June 17, 1936

The message was excellent, and contained the following reference to agrarian reform:

In the meantime, I recommend the adoption of measures similar to those which were adopted in Ireland to solve agrarian problems there existing from time immemorial. I also recommend the immediate passage of a law authorizing the expropriation of those portions of the large haciendas which are urban in character and occupied by the houses of the tenants.

Saw the President on the balcony at Malacañan, and congratulated him on his message, though his somewhat impromptu speeches and papers are usually his best, because they give more of the ardor and passion of his personality. He called me over and kept Secretary Yulo and Justice Recto &c waiting in order to give me the following letter he had written (in long hand) in reply to mine of thanks for the trip on the Negros:

Malacañan Palace, June 17, 36.

Dear Governor:

Your note of the fifteenth is very much appreciated.

In asking you to join me in my trips I am only seeking my own pleasure and profit. Your company brings back to memory those happy days of our former association and offers me the opportunity–which I can seldom have in Manila–to get your views and encouragement on the plans I have which may be a little too advanced for some of my associates. It is a source of great satisfaction that you feel as much pleased with the trip as I am.



I expressed myself as very happy to have this letter. Then I took up with him his very frank and bold renouncing of the purchase of the remaining Friar Estates, and congratulated him on recanting his former views. (This is one thing I have been trying since last Autumn to spare his government.) I told him that his “Board of Arbitration” in my bill on Landlord and Tenant, as taken from the Irish Land Acts, was the Land Commission, and I had given them the power to purchase (with his approval and action by the Assembly) all or part of any of these estates; that it was better for him to have the power to use in an emergency, even if he didn’t exercise it. He agreed. I also told him that after his message a lot of the agitation and trouble would die down–he agreed. Hoped he could now induce the more turbulent tenants to move to Mindanao.

Talked with Colin Hoskins on phone about the landlord and tenant bill–he said “the failure to purchase the Friar Estates would disappoint some important churchmen.”

I took the bill down to Diokno’s office for remoulding.

N.B. on the Negros Quezon had remarked that before the arrival of the Americans in the Philippines, venereal diseases were almost unknown here. I told him with what reluctance in May 1917 I had closed the “Red Light” district of Manila, when the Commanding General of Fort McKinley brought me President Wilson’s Executive Order thereon, referring to eliminating such districts within a certain number of miles of an army post. This General was equally reluctant to act, saying: “I founded it myself in 1901 when I was Provost Marshal here”–Quezon said this closing had spread prostitution and venereal disease greatly here.

Talk with Secretary of Finance Alas on the standardization of salaries; he emphasized the view that this must be undertaken, and it was better to get it over with now, however disagreeable this may be. He admitted however that the higher salaries of the City of Manila and of Provincial Governors must also be readjusted.

February 22, 1936

Holiday. An hour with Sam Gaches in his office where he told me at my request the whole story of the Mineral Resources Mining properties. Excellent and vivid 40 minutes talk by him on rediscovery of the ancient Chinese mines of 500-1,000 years ago in Camarines Norte. Gave all the difficulties of mining in that region (Labo) and said it might be a “flop” “but”–with a gesture–“it drives you crazy it looks so good.” Said all mines in the Philippines except those in actual operation, like Benguet Consolidated, were “hooey,” meaning, a speculation only as yet–but added he believed the Paracale–San Mauricio–Labo district was destined to become the great gold fields of the Islands.

Had a talk yesterday with Palting, who has made a survey of the executive offices at Malacañan since inauguration, and he reports four times the volume of business compared with the days of the Governors General–but, he added, this was mostly due to the different boards engaged in reorganizing the Government.

Saw also Colonel Antonio Torres, Municipal Councillor, candidate for appointment as first Filipino Chief of Police of the City of Manila. He seemed downcast and said to me “My career is ended”–I replied “No! it is just beginning”–that afternoon’s papers carried the announcement of his nomination to head the Police Department.

Saw also Dr. Calderon, Director of the Philippine General Hospital–he is old and failing–walks with a stick. He is the senior surviving appointee to office made by me as Governor General.

Long talk with Colin Hoskins on currency problems in the Philippines. He had two hours with Weldon Jones this morning on the silver purchase. We also went into constitutional questions; the United States under Roosevelt; and the administration. Colin asked why Jim Ross and I could not support Roosevelt.

Doria’s dinner here tonight. Colette Guest, Kuka Guest, Mr. & Mrs “Shiny” White, Andres Soriano, Jim Rockwell, Paco Oleaga, Evelyn Burkhart who is to marry Paco in a few days, Tony McLeod, Young Hoover, Florence Edwards and Commander MacDowell. Dinner not well cooked. Orchestra dismissed by Doria as no good, so we went on to the Polo Club dance and had a gay evening. Mr. & Mrs. Gaches had a large dinner party there on the lawn–with the Rectos and Buencaminos. Doria said the Army crowd mournfully regretted that the last stronghold of the Palefaces was now invaded. Mrs. Gaches told Doria how difficult her social-political work on the committees was, because the Filipinos with whom she served were so casual–not to say rude!

January 6, 1936

At the office in the morning Hoskins was discussing the landlord and tenant situation. He said that with rice (palay) selling at 3 pesos a ganta the peasant, who gets one-half share from his landlord can just manage to make both ends meet –but with palay at its present price of 1.50 pesos they cannot make a living; that often a man borrows at the rate of 80 centavos a ganta in the planting season and has to deliver the palay six months later to his creditor (Chino or Cacique) when it is worth 3 pesos. He explained the slow growth of the country banks and the country branches of the Philippine National Bank of which he is a director. Also discussed the currency situation and advocated the purchase of silver at the present price of 45 cents and the issue of silver certificates against the same.

In the afternoon at Malacañan from 4-7. Quezon was rather tired and appeared absorbed in refitting the Palace; he is making a new entrance on the street side and all quarters on that side, including the dining room are to be for the use of his wife and children; the old ball room is to be made into a banquet sala; the bedroom where Kiko (my son F.B.H. Jr.) was born in 1921 is now Quezon’s library and office; the downstairs floor-space by the river is to be made into a “club” with bridge tables, dance floor and bar; land on opposite side of the Pasig River is to be bought and made into a park; a new building is to be erected on the opposite bank of the river with guest rooms on the top floor, and the President’s office and that of the Council of State on the ground floor. Thus he hopes to make the (old) Palace “habitable for his family”! He received Ed. Harrison and Baroness Von Hagen who are to be married soon; she had just arrived in Manila preceded by a newspaper blast announcing her as a “criminologist.”

The President said he was quizzing Supreme Court Justices daily to find out whether they placed “human” rights on an equality with “property” rights; that he was going to have on that bench only justices who would interpret the Constitution in the spirit of the age in which it was written; that Recto thought as he (Quezon) did; that he might have to get ride of one or two of those old Justices.

Quezon also said he was about to “explode a bomb” tomorrow or the day after, because he was going to suspend the leases obtained over 1,300,000 acres of land in the Philippine oil fields by a syndicate composed (incidentally!) of four or five of his best friends (Buencamino, Luz, &c) that the son of Osmeña was one of them and had been selling some worthless stock in his company; that he would force them to go to the courts over their leases –that he would fight the monopoly. I told him that the heads of both the Asiatic Petroleum and Socony had told me in recent months that they did not believe there was any paying oil in the district.

He also told me he had changed his plans for the reorganization of the government –that he was going to make Manuel Roxas Secretary of Finance and turn the reorganization over to him. (This lets me out of this complicated task.)

The President asked me to make a thorough study of the Landlord & Tenant situation. To go about the provinces and examine. That he wanted me to do it because any Filipino whom he might delegate would belong to one class or the other (i.e., landlord or tenant) or be influenced by it. That I could have what assistance I needed, and could choose either to be associated openly with Secretary of Labor Torres (the nominal head) or go at it without being known to be employed on that research. When I asked him whether he would be willing to tax the large estates (Friar &c) out of existence, he said he positively intended to –I advised him that he must get a law first fixing rents and the tenure of holdings for the tenants.

He asked me to go up to Cabuyao tomorrow with him to see the farm there which he owns, and on which he intends to build a nipa house, and to farm.

Also said that if his health lasted, he would in three years have a “model government” here.

Quezon was interested in Whittall’s suggestion (via me) to have a visitors book in Malacañan similar to those in English “Government Houses.”

He talked of moving Bilibid prison immediately; stating that the law authorized him to sell it but that to buy the new site he would have to use the funds of the National Development Co. and then face the Legislature on this. Is going to make a park out of Bilibid grounds, for he felt it was a crime not to have more parks in a tropical city like Manila; and if the municipal board would not agree to this, he would “get rid” of them. He not only wants several more parks in Manila but said also he was going to transform Harrison Park.

Afterwards played bridge with Quezon, Guevara, Zamora and Karadag.

Quezon left for twenty minutes treatment by his doctor; he is always worried by a draft or by any cool air, and wears more clothes than anyone else in the tropics.

December 15, 1935

Speech at 9 o’clock at the Columbian Institute before the Professional’s League. Intelligent addresses before mine by two young Filipinos –Ernesto D. Bohol, the organizer was one of them; he is very sincere and straightforward.

Polo match in p.m. –fast  & first rate. A.D. Williams told me of Quezon’s discharge some years ago of Ernest Westerhouse as head of the Manila Railroad. Said it was a rough deal. Williams thinks permanent retention of the Philippines by the United States is probable –otherwise there would be disaster! He will retire in three years, and wishes to farm on his place in Virginia.

“At home” at Justice Vickers in Santa Ana –he showed me his “first edition” of La Gironiere –which turns out to be a 2d. edition (1857). Talk with Justice Recto, who expressed pleasure in the discharge of Cotterman from the Bank Board. Said Cotterman owned the building in which the Philippine National Bank is situated, and used his influence against the construction of a new building for the bank –[unethical!]

A.D. Williams said the High Commissioner was very much upset because the first China Clipper did not show him the first deference, for the pilot went straight to Malacañan Palace to report to the President. Murphy said his entourage are evidently feeling like flat tires since he ceased to be Governor General and gave up the great executive powers of that office.

A.D. Williams further says that the Elizaldes are possibly opposed to me because they think I might be an impediment in their transportation business –i.e., shipping. He added that the Elizaldes have just resigned, from the directorate of the Polo Club because they fear pressure there from Quezon. He reported that it is now rumoured that I came out here this time to advance the interests of the English in the Manila RR. bond redemption. (Exactly contrary to facts –as usual). Says Paez insisted on resigning if the bonds are not redeemed. I feel certain we could have made a better bargain with the English; that I could have done it; and that it is legally possible to avoid paying them receipts from the “gold clause” in the bonds, and that the English know it. (N.B. Quezon asked me to prepare “advise” on this subject and then never asked for my opinion.)