Philippine wartime views on the future of Indonesia, China and Japan

"Published in Philadelphia in early 1942, this ‘Outline of (the) Post-War New World Map’, created by Maurice Gomberg, shows a proposal to re-arrange the world after an Allied victory against the Axis forces. Its title refers to a ‘New World Order’, a vague concept, its many definitions often contradicting each other."


This 1942 New World Order map attributed to Maurice Gomberg is interesting in that it gives a snapshot of emerging thought about the United States and its sphere of influence after World War II.

The map above also seems to include an expansion of the Philippines. See this detail:



Which may have had some basis in a proposal made around this time in Allied circles in Washington, DC. As Ricardo Trota Jose summarized it (see Governments in exile),

One other aim of the Commonwealth government-in-exile – one which had been a dream of Quezon – was the establishment of a Malay confederation and the eventual decolonization of Southeast Asia. Quezon even felt that the Atlantic Charter – which guaranteed the basic rights of man – could be applied to Southeast Asia. The Philippine example – independence in 1946 – could serve as an example for the world, he believed. However, as time wore on, Quezon realized that while Roosevelt may personally have favored decolonization, Winston Churchill, the prime minister of Great Britain, and the other imperial powers, did not favor the idea of giving up their colonies…

This is borne out by entries in wartime portion of the Diary of Francis Burton Harrison, who was an adviser in the Commonwealth government-in-exile. His wartime diary commences in May, 1942 all the way to August, 1944.

June 7, 1942 the idea is first broached by the President of the Philippines to Harrison:

I asked him whether, in the peace settlement, the Dutch East Indies would be given back to the Netherlands? He replied: “That would be an outrage. The Malays should be allowed to unite. For years the Javanese have been looking to the Filipinos to lead them to freedom. The movement started when General Wood was Governor General; we smuggled their leaders into the Philippines with the connivance of the Collector of Customs (Aldanese); Ramon Fernandez helped them and gave them money. I must soon begin to work on this with the English, the Australians and the New Zealanders. At the Peace Conference, I intend to make a loud noise. If we were to be united politically, I would be willing to have the capital in Java. It is not mere numbers that count, but intelligence.”

November 29, 1942 a detail on the proceedings of the Pacific War Council:

I asked Quezon how he got on with his Dutch colleague on the Pacific War Council. He said he had nothing much to do with him. Asked whether he thought the Dutch would have their empire restored after the war, he said he didn’t know–but it it were, it would only be a matter of thirty years at most.

December 1, 1942 on putting forward the idea:

I was invited to attend the Cabinet meeting yesterday to hear Bernstein explain his plan and program for the new office of “Special Service” (propaganda) which he is organizing for Quezon. It was a one man show. Quezon made a long and rather astute statement to let Bernstein understand that he had changed his mind as to the scope of the undertaking. Bernstein was told to read his plan of organization and was stopped after the opening paragraphs. It was a scheme for a Malay Federation to include the Philippines, the Dutch East Indies, Siam and French Indo-China. Quezon explained that if such a scheme were ever proposed, it would have to come from the Javanese, or others of the countries concerned –otherwise it would look as if the Filipinos were reaching out after an empire. Quezon said he would not mind if Java were the seat of government, of such a federated state –but that it was no time to mix in such questions now! Such a move would only provoke ill feelings among allies. Elizalde says that Quezon watches the faces and studies the expressions of everybody in a group which he is addressing and added that Quezon must have noted the strained and worried countenances around him during this very interesting and, perhaps, momentous conversation.

December 3, 1942:

On my return to Washington, I made an especial (verbal) report to President Quezon on this situation. It is a subject in which he is most particularly interested. For some years, underground conferences between him and “leaders” of the Javanese (who are erroneously supposed to be completely docile–like the two hand-picked specimens the Dutch brought with them to Mont Tremblant). They seem to have some sort of a vague ambition to recreate the old Malay Empire of long ago–to include the Netherlands Indies and the Philippines and parts of British North Borneo.

Quezon did not seem much impressed by the determination of the Dutch to hold on to their rich empire. His comment was that the last time he talked to the Javanese leaders a few years ago, they were all pro-Japanese. He told them this was a very great mistake; for while they could get rid of the Dutch any time they tried, they would never of their own efforts, get rid of the Japanese, once the latter were established in the East Indies.

December 15, 1942:

On my own return from the two weeks session of the Institute of Pacific Relations at Mont Tremblant, Quebec, I reported to Quezon at the Shoreham. He was deeply interested. Said the terms of the proposed settlement by Holland of the Indonesian question didn’t really matter–the Indonesians could get rid of the Dutch any time they wanted.

January 7-8, 1943:

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.

January 9-10, 1943:

The next day I was with him to receive David Bernstein, his new “Special Services” (i.e., advertising) man. Bernstein is full of clever schemes for publicity over the radio and movies. Quezon conveyed to him his decision to drop the “free India” and “free Indonesia” issues for the present. Said he had been with Harry Hopkins this morning communicating to him the same decision. (Harry Hopkins probably let Lord Halifax know this at once–thus removing a cause of irritation if not worse!) Told Hopkins he must concentrate on the affairs of his own people, and was beginning to prepare his plans for the Joint Resolution for Independence. Bernstein commented that this would be a very powerful weapon of psychological warfare; also conveyed a request of Time for a reply to an article from Buenos Aires–German sponsored propaganda purporting to come via Japan from the Philippines, in which eulogistic descriptions were given of the present peace and contentment in the Philippines. Quezon dictated a brief response quoting General Tanaka’s recent report on his tour of the Philippines, in which the situation of public order was described as “not very satisfactory.” Quezon added that naturally it was not satisfactory to the Japanese since the Filipinos were still fighting vigorously. They had tasted freedom such as the Japanese themselves had never known at home and did not mean to give it up.

The idea of a Pan-Malayan Union predated World War II; it would resurface in the postwar era (in particular there is a book by the controversial Eduardo Martelino, see the opening chapter, Vision in Malaysia from 1959, which seems to be more familiar to Malaysian than Filipino commentators) whether as Maphilindo or, eventually, as an antecedent for ASEAN. For additional background, see Indonesian and Dutch Reactions to the Philippine Struggle for Independence by Adrian P. Lapian and Visions of Empire: Changing American Perspectives on Dutch Colonial Rule in Indonesia between 1920 and 1942 by Frances Gouda.

The reader will also notice mention of Indochina –today’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia– which brings up an interesting point of contending points of view between the Americans and the British and the French. At the time the map above was made, the American position seemed to be to deny France a return to Indochina. For a survey of the official view see Vietnam Footnote: The Pentagon Papers and Roosevelt’s Anti-Colonialism—by Mark Arnold. However, FDR seems to have reversed his trusteeship plan for Vietnam: see Roosevelt, Churchill, and Indochina: 1942-45 by Walter La Feber. See also Franklin Roosevelt and Indochina by Gary R. Hess.

There are also interesting views on China put forward by Filipino leaders –as well as by others, in a conference attended by representatives of the Allied nations–  as recounted by Harrison in his diary.

June 7, 1942:

Quezon thinks this is a business war, caused by slavish imitation by Japanese of the Western powers’ methods of monopoly. If the Japanese had not closed the open door in China, there would have been no war. It was totally needless, in any case, for the Japanese could have undersold all commercial rivals with all of her own products in China and she had already regained for China control over her own customs administration. If the “open door” had been maintained, the United States could then have held their Chinese market only on petroleum and tobacco.

In Japan in 1937, Quezon met members of the House of Peers and of the Diet who were opposed to the militarists —not so now. One of the Peers who was speaking of the recent Coronation said it was the last, as a religious ceremony with all the “Son of Heaven” cult. Quezon says he is never entirely at his ease in conversations with Japs —they have been until recently, for too many centuries isolated from the rest of the world.

Thinks it is a mistake to assume the Japanese are naturally an Empire and the Chinese not; on the contrary, the Chinese have always been imperialists when they were strong enough, and the Japanese only recently so. China in the past tried to conquer Japan. If the Chinese now argue that the aid promised by the United States to China has not been satisfactorily supplied, he would reply, if he was an American, that the Chinese got us into this war anyway.

Quezon is absolutely opposed to the plan to let the Chinese remain armed after this war, and the Japanese entirely disarmed. “The Japanese could teach us civic virtues, but the Chinese only ‘trickery and corruption.’” Would prefer to have the Indians armed.

June 12, 1942

It later appeared that one of Luce’s publications–Fortune in its August number was to publish an excellent analysis of Far Eastern affairs by Buell. They sent Quezon a preview copy of this article which however carried an absurd suggestion that independence be postponed in the Philippines until 1960, the islands to be garrisoned meanwhile by the United Nations. “What” cried Quezon, “they propose to garrison us with Chinese and Russian soldiers? The moment that article comes out, the Japanese radio will use it. The people of my country will turn at once to the Japanese side, and I shall be completely discredited. You propose to return Formosa to China? How foolish. Better garrisonFormosa by the United Nations armies, and thereby protect the Philippines and insure peace in the Far East.”

Quezon says he finally converted Luce and Howard to this view, and Luce is going to advocate Philippine independence immediately after the war. Quezon is quite worn out by the strain of these arguments, conducted until 1:30 last night and for an hour this morning. He remains still greatly depressed by the views of Howard and Luce on the Philippines’ status after this war is over. He now sees that the final success of his life’s work really depends upon Roosevelt’s party remaining in power in Washington.

July 14, 1942

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.

December 3, 1942

He was followed by Dr. Sao-ke Alfred , former Chinese Ambassador in Washington and London. He too, read from a prepared address. He is an amiable and popular man, and the method by which he has gained his popularity was apparent in his speech. He talked for some time and said nothing. He has some nervous disorder which caused his hands to shake so he could hardly follow the paper. The other fourteen Chinese present were gloomy and recalcitrant. They felt they were being neglected–they had moreover positive complaints, to wit: four lend-lease shipments of armaments which had been ear-marked for China had been diverted en route to others of their “allies.” (India?) They wanted all of their territory back–especially the three eastern provinces which make up Manchuria, and Formosa which they had ceded to Japan in 1895. They did not ask for Korea–they wanted to stick the United States with a mandate for that! Especially on the subject of emigration of Chinese they were insistent. This is a really live issue in all near-by parts of the eastern world, and causes the utmost and genuine concern to their neighbours. The spectre of Chinese penetration and economic imperialism haunted us all throughout the conference. Their ardent nationalism of the present day alarms all of their neighbours. They demanded the return of Formosa without any concession as to an international police post–said that could be discussed later. Their delegation showed little teamwork; they seemed to me to be afraid of the two or three delegates who had come by bomber plane from Chungking, and were alarmed at what they might report on their return there. One of them, at a plenary session made a fiery speech, demanding: “Is America fighting for China?”

The most attractive, refined-looking woman present was the lady pilot, Mrs. Hilda Yen, who had flown her plane from Chungking via India and Africa. She had been as a child to school in the United States and could speak English perfectly, free from those humming, explosive noises indulged in by most Chinese when they are said to be talking in English.

Taking it all in all, throughout the conference, the English got the roughest ride, but the Chinese caused the greatest uneasiness to others…

…The most serious issue of immediate post-war concern was, of course, Hong Kong. Did the Chinese insist upon its return after a century as a British colony? Was not the matter also of great importance to the trade of all the nations in the Western Pacific? Could we afford to lose this great free trade post? One of the English delegates put the matter very objectively and with much restraint. There was no answer from the Chinese. They sat silent, with poker faces. The foreign concessions at Shanghai present an almost equally thorny problem. A great imperial city has grown up on the mud flats so contemptuously given the European merchants long ago. In recent years, the Chinese have shown a decided intention to get them back, with all the fabulous riches which have been built up there.

Two of the fears in the back of the minds of many Asiatic delegates were Chinese imperialism and American imperialism! One delegate let slip the statement that the people of the United States were imperialists and didn’t know it themselves. Perhaps he referred to our “Good Neighbour” policy towards South America which is compounded of an equal mixture of self-defense and exploitation. However, there is no need at present to worry about that since everyone knows that people seldom stay bought. There were no delegates present from any of the South American States which front on the Pacific!

January 7-8, 1943

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.

January 18, 1943

Quezon began by looking very tired, speaking slowly and reaching for his words in English. As he warmed up, he showed at his very best. Described the lunch of the day before at which he had entertained Mr. and Mrs. Henry Luce. Mrs. Luce is not enjoying her first days in Congress–the new member is usually treated with little consideration by the House. She could not get on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, etc. Quezon was much relieved to find that Mrs. Luce, who had been so very active in the propaganda for China, was now not in favour of entirely overthrowing the balance of power in Asia and of leaving Japan (as well as the rest of her neighbours) at the mercy of China….

…In the Philippine Government circles I find general anxiety over probably future aggressions by Russia and China. Many stories of Russian plundering of the elite in the part of Poland which they annexed.

January 26-27, 1943

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.

These entries are an interesting insight into past views on what were, back then, emerging questions: the post-colonial world that would emerge after World War II; attitudes towards an ally, China, and a foe, Japan. It is equally interesting to consider how some concerns have gone away, and how many remain.


January 18, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Morning at Elizalde’s office, discussing with him, Ugarte and Zafra preparation of our official report on the recent international conference at Mont Tremblant.

Also talk with Elizalde on the subject of Bernstein–he was very much upset because they already had a budget for that office of $150,000–and no Filipinos were on the staff, except a recently appointed librarian. Says that Quezon has had no publicity since Bernstein took over two months ago. Cited his Saturday night speech in Baltimore which did not appear in the papers. The fact was, however, as Quezon told me, that he did not deliver his speech as prepared because he looked over the audience of the Maryland Bar Association, and listened to their dull chairman, and decided they needed a stronger and more personal address than he had prepared. He added that it was the “toughest looking” audience he ever faced, so he started off “on his own” and gave it to them “hot from the griddle.” I am told he had them applauding wildly and won rather an ovation.

At lunch with Quezon, Mr. and Mrs. Andres Soriano, and two important Pacific Coast magnates with their wives decked out in valuable furs and new gowns. Quezon began by looking very tired, speaking slowly and reaching for his words in English. As he warmed up, he showed at his very best. Described the lunch of the day before at which he had entertained Mr. and Mrs. Henry Luce. Mrs. Luce is not enjoying her first days in Congress–the new member is usually treated with little consideration by the House. She could not get on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, etc. Quezon was much relieved to find that Mrs. Luce, who had been so very active in the propaganda for China, was now not in favour of entirely overthrowing the balance of power in Asia and of leaving Japan (as well as the rest of her neighbours) at the mercy of China.

Quezon had told her his plans for a joint resolution of Congress declaring the independence of the Philippines when a plebiscite of the Filipinos should accept it. When she asked whether an independent Philippines would grant commercial airports to the United States, he said “not only commercial, but military” she professed herself delighted and said she was entirely in favour of the resolution. (N.B. This morning Elizalde had expressed serious doubts whether Congress will pass such a resolution, and said it would meet opposition in the State Department until the general situation in the Far East becomes clearer.)

Then Quezon talked of his respect and regard for Congress, and denounced last summer’s smear campaign against it. “If a member of the House was a fool” he said “that only means that his constituents likewise were fools.”

He told again, and told well, the story of his last address to the students of the University of the Philippines one week before the Japanese struck.

One of the guests present today was a California contractor who had been employed by the Navy a year before Pearl Harbor to extend Cavite airport and other posts in the Pacific islands. Quezon told him how A. D. Williams disputed with the Navy over the extension of Cavite airfield and urged that extra fields, well camouflaged, should be constructed instead. But both Navy and Army authorities refused to listen to him.

I spent Monday morning and all day Tuesday in Elizalde’s office, working with him, Rotor, Ugarte and Zafra on the preparation of our formal report as delegates to the Institute of Pacific Relations last month at Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Very interesting discussions and really entertaining.

When we were alone, I asked Elizalde, whether he had read Romulo’s book, I saw the Fall of the Philippines. He said: “Yes, I read it twice–it is bunk.” I inquired what it was that Quezon had objected to–he replied: “First because he put MacArthur ahead of Quezon all the time, and then because he had put in a full list of the persons whom Quezon took with him to safety from Corregidor; such people as Valdes, Major (Dr.) Cruz, Ah Dong, his personal servant, etc.” Elizalde says he left more important persons behind–should have ordered Manuel Roxas to come to Australia with him instead of consenting to his staying behind; that Romulo was obliged to have the book recast and to pay $1,800 to the publishers for resetting, renumbering the pages etc. This came out of his first payment of $2,500. That the blackouts in the book were really at the instance of the War Department; they were left in the book to add importance to it. Romulo has sold already 25,000 copies–will probably get $20,000 out of the book.

In the Philippine Government circles I find general anxiety over probably future aggressions by Russia and China. Many stories of Russian plundering of the elite in the part of Poland which they annexed.

Quezon is still planning to go in about two weeks to Phoenix, Arizona, and invites me to accompany him for a couple of weeks. Intends to stay there a month or six weeks. I wonder?