Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

January 16, 1936

Finished abstract of Irish Land Laws and gave it to Quezon with advice to secure at same time as the passage of these laws an act enabling him at his discretion to impose progressive rates of taxation on all estates over 1,024 hectares. I said I would like to help him in the drafting of the law, and he replied he wouldn’t dare to draft it himself –that he would send it to the Secretary of Justice for preparation. He absolutely assured me however that the powers needed in the act now existed in the constitution, in provisions expressly included by him at the time it was adopted.

Luncheon alone with Quezon. I told him how surprised I was at the lateness of some of his guests at the banquet on Tuesday—he said it was the a.d.c.’s fault—the system had been running down—I replied that there was a general lowering of American social manners in the last twenty years. He said he was going to raise the standard of manners and clothes at Malacañan—“you know” he remarked “how familiar I am with my own friends in private, but in official matters I am going to insist on form.” He was annoyed because Murphy had not brought a full dress coat down from Baguio, so he (Quezon) also had to wear white. Said that recently when guests were late at dinner he had threated to close the doors and not admit them. That in the future he would accept no excuses except illness and absence from Manila; that he had recently sent Nieto to “Mike” Elizalde who had pleaded a “previous engagement,” and Mr. and Mrs. Elizalde came to his dinner. He said Stimson and I were the two American Governors General who observed proper form at Malacañan. Said he was having prepared Malacañan enlarged photographs fo the three Governors General who had been identified with significant progress in Philippine history: Taft, myself and Murphy. We went over the old paintings which had just been brought back from the Museum to Malacañan—I advised him to get the Arellanos to hang and light them. His favourite is the picture of Dasmariñas (the Governor General in 1592) when being persuaded by the head of the Dominican Order to lead Filipoino troops to assist the King of Cambodia (an expedition in which Dasmariñas lost his life). This was painted by the Filipino artist Hidalgo (in Paris?) I advised him to change the position of the Pacto de Sangre which is wasted where it hangs. This led us to talk of Dr. Pardo de Tavera who had posed for Luna in Paris for the portrait of Legaspi singing the Pacto. We both wished he were still with us with his nice wit and culture. Quezon said Tavera was an inveterate enemy of Osmeña and always referred to him as “That Chinese.” Quezon added that Osmeña never forgave anyone and never forgot! I said how sorry I was to have angered Tavera by pardoning the Pajaro Verde.

At luncheon he was waited on by my Ah King and a new Chinese number two boy—I commented upon how wise it was to have foreign servants who did not understand his conversation any too well, and who would probably neither understand nor repeat what was said at his table—he said that was the point. I understand he just added five American policemen to the Malacañan staff—one of them recommended to him previously as the man who had arrested an armed murderer—“that’s just the kind of man I want” he replied.

I asked him whether he wanted me to talk public business at luncheon, and he replied that he enjoyed it with people he liked. Told him I had just been with Paez and had written for him (Quezon) an opinion on the Manila RR. I advised him to instruct the public utilities commission to stop for the present issuing any more “certificates” or licenses for the bus lines. Said he would do so. Told him it was fortunate he could put the railroad and the busses under one control –other countries could not now do so but he was catching the situation nearly as it began.

I also expressed the hope that he would be able to get the Legislature to agree to permit the Manila Railroad to abandon those branches which were (dead) unprofitable. He replied that if the Assembly would not grant such permission, he would just abandon those branches!

Then I raised the question of the five years plan for road building in Mindanao, of which he had sent me the papers this morning. I remarked how wise he was to push development of this great and almost uninhabited Empire –many schemes having been advanced in the past to separate that part of the Philippines from the rest on the pretext that it should be done because that territory was “Mohammedan.” He then said we would go down there together in the Spring; that he was determined to open up those regions; that he considered nationalism only a “means to an end” and that the rights of the human race to land and to existence were superior to the rights of nationalism. I cited the case of the Australians and said the equities were against them –that if he did not develop Mindanao, some other nation would take it and occupy it. Advised him to persuade some of the more turbulent of the dissatisfied people in the Tagalog Provinces to move down there. He said he was already planning that –they were exactly the sort of men needed in pioneering. I suggested that in the end he would probably emerge as the leader of the masses (in the provinces) after being double-crossed and betrayed by his “friends” in Manila. He said he already was the leader of the masses, and that his votes came from them. I observed that he was the only Chief Executive I had known except Woodrow Wilson who was a political philosopher –that most executives were interested only in force and guile –that is what Mussolini believed (Machiavelli)– who had no principles of any sort except opportunism.

He cited the case of the Chinese in the northern provinces of China and Manchuria –they did not develop their own lands and, of necessity, another nation stepped in.

Said he too had heard that W.H. Anderson had given an option for the purchase of his big ranch at the border of Sabani ranch! Asked him if he knew that an iron mine had been discovered and was being developed in Samar –he did not know about that and I was unable to give him the names of the promoters except the engineer –Milton Sutherland. They are believed to have made a contract for the ore with the Japanese.

Quezon stated he had this morning cancelled some of the oil leases including that of the Asiatic Petroleum. I asked him who had been the lawyer who had secured illegal leases for Asiatic Petroleum –he replied “our friend Jimmie Ross.”

Showed me the magnificent cabinet of maroon and gold presented to him on Monday by the Tabacalera Company in which to keep the Constitution –he is to have it in his office in the Palace.

The President then said that after his banquet on Tuesday he wanted to ask me to join him and Murphy at a dance (which lasted until 3 a.m.) on the Arayat, but that he thought it would be embarrassing for me without Doria.

Doria says an army woman told her Quezon is a very “fast worker” with women, and that he does not confine himself to those of his own race –this rather surprises me– it was one thing when he was in the United States but is a quite different proposition in the Philippines!

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