Diary of Francis Burton Harrison

January 7-8, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Arrived in answer to a telegram asking me to come as soon as I could. Quezon was looking very well and in good spirits. Told me he was going down to Arizona in about two weeks and “if he hadn’t finished his by that time he wanted me to accompany him for ten days or so.” No signs here of any work on his book. Dr. Trepp insists he had not worked on it “for months.” Elizalde told me en route to Canada that Bernstein was writing Quezon’s book for him; that he heard Quezon direct Canceran to turn over the ms. to Bernstein. Trepp thinks not. I asked Trepp why Quezon had so entirely neglected my draft of his book; Trepp did not know–thought possibly it had not been sufficiently eulogistic!

Quezon had seen Panikkar, the Indian, whom I met at Mont Tremblant. Had been very deeply interested. Panikkar told him the Indians want independence–not Dominion Status; that the Moslems also want it, though they demand safeguards as a minority. Quezon suggested to him the federal system like the United States, with a lower house representation based on population, and the upper house giving equality to states. Panikkar replied that is what they propose to do. That they must retain all of Occidental influence they now have and not just lapse into their former Oriental luxury and magnificence. England is afraid to let go just now–the Indian army is chiefly one of professional soldiers, and could easily turn against England if things went badly.

But Quezon told me he had abandoned all idea of taking any hand in the freeing of India and of Indonesia and in the forming of an Indonesian Empire, made up of a union of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies. He had decided to concentrate entirely on the problems of his own people, though he would be “the happiest man in the world” if the other projects became a reality. Said it would take fifty years for an Indonesian Empire to become strong enough to withstand China or Japan. He had told President Roosevelt of his decision to concentrate on the problems of his own country and not take part in the other schemes, and that this statement “made Roosevelt jump.” He added that the good will or support of Great Britain as well as of the United States would be needed in either eventuality. Thought Hong Kong should not be given back to China, but that the English should pay China the value of the barren island as it was when ceded to them, because of the disgraceful circumstances in which they got it.

Panikkar told Quezon that the Burmese were going to fight on the side of Japan!

Quezon is now going to try to get through Congress a joint resolution that the Philippines are and of right should be independent, etc.

I spoke of my distaste for the masochism of Gandhi and Nehru–always in prison and seeming to glory in it; Quezon said: “It’s that Hindu philosophy.”

He recognizes that the English are essentially a manly race, but they have “that racial superiority which I hate. I am a member of a race which has been looked down upon for centuries, and I can’t stand that theory of racial inferiority. But their feeling of superiority is not vanity–they really believe it–hence their feeling of responsibility which is so marked not only in officials, but in businessmen and bankers as well.”

I also had a talk with Dr Trepp, his Swiss doctor. Says Quezon does not really need him now; his TB is so well under control, he can live anywhere he likes. Says he feels like a mere lackey of Quezon; there is no real work for him to do. Would like to get a job on the staff of a sanitorium. Has come to the conclusion that Switzerland is the only real democracy he knows. There is not an ounce of democracy in the Philippines–even a businessman there has no chance unless he is a Quezon man.

I also had a short chat with Quezon on past events in the Philippines. He said Governor General Luke Wright was all right, but his influence was impaired by the very anti-Filipino attitude of his wife.

Told me how he had taken Sumulong, Rodriguez, etc., away from General Wood, and then the latter threw up his hands. Quezon organized a Supreme Council of the Philippines and gave the pro-Wood Filipinos an equal representation on it with his own partisans. He, Quezon, presided but had no vote–still they all followed him obediently and without a question.

Dr. Pardo Tavera, a distinguished member of the first Philippine Commission, was patriotically against independence; he wanted the United States to remain there for the sake of the Philippines. Still, he was so independent-minded himself that he continually opposed the Governor General and really forced himself out of the Philippine Commission.

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