro Guevara.

When Gov. Gen. Frank Murphy went to the photographers’ room he entrusted the important document to Yap. He and the other boys took advantage of the opportunity to have something to do with it. They pressed their finger all over the constitution. Then they took it outside and had their picture taken with the document.

• • •

If Lloyd Taylor had preferred to accept his father’s offer to manage the Manila Daily Bulletin with a salary of P1,000 a month, he would not have drunk lemonade with the First Lady of the United States the other day in the Red Room of the White House. And he would not be the young hat and dress designer who is advertised by big department stores as promising and a discovery. This artist was born of Carson Taylor and his pretty blonde wife in Manila 30 years ago.

Accompanied by the wives of Sen. Key Pittman, Rep. William H. Larrabee, Rep. Richard J. Welch and Commissioner Delgado and by Vicente Villamin, Designer Taylor presented Mrs. Roosevelt with two Easter dresses. Taylor designed the dresses made of Philippine material bought with the contributions of Filipino and American friends of the Filipinos in the United States who appreciated an utterance of Anna Eleanor Roosevelt Roosevelt in a magazine urging the women of America to dedicate some attention to the Philippines, its people and its problems, and the work which the United States has undertaken in the islands. Mr. Villamin was the one who suggested the idea of presenting the dresses to Mrs. Roosevelt. Taylor gave his services free.

• • •

No commercial stunt

Mrs. Roosevelt was very much pleased with the two beautiful dresses, which, according to the designer, could not be duplicated for less than $600. She promised:

“I will wear one of them on the first big occasion.”

Taylor assured Mrs. Roosevelt that the presentation was no commercial stunt.

Not until Mrs. Roosevelt wears one of the dresses will Publisher Taylor be reconciled to the idea that his son, who left the University of Southern California for his own New York Studio, has become a great artist.

• • •

In creating the beige piña dress Taylor took his inspiration for the neckline from the Philippine pañuelo. This neckline gives the draped shawl effect with the point center back nearly to the waistline. The sleeves puff above the elbow, suggesting the Philippine sleeve. The gored skirt is wide, with back fullness, which recalls early Spanish influence. The dress is trimmed with real princess lace, made by the Belgian sisters of the Tondo Convent.

The other dresses, an aquamarine blue jusi, brings out the effect of modern fashion in European gowns popular with young Philippine ladies.

I understand the table Emilio Aguinaldo sent the White House has helped to revive the fashion for Philippine hardwoods here.***

• • •

The Taylor-designed dresses of Mrs. Roosevelt may create a new field for Philippine industry.

• • •

About 49 Washington college students from the Orient—Filipinos, Chinese and Japanese—met one Sunday in a dingy Chinese restaurant for luncheon. The honored guests were Dean Warren Reed West of George Washington University, Gen. Teodoro Sandiko of the last Philippine independence mission to Washington, Tswen-Ling Tsui of the Chinese legation and Kiyoshi K. Kawakami, able Washington correspondent for a Japanese newspaper.

Berates Chinese

Kawakami, in a long speech, burned the ears of the Chinese as he berated them for their non-cooperation with Japan. He found an affinity of interest, however, among the peoples of the Far East superseding alliances with nations in the West.

“Japan would be the first to sign an agreement neutralizing the Philippines,” he added. Nobody doubted that statement. Every so-called “neutral” territory in the Far East today either belongs to Japan or is under Japanese authority.

• • •

Delgado spoke of Japanese-Filipino and Chinese-Filipino friendships. He recalled his “days of adolescence’ in the United States. He also told the boys how he wooed and won his wife despite great odds.”*

And then he climaxed his speech thus:

“Gentlemen, I want you to stand up and drink with me a toast to President Roosevelt.”**

The boys stood up and picked up their glasses of water. Hardly had they resumed their seats when Delgado declared:

“Please stand up again and drink with me to the health of the Emperor of Japan.”

The boys did the same trick. And then quick-witted Delgado again declared:

“I want you once more to rise and drink with me to the well-being of the President of China.

• • •

Toasting record

After the hurrahs, the banzais and the lin sheis the precedent-breaking Delgado thought there should be mabuhays also. He had already hogged three toasts, but that fact did not deter him from proposing the only one left.

“Gentlemen, I am a politician,” he said. “My guesses are sometimes wrong. I don’t know who will be the first president of the commonwealth, so I will propose a toast to just the Commonwealth of the Philippines.”

Super-toaster Delgado undoubtedly holds the toasting record at a single meal in this country.

• • •

The signing of the constitution of the islands by President Roosevelt was the occasion for the blossoming of the first nationwide crop of editorials on the Philippines since Congress passed the McDuffie-Tydings act. Most of the newspapers believe that the Filipinos are not so eager now for independence as they used to be. They find that realization of the consequences of the loss of the American market and fear of Japanese have sobered the Filipinos and dampened their enthusiasm for separation from the United States. Brief excerpts:

New York Herald Tribune: It is worth noting, at the outset, that President Roosevelt’s counter-signature of the document does not mean or imply, as the Filipinos may think his approval of it. Nor does it commit him to the belief that the document itself is workable or that the experiment which it charters will be a success. In signing it the President simply certified that he found it compatible with the provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie independence act—a measure which provides for the release of Cuban sugar from Philippine competition within the decade and for the release of America at the end of it from the bootless responsibility and risk of guarding a defenseless economic wreck against Asiatic piracy.

Unfavorable result

Washington Post: Weighing, then, the advantages of complete autonomy against the concomitant loss of American markets together with an increased public budget, the result is not as overwhelming on the side of independence as first impulses might suggest. President McKinley is said to have gone down on his knees to beg for Divine guidance in his decision as to the disposition of the Philippines. He got up to promise them eventual independence. He could not then have conceived of the vast economic implications of his plighted altruism. But today in Manila they have no illusions on this score. And that is why, behind the torchlights and oratory of last week, there stood a far-seeing group that even now is talking earnestly of the future of the Philippines in terms of “dominion government,” perpetual commonwealth status” or “economic partnership with the United States.”

Experimental period

Newark (New Jersey) Evening News: With all the economic and political confusion there is in the world at present, it is safest to regard the next 10 years as a period of experiment, in which the United States, as well as the Filipinos, will need to exercise the greatest wisdom and restraint.

Pasadena (California) Star-News: Experienced observers, among them W. Cameron Forbes, a former governor general of the Philippines, believe it to be quite possible that the Filipinos may request a modification of the independence act, in view of the special dangers that are arising. Mr. Forbes said recently: “I feel, and a great many Americans and Filipinos feel, that the problems that will confront the islands, to go on without their own navy, their own guns and their own trade avenues, are extremely serious.” The responsibility of the United States in this matter is grave, as Mr. Forbes sees it.

Worcester (Massachusetts) Evening Gazette: The purpose of the [Philippine independence] law is to rid us of the islands. But we shall not be rid of them. We are not rid of Cuba. We may talk pious platitudes about non-intervention, but we shall continue to interfere at Havana as long as we have any American money invested in Cuba. The Philippines—when the native politicians fall afoul of each other, or get into a row with Japan—we shall be called upon to help them. It is doubtful that they can maintain a stable government. It is certain that they cannot, if they experience an economic collapse. And, by barring them from or market, we are doing our utmost to ruin them economically.

Chicago Daily News: These are parlous times in the Far East. The American dairy interests and American and Cuban sugar interests, which joined forces with Filipino politicos to sever ties of 35 years, have gone a long way toward accomplishing their none too noble ends. If present plans materialize the Philippines will blossom forth as a sovereign republic at the end of a decade and the United States will cease to have a territorial interest in the troublesome Far East. In some respects the United States may be better off if such a separation takes place. Under certain circumstances it might be better to have the separation completed more quickly and more definitely.

Canton (Ohio) Repository: Apparently, the prospect is pleasing to the majority of Filipinos.

Syracuse (New York) Herald: Public opinion in this country is fully reconciled to the legislation.

Salem (Massachusetts) Evening News: They have agitated for freedom so long that it will be difficult for them to turn back now.

Rochester (New York) Times-Union: The element of danger to the Philippines in a completely independent status lies in the possibility that some power might seize the islands and impose a rule less satisfactory than that of the United States.

• • •

Whatever these newspapers say

End

***The table also helped to revive the old question about the genuineness of the mahogany from the islands. African mahogany importers and other dealers of mahogany have been insisting that Philippine mahogany, not being real mahogany, must always go under the name “Philippine mahogany.”

**There is no law against toasting the President of the United States any time, anywhere, but tradition and official etiquette have it that he must be toasted only at official or diplomatic dinners or at those of the armed forces of the United States.

*Jose P. Melencio and his wife, the daughter of General Aguinaldo, also love to recall their courtship in their public addresses.

End