Home » Posts tagged 'William Howard Taft'

Tag Archives: William Howard Taft

Rizal in the American Congress, December 27, 1952

Rizal in the American Congress
By Vicente Albano Pacis

December 27, 1952–IN the semi darkness of the ground floor of the US Capitol in Washington, I entered an office by mistake—and stumbled upon the author of the Philippine Bill of 1902—and an interesting episode in Rizalian lore.

It was 1926. Though perhaps not as critical as that of 1902, the American congressional situation with respect to the Philippines was serious. In Manila, General Leonard Wood, the Governor-General, and Manuel L. Quezon, the Senate President, were in the midst of a knock-down-and-dug-out fight. And friends of the general on Capitol Hill were active. One of them, tough and determined Congressman Robert Bacon of New York, had introduced a bill separating Mindanao and Jolo from the Philippines and retaining them under US sovereignty, should Luzon and the Visayas become independent, Senator Sergio Osmeña has rushed to Washington in alarm to try and block the shocking proposal.

A young Associated Press correspondent, I was closely watching the developments on the measure and was that day on my way to the office of Congressman Kiess of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Committee on Insular Affairs, when I entered the wrong door. I was about to withdraw, having started to offer my excuses, but what the elderly female secretary said rang a bell in my head.

She said. “This is the office of Congressman Henry A. Cooper; can I help you?”

“Cooper of Wisconsin?” I inquired.

I had been in and out of the Capitol for five or six months and had not heard any mention of his name now seen him in the house session hall. I had no idea that he was still a member of Congress. But feeling sure now that the man into whose office I had gotten by mistake was none other than the man for whom the Cooper Act—the first Philippine Organic Law—was named, I decided to see him. I asked the secretary if I could do so.

She slipped into the dim inner office and almost right away came back to usher me in. Seated beside an ancient roll-top desk, the completely white-haired, short, thin old man trembled visibly as he rose slowly and offered me his hand.

“I’m Cooper,” he stated simply.

I explained who I was and added for its possible psychological effect that I had just left the University of Wisconsin the previous summer. But it was not necessary. The mere fact that I was a Filipino seemed to have had a tonic effect on both his strength and memory.

“Well, sir, so you’re from the Philippines?” he said in a reedy voice as he motioned me to a seat.

Having himself sunk back into his swivel chair, he continued, “I’m always glad to meet Filipinos. In all modesty, one of the highlights—one of the most thrilling moments—of my long congressional service was my participation in the drafting and enactment of the first enabling act for the Philippines. And, sir, President McKinley, Governor Taft, and the rest of us met obstacles on every side. But do you know who came to our rescue, sir? None other than you great martyr and hero, Jose Rizal.”

I had gone in, glad of the opportunity to meet a history-book name. His reference to Rizal left me in a state of trembling expectation. What he did next heightened the suspense.

He leaned back in his chair, pressed interlaced fingers on his breast and closed his eyes. He remained thus for some time. I began to wonder if he had gone to sleep as old people often do at the oddest moments. I was about to call his secretary when he suddenly opened his eyes, sat erect, gripped the arms of his chair with each hand as if he had just remembered something very important. His mind had evidently traveled some two decades back, and now he resumed talking.

“Philippine-American relations started very badly, sir!” he recalled. “Those of us who were trying to formulate what might be a just and wise Philippine policy were harassed on every side. Do you know, sir, that President McKinley finally had to resort to nightly prayer?”

With a faraway look in his eyes, he related how the president, criticized on all sides and offered conflicting advice, had finally decided to go on his knees every night in the White House. And one night there had come to him what appeared to be the ultimate solution of the situation. Give back the Philippines to Spain? Leave them to another power in the Orient—Germany, Great Britain, Japan? Abandon the Filipinos? Each of these questions had brought an unsatisfactory answer. So the president had inescapably reached the decision that the only honorable course left to America was to take over the Philippines “to civilize, to educate and to train in self-government.”

The old congressman talked of the Anti-imperialist League, headed by powerful men like Ex-President Grover Cleveland, Andrew Carnegie, and Justice Joseph Story, which was “spreading fear and indignation by alleging that the Republican Administration, in taking over the Philippines, was embarking on a career of imperialism and wrecking America’s constitutional principles.” The Democratic Party, having promised independence to the Filipinos as early as in the presidential campaign of 1900, announced itself in favor of giving that independence immediately.

“But sir,” Congressman Cooper pointed out, “the Democrats were less interested in the Filipinos than in their own skins. Do you know that their official platform declared, ‘The Filipinos cannot be citizens without endangering our civilization. . . .'”?

Although by 1902 General Aguinaldo had already been captured in Palana, Isabela, by Colonel Funston, and the backbone of the insurrection had been broken, Filipino guerrillas were still active. Americans and Filipinos were still killing each other and the American press continued to carry lurid and gory tales of alleged Filipino brutalities and atrocities. As a consequence American public opinion was bitterly anti-Filipino.

“Most Americans, including prominent Republicans and Democrats, believed that your people were unfit for self-government,” Congressman Cooper went on. “In fact, many of them, including our leading newspapers and responsible statesmen, were convinced the Filipinos were barbarians, pirates, and savages.”

Then he recalled the day when, as chairman of the house Committee on Insular Affairs, which handled Philippine legislation, and as principal author of the Bill of 1902, he made his sponsorship speech. The date was June 19.

“Soon after I’d started speaking,” he recounted, “gentlemen on both sides of the House stood up and demanded to be heard. They badgered and interrupted me often. Finally I refused to yield the floor. I made a long speech; I covered every phase of the Philippine problem—economic, social, political, and Philanthropic. But the strongest argument which I had to demolish was the claim that the Filipinos were savages unfit for self-government. Therefore, I had to address myself especially to this particular point; and, just as President McKinley looked upon God for guidance, so I called upon your Rizal for support. He didn’t fail me.”

The Congressional record for that day chronicles that Congressman Cooper opened his argument against the detractors of the Philippines as follows:

“Everyday we hear men declare that the people of the Philippines are ‘pirate,’ ‘barbarians,’ ‘savages,’ ‘incapable of civilization’. . . newspapers of prominence have repeatedly endorsed this view.

“Mr. Chairman, I am not here to join in this cry so often hear. . . . Before we say that the Filipino people are barbarians and savages whose future is hopeless, we should remember the past and not forget how largely human beings are the products of environment. . . . Think of their history! For three hundred hopeless years they had seen Spanish officials treat office merely as a means by which to rob the helpless people. For three hundred years they lived under a government which deliberately kept the mass of the people in ignorance, which deliberately sought to close to them every avenue of social and political advancement; a government under which it was well-nigh useless for a man even to attempt to acquire property, because his accumulations furnished only so much more of temptation and opportunity for the rapacity of government officials; a government which punished even the most respectful protest against its infamous executions with banishment or death. . . .

“What the Filipinos think, what they feel what they do, are only the natural results of what they have undergone. Yet, sir, despite this environment, this deprivation, this wrong and contumely and outrage, this unfortunate race has given to the world not a few examples of intellectual and moral worth—men in the height of mind and power of character.”

Then the talked of Rizal:

“It has been said that if American institutions had done nothing else than furnish to the world the character of George Washington, ‘that alone would entitle them to the respect of mankind.’ So, sir, I say to all those who denounce the Filipinos indiscriminately as barbarians and savages, without possibility of a civilized future, that this despised race proved itself entitled to their respect and to the respect of mankind when it furnished to the world and character of Jose Rizal.”

Briefly, he narrated the life of the hero from his birth in Calamba to his sentence to death by a Spanish court-martial in Manila.

“On the night before his death, he wrote a poem,” Cooper continued. “I will read it, that the house may know what were the last thoughts of this ‘pirate,’ this ‘barbarian,’ this ‘savage,’ of a race ‘incapable of civilization’!”

With eloquence and feeling, Cooper recited Mi Ultimo Adios as translated into English by Derbyshire. When the last line, “Farewell, dear ones, farewell! To die is to rest from our labors,” had faded away, there was a long, deep silence. Then the entire House broke into prolonged applause.

“Encouraged by the demonstration,” Congressman Cooper continued his narration to me, “I plunged into my climax. Even now I can remember the words; I fairly thundered them:

“Pirates! Barbarians! Savages! Incapable of civilization. How many of the civilized, Caucasian slanderers of his race could ever be capable of thoughts like these, which on the awful night, as he sat alone amidst silence unbroken save by the rustling of the black plumes of the death angel at his side, poured from the soul of the martyred Filipino? Search the long and bloody roll of the world’s martyred dead, and where—on what soil, under what sky—did Tyranny ever claim a nobler victim?

“Sir, the future is not without hope for a people which, from the midst of such an environment, has furnished to the world a character so lofty and so pure as that of Jose Rizal.”

Now visibly tired from his memory and oratorical exertions, he rested. Yet, though faintly panting, his seamy face wore more than the suggestion of a smile. He was reliving his years of power and triumph, and he was happy. His next words confirmed what his countenance had already proclaimed.

“The result was a complete triumph for Rizal, the Filipinos and justice,” he said, “and, I think I should add in all candor, myself.”

He stopped to savor the thought with relish.

“The story and poetry of Rizal did something to the House akin to a miracle,” he continued. “Your great patriot made congressmen — as well as senators — forget the Philippine insurrection and remember only your people’s travails. Rizal kindled a light by which, for the first time, Americans had done in 1776. Out of Rizal’s life and labors there was born an American-Philippine kinship that he has endured.” Almost as an after-thought, he added, “In the voting on the bill which followed shortly, American statesmen gave Rizal a sizeable majority: the measure was soon ready for the signature of the President. Theodore Roosevelt for, alas, the gentle McKinley had been assassinated the previous years.

I could not help asking him a question. For even as we were talking the Quezon-Wood quarrel raged in Manila and produced serious repercussions in Washington. “A kinship that has endured, Mr. Congressman?” I inquired rhetorically.

“Don’t ever worry for a moment.” he replied, raising a thin hand in a reassuring gesture. “The basic American policy in the Philippines is embodied in law and honored in practice. It is gradual self-government inevitably leading to independence. Having gathered the momentum of time, there’s no turning it back. Men are mere incidents; America’s policy is a matter of national honor.

“The law of 1902 gave your people their first adequate opportunity to show their political capacity. And your statesmen — Osmeña, Quezon and others — have vindicated your people and justified the faith of those of us who, in 1898-1902, saw in the Filipino with his bolo, not a brute savage, but a man defending his motherland and his freedom. You’ve made good. No American can alter that record — ever.

“And when you’re free at last — and I hope it’ll be before I die — you’ll honor Rizal even more. For he not only awakened the Filipinos and wrote finis to Spanish imperialism but also lighted the way for America.”

The interview was over. Nothing more needed to be said. We shook hands. He sank back in his chair and I turned and left.


Is Quezon courting Japan? July 23, 1938

July 23, 1938

Is Quezon courting Japan?

by James G. Wingo

Free Press Correspondent in Washington

REPORTS about President Quezon’s dealing directly although unofficially with high Japanese officials on various international matters are harming the Philippines as far as the United States is concerned. Local observers of U.S.-Philippine affairs see eventual manifestations of U.S. resentment to Manuel Quezon’s activities in Japan, which will hurt Philippine interests.

Especially at a time when U.S.-Japanese relations are strained, President Quezon’s hobnobbing with Japanese officials is considered indiscreet, to put it mildly. Secretary of state Cordell Hull refused to comment on Mr. Quezon’s visit to Japan. He said the only thing he knew about it was that the commonwealth president was in Japan. Ordinarily he would have praised the visit of a high official of one country to another country as a splendid “good neighbor” gesture.

Purpose of Quezon’s visit

During Mr. Quezon’s last visit here after receiving flattering honors from the Chinese and Japanese, Franklin D. Roosevelt, who did not like the commonwealth president’s dealing with high foreign officials, let President Quezon know how he felt.

No territorial ambitions

“This correspondent has learned on high authority that Japanese officials are prepared to go to great lengths in assuring President Quezon that he need have no fear as far as Japan’s aim toward the Philippines is concerned. He will be told emphatically that Japan has no territorial ambitions in the Philippines, and Japanese officials may go as far as to propose the conclusion of a pact guaranteeing the independence of the Philippines-Japanese officials realize that Quezon has no jurisdiction over the foreign affairs of the Philippines as yet, but they may suggest that he propose such a pact to the United States.”

 “Incognito” visit

Flattering were the honors awaiting Mr. Quezon in Tokyo, according to Correspondent Fleisher, whose story was front-paged by the Herald Tribune together with Mr. Quezon’s photograph. High Japanese officials would meet him at the railroad station. He would have a conference with Foreign Minister General Kazushige Ugaki, who later would give a dinner in his honor to be attended by Premier Prince Fuminaro Konoye himself.

And had members of Mr. Quezon’s entourage not called his visit “incognito” he would have been received by Emperor Hirohito also. That makes President Quezon the first non-member of royalty or nobility to travel incognito. When Republican officials want to forego state honors due them, they travel unofficially or in disguise—never incognito.

Correspondent Fleisher reported further: Quezon’s present visit to Japan seems to have been arranged directly with his Japanese friends, without passing through the intermediary of American officialdom.

Puzzles U.S. observers

The report from Manila that President Quezon has submitted a proposal to buy some ships from the U.S. Shipping Board to haul iron from Mindanao to Japan and coal from Japan to Manila puzzled U.S. observers still more. They could not say for sure whether or not Mr. Quezon was beginning to tie up Philippine economy with Japan.

• • •

Current Washington interest in the proposed purchase of Church estates by the Commonwealth government has been aroused by constant news dribbles about Philippine tenant troubles and by Manuel Quezon’s letter last year to Chairman Francis B. Sayre of the Inter-departmental Committee on Philippine Affairs, in which the President of the Philippines stated that he would use part of the coconut oil excise tax refunds to buy Church lands.

The socialistic labor uprisings in recent months have caused concern among people here interested in Philippine affairs. Early in the U.S. regime Washington officialdom was made familiar with the unrest within the Church estates.

Gov. Gen. William H. Taft believed that the purchase of these estates and their reselling in subdivisions to the tenants would end the serious and oftentimes bloody agrarian controversies. To raise the money to buy some of the church estates the Philippine government in 1904 issued bonds worth P14,000,000.

Eventually the so-called friar lands did not go to worthy tenants but to politicos, many of whom, according to an authority, have not paid yet for their purchases. The tillers of the soil were not helped at all by the change of masters.

However, when Frank Murphy was governor general, the Philippine Legislature passed a resolution calling the Friar Land Purchase of 1904 a complete success and stating that purchase of additional church lands was the only practical means of terminating serious agrarian controversies. Governor Murphy was authorized to negotiate for the purchase of 15 more Church estates. Then the Coalition party which kept Sergio Osmeña from opposing Mr. Quezon for the presidency, included the purchase of these lands in its platform.

Just a few weeks before the Commonwealth inauguration Governor Murphy submitted a tentative report not too favorable to the purchase, in as much as the Church authorities were asking approximately twice the value placed on the estates by his secretary of agriculture and natural resources, Eulogio Rodriguez. Soon after Mr. Quezon became president, he told the National Assembly that further negotiations should be undertaken to determine the price and other conditions of purchase.

Pres. Quezon’s message

But as early as June, 1936, President Quezon stated: “After a careful study of this question, I have reached the conclusion that such a step would not remedy the situation, nor could it be carried out without exposing the country to great financial losses…. It is now my earnest conviction that the purchase of these haciendas by the government will not solve the agrarian and social problems existing therein, but will only transfer to the government the difficulties which the tenants now have with the present land owners….

“The investment, therefore, of several millions of pesos by the government in the purchase of the friar lands has only been, with a few exceptions, for the benefit of people not contemplated by the government…I, for one, despite the commitment in the Coalition platform do not wish to impose upon our people the burden of a national debt which our children will have to bear merely to give a few individuals the opportunity to acquire these particular areas at the expense of the people when there is so much available fertile and untouched public lands in many regions of the country, particularly in Mindanao.”

In connection with this message Mr. Quezon concluded by recommending the purchase of those portions of the estates which are urban in character and occupied by the tenants’ homes. A few months ago he signed a bill appropriating P2,000,000 for the purchase of barrios within Church lands. Another million was appropriated in 1937 for this same purpose.

The developments in recent years raise the question of why President Quezon, who had favored the plan to purchase Church estates, never did anything to carry it out when able to do so. He has already given the Assembly quoted above.

Long-range game

But to keen observes here a pertinent reason is that Mr. Quezon does not want to see the Church receive a large cash payment—not at this time anyway. The President of the Philippines is currently in an excellent position to tell the Roman Catholic Church a few things. And he will need all this advantage when the Church in its relentless fight for compulsory religious instruction in the public schools, attempts to apply punitive measures upon Mr. Quezon for his courageous and democratic veto of a bill which is a throwback to the time when church and state were one in the Philippines.

Mr. Quezon knows that the church is in difficulty with respect to its bonded indebtedness and that a cash payment would enable it to retire the bonds now due and probably leave it with a cash surplus. He also knows that the difficulty the church is having with its tenants is hurting the church’s prestige and the hierarchs’ popularity.

It is apparent Mr. Quezon is playing a long-range game with the Church. The scoreboard indicates that he is ahead.


Our reply to La Vanguardia, Editorial for April 2, 1910

Saturday, April 2, 1910

Our reply to La Vanguardia

A SHORT time ago one of our American colleagues, the Times, undertook to disqualify us on the ground that we were so pro-Filipino as to be un-American and so un-American as to be non-American. Now one of our Filipino colleagues, La Vanguardia, tells us we are so pro-American or rather so pro-imperialistic that we are anti-Filipino, and an enemy to Filipino aspirations to nationality and self-government.

The arraignment by our Filipino colleague we reproduce elsewhere in this issue. With regret we say that we think it unfair and so disappointing. Starting with a purely academic discussion our contemporary in its first reply at once abandoned the academic platform and resorted to the old argumentum ad hominem and proceeded to call the FREE PRESS names on the basis of imputed and unjustifiably imputed motives. We were told that we are mercenary, ambitious, imperialistic, and hypocritical and in fine that under the cloak of alleged political incapacity on the part of the Filipino people we seek to see them exploited and enslaved and held in permanent subjection and oppression.

Possibly we might present argument in our own defense, but we prefer to leave our record to speak for itself and trust to the fairer judgment of our Filipino readers and friends to do us justice.

We think we can trust them, also, to do us justice to the government or the people of the United States and their attitude toward the Filipino people and their aspirations toward self-government and independence. It may be as La Vanguardia implies, that the policy of the government of the United States in these islands is harsh, iniquitous and oppressive. When one turns the pages of past and present day history and sees the wonderfully benevolent policy of Russia toward Poland and Finland, the mildly beneficent reign of Germany in New Guinea, the merciful enlightenment of the Dutch policy in Java, the altruistic abnegation of the British in Ireland and India, the gentle persuasion of the French in Morocco, the unheard of magnanimity of Japan in Korea—when one contemplates these heroic examples of self-sacrifice and disinterested benevolence in behalf of alien peoples one is struck by the cruel, tyrannous, and monstrous policy of the United States toward the people of the Philippine islands—a policy that for lusting greed, savage and ruthless oppression, fierce and intolerable despotism, pitiless despoliation and barbarous inhumanity stands unparalleled in the annals of mankind.

Just listen to this grasping, sordid, and heartless recommendation of Secretary of war Taft in his “Special Report to the President on the Philippines: “—Should congress be anxious to facilitate and hurry on the work of redeeming the Philippine Islands and making the Filipino people a self-governing community, it could take no more effective step than a permanent appropriation of two or three millions of dollars for ten or fifteen years to the primary and industrial education of the Filipino people….” That good friend of even the most radically disposed Filipinos, William Jennings Bryan, said when he was out here a few years ago that you could not educate a people and at the same time hope to keep that people in subjection. But of course in recommending to congress that it appropriate some sixty millions pesos for education so that it might expedite the time when the Filipino people would assume entire control of the government Mr. Taft was inspired only by base, cunning, hypocritical and machiavellian motives.

The whole question really resolves itself into one of faith or unfaith in the American government and its promises.

In this connection we recall the words of then Governor General Wright in a farewell address. We may not quote his exact words but they ran like this: “To my Filipino friends I would say, put your trust in the American people. Have faith in them. Put them on their honor—and they will not fail you.”

In the same connection we recall the experience of District Attorney Jerome of New York in his dealing with criminals or persons arrested were brought to him at night and they could not put up bail for their appearance the next day, which meant spending the night in a cell, to have them pledge him their word of honor to be on hand. He explained to them that he had no authority to let them go and that he and he alone would be held responsible should they betray him. Well, out of scores and even hundreds of cases, not one, he said, had ever failed him and gone back on the pledged word.

The United States, through President McKinley, President Roosevelt, and President Taft is pledged to give self-government, autonomy, independence or what you will to the Filipino people. To quote Mr. Taft in his last declaration: “When the Filipino people as a whole show themselves reasonably fit to conduct a popular self-government, maintaining law order and offering equal protection of the laws and civil right, to rich and poor, and desire complete independence of the United States, they shall be given it.”

If even crooks and criminals could respond to an appeal made to their honor, is it unreasonable to suppose that the people of the United States will ignobly fail to respond?

And what precedent, we ask, shall be cited to prove that the United States will not keep faith with the Filipino people? The best and most recent is the case of Cuba. There are ninety million dollars of American capital invested there, but did that keep the United States from fulfilling its promise? Was not the American flag lowered in honor in the redemption of a solemn pledge? Was not Cuba evacuated?

We contend that it is not fair to seize upon and exaggerate the little shortcomings here and there—to center one’s gaze upon the little side currents of the broad stream setting towards the fulfillment of America’s pledge to the Filipino people. We contend that in the face of its hypocrisy, deceit, and double dealing, with no sense of honor, with base perfidy and unpardonable duplicity.

To La Vanguardia and to the Filipino people we would say: “Have faith in the American people.”

Who owns this city? Editorial for October 3, 1908

Who owns this city?

October 3, 1908, Saturday–The answer is found part in our first page cartoon. The religious corporations own a big slice of it and the irreligious corporations the rest. Between the two the common people stagger under the burden. For the pious exemption of the churches from all taxation we have to thank our dearly beloved Mr. Taft, who for some years past has been paving his way to the White House via the Vatican, and for the exemption of the soulless corporations from civic control we have to thank a renegade municipal board false to their true masters, the people, and loyal to the people’s oppressors, the street railway and light company and the Atlantic, Gulf, and Pacific.

It has been said that the public gets as good a government as it deserves. Here it has been a case of “the public be damned” and the presumption is the public deserves to be damned. Certainly in the United States, subjected to the same iniquitous impositions we have labored under here, something would have happened. There would have been more than muttered imprecations and weak-kneed protests. Take the case of the Escolta, for instance. How long would any city there have suffered its main thoroughfare to be trifled with the way ours has been here? How long would any people have stood the criminal scandal of Calle Azcarraga where the street railway company and the city engineer seem to have gleefully conspired to block traffic and torment the public? How long would the taxpayers have endured the godless and arbitrary impost of four pesos a month for light they never consumed? How long would they have stood those pitfalls and rotten blocks with their menace to man, cart, and beast? How long would they have remained silent under that luxurious Luneta fill outrage with a treasury beggared for funds and the poor people wading up to their thighs in mud and scum, the poor “submerged tenth” in behalf of whom El Renacimiento has been lifting up its voice and lifting it in vain?

It is high time the faithless incompetents were cleaned out, and that the city had representatives that would represent. With the exception of Alcalde Roxas, who seems to have gone to sleep lately, there is not one member on the board in whom the public has the least confidence, or who deserves the public’s confidence. It is high time the public assert itself and that we show who owns this city.

Bryan and Filipino hopes of Independence

What about Filipino independence should Mr. Bryan be elected President of the United States, as now seems not improbable? This question has doubtless been asked by not a few Filipinos, and it will no doubt be disappointing to those who desire immediate independence to be informed that even if Mr. Bryan becomes President he will not be able to give it. In the United States laws require the assent of Congress, and as, owing to the manner in which the senate of the United States is constituted, it is assured that the majority in it will continue republican during the four years of Bryan’s administration, should he be elected, it is also assured that no law providing for the immediate independence of the Philippines will be approved by the upper house. Therefore, while Bryan has expressed the opinion that the Filipino people should have their independence within five years, it would be impossible for him to give it within that length of time. The only hope of independence which the people of the Philippines can expect from Bryan must be based on the chance of his being elected this time and then four years later being elected for a second term. A second democratic victory at the polls would presumably insure both the house and the senate being democratic, which would then give Mr. Bryan an opportunity to realize his desires in regard to the Philippines and their independence. Even should Bryan be elected, therefore, the Filipinos who desire immediate independence would be almost as far from it as ever.

First Session of the Philippine Assembly, October 16, 1907


October 19, 1907, Saturday

The first session in the Marble Hall

Marked by an Admirable Degree of Conservatism Unexpected by Public and Officials

Sergio Osmeña Elected Speaker

The fact that Wednesday had been proclaimed a legal holiday by the commission did not hinder the enthusiastic newly made assemblymen from holding their first marble hall session at 5 o’clock in the afternoon. Surprised, to say the least, were those who had gathered to watch the beginning of the first legislative body ever constituted for an Oriental people under a republican government. They had expected the secretary of war to be on hand to lend them a guiding hand, but having started them on their way at the inaugural ceremonies in the morning and having proclaimed the Philippine assembly as duly constituted by authority of the President of the United States he left to recover a moment from his previous labors.

There was nothing to do but to get to business and Member Quezon forthwith rose to name Nicolas Jalandoni as interim secretary.

The next question was the appointment of a speaker and it was suggested that this section from the act of congress be read. Upon Member de Veyra’s suggestion only the more important parts of this section were read. Some discussion followed as to just what the law was and whether, as the assembly was a ruling body, it was necessary to have it read. The language in which it should be read then came up and a lengthy discussion followed in which it was finally decided that the law carried with it no real method.

The name of Sergio Osmeña, member from Cebu, was then mentioned and loud and prolonged applause followed. For want of a second Member Pineda’s motion that a vote be secret went to the ground and when Member Juan Villamor stated that the very applause was certainly the sense of the members’ wishes Osmeña was literally cheered into his new position.

Member Dominador Gomez, silent up to now, even to taking a nap during the proceedings at the opera house, rose to the occasion and in all of his oratorical eloquence eulogized Osmeña to the very pinnacle of all that could be desired in a model speaker and legislator. We said that the unanimous vote and the circumstances surrounding it were an event in the history of the Filipino people; that Osmeña was the choice of the Nationalists and of the Progresistas and that the action of Member Paterno’s in retiring from his position as candidate for the speaker’s chair was worthy of note in the records of the Assembly.

• • •

Secretary Taft’s Speech At Opening Of Assembly

At eight o’clock Wednesday morning the doors of the Grand Opera House were thrown open and many of the seats were soon filled by those who had been anxiously waiting to get inside and avoid the jam that seemed sure to follow. The auditorium rapidly filled and by 9 o’clock the ground floor seats and all of the boxes were all filled. The first officials to arrive were the provincial governors who marched in shortly after 9 o’clock and took their seats at the rear of the stage. They were followed by Bishop Barlin, who was to pronounce the prayer at the opening of the Assembly.

Next came the consular corps who took their seats in the front row of orchestra chairs, immediately behind the Assembly seats. The assemblymen-elect then entered and took possession of the special chairs which had been arranged in two sections facing each other.

In the meantime the photographers of the great event were busy arranging their instruments. Foremost among these was Robert Lee Dunn, representative of Collier’s Weekly, who is traveling with the Taft party. Mr. Dunn uses a small instrument, an Eastman 7 x 5 film kodak, but it is fitted with a special lens and Mr. Dunn’s ability in this line secures excellent pictures for his illustrated articles.

The last to enter the crowded building was the Secretary of War and his party who took their places on the stage as noted above.

The Governor General opened the ceremonies by reading the past act of the government leading up to the great day and closed his address by introducing Secretary Taft.

The secretary consumed fifty minutes in the reading of a long but comprehensive speech and after he had finished Executive Secretary Fergusson read it in Spanish.

Then followed the reading of the roll call in which it was found that there were only 79 members present. Francisco Alvarez, of the third district, Camarines, was the absent one. Secretary Taft then duly opened the assembly and at the conclusion of the act Bishop Barlin pronounced the invocation on the new body and upon the nation which made its being possible.

Secretary Taft then took the floor, as there was yet not organization of the body, and asked for any motions which the members might care to make. Sergio Osmeña moved for the adjournment until 5 o’clock that afternoon, when they should meet in the marble hall.