12:30 p.m. at Senate Chamber to hear Quezon’s address. Excellent and effective. He seemed a little nervous at the beginning, and no wonder: that is the most critical audience in the world. They were all very friendly to him. Quezon told me that never in his wildest dreams had he expected to address the United States Senate, though he had always counted on being the President of his own country. Senator Barkley of Kentucky, the floor leader, sat on his right and led the applause, while Senator Tydings sat on his left. As the Senate was technically in recess to receive him, applause was not “out of order” and some of the Senators kept it up even longer than the crowded galleries. They had interrupted their voting on a declaration of war against Bulgaria, Rumania and Hungary to receive him. The ex-Mrs. Douglas MacArthur went up in the motor with the Quezons.
Quezon was in high spirits after it was all so well over, and had A. D. Williams and myself, with Quezon’s two daughters to lunch at the Shoreham. His daughters were chaffing him because he had made one slip–referring to the V.P. as “Vice President Marshall.” It was, of course, Henry Wallace.
At lunch, there was a lively conversation between Quezon and A. D. Williams, who in recent years had been closest to the President of any American in the Philippines, being his adviser in the construction of public works in which Quezon’s keen creative energies were always fully employed. Williams, who had at last, after so many years of service in the tropics incurred the disease known as “sprue” had finally, in July 1941, been obliged to resign his most confidential post with the President in Manila and retire for good to his farm near Culpepper, Virginia. One of his last bits of construction work in the Philippines had been the creation of an air-raid shelter at Quezon’s country home at Mariquina, near Manila. The Quezon girls, who were present at this luncheon commented enthusiastically over this and said that, during the invasion they had spent most of their time in that shelter; it had a toilet and two entrances, and had been cut out of the tufa rock which is excellent material for insulating shocks.
Quezon and Williams told of some differences of opinion between the President and General MacArthur during these months of anxiety and strain before the war broke, but it would be quite superfluous to recount such matters now after the close friendship and heroic co-operation of those important personages during the dramatic war scenes which followed.
They also chatted about General Eisenhower the present Chief of the War Plans Board in Washington. MacArthur had brought with him on his mission to the Philippines two Majors in the United States Army, Ord and Eisenhower. When poor Ord was killed in an airplane accident at Baguio, Eisenhower became MacArthur’s “number two.” Eisenhower was very popular with both races in Manila–Americans and Filipinos, and seemed to enjoy the many occasions on which Quezon entertained him at Malacañan and on the yacht Casiana. Finally, Mrs. Eisenhower began to claim the Major’s time for her social engagements and Quezon had chaffed him about this in the presence of his wife at the farewell luncheon he gave them at Malacañan Palace some months before the war broke, when they were returning to the United States.
At this same luncheon, Quezon and A. D. Williams made quite different computations as to the number of American war planes in the Philippines at the time of the invasion. When Williams then ill, finally left the islands to retire home, he had been a member of the board appointed by Quezon to advise on new air fields. He calculated that the United States then had some three hundred plane in or en route to the Philippines, actually on hand or about to arrive. Quezon said there had been, at the time of the Japanese assault thirty-eight four engine bombers and about one hundred and thirty war planes of various types. Many of these were destroyed on the ground at Nichols Field, Clark Field and Cavite on the eighth of December, 1941. I asked whether this destruction caused any panic among the Filipinos and he replied that they knew nothing about it. Williams told again of his having, as representative of the Philippine Government gone around in June or July 1941 with the American officer-in-charge to inspect ground for new air landing space near Manila and how he personally had begged the Commanding General not to extend existing fields, but to build a dozen new landing grounds among the bamboo fields to either side of the South Road. No attention had been paid to his advice. He also remonstrated with the navy for spending five or six million dollars in dredging and in filling in an extension of the existing air field at Cavite which, as he said, “stuck out like a sore thumb” in Manila Bay, and was visible from the air for a great distance.
Quezon then said how indignant he had been with Admiral Hart for withdrawing his fleet from the Philippines at nearly the last moment. “If he was going to lose his fleet, why not to so in defense of the Philippines instead of Java?” He admitted, however, that Hart’s fleet was destroyed after he, himself, had been relieved of command at the insistence of the Dutch, who took over the American ships before the disastrous naval battle of the Java Sea. But Quezon still insisted that his submarines, based on Cavite for refuelling, should have been used to sink the Japanese transports and thus interrupt the invasion of the Philippines. There were twenty-eight submarines in this command of which some twenty-two were of the new type.
Quezon then turned to some remarks on the pressing reasons which had induced him to attempt towards the end of February 1942 the escape by submarine from the beleaguered fortress of Corregidor. This will not be repeated here, because it has been described in his book The Good Fight, published by D. Appleton-Century in New York in 1944, after the President’s death.
This account of that day’s conversation at the luncheon table at the Shoreham would be incomplete without recording the writer’s recollection of another subject discussed by Quezon, which has, however, a very remote bearing if any on the invasion of the Philippines.