Quezon gave a luncheon in his rooms for “Chick” Parsons, the first person to leave the Philippines and return to the United States whom we have seen since the Quezon party arrived here in May. What confidential messages he brought to Quezon have not yet been told me.
All Quezon’s family and staff were clustered around Parsons, each one anxious for news of home and friends. General Kilbourne, Superintendent of V.M.I., who long ago used to command on Corregidor, was also present.
Parsons gave his news succinctly and had a ready response to all questions.
The general impression he gives is that Japanese rule in the Philippines is fairly lenient. All American men and women over military age are free from internment and living in their own homes. The chief difficulty is in lack of money, due to freezing of American and foreign banks. Jake Rosenthal is busy getting checks from Americans and selling them (without commission) for what they will bring–80% or even 50%. This, Parsons thought to be very kind because the checks are on the frozen banks “which will probably never be opened again.”
Americans of military age are interned in the new buildings of Santo Tomas University in Manila.
72,000 soldiers are interned, the Filipinos (including Scouts) at Stotsenburg, and the Americans at Fort McKinley.
Those Filipinos, such as Manuel Roxas, and Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos, who accompanied Quezon to Corregidor have been shot. (Quezon told me this in an aside–“not executed but shot”). Parsons said that there have been others “executed.” (N.B. Most fortunately, the news of the shooting of Manuel Roxas was false).
I asked Quezon what part Aguinaldo was playing, and he said “I don’t really care to talk about that.”
Bennet of the Bulletin and Dick of the Free Press are in prison in the dungeons of Fort Santiago.
The Quezon girls asked Parsons how the people felt about their leaving for Corregidor, and he replied that all were in favour of it because otherwise they would have been used as hostages to exert pressure on their father.
General Vicente Lim has not been released, as reported, and is not likely to be.
Quezon questioned Parsons as to the loyalty of the Filipinos–he replied that Quezon never had the people so united behind him as at present.
He next asked about Major Speth, the Vice Mayor of Baguio, an American of German descent and one of his closest friends. Parsons said “he is practically governor of the (Mountain) Province now.” Then Quezon told the experiences of Speth during the invasion. He was having coffee with Quezon when Camp John Hay was bombed. On leaving that night for the south, Quezon took Speth with him, but sent him back to see the Commander of the Japanese troops in the north, to ask that Baguio not be damaged, since it was undefended. This Speth tried to do but was arrested by the American general in command there and thrown into prison as a fifth columnist. On learning of this Quezon telephoned the general asking that Speth be released, but the general replied: “He talked himself into this, let him talk himself out.” So Quezon telephoned MacArthur, saying that Speth had merely done for Baguio what MacArthur had done for Manila, in declaring it an open city–so Speth was released.
I asked Parsons if any Filipino troops were still resisting, and he replied: “I hope not.”
Cebu has been burned as far up as tho church by the Filipinos.
Inter-island traffic is by vinta; there are no steamers.
The Calumpit bridge has not yet been repaired; the Manila Railroad Co. is still being run by Paez.
Imported food is no longer available; plenty of native food.
Japanese are keen about iron mines; are not interested in gold mines, of which only the lower levels have been flooded; the mills are intact. They want chromium, but the mine at Acoje cannot be used because the wharf has been destroyed.
Quezon was thrilled to learn that his radio addresses are heard in the Philippines. Parsons says the Japanese did not seize radios–only took antennae–so the Filipinos have installed new antennae buried in the ground.
Public schools are open, but the use of English is abolished; teaching is in Tagalog; at least one year of Japanese is required. Universities are closed.
Parsons told us no atrocity stories at luncheon; I had no means of seeing him alone.