This day stands out in my memory because it was the last time when the President looked like the robust Quezon of a much earlier day. He was exceedingly well dressed and once more entirely gracious as of yore. He welcomed me with one-time cordiality and opened by saying: “Guess where I have been,” then went on to state that he had just returned from the funeral of Mrs. William Howard Taft, the widow of the former President. He said there had been only about fifty persons in the church, few government officials–none of the Cabinet; only six motors went to the cemetery. Quezon said he had to be “almost carried” up the hill by Lt. Madrigal, his a.d.c. Senator Taft whom he had never before thanked him most earnestly for his presence. Quezon replied to the Senator that Mrs. Taft had been so much liked by the Filipinos–she visited the Filipina ladies in their homes and danced the rigodon with Filipinos. In reporting this incident to me Quezon added: “Not so Mrs. Wright. Governor General Wright was a much abler man than Taft, but his wife did him no good.” Taft as Secretary of War removed Wright. Quezon remarked that “after all the two most significant names in the history of American Government of the Filipinos were Taft and your own. It took just as much courage for Taft to stand up to the Army officers as it did for you to fight the bureau chiefs and imperialists a decade later.” That afternoon my wife and I enjoyed an excellent game of bridge with Quezon.
Arrived in answer to a telegram asking me to come as soon as I could. Quezon was looking very well and in good spirits. Told me he was going down to Arizona in about two weeks and “if he hadn’t finished his by that time he wanted me to accompany him for ten days or so.” No signs here of any work on his book. Dr. Trepp insists he had not worked on it “for months.” Elizalde told me en route to Canada that Bernstein was writing Quezon’s book for him; that he heard Quezon direct Canceran to turn over the ms. to Bernstein. Trepp thinks not. I asked Trepp why Quezon had so entirely neglected my draft of his book; Trepp did not know–thought possibly it had not been sufficiently eulogistic!
Quezon had seen Panikkar, the Indian, whom I met at Mont Tremblant. Had been very deeply interested. Panikkar told him the Indians want independence–not Dominion Status; that the Moslems also want it, though they demand safeguards as a minority. Quezon suggested to him the federal system like the United States, with a lower house representation based on population, and the upper house giving equality to states. Panikkar replied that is what they propose to do. That they must retain all of Occidental influence they now have and not just lapse into their former Oriental luxury and magnificence. England is afraid to let go just now–the Indian army is chiefly one of professional soldiers, and could easily turn against England if things went badly.
But Quezon told me he had abandoned all idea of taking any hand in the freeing of India and of Indonesia and in the forming of an Indonesian Empire, made up of a union of the Philippines and the Netherlands Indies. He had decided to concentrate entirely on the problems of his own people, though he would be “the happiest man in the world” if the other projects became a reality. Said it would take fifty years for an Indonesian Empire to become strong enough to withstand China or Japan. He had told President Roosevelt of his decision to concentrate on the problems of his own country and not take part in the other schemes, and that this statement “made Roosevelt jump.” He added that the good will or support of Great Britain as well as of the United States would be needed in either eventuality. Thought Hong Kong should not be given back to China, but that the English should pay China the value of the barren island as it was when ceded to them, because of the disgraceful circumstances in which they got it.
Panikkar told Quezon that the Burmese were going to fight on the side of Japan!
Quezon is now going to try to get through Congress a joint resolution that the Philippines are and of right should be independent, etc.
I spoke of my distaste for the masochism of Gandhi and Nehru–always in prison and seeming to glory in it; Quezon said: “It’s that Hindu philosophy.”
He recognizes that the English are essentially a manly race, but they have “that racial superiority which I hate. I am a member of a race which has been looked down upon for centuries, and I can’t stand that theory of racial inferiority. But their feeling of superiority is not vanity–they really believe it–hence their feeling of responsibility which is so marked not only in officials, but in businessmen and bankers as well.”
I also had a talk with Dr Trepp, his Swiss doctor. Says Quezon does not really need him now; his TB is so well under control, he can live anywhere he likes. Says he feels like a mere lackey of Quezon; there is no real work for him to do. Would like to get a job on the staff of a sanitorium. Has come to the conclusion that Switzerland is the only real democracy he knows. There is not an ounce of democracy in the Philippines–even a businessman there has no chance unless he is a Quezon man.
I also had a short chat with Quezon on past events in the Philippines. He said Governor General Luke Wright was all right, but his influence was impaired by the very anti-Filipino attitude of his wife.
Told me how he had taken Sumulong, Rodriguez, etc., away from General Wood, and then the latter threw up his hands. Quezon organized a Supreme Council of the Philippines and gave the pro-Wood Filipinos an equal representation on it with his own partisans. He, Quezon, presided but had no vote–still they all followed him obediently and without a question.
Dr. Pardo Tavera, a distinguished member of the first Philippine Commission, was patriotically against independence; he wanted the United States to remain there for the sake of the Philippines. Still, he was so independent-minded himself that he continually opposed the Governor General and really forced himself out of the Philippine Commission.
Quezon opened by declaring that he was the happiest man in the world today. He had received the best news since leaving the Philippines. Reported a telephone conversation with “Chick” Parsons, who had just arrived on the Gripsholm from the Far East. Parsons is an American whom the Filipinos receive as one of themselves. He is Panamanian Vice Consul at Manila and because of this is believed not to have been “confined to quarters” by the Japanese. He telephoned Quezon this morning that he had frequently seen Vargas and Alunan and the rest and they are still absolutely loyal to Quezon. Quezon had received on Corregidor a letter from Vargas written just as the Japanese were entering Manila, in which Vargas stated that wherever he might be, whether (as Quezon’s arrangement had been), in Malacañan–the Japanese permitting–or in his own house, “you will always have a loyal servant in me.” Parsons is coming down to Washington tomorrow to report, as Quezon didn’t wish to continue the conversation over the telephone.
Quezon then began to talk again about the history of the American regime in the Philippines. He said that there were three Governors General who left the Islands with the hatred of most of the Americans there. Taft “because of his brave fight against the Generals while the swords everywhere were still rattling in the scabbards”; Stimson “because he put the foreign (and American) banks under the control of the government for the first time”; and myself, “for giving self-government to the Filipinos.”
Governor General Wright was an easy-going man–a southerner Republican–adding “you know what that means.” He was Forbes’ ideal. Did not go over well with the Filipinos.
Quezon then told the story of the “Bank Control” incident. He said Stimson and I were the bravest of the American Governors General because neither of us really cared whether we held on to our “job” or not. Stimson hadn’t wanted to accept the post, and returned to the United States within eighteen months to become Secretary of State.
The bank incident arose as follows: I (the present writer) had tried to put the foreign banks under Philippine Government control in my time, but had been stopped by a cable from “that imperialist Secretary of War whom Mr. Wilson had to relieve later–Lindley M. Garrison.” In Stimson’s time, Lagdameo was still Insular Treasurer, and was also Inspector of banks; he was one of the most honest and hard working of the government officials, and was sadly underpaid. When hardup he once borrowed 200 pesos from an American, formerly Insular Treasurer and a good friend, who was by then an officer in the Banco de las Islas Filipinas, (Spanish bank). This man entered the loan on the bank’s books not as from himself, as Lagdameo supposed, but as from the bank. So Stimson called Quezon in and told him the story and said he would have to fire Lagdameo. Quezon said he was inclined to agree with him but would like to talk with Unson, the Secretary of Finance. Unson told Quezon that Lagdameo was a man of perfect honesty–“if it had been 20,000 pesos, instead of 200 pesos. I might not think so–the smallness of the sum, in my eyes, confirms his honesty. If he is dismissed from the service, I shall resign as Secretary of Finance.” Quezon reported this back to Stimson who at once saw the seriousness of the situation. Quezon said it would be disastrous to his administration, such was the complete confidence of the public in Unson. “But,” he said, “I can show you a way out of it–put the banks under government inspection, appoint an American as inspector and leave Lagdameo, who has too much work anyway as Insular Treasurer. Stimson agreed, but Quezon told him of the political danger of a move so violently opposed by the banks as was government control. Stimson was quite indifferent to that–hadn’t even known that these banks were not subject to government inspection, and insisted that they ought to be. So Quezon had the law passed after giving hearings to protests from the bank lawyers. Then Stimson agreed to hold hearings before signing the bill, whereupon Quezon rushed around to know whether this meant he was not going to sign the act. Stimson smiled and said: “These people have the right to be heard, and I have the right to disregard their advice.”
Stimson staged a big public meeting in Malacañan Palace with lots of chairs, and sat there on a sort of throne, listening very seriously. Jim Ross, Dewitt et al. as lawyers made arguments. Roxas (Speaker) made a serious statement on the subject which he had studied. Stimson allowed two or three days to pass, and then signed the bill.
“Tiny” Williams of the National City Bank of New York had from the beginning, led the campaign against the bill and was organizing powerful interests in the United States by cable. Stimson sent for him and said: “I am leaving the Philippines in fifteen days and shall be Secretary of State when I land in the United States. If you do not withdraw your effort to coerce me, I shall as Secretary of State be disinclined to show any favours to the National City Banks abroad, and not much support.” Williams broke all records in getting to the cable office.
When Stimson left, Quezon in bidding him good-bye and congratulating him on a successful administration added that he had bad as well as good things to tell him–that the Americans in the Islands hated him worse than they did Harrison. Stimson replied: “My God, is it as bad as that?”
Quezon said that Stimson believed that I had tried to replace American officials too fast. Quezon added that, if I had not done so, my administration would have been a failure, for I would have lost the confidence of the Filipinos.
Stimson was a non-social man, who saw few people outside his official duties.
Taft’s speech to his opponents in the Philippines (sometimes credited to me–F.B.H.) was to the “Lions of the Press”; to them he said the waters on both sides of Corregidor are wide enough to allow then all to go home in one day.
Archbishop of Manila, Msgr. O’Doherty was formerly a close friend of Quezon, who had given up his friendship for the Archbishop after a series of cold-blooded abandonments by the latter of those who had served him loyally; beginning with General Thos. L. Hartigan who would have been penniless in his last years if Quezon had not helped him. Hartigan as lawyer for the Church had made 15,000,000 pesos for the archepiscopal see. Then came the Archbishop’s abandonment of Whitaker (son of an Oxford Don) who had made himself responsible for some of the Church’s debts (Visayan Refining Co.). Then the Archbishop went back upon O’Malley and Father Fletcher. Quezon sent for the Archbishop and told him he had lost faith in him; listened to O’Doherty’s explanations of each of the four cases and then replied that he was no longer his friend; that he would continue to show him every official and personal courtesy–but “he was through.”
High Commissioner Sayre, who got back from Corregidor to the United States before Quezon, wrote a report to the State Department thru Secretary Ickes, pointing out those whom he believed to be the “Fifth Columnists” in the Philippines, and suggesting that Quezon was one. Learning of this on his arrival, Quezon spoke at the Press Club (no publicity) referring to High Commissioner Sayre who was present, and to the latter’s suspicions. This led Sayre to go to Secretary Ickes, who had held up Sayre’s letter, and to demand that it be forwarded. Ickes still did not act, until Sayre sent a written request which Ickes could not ignore. So he forwarded Sayre’s letter with the endorsement: “President Quezon, a Filipino, does not yield in loyalty to F.B.S., an American–his value to this country is one thousand times greater.” In fifteen days Sayre was out of office.