Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

June 22, 1936

At office; visit from Becker from Aparri, who has always been a sort of confidential agent of the Government on affairs in the far north. Says he cannot persuade his two handsome mestizo sons to go to the Military Academy to become army officers. He came down to Manila to try to induce the President to visit the Northern Islands–as to which I talked later with Quezon and he agreed to go to see the Batanes, Camiguin etc “in between two typhoons,” tho he spoke rather ruefully of a typhoon getting him and me! Becker also asked to have one of Quezon’s confidential advisers sent up to Aparri for a while.

Becker says the Japanese are settling in isolated places on that coast, getting sea weed (for iodine)–they pay 5 centavos a kilo for the sea weed and sell it for 22. They also take camagon wood from the forests and load it in Japanese ships returning from the South. The island of Camiguin is heavily wooded with fine timber, and is people by those of Aguinaldo’s small force who escaped northwards when he was captured in Palanan by Funston. Becker says the Japanese fish these waters with ice-supplied boats which are periodically visited by a mother ship.

The country of the northern coast is a fine source of supply of rattan, and there are thousands of hectares lying idle in the interior. Ilocano emigrants are slowly trickling into Cagayan province. Many Negritos are in the cordillera east of Lake Cagayan, which, by the way, is not nearly so large as is shown on the maps. There was, he added, no danger of attack from the Negritos unless one goes armed. The Apayaos and Kalingas no longer disturb travelers from Ilocos immigrating via Abra across their country. The Aparri breakwater is not yet finished. Once a month a subsidized Tabacalera steamer calls at Batanes with supplies but gets practically no cargo there.

Later from 10:30 to 1:40 on the balcony at Malacañan Palace with Unson, Yulo and Marabut checking up on Quezon’s message on the budget–later we were joined by Quezon, Osmeña and Vargas–(Osmeña came on other business but took part in this discussion).

After having his office in Malacañan air-conditioned, Quezon turned the “conditioning” off and sits outside on the balcony to do his office work. (Those of whom I enquire here seem to be of two minds concerning the advantages of air-conditioning–a process new here, tho I first experienced it in Buenos Aires six or seven years ago!)

Visit from Ramon Diokno and Eulogio Benitez with the former’s draft of my landlord & tenant bill; he has amplified it by including amended portions of the Civil Code, rice tenancy law and sugar tenants law–a remarkable bit of legislative drafting. If this bill is adopted it will free the “serfs” on the land and provide in the Philippines an exit from the feudal system.

Talk with Unson concerning the plan to make the Governors of Provinces appointive instead of elective (qua France). It will have support in the Assembly since this measure would enhance the prestige of Assemblymen, who will then be the chief elective officials in the provinces. Even if he favours this centralization of power, Quezon will hardly come forward to advocate it, since it appears superficially to be a step back from democracy!

Unson reports that the disappearance of fish from their former haunts in the Philippine waters is due chiefly to dynamiting. He said further that agents from the Department of Labour foment “safe” strikes in order to have the credit for settling them. His last bit of official gossip was that the Philippine Army is to buy old type Enfield rifles, and .45 caliber revolvers–a size Unson thinks unsuitable for Filipinos.

When Quezon joined our group, his budget was gone through, and he was particularly concerned to change the last paragraph which as originally drafted, sternly admonished the Assembly not to touch the surplus of the government–(thirty-one million pesos nominally–nine millions real unencumbered surplus)–Quezon asked us what we thought of appropriating the government’s surplus. Unson spoke up at once, pointing out that the system had been different here than elsewhere. In England and France they budgeted only for expected actual expenditures. Quezon and he agreed that the real riches of a nation were to be found in the pockets of the people and not in the Government vaults. I told of the first United States surplus under President Andrew Jackson, which was divided up by the government among the states. Quezon then modified his budget message so as to leave a door open to use the nine million surplus later if needed; said he wanted to get his tax laws through first, then take five millions of the surplus as a revolving fund for the development of Mindanao. He went on to say that the trouble in using a surplus would not be with the Assembly, but with the United States Government which under the Tydings-McDuffie law has powers to intervene here in financial matters–that the High Commissioner was always at him to keep a surplus and to balance the budget–principles which, however, Murphy did not himself observe when Mayor of Detroit, and which are certainly not followed by his chief, President Roosevelt. “I could manage Weldon Jones” he said, “but it is hardly worth while for he will not be Deputy High Commissioner for long; from what I read in this morning’s paper, Murphy will be back in a few months; in reference to a proposed nomination for Governor of Michigan, he now states that his work in the Philippines is not yet finished.”

The President then invited me to lunch with him after all the others left, and told me how he had left Manila dead beat on Friday but as soon as he got to Atimonan and had a swim he wanted my company and thought of wiring for me to join him on an excursion to Alabat Island where the sea bathing is so wonderful. He had talked to the school teacher at Alabat and found that in the schools practically no Filipino patriotism is taught. Said he had gone in swimming again at Sunset Beach, Cavite, “but if I had not been enough of a man to go through with it, I would have refused on account of the jelly-fish.”

I handed him the Landlord & Tenant bill. He said Secretary Torres had come to him a day or two after his message to the Assembly last Tuesday, and had told him that his passages referring to the land system had killed all danger of disturbances; especially now that he has reversed his former position and has come out against purchase by the government of the great estates. I asked him if the church was not disappointed. He said “Yes, for they expected to sell their lands to the government at a terribly high price.”

He had been reading a Spanish work of the early conquest of the Philippines and expressed regret that the high reputation of the Filipinos for commercial honesty in their early dealings with the foreigners was no longer maintained today. He also said he was sorry that the Spanish expeditions of long ago against the Moluccas and Borneo had failed–for by now they would be the center of a great empire. I remarked that this would come to pass anyway in the future. Quezon agreed.

I enquired whether he wished the Survey Board to proceed with their attempt to consolidate scientific laboratories or to wait, since, against the wish of his own expert adviser, Dr. Manuel Roxas, he had wired to ask for some export from the Mellon Institute, to come out here to help us to reorganize. He said: “Yes, go ahead.” The President is determined, if possible, to prevent “overlapping” and we dealt with the extreme difficulty of getting at the real facts from the bureaus concerned here!

I asked him to request Washington to prolong the service of Consul General Hoover at Hong Kong for one year (to the time of Hoover’s retirement). He at once drew up a cable to the High Commissioner to that effect, which was very complimentary to Hoover.

Told him that Doria and I wanted to go to Bali for a couple of weeks:–he replied that he did not understand the interest in Bali, adding: “We have plenty of Balis here.”

Quezon then said he was celebrating a great event today telling me that a month ago, spots had been discovered again on his lungs. He had been dreadfully worried, and told nobody, not even his wife, but today another examination had been made and he is now absolutely clean of tuberculosis. Meanwhile, he had taken exercise and had avoided the sun. This dread of tuberculosis hangs over all the truly brilliant prospects of his remarkable career.

Asked him for the pardon of Evangelista in San Ramon and he said he would attend to it.

He had asked Unson about amending the sales tax law so as to collect it at a higher percentage but with a single incidence, and thus to stop tax evasions. Unson said it was impossible to stop Chinese evasions, and that collection at the source would penalize manufacturers instead of falling on the merchants.

In the afternoon, tea dance at Bilibid for the birthday of General Santos. Quezon was there, but did not seem to enjoy himself much.

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