Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

March 25, 1936

Busy morning at office. Miguel Unson has seen Quezon and has received instructions that I shall work with the Government Survey Board. He came in and outlined their work. The office is at the Heacock Building, and he spends most of his time there. Is worried by the belief that insufficient revenue is obtained from the customs, and is trying to work out a scheme for improvement; he says that every time the customs bureau is investigated the revenue receipts leap up!

We talked over the issue of railway vs. roads in Mindanao: he says the plan is to take down there that useless railroad outfit in Cebu, and perhaps in Iloilo as well, and to build roads as feeders. I also saw Osmeña for a moment before the Cabinet meeting and he talked on the same subject: says the time has come to decide either for railroad or roads, and not to make the same mistake as in Luzon, where they run parallel.

Hartendorp came in, and reported that he had recently called on General MacArthur, who has an office in Santa Lucia barracks. The General told Hartendorp that he was the first editor who had called on him, and expressed surprise; he also voiced regret that Quezon’s address on National Defense at the University had not been better received, and that the press does not support the plan. He said that his plans are extremely well forward, and that the Philippine army is going to get munitions and equipment at one-quarter cost from the United States Army. In ten years, the Philippines, he believes, will have a force making it necessary for another country, if attacking, to lose a great number of men, and to spend perhaps a billion dollars, which will make them hesitate to attack. This would be very different from the picnic the Japanese had in walking into Manchuria. Hartendorp asked whether the Philippines were not rich enough to make this “worth while,” and whether these islands are not a prize because “strategically located”? The General replied that the strategic situation would bring in other allies–especially the United States. Seemed positive of that. He also remarked that Quezon was one of the five great statesmen of the world.

Hartendorp reported that Quezon had cut his Friday press audiences four times running–“doesn’t seem to care a damn about the press,” and, of course, is being criticized by the newspaper men.” Hartendorp observed that in the opinion of people with whom he talked, there were too many United States military reviews and parades going on (n.b. Quezon is reviewing troops at Fort McKinley this p.m.).

8 p.m.--Negros left Manila with a large party as guests of Don Andres Soriano headed for Masbate, to inspect his mines there: Masbate Consolidated and IXL. Quezon, Roxas, Sabido, Confesor, Babbitt, Belden, Correa, Dewitt, Spanish Consul, Fairchild, Fernandez (Ramon), Fox, Hodsoll, Ingersoll, Kerk, Le Jeune, Peters, Selph, Whittall, Wolf and many others. Fine ship of 1900 tons and everything aboard de luxe. Bridge with Quezon, Babbitt, Ingersoll, Peters, Wolff etc. at all hours. Conversations with many aboard on mines, sugar, etc. The general impression as to the latter is no basis for the buoyancy and optimism as to the present prices of sugar shares and their future prospects. No one can answer the question: why this optimism? Not only are Filipinos buying up sugar mills, but haciendas also in the sugar districts are changing hands at prices much higher than before. Ramon Fernandez says they have just found that they can produce sugar at four and a half pesos a picul, whereas five and a half has been the cheapest heretofore. But the real reason for the situation is probably that the Filipinos know the sugar game (some have already made fortunes out of it), and they would rather stick to something they do so well than venture into new fields. Many of the gold mines are in an experimental stage still, and the general public is waiting to see what happens.

Duggleby states that up to date, no proof exists that the Paracale district is as rich as the gold vinds in Baguio. However it was formerly the chief seat of Spanish mining. Says that under American rule no new mines have been discovered in the Philippines–yet every creek in the islands has traces of gold. He doubts whether sufficient gold will ever be produced to satisfy the world, since production is not increasing, in spite of very high present price of gold as a commodity.

The general opinion is that very little foreign capital has as yet come into Philippine gold shares.

Talked with Fairchild, Fernandez and Alunan on sugar: the latter sold his own sugar shares in Negros. Babbitt is bewildered by the high prices of sugar shares, including those of his own company.

I asked Quezon if he couldn’t do something to ease off the dismissal of Hartendorp. He replied “we are going to make him a Professor of English.” Quezon was tired out when he came aboard, and the next morning he was as fresh as a daisy, and very gay. I heard him dictating in his cabin–next to mine, at 6:30 a.m.

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