At sea nearing Jolo. At breakfast I had a talk with Quezon over the Government Survey Board. He said the government had become a mere bureaucracy; I told him the Survey Board was puzzled to know how to decrease the expenses of government in accord with his wishes–was it by lowering salaries? He said no–but by abolishing useless places and duplications.
The President then told me how, long ago, he had agreed with Governor General Wood to sign the contract for the sale of the government’s Portland Cement Co. in Cebu for 200,000 pesos; though he never intended to do so, but wanted Wood to keep quiet during his (Quezon’s) current political campaign then under way. The day after the election, Wood sent for him and presented him with the contract which he (Wood) had already signed, and then Quezon refused. Wood went purple in the face and rose as if to strike him. Quezon told him he had changed his mind, and that he took that privilege because Governor General Wood did it so often himself! The government cement co. now has a surplus of two million pesos, and is worth about four! Wood wanted to give the Manila Railroad away to J. G. White and Co.; also to sell all the government-controlled sugar centrals for a song. Quezon says Wood would have lost one hundred million pesos for the Philippines in his rage to “get the government out of business.” (I was the one who had originally put them in!)
Quezon is going later to Davao with three members of his cabinet: Rodriguez, Yulo and Quirino, to settle the ticklish international situation there; wish I could be there, but am going back to Manila.
Arrival at Jolo. Visits to provincial and municipal buildings. Quezon made a fine speech to the Constabulary at their quarters. He told them that the primary duty of soldiers was to ensure peace and order for their fellow men, and this should be sufficient reward for them. He said that the duty of the soldier in time of peace was to be courteous and just, but in time of war it was to kill; their rifles were not given to them as ornaments, but to kill when ordered to do so. Since several of the leading Moros were present, this firm attitude will be understood all over Jolo in forty-eight hours. The Constabulary can handle the situation of allowed to do so, and now they have been assured of the proper backing by the highest authority. The Moros are bullies, and understand only force.
Quezon told me he was going to break the power of the Datus (there are 6 or 7 of them in Jolo) and to stop the “babying” of them by the Government.
He received telegraphic news that the registration for the new Philippine Army had been 100% successful, and very happy he was over this–showing again how much better he understands his own people than do so many of the Filipinos.
A terrific rainstorm arose which prevented our trip across the island of Jolo by motor.
[Mrs. Rogers, the Moro wife of the former Governor of Jolo (and an old sweetheart of Quezon)] came to lunch. I asked her, before the President, how long it had been since the last disorder occurred here? She replied that order had been more disturbed during the past three years than for a long time past. She told the story of the killing last night of a boy of twelve who ran away from a provincial policeman–i.e., one of the “police” attached to the Deputy Governor, the Datu of Indanan. Quezon rose at once–sent for the municipal President, the Chief of Constabulary (Major Gallardo) and Governor James Fugate. I advised Quezon to abolish the “deputy governors” and their gangsters. I also advised him never to make a Moro the Governor of Jolo–he said he never intended to do so, but would appoint a Christian Filipino (Major Gallardo) as Governor in the place of Fugate, who was originally a “missionary” and “should have remained so.”
Quezon, when he had inspected the jail, reported that there was one young man in there who claimed to have killed his man in a fight. Quezon said he did not always object to that sort of killing, and would look into the case. He said there were also two Moro women in jail on the charge of adultery; he told Judge Labrador to try the two cases this morning, and if convicted, he would pardon the women, “since it is absurd to allow a man to have thirty wives and to put a woman in jail for adultery.”
Graft and tyranny are rampant among the Joloanos, and Quezon is glad he came down here to learn the situation.
Opium smuggling, which used to be rife here, is uncommon now, and this must mean that the British Government at Sandakan is at last helping to stop it. I couldn’t get them to do so in my day and this was the subject of an acrimonious exchange of views between myself and Lord Curzon when he was British Foreign Secretary. [Met Hadji Butu, former Prime Minister of the Sultan here, whom I made Senator, and later discharged as such for taking part in the opium traffic. I asked Mrs. Rogers what he lives on now–she replied: “graft–mostly religious.”]
Quezon is a most erratic bridge player–always doubling and bidding slams. He plays his hands wonderfully, and if he makes an original bid, it is sure to be very sound. I am losing heavily here, as I did on the Negros trip.
The President has apparently been completely cured of his stomach ulcer by a series of injections–he now eats copiously, and even drinks beer and cocktails. I must go to see his doctor as soon as I can get back to Manila.
The contrast here between the neat homes of the Christian Filipinos and the reeking quarters of Chinese and Moros is striking.
Mrs. Rogers told me that none of the teak forests of Jolo, the only ones in the Philippines–are being cut and sold. Main exports are copra and hemp. They grow some upland rice, but the Moro diet consists chiefly of tapioca and fish. They are marvellous sailors.
Quezon gave me to read “The Secret War for Oil” after I had gone through it I told him he ought to go down on his knees and thank God that oil had not been discovered in paying quantities in the Philippines. He said he had been first told that twenty years ago by Representative William Atkinson Jones of Virginia. If oil is found here, it should be in the hands of one company only–either American or English, and not divided up between various rival oil companies.
In the afternoon, trip around the island of Jolo on the new roads, and saw the sites of various battles fought by Generals Wood and Pershing. We visited all the Constabulary posts. I had been to Camp Romandier in 1915 when we had that thrilling deer hunt with spears, and on horseback. The agricultural development of the island is now simply wonderful–they are, perhaps, the best farmers in the Philippines; also they have fine stock; horses, cattle and carabaos. I told Quezon that this had changed my whole opinion of the Jolo Moros. It is an eye-opener; and he said it had had the same effect on him. That he was going to bring some money here, and help break the power of those who are exploiting the poor farmers of this paradise on earth–whether they are Vinta Moros, Chinos or the Datus. If necessary, he would have the National Development Company undertake the marketing of the crops, so as to cut out the extortioners. He repeated what Governor Fugate had told him: there are three kinds of Moros–the aristocrats, the farmers and the Vinta Moros, who own no land and live at sea.
The President is now receiving on the Arayat a delegation of the Datus who are not officially favoured by Governor Fugate. “Probably they are full of complaints.”
Quezon says he will provide appropriations for more water for Jolo. He is very enthusiastic over what he has seen. I told him he must be prepared for explosions if he broke the power of the exploiters–resistance on some feigned issue–he said he was prepared to handle that.
Altogether, I think this afternoon will have an important bearing on a fair settlement of the “Moro problem,” at least so far as Jolo is concerned.
The teak forests are very badly managed–but crops of hemp, maize, tapioca, coconuts and upland rice are excellently farmed; so are papayas, mangoes, kapok and other useful trees.
The President received a telegram stating that the Japanese had landed on Turtle Island, taken all the eggs and the female turtles and killed all the males–an incident full of disagreeable possibilities.
We received a statement in the town of Jolo from a local resident (Mrs. De Leon) that the magnificent farms we saw were the work of Scout and Constabulary soldiers who had settled there–the more backward farms were the work of the stay-at-home Moros.
Arrived in Siasi at 11 p.m.; a small crowd of local officials had gathered on the pier. Quezon is the first chief executive, I believe, to visit this island except General Wood. We stumbled about in the moonlight, visiting the old Spanish fort and the barracks built by the American soldiers in 1901. The main street was faintly lighted by electric light owned by a Chinese–there are one hundred Chinese here in a total population on the island of only some four thousand–one road has been built, four kilometers long, half way across the island. The racial stock here is Samal (the sea gypsies–there are three types of them, those who live entirely on their vintas with no house on land, those who live entirely on land and those who use both). Industries are pearls and copra. Evidently the Chinese get all the profits.
Quezon asked the locals whether they had any questions or complaints–one leader stepped up and advocated the retention of Governor Fugate (Siasi is a part of the province of Jolo). Quezon asked him: “are you the agent of the Governor?” and he replied “Yes, Sir,” and probably didn’t find out until the next morning the irony of it.
On our return to the steamer, Quezon talked for an hour with Peters, Wolff and myself. I lamented that the courts had overthrown our attempt to force by law the keeping of books by the Chinese businessmen in either English, Spanish or a native dialect of the Philippines. Quezon said the adverse decision in the Philippine Supreme Court, had been written by Justice Johnson, and that in the United States Supreme Court by Chief Justice Taft–but it was purely a political decision. Said that the new constitution of the Commonwealth had provided for that; that the rice marketing of the Philippines was entirely in Chinese hands, and they could, if they wished, starve the islands–“an intolerable situation,” he added.
Talking of the necessity of the Constabulary being supported by the head of the state, Quezon described the recent Sakdalista uprising in Laguna Province. The local chief of Constabulary received some rumours of a gathering and sent a patrol of one officer and ten men in the jitney to make a survey. Approaching Cabuyao (near Biñan) they found the town in the possession of a large party of Sakdalistas who had seized the Presidencia, on nearing which they were fired on and the officer and five men were wounded. The officer leapt from the jitney and cried out “come on and fight them, men”–they began firing and killed fifty of the Sakdalistas, after which the rest fled; but instead of commendation, the Constabulary were given repeated investigations! (Quezon was in Washington at the time.)
The President then passed to the subject of communism, and said that the Filipinos were easily drawn to these theories. Governor General Murphy he felt made a mistake when he released the communists from Bilibid prison–even though he was himself opposed to keeping men in prison for their political opinions. He made it as a condition to their release that they be exiled from Manila to various points such as Ifugao and Batangas. When Quezon assumed the presidency of the Commonwealth, he found that the people of the localities to which those men had been deported had built them houses and were supporting them! In Spanish days, all the Filipino patriots had been similarly deported! Quezon pardoned these exiles from home immediately in order to destroy their influence in politics. He then had an interview with [Evangelista, one of them who is an educated man and is a convinced believer in communism, and had been one of Quezon’s former leaders.] The President told Evangelista that it was folly to think the Philippines could be converted to communism. Evangelista replied that the communist leaders were building for the future; they were working for their grandchildren and were willing to die for their belief. Quezon retorted: “it’s no more use talking to you–you look out you don’t get into the clutches of the law again. There is one difference between you and me–you are willing to die for it and I am willing to kill you for it.”
Then we talked about health. Quezon said he thought my trouble was nervous indigestion and that I could be cured by having some work to do which really interested me: that as soon as I was through with the Government Survey Board he wanted me to work with him on a history of the Philippines during the fifteen years since my administration. The accepted belief in the United States, he said, was that I had wrecked the Philippines and Wood had restored it; while the exact contrary was the truth. We would get the figures, and he would give me the incidents from his own recollections. Told me how he was flat on his back in Baguio a few years ago when Osmeña opened his attack on him in connection with his opposition to the Hare-Hawes-Cutting law, saying Quezon should be driven from the Philippines. Quezon was at once carried from his bed to the train, and at Tondo station was carried from the train to a platform which had been erected there for him. Thousands of his followers were present. He spoke for an hour, and walked down from the platform and was ill in bed no more.