Saw Quezon coming out at 9:30 with A.D. Williams, Arellano the architect and Assemblyman Magalona. He called out to me asking me to lunch with him, and a moment later sent a messenger to ask me to join his party. We went down to the Port Area to see the land which Magalona wants to lease for a hotel. Quezon told me it would not compete with the Manila Hotel, since it would be of a different class, and would not be a success anyway –the group of Negros sugar planters represented by Magalona “had so much money they didn’t know what to do with it”; they hoped to construct the hotel in four months to be ready for the coming Eucharistic Congress. Quezon approved the plan “because the government might as well get the income from the rental.” Somebody added that “the Government would probably get the hotel in the end –to use for offices.”
Quezon talked of getting rid of the San Miguel Brewery as a neighbour of Malacañan Palace, and making government offices there, so that he could house all the bureaus under the control of the President in one group around him: Civil Service, Auditor, Budget Office &c. Apparently, he contemplates exchanging the Government Ice Plant (now leased for 120,000 pesos a year to San Miguel Brewery and assessed as worth 1,200,000) for the brewery buildings next to Malacañan.
Quezon also told us that Cuenco had been to see him asking his aid in getting the Assembly to modify the new inheritance tax law so as to exempt bequests for religious and educational purposes. Maximo Kalaw, the Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee had then come to ask him to oppose this change. Quezon is opposed anyway –says the Government is spending a very great deal of money anyway on educational and charitable programs. The papers carry an item of another decision backed by Quezon to insist on the payment of certain taxes by the Church. It is possible he feels restless now over his re-conversion to the Church made when he was so ill in California several years ago. He is, I think, irked both by that and the partial restriction of his mental liberty. If so, the Church had won a Pyrrhic victory in restoring him to its bosom! I remember how at the time of my appointment as Governor General, the question was “why not send a Catholic to a Catholic country?” and the reply was “The Church doesn’t want a Catholic as Governor General –they had one in Governor General Smith, and he was so impartial in his relation to the Church that he leaned over backward!”
On our return to Malacañan, the President and I went to his office and I told him I wished to ask him about three points he had suggested to me as to my future relations out here!
(1) He had said I had better stay on out here for the rest of my life (giving complimentary reasons) –“not of course always in the Government –but as an investor” –I now was asked to become a director of a company about to be launched. He properly replied it would not be suitable “so long as I was at Malacañan”– of course he “had no objection to my making investments here.” (I passed up for the moment the plan I am forming to get out of the government service). Then Quezon asked me what was the second question?
(2) I raised again his suggestion that I should collaborate with him in a history of the Governors General since my time. His face lit up with this. I said we should not wait, but “strike while the iron’s hot.” He agreed, and advocated my seeing him three times a week, either while driving around or in Malacañan, adding “I like your company, and I think you like mine.” “The way not to write a biography is to sit down to it, because then one often misses the important points.” My third question.
(3) Was whether he had consulted Secretary Yulo as to Americans taking up Philippine citizenship. He jumped and said: “By Jove, I had forgotten that” and sent for Yulo immediately.
Then he went into the matter of his relations with Murphy, saying “Murphy is a man who avoids facing a difficult situation –especially with a determined man like myself. If he ever comes back here he will not dare to try to run the government. I would rather have Weldon Jones here –he is clever, wise, and modest. I consulted him about that part of my message to the Assembly denouncing the withholding of the excise taxes in the United States –and he was very helpful.”
Quezon then gave me a copy of his letter of November 2, ’35 to Murphy opposing a “definition by the Secretary of War of the duties and privileges of the High Commissioner” and stating forcibly the constitutional rights of the new Commonwealth. Murphy never replied to this. The President went on to discuss the powers of inspection of the High Commissioner into the offices of the government, which are very broad. Said he had drawn up an authorization for all bureaus and offices to give information upon request by the High Commissioner, but on advice of Yulo he had withheld this. However, the only two matters on which information has not been furnished are: (a) the Philippine National Bank, which refused “in spite of my orders to furnish a copy of their minutes to the High Commissioner and I did not press them further” and (b) as to the Belo Fund. Murphy came to see him with a demand for the list of payments in the Belo Fund, and Quezon told him he could see it himself, but he would not turn it over to the High Commissioner’s office. He told Murphy: ” The powers of inspection of your office are based on the responsibility of the United States to make sure that Philippine finances are kept sound. How could the authorized expenditure of my 250,000 Belo Fund affect the general financial position? If this, however, is mere curiosity, or is an attempt to show that I have not administered the fund honestly and legally, –I resent it.” Murphy returned to the enquiry later, but got no further. Quezon went on the steamer as far as Hong Kong with Murphy who then never raised the question, but en route to Shanghai he gave Yulo a letter on the point, saying he need not put it on the record if it was thought unwise. Yulo never gave this letter to Quezon. Then, the President continued: “I would rather deal with a man who came out in the open like Stimson –who was a savage, but not one who fought from ambush– he was out on the open road always ready for a scrap. He was brutal –I never knew a man so well brought up who was so rough. Once during Stimson’s administration as Governor General, Don Miguel Unson came to me and said he would have to resign as acting Secretary of Finance. I persuaded him not to resign and then told Stimson, who replied: ‘I have tried to be careful with the Filipinos and especially with Unson –I didn’t know I was rough!'”
Later, at luncheon with Quezon and Aldanese, I opened the conversation by saying I had seen in the papers that he is interested in the Leyte Rock Asphalt dispute with the Bureau of Public Works. That this was not my business, but I had the papers on my desk and here they were –the latest statements from A.D. Williams and Claude Russell. He said at once “I am in favour of A.D.” –(so sounds the death knell of an infant Philippine industry!). He went on to say that Claude Russell had lost the government a lot of money as head of the defunct coal company (no doubt he did, but this valuable coal is now about to “come home to roost”). He added that General Wood came out here breathing fire and promising to “take the Government out of business,” but the only business they should properly have relinquished was that of coal, and: “Wood kept hold of this company for two years after we tried to close it up, because Russell kept flattering him.” He then went on about Wood. I told of the day in November 1920 when the news of Harding’s election as President had been received here. At the moment, I was driving up to Malacañan with Quezon and Osmeña and one of them said: “This means either Wood or Forbes.” “How did you come to prophecy Wood?” I asked. Quezon replied: “We didn’t select Wood; he was chosen because he was a defeated candidate for the Presidency and Harding didn’t want him around. I had first known Harding when he was a Senator, and asked him later in the White House why he had sent Wood to the Philippines. Harding replied: ‘Because the people of the Philippines asked for him.’ ‘Why, Mr. President, no reputable Filipino would ask for a man who had insulted them as the Wood-Forbes Report did.'” (Quezon found there a telegram prepared by Fairchild and Cotterman! I asked if any Filipino had signed it and he said “perhaps Aguinaldo.”) “But,” added President Harding, “Wood will stay there only a year, for the University of Pennsylvania has elected him Chancellor, and will hold it open for a year.” Quezon thereafter started back to Manila and meanwhile the Legislature had passed a resolution offering co-operation to Wood. Quezon was angry about this. He told Osmeña they ought to fight, but Osmeña was for compromise. During the first year, the Legislature passed every bill requested by Wood. At the end of the year, Harding wired Wood that he was unwilling to impose on his sacrifice any longer, but Wood replied that his work here was unfinished. “No gentleman,” remarked Quezon, “would reply in that way to the President’s suggestion.” The Chancellorship of the University of Pennsylvania was then given to another, and Wood remained as Governor General for some six more years until his death. Both men present at this lunch said that Wood had employed every effort to investigate them. Aldanese added that he was not aware that for two months, four army secret service men had been raking everywhere for his “graft” because he wore a diamond ring and was building a house. They examined all the banks in Manila for proof of his supposed wrong-doing. Then Wood congratulated him (Aldanese) “because there was nothing against him.” Quezon said they had made a search for his “five millions” which were, they concluded “probably in Spain”!! George Fairchild, who was a traitor to Quezon (and to me) in every other respect, said at that time in a conference with Wood, that Quezon never had been a grafter. Fairchild ought to know, because when my administration had helped him to start his sugar central at San Jose, Mindoro, George had offered him 600,000 pesos of the stock which Quezon refused. Fairchild then gave some of this stock to his lawyers: Jim Ross, who kept his (and lost) and his partner Ham Lawrence, who sold his (and gained).
Quezon then told of the special election for senator of Ramon Fernandez over Sumulong. He said that one day at lunch at Malacañan he told Wood that the contest was not between those two candidates, but it was Wood vs. Quezon and that he (Quezon) would beat him in every precinct. Wood (who had a sense of humour, as Quezon remarked) smiled and replied that he was afraid that was so. And so it was! Quezon and Aldanese agreed that Wood’s mind had begun to fail when he was here as Governor General.
The President had invited Collector of Customs Aldanese, to lunch in order to discuss measures for increasing the safety at sea on Philippine ships. He said that on a recent trip to Cebu with Osmeña, he had put “Baby” Quezon (his eldest daughter) with a party in one of the ship’s boats, which leaked, and it required two men to keep bailing it out; –then, one after the another two oars broke! Aldanese was told that a committee of naval officers would visit him at Quezon’s request to discuss plans for greater safety. Aldanese said regulations were not observed in ships because the owners pushed the captain to carry more passengers than the law allows to ports where there are no customs officers; he added that the law should be amended to provide for power of suspension of the right to navigate a vessel, so the owners would have to back up the ships’ officers in enforcing regulations. Quezon agreed. They also said that far too many officers are employed on these ships. The President remarked that he would furnish Aldanese with twelve secret service men to travel about and investigate the shipping situation.