November 15, 1939

The typewriter is too intricate for me.

The date of our going has been definitely fixed as Dec. 13, sailing on the SS Pres. Cleveland. Our freight will go on the S.S. “Capillo”, direct to Seattle. We should reach Ft. Lewis about Jan. 7.

I have been trying to turn over all work to others in the office, especially since the arrival of two new assistants from the States; Lt. Col. Richard Marshall, Q.M.C., and Maj. Tom Dunckel, F.A. Both seem to be very able, and I believe that Dunckel is outstanding! My efforts to free myself of official tasks, in order that I can take care of personal affairs, have been futile. The Gen. seems to find more and more things he wants me to do personally. While at Malacañan there have been a hundred odd jobs to complete. General MacA. has been particularly pleasant. I’ve written several statements for him, including a 13-minute speech that was recorded for possible future use, by the NBC, and he’s been lavish in his praise of them. Actually they are the same old platitudes on Phil. defense, dressed up in only slightly new language. But so long as any sentence puts a good face on his “plan,” or uses resounding language in support of his views, it is perfect, so far as he is concerned. His consuming desire for favorable publicity is going to give him a hard bump  some day–or I miss my guess.

The President, and his Malacañan assistants appear to be genuinely sorry that I am going. I hope they are sincere, but the Malay mind is still a sealed book to me. They may be secretly delighted. However, I’m tempted to believe them, if for no other reason than the number of times my advice has been sought lately–often on subjects that are not connected with the Army.

Recently a Department of National Defense was established. There were certain ridiculous aspects, or at least amusing,  to this incident. I’m not sure I’ve ever entered in these sketchy notes anything at all on this subject so I’ll outline the development.

A couple of years ago the President first expressed an intention of establishing such a department. Upon hearing of this the Gen. was greatly disturbed, because he feared that a Sec. of Nat. Defense would tend to supplant him as the Chief Military Official in the govt. and so lessen his prestige and endanger his job. In fact, when the rumor first made its appearance the General flatly stated to the office gang, “If a Sec. of Nat. Def. is appointed, I will immediately resign.” He sought an interview with the President and, at that time, succeeded in having the matter dropped.

However, in the summer sessions of the Assembly in 1938 (I was in the States) (or possibly the actual passing of the law was in the fall of 1938) the President authorized the enactment of a law establishing two Departments–Public Health and Defense. It was provided that both should be set up before the end of the President’s term, in 1941. The General felt temporarily safe, since he said he had the promise of Malacañan that no action would be taken on the Defense Dept. until the summer of 1941.

When I returned from the States I heard immediately that the President’s mind was made up and that he was soon going to select a Secretary and appoint him. I reported this to the General and advised him that if he still felt so strongly about the matter he should exert himself without delay before further publicity was given to the matter, and especially before any individual was notified as to his impending selection. He pooh-poohed the accuracy of my information saying he had the situation under full control.

When I resumed my former duties at Malacañan, about May 1, 1939, I constantly ran into evidence that something was going to be done along this line. I brought it again and again to the Gen.’s attention, but for the first time he refused to show fright in the face of unpleasant news. He just didn’t believe it.

Suddenly the Pres. made a public announcement of what he had in mind, and the Gen. raged to us in the office. He said he’d dissolve the mission and didn’t like it at all when I reminded him there was no mission; that he was a retired officer working for Manuel Quezon, and the rest of us were officers to the Dept. Commander’s staff, and loaned by the U.S. Govt. to the Pres. of the Commonwealth. He then pointedly requested me (and later Sutherland) to go with him to the Pres. to protest against the announced intention. I told him that, of course, I’d go with him, but that my comments (if called upon) would be confined to expressing a conviction as to the usefulness of the office,  but that personally, I had nothing otherwise against it. Certainly, I told him, it doesn’t affect the work that I do for the Commonwealth,  one way or another. I further advised him that since his objections were personal, based upon his prestige, face and desires,  that he should seek a personal, confidential conference with the Pres., to have the matter out. This he decided to do.

He immediately called up for a date with the Pres. but received a very evasive reply from the aide. That afternoon he couldn’t stand it longer so he took poor old Hutter and went to Malacañan. He went at an hour when he could find no one on the job, but he sent Hutter, who is an habitué of the Palace, on a detailed search. Hutter found the Pres. asleep and when this invasion of his privacy was later reported to Q. by underlings he got furious.

However, the Gen. hung around until finally he got an appointment and, according to him, had a most satisfactory talk.

We heard no more about the matter for some little time, but suddenly, another definite, and public, announcement was made by Q. in which he even named the man he was going to make Sec. of Nat. Defense (Sison).

Seeing he was licked the General now executed another of his amazing “about faces.” He simply sat down and wrote a memo to the Pres., a long memo, urging the setting up of the Dept. of Nat. Defense. Soon the appointment was made, and on the surface, all was lovely. The moral is–they can’t make him give up that job, no matter what they do!!

Dozens of entertainments in the nature of despedidas have been arranged for Mamie and me. It’s all very gratifying but is likely to be hard on Mamie, who cannot stand much running around.

More gratifying is a message from Mr. Vargas, to the effect that, with the authority of the President, he is arranging a bonus for me upon departure, equal to two months pay (not including my hotel allowances). That is most pleasing, not only to the pocketbook, but as evidence that the govt. really regrets my departure. In this connection the Gen., in spite of our many dirty fights, has expressed the same views. But when I remember his parting conversation just before I went to the States in ’38, and what he tried to do to me while I was gone, I simply cannot believe him.

I’m leaving in a day or two for a last inspection trip to the south. And and I are going in the Beechcraft.

July 16, 1939

Have brought home a typewriter with the idea of using it hereafter in letter writing and in making these notes. Dictation to Filipino stenographers is not only frequently irritating and patience trying; it often prevents free expression of opinions because so many subjects seem to involve evaluation of racial characteristics. For a long time I’ve been trying to jot down an occasional note in longhand, but when I found the other day that in certain cases I could not decipher my own writing I decided the time had come to do something about it.

During May so many difficulties arose involving misunderstandings with, or at least, lack of effective contacts with Malacañan, that Secretary Vargas finally took the bull by the horns and insisted that I undertake my old liaison job. So now I go there every day.

While I doubt we can ever again get things running in their old time smoothness, we are at least spared many embarrassments and irritations that were habitual when our contacts with that office consisted only in seeing the papers that were sent to our office daily through a junior clerk.

A couple of weeks ago the General published a statement setting forth his views with respect to the “Jap” menace to the Philippines. So far as anyone could see there was no excuse for the outbreak except that Gov. McNutt had said, in support of his contention that the U.S. should hold on [to] the Islands, that upon independence they would immediately fall prey to the military might of the Japs. The General not only argued that the defenses of the islands would be effective; he rather pooh-poohed the possibility of a Japanese aggression in this region. TJ and I, as usual, recommended against breaking into print; as, as usual, to no effect. Locally, we have seen but one American newspaper comment on the statement. The N.Y. Tribune ridiculed it. When he was insisting that his statement HAD to be published the General discounted the idea that the possibility of antagonizing Mr. McNutt would have any effect on his acknowledged political ambitions because he had decided that the High Commissioner was not going anywhere, and, he concluded, the statement would be acclaimed locally among the politicians; renewing his own popularity and cementing his hold upon his job.

A week after the above incident the news came out that Gov. McNutt had accepted an important political job at home under the auspices of the New Deal. This act, in the General’s opinion, immeasurably strengthened the Gov’s political standing, so, post-haste he got off a flowery letter of congratulations, hoping desperately the Gov. would not read anything personal in his argumentative statement of a week earlier.

Two days ago the evening broadcast contained an item to the effect that Congressman Kennedy was recommending to Pres. Roosevelt the appointment of the Gen. as High Commissioner. Burning to secure some political job that would restore the power, prestige and face that he has lost during the past four years through ego, laziness and stupidity the Gen. immediately undertook, characteristically, some of the machinations that he conceives to be clever. He wired Steve Early, Congressman Van Zandt, and Simpson, a newspaper man, asking their support.

Since the wires went through the department (by no chance would he spend the money for commercial dispatch) every officer of the Dept. Staff will immediately know that he is in the position of importuning for a job. Assuming that he will not get it, although it is perfectly true that four years ago the Pres. announced to him an intention of making the appointment at that time, there will be an additional number of people here who will feel entitled to sneer at his connivings, and will read, between the lines, that he is getting fearful and discontented in his present job. It’s his business, exclusively, but I get exceedingly tired of defending him in front of personal critics for words and deeds that I consider as stupid as they do. Ho-hum.

One reason that the Military Adviser’s post has lost for him some of its former attractiveness is continued proof that he is losing influence and prestige, that no longer may he announce an arbitrary decision and see it accepted as the law of the Medes and Persians by the President and the Army. Almost four years ago poor old Jim and I tried to make him see that the price of staying at the top of the heap was eternal watchfulness and, above all, so conducting himself and his job as to inspire confidence and a dependence upon him for important information and decisions. We begged him to arrange a weekly meeting with the President, so that there would not grow up a tendency on the part of the President to depend upon others. He ridiculed us. He was then riding so high that his favorite description of himself was the “Elder Statesman”. He informed us that it was not in keeping with the dignity of his position for him to report once a week to Malacañan.

While I was home last summer the Scout question came to the fore once more, and the General’s decisions and attitude were so unsatisfactory to the Scouts that many of them left us and went back to the American Army. At that time he succeeded in working up the President to the point where the latter believed in a “scout cabal seeking the eventual seizure of the government a la Cuba!” So–with a supposedly decisive victory, one that clearly re-established his power and prestige, the General felt that all was clear on his horizon. But the Scouts did not quit… As time went on they kept dinning away until the Pres. got another slant on the whole affair. Finally in a public speech, that is, it was public so far as the officers of the Army were concerned, the Pres. announced that he was misinformed as to the fact at the time he expressed a desire to get rid of the Scouts, that he had acted hastily, that he regretted his statements and decisions of that time and he would seek to correct them. The General was present when all this was said, and I think it was really the first time that he clearly realized how far we had come from the days when the merest expression of his “professional opinion” served to enlist enthusiastic and universal support for any and all of his schemes.

Of course, to those of us that were close to events, and not concerned with our own future fortunes, nor blinded by illusions of glittering grandeur the trend had been plainly visible for months. But such indications as had come to the Gen. previously had, in his opinion, been discernable to no one else, consequently he had, he thought, lost no FACE. For a man of his type, the answer was to ignore them. This he did… but now, under the lash of practically public repudiation on a particular incident, he writhes. Just as, in his own mind, he was formerly higher in public prestige and official position than he was in reality (although lord knows he was high enough) so now he really believes himself to be closer to disaster than he is. Mr. Q. is not going to let him go… he cannot afford to except as a voluntary act on the part of the Gen. or as a result of almost open insubordination. He, the Pres., has too often tied his administration and his govt. to the PLANS and ADVICE of the Gen., and done this publicly and emphatically, to cut him suddenly adrift.

And that is enough of all that.

A few weeks ago I received WD orders to go to Ft. Lewis upon expiration of my tour. The question of the official terminating date was taken directly to the CoS by the AG, according to personal advices from Jim Ulio,  and it was decided to shorten my tour to November at the latest. I was further authorized, if I could arrange with local officials, to come home in August. All this came about as a result of letters I wrote to Jim Ulio, because for many reasons Mamie and I were looking with longing eyes to our return date. It turned out to be impracticable to get away in August, but we are going in November.

John’s schooling presented a problem, but we finally agreed to keep him right here and bring him home with us in the fall.

We are delighted with the Ft. Lewis prospect. We believe we’ll like the place thoroughly. Be a little tough to give up 500 dollars a month… but that had to end soon anyway.


April 5, 1939–April 17, 1939

Several days ago the President called me personally to the phone, about 6:30 P.M., asking me to come immediately to Malacañan. This was on the evening of March 28. We had a 3 hour talk; Secretary Vargas was present. Many things were troubling him, and after making it clear to him that I recognized his right to question me, since he is the only chief I have on this job, except as he delegates his functions to another, I told him I would give him my personal convictions and any information I might have –on any military subject. He warned me that the conversation was to be considered secret.

He opened the talk by asking me whether or not it was improper for the G.S. (through its chief) making to him any recommendation it might choose to make on a military subject. I, of course, said “No–that one of the functions of the G.S. was to develop policy, and where these required such action, to submit them to him for approval.” He then showed me a letter, written in the G.S. and apparently intended for his consideration. On this letter appeared an endorsement, signed by Sutherland, stating that the subject was one outside the purview of G.S. responsibility and would therefore be withdrawn from consideration by that body. I stalled a bit–and then told him, “Certain broad policies, it is assumed, have been permanently established by the highest general staff, namely the President himself in consultation with his Military Adviser. In such cases it was probably wise to prevent constant agitation of the question in the G.S. or elsewhere, as tending only to confuse, and, in any event, wasting time and effort.”

He acknowledged some force to this argument but said, “But why am I denied an opportunity even to see the arguments on another side of that question?” I replied that that was a matter between him and his Mil. Adv.

He then asked me whether the production of a good officer corps was one of our real problems. The answer to that was obvious. Then he asked, “If that is so, why did we plunge into the mass training of enlisted reservists before we had the officers, at a time when we knew we did not have them, to do the job with reasonable efficiency?” To this I shot back, “Because you directed it, in the spring of 1936. The original plan contemplated the calling of only 3000 trainees in Jan., 1937, and, so Col. Ord & I were informed, you decided to raise this to 20,000, after consultation with the Mil. Adv.” He replied that he had not made such a decision, and had been, from the start, opposed to the idea of rushing too rapidly into the training of enlisted reservists. I told him I could throw no more light on the subject,  and that if he’d examine the records of 1936 he could easily substantiate my statements. One piece of direct evidence, I told him, was that for 1936 we had asked for only 350,000 pesos for construction, a sum which could not begin to supply the shelter and so on needed for 20,000 men. I informed him, further, that the reasons given to Col. Ord and me for this change was that he, the President, believed the psychological reaction of the people would be bad if only a small number of trainees was inducted promptly after the first registration of military manpower. He just said, “I never heard of such a thing.”

Then he said, “If it is possible, I’m going to correct that mistake now! I’m going to call fewer trainees, and devote more money to officer development.”

It then came out that his distrust of our present corps of officers was based on the results of several courts-martial. He considers, properly, that these courts have condoned offenses for which dismissal, and even prison sentences, would have been appropriate. He cited several instances. I explained to the Pres,, in detail, that I no longer was concerned in any personnel or administrative matter. I explained General MacA’s famous “re-organization” order of Oct. 14, which relieved me as his C. of S., and placed in my hands planning, training, etc. The President expressed great astonishment–and wanted to know why! I replied I did not know but it developed that one of his reasons for sending for me was because he assumed that due to my experience here, and so on, I was General MacA’s chief assistant for all functions. I disabused his mind.

He speculated whether or not the decision to call 20,000 men in 1937 (total of 40,000 for the year) was based upon Gen’s desire to be Field Marshal, with the resultant idea that it would be a good thing to get some soldiers under arms so the appointment would have some basis in logic. He said he bitterly opposed the appointment, although he did not say he opposed it openly to General MacA. He did say that the incident made his government look ridiculous!! I was astounded, since General MacA’s account of the same affair was exactly the opposite already related, I think, in these notes. Somebody certainly has lied!!! The Gen. said he accepted the appointment with great reluctance, and only because refusal would have mortally offended the Pres.!! Wow!!

A dozen other related subjects were brought up and the Pres.  discussed all in a manner that I thought showed a fine, thoughtful mind,  and a much keener insight into some things of questionable validity than one would suppose if he listened only to talk in this office.

I told the Pres. I wanted to go home. The matter was not discussed in detail, but he expressed the hope I’d stay until next year.