Glad November is over–somehow or other this is nearly always a worrisome month;–this year it was even worse than usual both because of Doria’s illness, and by reason of the lack of discretion, not to say greediness of some of ay associates in business.
At Malacañan at 9:30. Quezon was in the barber chair, just finishing an interview with Cuenco, former Assemblyman from Cebu whom he introduced to me as the new Secretary of Public Works and Communications. Three days ago, Cuenco had been announced as the new Mayor of Cebu, but it appears that Osmeña as the Boss of Cebu was obliged to offer some opposition, to the appointment of one of the opposing party. Vargas was present with Quezon and handed him Cuenco’s appointment as a Cabinet member, explaining that Osmeña had intimated his acquiescence in that rather than having to consent to Cuenco’s being Mayor of his city–never believing Quezon would agree. It looks as if Osmeña had been out-jockeyed!! The President told Vargas to get this appointment right into Cuenco’s hands, so that nothing could happen to interrupt it. When, a half hour later I reported this appointment to Claro Recto and Rafael Corpus, they both said: “This will break up the coalition!” but when I replied that Osmeña had already agreed, Corpus remarked “That’s the trouble–Osmeña is too easy.”
I then reported to the President my recent conversation with Foulds, British Consul General, in which I gained the information that the heads of foreign states such as Kings and President were not invited to the Coronation. To this Quezon made no comment:–he had probably learned this himself from Foulds, but he was obviously disappointed. My last point for Quezon that morning was a report of a conversation with Tommy Wolff last Friday night in which he stated that by accepting Filipino citizenship I had “not a friend left”–“except you, Tommy” I interrupted, at which he began to stammer. Quezon told me “not to let these fellows get under my skin.” I went on to say that Wolff was getting in the frame of mind of the late Paul Reinsch, American Minister of China, who had come to believe that the inhabitants of the country wished him harm (and went mad). Quezon at once said that Wolff’s mind was weakening from too much conviviality. He then observed that he “could not stand seeing any of his friends under the influence of liquor.”
I told Quezon about the troubles caused to newly forming mining companies by the excessive zeal of the promoters–that I had joined the Central Exchange under the urging of Speaker Montilla believing he was back of it–that I never heard of Prats until then–that I had induced Don Ramon Fernandez to join with me and we had gone to work to secure a Produce Exchange as something of real value for the future, and thanks to Quezon’s assistance had obtained it. Shortly after this conversation Corpus reported to me that the President had vetoed the bill on exempting Produce Exchanges from more than one sales tax–thus making them impossible except when run by the government. (This I doubt).
State banquet at Malacañan for Lord Rothermere–I doubt whether Quezon understands how to appraise correctly Lord Rothermere’s position in England. The old man made a good show and a witty speech. In his address of welcome, the President made me nervous. He was skating on thin ice, but with his usual skill managed to avoid making a break. The British Consul General Foulds, who sat next to General MacArthur, and hence next but one to Rothermere, told me later that MacArthur had not been taken in for a moment by the guest of honor. Quezon was ill at ease with a “Lord,” and had not been properly coached as to the proper mode of address &c &c. He came up to me when we were all on the balcony after dinner, and whispered: “For God’s sake go and talk to him.” Rothermere was cordial to me because of my long residence at Alness which is near his shoot at Dornoch in Scotland.
The law passed; meanwhile I heard from the British Consul General in answer to our enquiry that the Foreign Office had replied to him: “You may still regard Mrs. Harrison as a British subject, though lawyers may differ as to this.” (About as direct an answer as the Foreign Office could give!!)
Earthquake lasting fifteen seconds at 5:13 a.m., which did not even wake me.
The morning papers published Rafael Palma’s report on a proposed reorganization of the educational system here. This is the promptest and most intelligent report of any board so far appointed under the Commonwealth Government. Emphasis is laid on five years of elementary education which should be free and compulsory; secondary education to be confined to agriculture and industry, and people are to pay for the usual high school education, which would better be left to the non-government schools. I wrote to congratulate him. If accepted, I wonder whether this report can be put through the legislature? (The Bureau of Education is the strongest political organization in the Philippines.)
Went to the British Consulate at the request of Foulds, acting British Consul General, who wanted some information from Quezon but did not desire to make it “official” by asking questions himself, as follows:
Did the Japanese threaten Quezon with “grave consequences” over the Davao land question, and did Quezon reply: “you can’t bluff me”? Foulds himself expressed skepticism over the accuracy of this newspaper report.
Could High Commissioner Murphy when going to the States, appoint an “Acting” or merely “delegate” his powers? These involve questions of official calls if a British warship comes here to visit.
Would the High Commissioner return here?
Then Foulds and I had a general, and on the whole, very congenial conversation on Great Britain, the Japanese, and the question of complete independence here.
Went to the Survey Board and made my report on the Bureau of Science. This is the first time in 15 years I have tried dictating to a Filipino stenographer and I found it more work than to write in long hand. I seem to have a larger vocabulary in English than that to which they are accustomed out here. I told Miguel Unson that Geo. Vargas had expressed himself as impatient to get the Government Survey Board’s report–Unson replied: “I am a slow worker, I know, and Vargas is a fast one, but I do not trust those quick decisions of Vargas.”
Talk with ex-deputy Varona. I asked him what the National Economic Council, of which he is a member, was doing? He replied: “nothing much until the question of “national self-sufficiency” was decided. (The Filipinos are getting ready to trade the Philippine markets for continued free trade with the United States.) In that case, they will do nothing at all in the Economic Council, and it will be a regular gas chamber, instead of actually going to work, as the public expects, to prepare the economic life of the Philippines for complete independence. The attitude of Roces’ papers here on Senator Walsh’s ridiculous objection to competition in the United States market by Filipino made rubber shoes is a good example of the paralysis here! Varona said that in Negros there was a new patriotism–viz: “Buy American”–“Entirely disinterested!” I commented. He said the “N.E.P.A.” was anathema in Negros (sugar).
Quezon is due back today from his family trip to Baler, the birthplace of himself and of his wife as well. He is to stay here until he goes on May 13th as far as Shanghai with High Commissioner Murphy.
Long talk at the office with Hartendorp, who is wearing down under his inability to see Quezon, or to do anything except routine matters. Fears he is being blocked by Vargas, whom he has several times criticized in his periodical, the Philippine Magazine. Says an attempt is being made to make us Advisers look useless to the Government. Told him to keep quiet and maintain a stiff upper lip.
Visit from Consul General Blunt who is going on leave–introducing Consul Foulds. Said Quezon had told him he wanted to attend the coronation in May, 1937.
After lunch Vargas called me on phone and said Quezon was off to Zamboanga, and if Doria and I and Mrs. Howell wished to go, the Arayat would leave at 3 p.m. Fierce rush and we all made it, to find Quezon had gone ahead in the Mayon to stop over at Iloilo, and we were to join him at Zamboanga on Tuesday a.m. On the Arayat, we found only Governor Guingona and Perez, the municipal treasurer of some town in Tarlac, off on an inspection trip for Quezon. Perez and I had a talk about the landlord and tenant situation, and he agreed with me in all particulars. He said the Chinos had a complete grip on the marketing of rice. I asked him if the report of the Rice Commission which has just been adopted was not a fight against the Chinos and he assented. He said that labor in the Philippines was now faced with a reduction of wages–these had already fallen from eighty centavos in my time to sixty centavos. Naturally, a good deal of social unrest results. Even so, our sugar could not compete with that of Java, where wages were only about twenty centavos.
Asked him to play bridge, but he said the regulations forbid Treasurers playing any game of cards, and that this executive order had been signed by me!
Guingona is in favour of constructing roads rather than railroads in Mindanao.
Amazing what a lot of apparently waste land there is in the Philippine Islands–in contrast with Japan, for example. The lower coasts of Cavite and Batangas and the coast of Negros, appear uninhabited, though here and there one sees the fires and smoke of caiñgins.