August 24, 1942

Quezon, whom I had not seen for nearly a month, looks well but complains that he cannot make any great effort; and that his blood pressure is still very high. He spends most of the day in a silk dressing wrapper. He was closeted in his room for some time with Carlos Romulo, whom he afterwards characterized to me as politically “foolish” but adds that Romulo is a man who carries out everything entrusted to him.

He was very much aroused because of the proposed showing of an old film depicting the Philippine Constabulary in process of being cut to pieces by Moros until rescued by an American Army officer. Protested to J. Davies who is head of one of these propaganda organizations. Davies said he would at once look into it. But Quezon sat down and wrote a hot letter to the film director. Quezon denounced this attempt to show the Filipinos as cowards, (after this war in the Philippines) and added that he understood the director is a man “of Jewish race,” and that he, Quezon, considered this a poor return for his having opened the shores of the Philippines to the Jewish refugees, and for having himself given several acres of his own land to the Jews to help them to make a living. The movie director replied saying that he had withdrawn the film.

Then I had a long talk with him about his book. He stopped writing when he was in New York some two weeks ago, and retired to Leesburg to rest because he was tired. Canceran had told me that in New York he would begin dictating at 4:30 a.m. and they would not get breakfast until eleven. Quezon blamed Shuster and me for having allowed him to write so much of his personal biography and made him appear boastful–incidents of his youthful success as a runner, prizes at school, etc. He has been busy recently striking out all these passages from the galley proofs of his book which Shuster is setting up as he gets the ms. I pointed out to him that in June of this year I had worked ten hours a day for thirty days to get his book ready, under pressure from him and Shuster. Then when I submitted it to him for revision he had found a couple of mistakes I had made in putting his story on paper. That I had secured from him some account of his childhood and youth to introduce him personally to the American public, and to give a pungent background to his remarkably successful career. That he had so greatly enjoyed reviving memories of his youth that he had gone ahead with this quite independently of me. We had been talking all the time of a second book later on, in which he could really let himself go. That for nothing in the world would I stop him from recording his reminiscences, even tho they were not to go in this book. He admitted the truth of all this, but said he had decided never to write his own biography, that these things made him look ridiculous. That somebody else could write his biography (apparently not I), and he does not give me the long passages he had written or dictated about his personal life. I replied that I had been telling him for years that I was collecting materials for a biography of him, and he replied that I had better let him see what I was to write. I told him that there had been only three or four great autobiographies in the whole history of literature, and that to be really great at it a man must discard all concern as to what anybody would think of his character, and simply try to tell the truth. That I considered it fortunate that he had discovered mistakes in my ms. of this book, because that prompted him to write it all himself, which he could do a thousand times better than I could.

As for Shuster, I said that an editor learned from experience that when he persuades a man to write his first book, if he snubbed his excursions into matter not necessarily suitable, the author might throw up the whole job.

Quezon is a hard man to convince, but I think he was persuaded by this argument. He began dictating a third and fourth letter to Shuster telling him what to strike out but advising him to keep the surplus parts of personal biography for use at some future time. Then he set to work for some hours, striking out a good part of the galley proofs–much of which, I think, was quite unsuitable for the purposes of this topical war book. He called me in from time to time to read me the political parts he had written since I last saw him.

With this, I think his flagging interest in the book began to revive. It will be all the better if he now continues, though he will find it much harder to write of the serious events of the war and of his preparations for defense, than he did with the scenes of his early life which served an escapist purpose for his mind in these extremely troubled times.

He was particularly interested in reading me what he had written in favour of a “Dominion status” for the Philippines. Said he had often been accused by Americans of being secretly against independence but he had in 1916 supported the Clarke amendment in Congress for independence tho Osmeña had not. (Osmeña came to me in the Ayuntamiento one day in 1916 and was in the greatest distress and excitement–trembling–told me of the introduction of the Clarke amendment, and proposed to do all he could to defeat it. I told him: ‘D. Sergio, you have been going up and down the Philippines for years advocating independence. Now that it is offered to you, if you oppose it, the Filipino people will smear you on the wall.’ Quezon says nevertheless that Osmeña cabled him to oppose it.) In support of the principles of the Clarke amendment, Quezon says now that this would have given them independence in 1918 or 1920. That there was then, as yet, no great sugar industry in the Philippines so there would have been no powerful opposition to free trade in the United States; that the Americans would have wished to keep open their free market for shoes and machinery in the Philippines. The Jones bill, to which the Clarke amendment was added in the Senate made no provision for trade restriction in America for Philippine commerce. So the Filipinos, if made independent in 1918 would not have suffered any economic earthquake, and could have gone to work to prepare themselves for military self-protection.

In his plans for a Dominion status, he still would not have had a single American in uniform in the parts of the Islands which is government administered, but he would be willing to give the United States such small islands as they needed for their air bases, etc. He seemed anxious to have my views of what he had written on Dominion status, adding that this was the first time he had made a public statement to that effect. He wanted to know whether I thought it was all right him to make such a statement. I replied that in present conditions in the world, it was all right, and that for some years before the war, I had never given any weight to this proposition because I did not then for a moment believe that the United States would accept responsibility without power. Nor did he. But the invasion and occupation of the Islands by the Japanese had changed the whole political situation. For him now to advocate Dominion status would be merely the logical result of the choice of the United States which he made during those days of extreme anxiety, first at Mariquina and then on Corregidor, when he considered if new leaders were now arising in the Philippines. He replied that he was old (just 64) and could not answer for such a development. I asked him if the Filipinos would be in favour of his policy of Dominion status and he said “No.”

He got busy on the telephone talking in Spanish to Under Secretary of State Welles, offering to make a radio address to the Latin American States now that Brazil has joined the war. The suggestion was accepted. He also received an invitation to dine at the White House tomorrow evening.

He later sent a letter to Shuster explaining that he was not interested in any profits which might come to him from the book, altho he left the Philippines practically penniless. He wanted Shuster to be trustee for any such profits and to devote them to public purposes after the war, but if he were to die meanwhile, and his family were in want, that fact should be taken into consideration.

He then returned to the subject of his reminiscences. Told of his first “fighting speech” in the Washington House of Representatives which was in opposition to President Taft’s “Friar Land Purchase Bill”–in the middle of his speech, Crumpacker interrupted him to enquire what his colleague thought of it. Quezon replied: “I don’t know. Ask him. He is present”–but old Benito Legarda had slipped out. Quezon added “my colleague was a patriot, but he did not forget what was convenient.” When he got to their lodgings after his speech, Legarda embraced him and said “You were magnificent. Because you are so brilliant, I wish to save you. Don’t do it–don’t run your head against a stone wall. They will ruin you.” Quezon replied: “There will be other presidents after Taft.” “Yes,” said Legarda “but they’ll all be the same.” Quezon answered: “Well, I thank you very much Don Benito but remember: there is nothing so sad as a man’s not being able to return to his own country.” Legarda was not re-elected by the Philippine Assembly, went to Paris and died there, and never saw his native land again.

Quezon contrasted my action (immediately after the defeat of our party in 1920), in sending to President Wilson my resignation effective on his last day of office, with that of Governor Forbes, who was in the United States when Wilson was first elected, and went back to Manila, to be later ousted by President Wilson. Also Theodore Roosevelt, Jr. who as Governor General made a campaign speech practically accusing his cousin the President of being a crook. Then after F.D.R. was elected, T.R. Jr. offered to stay on in his post. F.D.R. replied thanking him for his devotion to his public office, but relieving him and making the Vice Governor acting. I observed that T.R. Jr. was very foolish. Quezon replied: “He’s worse that that–he’s stupid.”

In p.m. August 24th had a conversation with Mrs Quezon and Mrs. Marcos Roces, widow of the captain who was my a.d.c. in the Philippine National Guard in 1917. Her brother-in-law Don Alejandro Roces has been in recent years the most intimate friend of the Quezon family in the Philippines–at all their fiestas, or on the yacht Casiana or at Baguio with them. In the past, Roces had fought Quezon savagely with his newspapers. The first mission confided to me by Quezon when I became his Adviser in 1935 was to go as “ambassador” to Don Alejandro in his newspaper office and negotiate a treaty of peace between two doughty opponents. (See my diary for Nov. ’35.)

Mrs. Quezon does not believe the Japanese have done general damage in the Philippines since the occupation of Manila. The Japanese who acts as “G.G.” is occupying the Quezon house in Pasay, which was undamaged in the bombing.

She feels quite lost at having nothing to do nowadays. Had not only a busy life looking out for Malacañan Palace, but also for their houses in Baguio, Pasay, Mariquina, Quezon City, Cabuyao and Tagaytay.

But, when her children were fairly grown up or at school, Mrs. Quezon asked her husband to allow her to see what she could do as a farmer of her 600 hectare farm near Mount Arayat in Cabuyao. The first thing was to get irrigation water from the system in the Candaba swamp, adjoining the farm; but Quezon refused to authorize the extension of the government irrigation system in order to irrigate his wife’s farm. However she persuaded him to have a survey made, so that it was shown that such extension would benefit many thousands of hectares belonging to other persons in that vicinity.

Sugar farming had been abandoned there by Felipe Buencamino, so Mrs. Quezon started with 200 hectares of rice paddy. Then she got a Japanese manager and planted 25 hectares in ramie, a Chinese plant which can furnish rubber and also a fibre from which both “linen” and “silk” fabric can be made. The Japanese in the Ohta Development Company in Mindanao had made a great success of this fibre. It is stronger than abaca and cuts one’s hand when trying to break it. The fibre is about three feet long and makes stronger parachutes than does silk. The Japanese send to London the linen they make of it–the most beautiful sold in England.

The ramie plant is about 5 feet high, and the suckers must be cut four times a year. The leaf is heart-shaped and is silvery underneath. The fibre sells for 40-50 pesos per picul and the income is sixteen times as great as that from sugar cane. The cost of production is 20% of the gross revenue. From her 25 hectares, Mrs Quezon was getting 32,000 pesos net profit a year. It gives continuous employment to labourers throughout the year. Her ambition was to have 50 hectares of ramie. The Japanese have a special knack in this cultivation; it requires dry land, but must have irrigation.

Mrs. Quezon has had in recent years a very active and profitable life as businesswoman; was on one or two boards of mining companies, with, for two or three years an income of 1,200 pesos a month from Acoje mine (she helped to discover this chromium mine herself). In Quezon City she owned a grocery store and a drugstore; just before the invasion she had paid 20,000 pesos for beginning construction of the first cinema there; she owned also apartments and two houses in Quezon City.

She likewise owns three pescarias, or fish ponds, in Guagua, Pampanga, which yield two nettings a year; the fry are put in when the size of mosquito wigglers and in six months are foot long; 3-4,000 fish at a haul, which go fresh to market in baskets. The ponds are salt water, but are kept brackish. It is really curious how superior in business matters the Filipinas are to the average Filipino men.

She feels very deeply the interruption of her business life.

Major (Dr.) Cruz, who was present, is superintendent of the hospital she built near her farm in Pampanga. He told us that there was now news that the “communists” there had gone over to co-operation with the Japanese, as the Sakdalistas around Laguna also had, from the beginning, already done. Mrs. Quezon remarked: “A good thing, then they will no longer be communists.” Cruz observed they had never really been communists, but merely followers of Pedro Abad Santos, who is himself somewhat inclined that way. They followed him because of their grievances against the landlords. They had killed two or three of the leading landlords in recent years. There are, thinks Cruz, about 15,000 of them, including their families, in Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Tarlac and Pangasinan.

Quezon says that Americans owned the sugar in Cuba and they brought on the war against Spain.

He remarked that Osmeña had perfect physical courage; is quite imperturbable; but has no “moral courage.”

While playing two bridge hands tonight he made mistakes–quite unusual for him–he was abstracted, and admitted he was thinking of Romulo.

Once more we agreed that the American school system in the Islands had been in some respects a failure, especially in the teaching of English, which gets worse and worse. Quezon said that while he was lying ill of TB in his house in Baguio, with a Filipina as trained nurse, she told him one morning that the “Press” was there to see him. He said: “Tell them to go to Hell”–the man at the door, who overheard, was Father Tamayo, the head of the Dominicans, where Quezon had been educated. The nurse had said “priest” as if it was “press.” Quezon easily explained this later to Tamayo.


July 15, 1942

Shoreham.

During the Spanish regime, the cabeza de barangay was the collector of the cedula personal tax; he was handed a list of all inhabitants over 18 and had to produce revenue called for by the list, whether he had been able to collect it or not; as a result he was usually ruined. See references in Rizal’s novels, which are, however poorly translated into English.

Rizal, said Quezon, had never been one of his heroes–he was persevering, but never a man of decision–he refused, when an exile in Dapitan, to join Bonifacio in the revolution; this fact was counted on by the defense at his trial–but his execution was foreordained. The uncertainty in the mind of the reader of Rizal’s famous books Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo as to whether it is Elias or Ibarra who is really the hero of his novels indicated either Rizal’s own habitual indecision, or a wish to cover up his belief against a subsequent inquisition by the Spanish authorities.

Mabini (the “divine paralytic”) is more nearly Quezon’s hero. His ms. was unknown until his death; is now in Philippine National Library–and has never been printed. It denounces Aguinaldo severely, on account of his narrowness and selfishness. Mabini was captured and held as a prisoner by the Americans, and never could be forced to recant. After the insurrection, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States. While on Corregidor, Quezon wanted to go back to Manila and, like Mabini before him, have nothing to do with the captors (Japanese) even if necessary to go to prison.

At the Malolos Congress, Buencamino and Paterno urged Aguinaldo to quit the hopeless fight and negotiate with Schurman, President of McKinley’s Philippine Mission.

Quezon next turned to an account of the debates among his government associates on Corregidor upon the question of Surrender of the Philippine Army to the Japanese: They, none of them, believed in any permanence in the independence then offered by the Japanese. Osmeña and Roxas, as well as Quezon thought that if this offer was accepted by them, the Japanese Army could be persuaded to withdraw within a reasonable time, and that they might allow the American Army to be evacuated to the United States. Quezon and his advisers believed that the war would eventually be decided by an attack on Tokyo, and nowhere else in the Far East. Meanwhile, they felt it better to put up with Japanese interference in their affairs–thus sparing the Philippines all that it otherwise might go through. As for permanent independence granted them by the Japanese, it would mean very little for the Japanese Consul General would be the real Chief Executive of the Philippines. He would come to Malacañan with all “due courtesy” but the first time a serious one of his “requests” was refused, it would mean war.

Quezon called my attention to what I had told the Americans in Manila in my time namely that Quezon was the “best friend they had in the Philippines.” As a choice between the Americans and Japanese he would take the former every time; he could put up with even such absurdities as those of Governor General Wood, because he was an American–he could talk and drink with him. When he was Resident Commissioner in Washington he had lots of American friends who treated him exactly like one of themselves. With the Japanese, he could never be at ease–never could really understand them. The Japanese policy in Asiatic countries is utterly selfish; they had been so long isolated that they still thought only of themselves.

Ever since the fracas of the League of Nations, Quezon has believed that if America withdrew from the Philippines the Japanese would absorb the Islands. The Filipinos, he thinks, could not have “made terms” with them. “We would have been in the present position of the Siamese; they have the form but not the substance of self-government –that generally satisfies the Orientals but not the Filipinos.”

The following account by Quezon of the beginning of the political fight between himself and Osmeña was dictated by him to Canceran in my presence on June 7th, for use in his book The Good Fight but was omitted from the book when printed, so it is reproduced here.

“I was elected to the Assembly as Nacionalista in 1907. I was the floor leader and Osmeña the Speaker. In 1909 I was appointed Resident Commissioner and occupied the position until 1916. I secured from Congress the passage of the Jones Law and was elected Senator and then made the President of the Senate.

“The great fight between Osmeña and me started when General Wood was there. The remote cause of my fight with Osmeña was the jealousy of the Senate of its prerogatives and the Senators never admitted that. They thought that the recognition of the Speaker of the House as the number one man was a denial of the seniority of the Senate over the House. It was a mistake of Osmeña. I swear before God that I never intended to replace him as the leader of the party. I had so much love for this fellow. As a matter of fact I thought he was better prepared than me. I had no doubt that at that time he was better prepared. And this idea was so sincere with me that even when the fight on the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill came I decided that I was not going to fight it. I was only going to explain my opinion for I thought it was my duty to tell the people. I even told Governor General Murphy that Osmeña and Roxas were the men best prepared to run the government, and that even after my election as President. But with the acts of these two men they convinced me that I could do that better than they. I will tell you how I discovered this.

“After my election as President of the Philippines, I did not want to give Osmeña a portfolio in my Cabinet. I wanted him to be my senior adviser and have all papers of the different departments go to his office before they were acted upon. But he is so interested in the appearance of things that he insisted that I appoint him Secretary of Public Instruction and he thought that his men would believe that I had disregarded him if I did not give him that portfolio and that would make him lose prestige with the ‘Pros. ‘ He insisted and I appointed him. I told him ‘I am going to appoint you but you must understand that in these circumstances you will not be my adviser any longer. You will have a seat in the Cabinet; will have a voice and no more. And you will understand that I cannot offend the other members of the Cabinet by having their views submitted to another secretary of department.’ So I dealt with the secretaries of department without taking his views first.

“However, I still thought of meeting his views on general policies and gave instructions to my aides and Secretary that the Vice President could see me any time without previous engagement, and I set aside a time for him every day. But instead of talking to me about public policies he brought petitions of men who stood by him, as well as gossip. I tolerated this for three weeks, but later on I revoked my instructions to my Secretary and aides about seeing the Vice President because I got sick about the things he brought to me. So he ceased to be what I wanted him to be–my adviser. The immediate effect was for me to go through all the departments of the government. That is why when you were there I was practically handling everything.

“Now, there is one department of the government in which I was convinced of my utter ignorance–the department of finance. I had an understanding with Osmeña and Roxas that I would make Roxas Secretary of Finance. I did not appoint him right away because I wanted his services in the House. He was a minority leader and I wanted him to work in conjunction with the majority leader so there would not be any trouble in the House. When the House was about to adjourn, I sent for him and told him about his appointment to the secretaryship, but he said that he wanted to go to Capiz and consult with his followers. He came back and said: ‘Mr President, I am ready.’

“I had talked with Quirino, the Secretary of Finance then, and had prepared him for the change a long time ago. I sent for Quirino and told him that I would appoint Roxas Secretary of Finance and him as Secretary of the Interior. I called Roxas over the phone and asked him: ‘Are you ready?’ He said ‘yes.’ Then I told him that I was going to write him a letter offering him the position. I wrote the letter, sent it to him; but I was so tired that day, I told my aides that I would not see anybody and went to bed. I fell asleep and did not wake up until five in the afternoon. During that time the reply of Roxas was delivered in which he said: ‘I have received your letter and I felt that I should remain in the House unless you think that my services are absolutely essential in the Executive Department.’ That made me so mad. I thought it was an act of treachery; that he wanted me to write another letter begging and tell him: ‘you are so essential that I cannot run the government without you.’ I was so angry that I called my children and took them for a ride with my launch in the Pasig River.

“At seven the following morning I sent for Antonio de las Alas. He came and I said: ‘Alas you are the Secretary of Finance.’ I almost killed him with the news and after telling him about his appointment I left the Palace and told the people in the Palace that I did not want to see anybody. I answered Roxas’ letter and simply told him: ‘I understand your position and I therefore shall not appoint you Secretary of Finance.’ That is all I told him, and he has been trying [sic] to see me, but I never saw him. After giving out to the press the appointment of Alas I sent word to Roxas that I would see him. He came and said: ‘Mr President, I have received your letter and I have come to tell you that I withdraw my letter.’ ‘Well, it is just a little too late’ I said. ‘And I want to tell you something so that there may be this clear understanding between us. Manoling, I have told you time and again that I could not run this government without you as Secretary of Finance and I never changed my mind about it, but when I wrote you the letter it was the President of the Philippines offering you that position. The President will not admit that he cannot run the government without you or anyone. I am going to run this government without the “Pros” and you can all go to hell.’

“The Vice President wanted to see me. I thought he was going to intervene and I was determined to tell him that I wanted his resignation as Secretary of Public Instruction. So I told my aides that I would see him right away. But to my disappointment, he did not say a word about the case. Later on I discovered why. That fellow Sabido went to see the Vice President and told him not to mention anything about the case of Roxas to me saying: ‘The President, I am afraid, will have us all out. ‘

“That is the reason why I say that these people forced me and gave me the chance to discover whether I could run this government or not. You know that in a banquet in the Palace I said that I have always thought that the Vice President was much better qualified than I was to run the government. But it was he himself who convinced me that I can run it better than anybody.

“Way back in 1916, upon the passage of the Jones Law, Osmeña telegraphed me asking what position he could occupy–what I thought should be done–where do you think I should go? I told him that I wanted him to continue being the leader of the party and that therefore he should go to the Senate and be its president. He telegraphed me again that in consultation with the leaders of the party he had decided that he should continue as Speaker and that they would elect me senator. I told them that I wanted to practice my law profession.

“So from the beginning I feared that there would be this conflict and he himself saw it.

“You know the report that the Wood-Forbes Mission made. That report made me mad like hell. I arrived in the Philippines sick with fever and before my arrival Wood had been appointed Governor General. I learned that the legislature had approved, upon the appointment and assumption of office on the part of General Wood, the same joint resolution which was approved when you were appointed Governor General. I sent for Senator Sison and told him: ‘How is it possible that you people have approved his resolution?’ He said: ‘Well, it was presented by Palma. You left Palma as your representative and we assumed that they have consulted with you.’

“That was the most humiliating thing for the legislature to do. So from that time on I realized that Osmeña was not the man to lead the country under those circumstances. I did not immediately start the trouble, but I began to show him that I was not pleased. I criticized him for that and from that time on I started letting him know that there was trouble coming. So we did not have trouble until I was ready for it, and the fight for leadership started. The elections came and I defeated him.”