10th January 1945

Not all the Japanese are unaware of how things are going. Today a Japanese admitted to me that the situation looked “hopeless”. The Americans, he said, were betting huge sums and Japan had no chips left. We were playing poker, which explains his choice of metaphor.

No, he said, the Japanese did not mind their sons and husbands being marooned and doomed on Luzon as on the other bloody islands of the south; that was a sacred duty cheerfully fulfilled. All the same, what was the use? He had already forgotten those sanguine expectations he had told me about one year ago, expectations of Chiang’s surrender after the victories in central China, expectations of “annihilating” the Americans once they came within range of the tokotai. This was no longer a 50-50 affair lacking only the mediation of Stalin for a negotiated peace. It was now 30-70, he judged, and it was, more than ever, time for peace. But no, not surrender. He could not bring himself to say it.

Afterward I had another chat with a Japanese newspaperman, To him too the situation appeared irretrievable and the future unpredictable. The young people were deeply Asian in outlook, he thought; they hated the America and England for whom their fathers and grandfathers still, in their hearts, had a haunting fear and respect. (Yvonne tells us that the little boy who lives next door to her sticks out his tongue every time they meet and calls her “dirty foreigner”). But nobody knew what time would bring. Would the youngsters hold out to the end, hurling the empire with them into national suicide? Or would the old men smother this fierce frenzy with their knowing pessimism, the instinct of age to save what there was left to save, to compromise, to fix, to bargain, to keep a penny rather than to risk and loose it all?


January 26-27, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Quezon is offered $1,000 a lecture for ten meetings by Getts, a lecture promoter, who came to lunch with his wife, the former Osa Johnson, widow of Martin Johnson the big game photographer.

Quezon expressed himself as in favour of a balance of power in the Far East–that Japan should not be so crushed that China may arise in her place as the would-be dictator of the Orient.

He said that Churchill and Roosevelt could not get Stalin to come to Casablanca–he did not wish to be tied up to them as he is playing his own game and intends to go to Berlin alone and then arrange his own empire; that Churchill and Roosevelt did not want Chiang Kai-shek at Casablanca.

Quezon maintained that the Ilongots in his youth were free-for-all head-hunters. I remarked that they had killed very few Americans–only two whom I remembered, while the Spanish in their day simply didn’t dare to go into their country. Quezon replied that during the first revolution against Spain, the Filipinos got hold of a lot of firearms, and they tamed the Ilongots who could not stand up to a shotgun when armed themselves with only their spears and arrows. Like most of the Filipinos who lived in Baler, his native village, Quezon has Ilongot blood through his mother.


July 14, 1942

Shoreham Hotel. I found Quezon in high spirits; he had an overhaul yesterday at the Walter Reed Hospital, where they found his heart, arteries, kidneys, etc., quite sound, and ascribe his blood pressure only to nervousness.

He is now all enthusiasm for writing his book, and is at work six or eight hours a day in his room, dictating to Canceran, and writing his revisions of the manuscript. He has Morgan Shuster in New York on the telephone every day to talk over the batches of ms. he sends him. Shuster is encouraging him up to the limit.

I questioned him about the willingness of the Filipinos to agree to the retention of naval bases in their islands after independence and for which he had included a provision in the Tydings-McDuffie Act; the retention or establishment of which is to be subject to negotiation between the United States and the future Philippine Republic. He rejected the idea that the Navy should then continue to occupy the old base at Cavite, or, indeed, any place on Manila Bay, whereby the seat of government would be under naval guns –but would consent to their occupying such bases as Olongapo, Pollilo, etc., and he has already set up weather observatories at such stations. The idea of the Filipinos was that the American Navy would not interfere with the internal affairs of the Republic, but that its presence in the Philippines would deter other powers from aggressions.

With the Army, however, the situation was quite different –ever since the last military governor of the Philippines, General Arthur MacArthur, had shown such reluctance to turning over the government to Mr. William H. Taft, the first civilian governor; the Army and their different posts throughout the Philippine Islands had shown a very active interest in the working of the new government of the islands. Thus, they seemed to sense they represented the idea of the use of force against the Filipinos.

This opinion Quezon had expressed in November 1935 to Secretary of War Dern and to Senate floor leader Joe Robinson in Washington some months earlier, citing in a discussion of this question what he called the “betrayal” of a Governor General by the Army. He had reference, of course, to the ludicrous and abortive “uprising” of the Filipinos in the Botanical Garden in Manila at Christmas time of 1913 when I was the Governor. This affair had consisted of the gathering of some dozens of Filipinos, mostly of the cook or muchacho type, who tried to start a noisy demonstration, but were at once discouraged by a few of the city police. We later found that this abortive affair had been “staged” by agents provocateurs of the Philippine Scouts, a part of the American Army; and an American colonel of the Manila garrison had meanwhile paraded his regiment. The secret service agents of the army were at that time too much involved in local politics –possibly in order to justify their own continued employment.

Quezon on phone with Morgan Shuster over the first proofs of title page and foreword of his book. Insists on having the italics changed in Roosevelt’s pledge, taken from under “I pledge” and inserted instead: “the full resources and man power of U.S. are back of this pledge.”  “That” he added to me “was what influenced our people to resist.”

I told him of the campaign being conducted in the United States by Pearl Buck for what she calls “economic equality, etc.” for Negroes in our country. Her argument is based on the Japanese propaganda in Asia which, she maintains, weakens America with the Chinese. I asked him if such an argument had any effect on the Chinese and he just laughed. He never had heard of Pearl Buck. He said that American Negroes were well liked in the Philippines citing the example of Major Loving, leader of the Constabulary band.

Quezon gets every day here in Washington from the State Department a precis of Japanese propaganda over the radio in the Philippines. He says: “The Japs are doing too d – d well”; that they had released Gen. Vicente Lim; had rebuilt the damaged railways, and had restored inter-island passage to the central and southern islands. I asked him about the sugar plantations; he thought the Japanese would keep them going, take all the sugar and not pay for it, adding “it makes no difference to me.”

Spoke of his troubles caused by the corruption by the Chinese in the Philippines. When a delegation from Chiang Kai-shek visited him he told them he sympathized with their desire of independence and hoped they would throw the Japanese out, but he did wish they would help him to curb Chinese corruption in the Philippines. The last Consul General they had in Manila was one of the “new young men” and he helped Quezon to clean up the immigration mess; and to put in jail the violators of that act. Quezon reorganized the Bureau of Immigration. He added that if he lives to attend the Peace Conference, he will work to see that China and Russia do not remain armed while Japan is disarmed. Hopes to line up Canada, Australia and the Latin American countries to that end.

Quezon thinks that when he asked Roosevelt for independence for the Philippines in 1938 or on 4th of July, 1939, Roosevelt was quite in conformity but was curbed by those “Experts” in the Department of State.

Quezon then remarked that he brought Rafael Palma’s new “history” for the government and then refused to have it printed, adding that Don Rafael seemed to favor Wood’s administration quite as much as mine. I told him that Palma had said to me in 1936 that I was much more “radical” than some of the Filipino leaders then were –meaning, of course, that my views on independence were more aggressive.

On Corregidor, Quezon said, he became so dissatisfied with Carlos Romulo’s broadcasts on Corregidor that he asked MacArthur (on whose “staff” Romulo served) to put him under the censorship of a committee composed of Osmeña, Roxas and Santos. Romulo came to him and said that would humiliate him, but “I had decided to fire him if he did not submit. I told him I never put out anything myself without submitting it to them.” I then read to Quezon Romulo’s interview in today’s New York papers stating that the Japanese had burned all the books in the library of the University of the Philippines dealing with “Democracy, the United States and England” etc… Quezon stated that he had heard this rumoured but did not know whether this was true or not. The part of Romulo’s interview dealing with the Bello incident was true. Bello had a school of his own at Vigan, and when the Japanese first got there they ordered him to haul down the American flag, but said he could leave the Philippine flag over his school flying. He replied that the law obliged him to have both flags, that they could haul down the flags themselves, but he refused to do so. They shot him down.

I then tried to read to Quezon from Collier’s recent article on atrocities by Japanese when entering Manila. He didn’t want to listen to it, said he never even read Marsman’s article on atrocities in Hong Kong; said he did not believe all this stuff, and would not take part in the abuse of the Japanese.

I subsequently asked three members of Quezon’s staff about atrocities in Manila; they seemed somewhat surprised by the question, calling attention to the fact that Manila had been declared an open city and was not defended. One of them said he had heard that the niece of Major Stevenot, a young American woman, had been abused by the Japanese because she would not tell them where Stevenot was. (He was on Corregidor). Stevenot was the head of the long distance telephone company, and of the radio company. Another indignity was offered to a Filipina girl who had no pass for crossing a bridge –or else did not understand the sentry’s questions. There were many atrocities of rape in the provinces.

Quezon said he had sent Colonel Andres Soriano to see Norman Davis to ask about treatment of prisoners by Japanese. Davis is head of the American Red Cross. Quezon is trying to have supplies forwarded to the Philippines. Davis stated that he was already in touch with ex-prisoners returning from Shanghai and they reported they had been well treated.

The British recognized the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore, and can thus communicate with their nationals there through channels. The United States has not recognized Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

American School System in the Philippines. Quezon described his quarrel with Vice Governor and Secretary of Public Instruction Gilmore (under Wood). It was in a car going down to lunch with Gilmore at the Army and Navy Club. Quezon told him the American system was destroying the old civic virtues of the Filipinos –respect for the family, the church and authority– the discussion became so heated that Quezon refused to lunch with Gilmore.

The following story was told me recently by Frank L. Crone, former Director of Education in the Philippines and in Peru:

Quezon and Osmeña were sent for during Wood’s time to come to Malacañan Palace and were occasionally kept waiting for three quarters of an hour before being received by the Governor General. Wood’s a.d.c. told Crone that on one such occasion Quezon appeared clad in a camisa de chino, chinelas (slippers) and a salacot (big country hat). When surprise was expressed at his costume, he replied: “well, if I am to be treated like a tao when I come to Malacañan, I’m going to dress like one.”

Crone said also that the ancient local, democratic self-government still prevailed in every barrio in the Philippines. The cabeza de barangay was not a government position, but was the head of the local group named barangay after the original muster of the vinta, or long boat in which their ancestors had first landed in the Philippines.

Also, he added, family affairs, such as domestic matters like Marriage, are usually settled by a big family council.


May 31, 1942

Quezon came into my room at the Shoreham for a two hours’ talk. Yesterday he had offered me an official position to go around with him and help him with his English in preparing his speeches. I told him I thought his command of English was excellent, and that I had not come to him to get a job. “But that was the reason why I asked you to come,” he replied. So here I am back again as adviser to the President, as I had been in 1935 and 1936. I hope I may be of some use to him in his very trying situation as head of a government-in-exile.

I then asked him whether he had foreseen the coming of war between the United States and Japan. He replied that during those last few weeks before the Japanese struck he had been sure of it. I enquired what he had thought of the note handed by Secretary of State Hull on November 26, 1941 to the two Japanese Ambassadors. He replied: “What did you think of it?” “I thought it,” I said, “the equivalent of a declaration of war upon Japan.” “So did I,” he put in; “with such a people as the Japanese,–no government could possibly accept such a proposal as to get out of China and give up Manchuria; the government which did that could not survive. So immediately I asked Admiral Hart urgently to call on me, and told him: ‘Admiral, this is the same as a declaration of war by the United States upon Japan. What will happen if our communications with the Mainland (i.e., the U.S.) are cut?’ The Admiral replied: ‘Oh, it will only be a matter of three weeks.'” Quezon continued by saying that a few days before Pearl Harbor in his speech on “Heroes’ day” (on December 2nd, 1941) at the University of the Philippines in Manila, he told the students how heavy his heart was, because many of those magnificent young men who had just passed in parade before him were soon to lay down their lives for their country.

Quezon then went on to describe to me the meeting of the American-Japan Society in Tokyo which was attended by Ambassador Grew, on the occasion of the appointment of Nomura as Ambassador to the United States. At this meeting, Foreign Minister Matsuoka had told them of his efforts to get Nomura, a retired admiral, to go to United States as Ambassador, because Nomura was known to be a personal friend of President Roosevelt. At first Nomura had been unwilling to accept the post, but Matsuoka went to his house and persuaded him to take on the serious and difficult talk of reaching a working agreement with the United States Government. Matsuoka then emphasis his opinion that it was the duty of the United States and of Japan to avoid war–if not, it would be a terrible conflict, and would destroy civilization. Matsuoka then sent a letter to Quezon enclosing a copy of this speech and wrote at the bottom of the letter as follows: “To His Excellency President Quezon: Dear Mr President, I hope you will agree with my views.” The envelope was addressed in Matsuoka’s own handwriting, and was handed to Quezon by the Japanese Consul General at Manila–so every precaution had been taken to conceal the identity of the person to whom the letter was to be delivered–even the stenographer was not to know. Quezon said that at the time, he thought this was a very “suspicious circumstance,” and that Matsuoka was in deadly earnest. “But,” Quezon added, “I did not then know anything about the real strength of Japan, and I simply wondered how they dared even to consider a war against the United States, since he assumed that America would immediately send their whole fleet against Japan and completely destroy the Japanese navy.”

He did not believe that the second Japanese envoy Kurusu was sent to the United States to join with Nomura in order to “gain time.” Indeed, he thought that it was the United States that needed “time”–not Japan, and he added: “The seriousness of the situation was apaprent when the attack was made on Pearl Harbor, because the Japanese never go to war unless they are thoroughly prepared.”

On the question as to why the Japanese aviation had bombed President Quezon’s birth place, Baler, Quezon did not believe at any time that this was done in reprisal because he had called upon his people to support the American side; “If it was aimed at me,” he asked, “why did they respect my houses at Baguio, at Mariquina and Malacañan Palace itself? Those buildings have not been damaged nor looted.” (N.B. It transpired later that the bombing at Baler had been aimed at the small wireless station there.)

Quezon then reported a conversation he had had a few days ago with the Chinese Ambassador who had told him Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had recently gone to India not, as reported, to try to persuade the Indians to join the English in resistance against Japan, but to try to persuade the British Government to give independence to India!

I then asked the President to elucidate the phrase he had used: “doubts as to my duty to the people of the Philippines” which beset him when he arrived at Corregidor and of which he at once had informed President Roosevelt by cable. Of course, I could understand his perplexity as to whether it would be best to insist upon further resistance when he was already convinced that the United States neither could nor would send reinforcements nor supplies to them while concentrating on the German War, but I asked him to explain further his state of mind then on that momentous question. Thereupon, he replied that he might have considered advising his countrymen to join an association of Asiatic nations which were to be partners in the real meaning of the word but that he had no confidence in the Japanese offer to them of self-government. He added: “Those fellows would not really leave us alone to govern ourselves—-it would take them three hundred years longer to learn how to do so.”

Asked about the internal situation in the Philippines just before the war, Quezon began his reply by stating that he himself was a sincere democrat and really believed in the rule of the people, but that in dealing with the application of this theory, especially in times of strain, there were too many people going around advocating democracy for everybody without any real sense of responsibility towards the people themselves or knowledge of the struggle and fight necessary to protect democracy. He believed it was especially necessary to know the background of a people, and to understand what their history meant. This, of course, recalled my effort in 1936 to prepare for him at his suggestion, and when first acting as his adviser, a bill to reform the system of landholding in the Philippines, so as to protect the millions of small farmers (taos) in their tenant holdings and really to begin the dividing up of the many great haciendas. The bill was modelled upon Gladstone’s “three F’s” land bill of the 1880’s for Ireland, as had been suggested to me by Quezon himself. But, as related in the first part of this “diary,” the members of his Cabinet all balked at it and the President had handed it back to me with the remark that it was “loaded with dynamite.” I replied that I had, at the time, been greatly distressed by the failure of this effort at reform, but that I know a little of the background in Philippine history: how, always until the Spanish liberals had begun in their own country for reforms, with repercussions upon the Filipinos, the state of society in the Philippines as in other Malay communities elsewhere had been entirely aristocratic. “Why,” I said, “Your own Cabinet then, and most of the members of the legislature–those gentlemen were almost all aristocrats.” “Except me” he interrupted, “I wasn’t one.”

Then I got him to tell part, at least, of the story of the constant friction existing between High Commissioner Sayre and himself during the year before this war. He started by saying that Sayre is, personally, a very nice fellow, but unlike his late father-in-law, Woodrow Wilson, he does not understand government. He is one of those lovers of liberty who goes around trying to apply liberty as a solution to problems which arise without much consideration of the results to follow; that he started all his arguments with him (Quezon) with the statement: “I am a Christian gentleman,” which is no doubt perfectly true, but in itself does not solve by its application all political problems. The serious disagreement between Quezon and Sayre which had some bearings on inadequate civilian preparedness in the Philippines just before this war broke out, arose through what the United States would call the “Office of Civilian Defense,” and had nothing to do, as I had previously presumed, with any attempt by President Quezon to spend part of the $50,000,000 then held in the United States for the Philippines. Nor did Quezon try to get the United States to pay for his Office of Civilian Defense.

The trouble between the President of the Philippines and the High Commissioner started in 1940 when the legislature passed an act delegating to Quezon powers to regulate the civilian defense corps and otherwise prepare for a supply of food and for making air-raid shelters for the protection of the civilian population of the Philippines. The Philippine constitution placed his power in the legislature only “in a national emergency,” with restrictions on the power to be exercised by the President. They had studied the history of difficulties which had arisen in the United States over the “delegated powers” which are forbidden by the American constitution.

In 1941, during the growing tension throughout the Far East, Quezon issued the necessary executive orders based upon this grant to him of limited delegated powers. At once, a group of young Filipinos called the “Civil Liberties Union” passed a resolution of protest. High Commissioner Sayre was aroused, and is believed to have notified President Roosevelt who cabled Quezon warning him that adverse sentiment was aroused in the United States since the American “Civil Liberties Union” had joined in the fray. Quezon at once cabled back to Roosevelt that he would not exercise any of the powers so delegated to him without a direct application to him from High Commissioner Sayre.

A few months later, Major General Grunert then in command of the Philippine Department of the American Army, asked Quezon to attend a meeting with him. High Commissioner Sayre and the American Admiral. The general wanted to know what plans there were for the protection of the civilian population in the event of war and complained that so far as he could see, nothing had been done; what was Quezon going to do about it? The President replied: “Ask High Commissioner Sayre”–who sat absolutely silent. Finally, at this conference, it was agreed that a committee should be appointed as an Office of Civilian Defense, consisting of General Douglas MacArthur, then a retired Lieutenant General of the American Army, but engaged as Quezon’s Adviser on Military Affairs and occupied in organizing the Philippine Army, and Quezon’s secretary George Vargas, and A. D. Williams, adviser to the President on public works. This committee was to cooperate with the American General and Admiral. At the meeting, General MacArthur asked Major General Grunert if he would state to him first of all, as Department Commander, whether the American Army was going to protect the Philippines and what plans he had for getting the equipment necessary for such protection? The Department Commander replied that he was only a soldier, and knew nothing of politics; that he intended to fight for the protection of the Philippines but could not state what equipment would come to him for that purpose. General MacArthur then expressed himself as dissatisfied with the latter part of the Department Commander’s reply, and refused to serve on this committee until he had a satisfactory answer. So MacArthur retired from this committee and A. D. Williams and Vargas went ahead with their plans for air-raid shelters, etc.

Shortly after this, A. D. Williams returned to the United States after forty years of service in the Philippines on public works and construction, and by this time General MacArthur had been put in command of all American and Philippine forces in the islands.

At the public meeting on “Heroes’ day,” December 2, 1941, to which reference has already been made in these pages. President Quezon said in his public address that he had not been able to discharge his full duty and prepare adequately for the civilian population a sufficient food supply nor adequate air-raid shelters because he had been prevented from doing so by the President of the United States, and this statement was reported in garbled and misleading form in some newspapers in the United States. Further, Quezon stated that the protest against due preparation in the Philippines had been started by the local Civil Liberties Union, and that if they were thus responsible for any evil results, they merited condign punishment.

At dinner that evening, Quezon told me had rented the house of General Hurley, “Belmont,” near Leesburg, Loudon County, Virginia from next Sunday for the summer, so he will be only two days at Hot Springs–another of those sudden and unexpected changes of his plans to which his entourage are thoroughly well accustomed. This means, however, that I am not to have him to myself to get on with the manuscript.

Bridge in my room at the Shoreham, nine p.m. to two a.m. Very lively bidding and the playing was animated. The other players were Quezon, Dr. Trepp, his devoted physician from Manila and the attractive and modest young a.d.c., Lieutenant-Colonel Velasquez from the Province of Bulacan, a West Pointer, who has been through the battle of Bataan. When the Governor General of Australia met Quezon a few months ago, Quezon told the Governor General that Velasquez was one of the Filipinos who had been doing the fighting. The Governor General talked with him for five minutes and turned and thanked Quezon for the delaying battle in the Philippines which had helped to save Australia. Quezon, however, agrees with me in doubting whether the Japanese plans included the conquest of Australia.


February 2, 1942

Rice dealers gathered at the NARIC this morning and I explained the new policy ordered regarding the selling of rice in the markets. I wonder if they understood my explanations.

Things are not going on well in Singapore. How long will the British last? The Japanese seems to be winning in all campaigns. It is good to give the first blow. But it is better to fire the last shot.

More troops have arrived in the city. Reinforcements. They are so many they look like ants crawling all over the streets. Several of them had long beards.

Struck by a statement of Chiang Kai-shek. “If we perspire more in times of peace, we shall bleed less in times of war.”

The tragedy of man is that he learns by experience.