July 6, 1969 — Sunday

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. I had a fair night. I shaved and went to 7 a.m. Holy Mass at San Beda Church. Father Columbano arranged a mass for me alone. There being no sermon it was finished in 20 minutes.

Went to Lourdes Hospital to visit Ambassador Nieto and Charito Legarda who had a heart attack last night. She was then rushed to the hospital. I gave her a strong talk on the dangers and effects of smoking on the health of individuals. I told her: “I know that I am talking to the wind. You will just laugh and at my talk. What you do with your body and your health is your problem, but I remind you of an important factor. Think of your children. You have a lovely family and beautiful children. Do not exchange them for the pleasure of cigarette puffs.”

I felt that she was touched. She promised to obey me. Let us see!


May 29, 1969 — Thursday

I had an excellent night last night. I slept in bed for long stretches and woke up at 5 a.m. very well rested.

At 9 a.m. I went to Oceanic Commercial central office at Pasong Tamo for my  weekly consultations. Returned home for a needed rest before lunch. It continues to be very hot, with the temperature 100 degrees Fahrenheit or very near. We needed rain very badly. This prolonged dry weather is hard on the farmers. In our Hacienda del Carmen in Pampanga, this prolonged lack of rain is interfering with planting of sugar cane.

At 4 p.m. went to China Banking Corporation and returned home early, to wait for former Ambassador to Spain, Colonel Manuel Nieto, who arrived by plane last night and wanted to see me. We were both very happy to see each other. I did not inquire about his illness.

I had the surprise visit of Nonong Quezon.


August 4 and 5, 1944

Long talk with Dr. Trepp the day after the funeral. What an extraordinary career was Quezon’s!–born a village boy in Baler in 1878, of mixed Spanish and Ilongot blood, he spent his childhood in one of the most remote and inaccessible little villages of the southwest Pacific. He died as the President in exile of the conquered Philippines, and was given the most impressive funeral which I ever attended. The cathedral was full and many dignitaries were there. He was buried in Arlington Cemetery–a great military display headed by General Marshall and Admiral King. His body is left there until it can be sent back to the Philippines on an American battleship.

Trepp described to me Quezon’s last illness: Asheville was the “low point” and Quezon began to improve again at Saranac Lake. He was kept in touch with the progress of the war by daily readings from newspapers, and attended now and then to a little executive business by letter and telegram. He wrote to MacArthur two days before his death. He was, however, not unaware of the seriousness of his condition. He told Nieto just a day or two before the end to look out for all his affairs and he had a long and satisfactory talk with his wife. At ten o’clock on the morning of August 1st, 1944, he suddenly had a hemorrhage–about a liter of blood which practically choked him–sank rapidly and died peacefully.

Trepp says that Quezon wore himself out completely by his quarrel with Osmeña over the presidency in November 1943, and never recovered. He was often found in tears in his bed at that time. This, Trepp names as the proximate cause of his death.

Mr. Serapio Canceran, the private secretary of the late President expresses deep concern over the possible killing of General Roxas by the Japanese because he is believed to be the “undercover” head of the guerrillas. He says that two days before he died, Quezon sent a cable to General MacArthur asking him to rescue Roxas and get him away from the Japanese. “This,” replied MacArthur “would be very difficult to do.” Dr. Trepp believes that Roxas will be elected first president of the Philippine Republic.

A few months later, Trepp himself died in Doctors’ Hospital in Washington of cancer of the stomach. I saw him several times in his last days, and this simple and honourable man suffered greatly towards his end.

THE END


December 1943–May 31, 1944

Towards the middle of December 1943, Quezon moved with his family to Miami, Florida. He craved the sunshine and warmth of a climate more nearly resembling that of his own country, over which during his life in exile he constantly brooded. Reports of the state of his health were not encouraging, and the fight over his succession to the presidency had worn him out completely. He no longer had the vitality which had given him such astonishing recuperative powers in his previous illnesses. His country was still under the brutal heel of the invader.

In February, I proposed to go down to see him, but he returned a polite negative.

At the end of March I wrote him that I had to undergo a serious surgical operation, and he wired me they were all praying for a successful recovery.

As he was not doing well at Miami, he was moved to Asheville, North Carolina, a climate favorable to tuberculosis patients. Quezon was in Hathaway Cottage at the Grove Park Hotel, and as I entered, I heard low voices in conversation from his bedroom. He and his nurse were talking. Colonel Manuel Nieto and Dr. Trepp were in the sitting room, and they told me that Quezon had not been doing at all well at Asheville, and that the next morning they were going to move him back at Saranac in the Adirondack Mountains, in northern New York. I asked, of course, if I might see him, and Dr. Trepp replied that Quezon had had a relapse at Miami, and that while, of course, he could not forbid me to go in to see him, nevertheless he earnestly wished that I should not enter Quezon’s bedroom. Of course I acquiesced in his decision. I spent an hour talking with Nieto and Trepp.

Those who saw Quezon put aboard the train in a stretcher the next morning told me he was exceedingly feeble. I never saw him again until on August 3rd I looked on his dead face as his body lay in its coffin in St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington.


September 6-9, 1943

Saranac Lake, N.Y.

This is the first entry in this diary for more than three months. Early in June, Quezon was attacked by bronchitis and soon developed a serious attack of tuberculosis. Dr. Trepp was frankly alarmed–he told me that Quezon was a worn-out man, and expressed himself as uncertain whether he could pull Quezon through this time. I suggested Saranac Lake, of which Trepp had never heard, but he understood at once when I mentioned the name of the famous Dr. Trudeau. So, after a couple of weeks in Washington and an equal period at Doctors’ Hospital in New York, Quezon was taken to Saranac.

Before leaving Washington, Quezon was not allowed to speak above a whisper, and the Cabinet met in his bedroom, where the President designated Osmeña to act for him, and in case the latter was incapacitated (as he then was!), Elizalde was to act as and for the President. This selection, inevitable as it was, created vast confusion among high officials–Quezon’s secretary, Dr. Rotor, and Bernstein, head of the Office of Special Services, were frankly uncertain whether they could (or would) get on with Elizalde!

Meanwhile, Osmeña, who, as already noted, has been suddenly operated on for appendicitis, came through safely, and then developed an infection and a high temperature. The first two occasions when I visited him in his bed in Doctors’ Hospital in Washington, he could not speak–only moved his eyelids. I then thought he might die in my presence. My third visit, a fortnight later found him sitting up in a wheel chair and conversing agreeably; I told him he would soon be dancing again, and to clinch the matter he stood up and did a couple of fox-trot steps. He has been more or less acting as President ever since, somewhat to the surprise of Elizalde, who had expected Osmeña to be out of business for a year.

Quezon’s 65th birthday was at Saranac on August 19, 1943; shortly after that I heard that he was going to send for me; a telegram on September 4, from Rotor asked me to go up to Saranac for a week.

On arrival, I found all the customary “court circle” at MacMartin camp–Mrs. Quezon, the three children and all their usual suite. Osmeña and Bernstein were there, and Valdes and young Madrigal soon arrived. They were all gayer and in better spirits than I have seen them since their arrival in the United States in May, 1942. Quezon was said to have gained five pounds, and was contemplating an early return to Washington to escape the cold weather at Saranac. Trepp seemed resigned to the move, although he was enjoying himself in surroundings which reminded him of his native Switzerland. Quezon had the steam heat on in the house all summer, and part of his “outdoor” porch enclosed!

I found Quezon still on his back in bed, he was obliged to talk in an unaccustomed low voice, and easily became tired. Osmeña, Bernstein and I were at once employed on several alternative forms for a joint resolution of Congress declaring that the Philippines were and of right ought to be free and independent, that independence was to be granted as soon as the invader was driven out of the Islands and was to be secured, and the United States was to make good the ravages of war.

Quezon had received at Saranac a visit from Secretary of War Stimson on the latter’s journey to the Quebec conference. Stinson had been deeply disturbed by the Japanese political maneuvers in the Philippines (as, indeed I have been myself). They feared that the Japanese grant of independence might rally a certain number of Filipinos to aid the Japanese army to resist the coming American attack on them in the Philippines. Stimson told Quezon that if this occurred, he (S.) would feel like committing suicide. Millard Tydings, the Senator from Maryland, Chairman of the Committee on Tertitories etc., had been staying nearby with his father-in-law, ex-Ambassador Joseph E. Davies, and the two of them had come over to visit Quezon. Tydings then told Quezon that he would “father” “any damn thing” to which the President would agree in order to meet this situation.

So, together with Osmeña and Bernstein, I worked for the first day on the various forms offered for the proposed joint resolution. We could see Quezon for only an hour in the morning and the same length of time in the afternoon. That night Osmeña and Bernstein returned south.

Talk with Colonel Manuel Nieto, Quezon’s loyal friend and chief a.d.c. He told me that they had recently seen a colonel (American) who had escaped from the Philippines in July last. He reported that the Filipinos still have 10,000 troops in Mindanao; that there the Japanese held only Davao, Zamboanga, Misamis and the country up as far as Lake Lanao. The Filipinos can operate elsewhere in Mindanao as they wish. Tomas Confesor has a sort of government in existence in parts of Panay and adjoining islands; Samar and Leyte are for the most part unoccupied by the Japanese. Parts of Cebu are still in the hands of Filipino commandos; Luzon is pretty thoroughly occupied by the enemy.

In conversation at lunch I condoled with Mrs. Marcos Roces over the death of her brother-in-law, my good friend Don Alejandro Roces. It seems that the news had been kept from her–I don’t know why! In talking over this with Quezon later he remarked “Roces was better dead than left alive to explain later his attitude in his newspapers (La Vanguardia, Taliba, etc.) which had been pro-Japanese from the moment the enemy occupied Manila.” Quezon added that he would not himself hang any of the pro-Japanese Filipinos upon his return, though he added that “some of them may be killed before we can take control.” The general impression is that the Filipino people can distinguish accurately between those who are really pro-Japanese and those who are merely co-operating formally to preserve what they can of their country. Quezon quoted again the cable he sent to Roosevelt before leaving for Corregidor, that “if a government cannot afford protection to its citizens it cannot claim their allegiance.” It seems that thereupon Roosevelt cabled MacArthur to release the Filipino Army if Quezon demanded it, but also cabled Quezon his famous message “promising to redeem and protect the Philippines and give them their independence.” Quezon added that he had changed the word “redeemed” when he issued to the Filipino people the proclamation publishing Roosevelt’s message, on the basis of which the Filipinos fought the battle of Bataan. Roosevelt did not know that MacArthur had showed Quezon the message allowing him to disband the Philippine Army if Quezon insisted. Quezon praised Roosevelt’s attitude very highly.

He told me that Stimson’s recent visit to London was to insist that a more vigorous war be waged at once. Hence the pronouncements to that effect at the subsequent Quebec Conference.

About the so-called “independence” offered by the Japanese to the Filipinos, Quezon said: “As soon as I heard that the voting was to be done only by members of the Kalibapi, all my anxieties were ended. If it had been a vote of the Filipino people I would never have gone against it–I would have resigned.” (As a matter of opinion, the Filipinos are said to have “adopted” the new constitution by the vote of 181 hand-picked members of the Kalibapi!) This attitude of Quezon toward his retention of the presidency is uncertain in my mind. When Osmeña and Bernstein left after handing him the various forms proposed for a joint resolution of Congress, Quezon in bidding good-bye to Osmeña said “If this resolution passes Congress before November 15th, I shall resign because I am ill.” Mrs. Quezon also told me that when they go back to Manila, it would not be to reside in Malacañan Palace, but in their own house! On the other hand, Trepp says that he knows Quezon is going to retain the presidency, since he has overheard the negotiations on that subject!

After Osmeña and Bernstein had left, I worked for two more days with Quezon on the joint resolution and the various alternative forms were whittled down to one, declaring the Philippines independent, etc., as soon as invader was ejected and reciting Roosevelt’s famous message of promises to “redeem, secure, etc., and to repair.”

Just as I was leaving to return home, well satisfied with the draft of the joint resolution and Quezon’s proposed letter to President Roosevelt, a telephone conversation between Mrs. Quezon and ex-Governor General Frank Murphy in Michigan introduced another uncertainty into Quezon’s mind! Murphy was then quoted as having said that “he did not want the Philippines to be treated like India, and the resolution must grant immediate independence and he was going to Washington to get it!”

Canceran, the President’s private secretary, who had been busy all day for three days typing and retyping forms of the resolution as Quezon thought of new improvements, sadly said to me: “That is the trouble with the President, he always changes his mind at the last moment, upon new advice.”

Well, we shall see, what we shall see.

Roosevelt and Stimson are already committed to the earlier proposition–i.e., independence as soon as the Japanese invader is thrown out. (The other form might look as if the United States were evading their obligations).

It seems that Quezon has had Dr. Cherin, an assistant of Bernstein, working on the re-writing of Quezon’s book this summer, though Quezon told me nothing of that. The real hitch in publication is that Quezon cannot yet tell the full story of the all-important interchange of cablegrams between himself and Roosevelt before the battle of Bataan.


March 11, 1943

Shoreham Hotel. Conversation with Major (Dr.) Trepp. Disillusionment of a doctor.

Dr Trepp, aged 56, short, stocky with thick shoulders and a round skull–a typical “alpine.” Comes from a Swiss village on the Italian side of the Alps, lying at an altitude of 1,500 meters. This used to be a 40 horse post-road station run by his grandfather before the St Gothard Tunnel was opened. Has a son in the American army in Tunisia; says that if his son dies, he will kill himself. Anyway, he is really more seriously ill himself than Quezon is.

For ten years was head of the Quezon Sanitorium outside Manila–is a specialist in TB.

His round, pale blue eyes, express a sort of childish innocence which he conceals with a brusque manner. At bridge, his “dooble” comes forth with a crack like that from the long rifle of a Swiss sharpshooter.

When Quezon left Manila for Corregidor on December 28, 1941, he took Trepp with him as a “personal physician.” Trepp says: “I believed he was a god.” During the weeks on Corregidor, Quezon had a sharp attack of bronchitis and perhaps a touch of pneumonia. “The food for all of us was rationed to two scanty meals a day–but Quezon had mutton chops and beefsteak.” Trepp added: “I lost forty pounds there.” I asked if Quezon had been brave during the bombardment. Trepp answered: “Quite the contrary.” He added: “I once, afterwards, asked Colonel Nieto, his a.d.c, about all the exploits told by Quezon in his book, of his insurrecto life–how he had fought in this and that engagement and Nieto answered. ‘Yes! behind a tree.’ When we got to Negros,” continued Trepp, “Quezon had bought two automobiles, which he left behind him there. When we boarded the planes in Mindanao for the journey to Australia, all the rest of us were obliged to leave our clothes behind, so that the seven chests of valuables belonging to Quezon and his family could be carried. Once he was in Melbourne, he bought two more automobiles and rented a house at $500 a month for six months. A few weeks later, we were on the Coolidge en route for the United States.”

Then with some indignation Trepp added:

“On April 9th, 1942, in Melbourne, Australia, we received word of the fall of Bataan. Nieto and I went up to the President’s apartment and told him the news of the disaster. He was seated in a chair with the family gathered about him looking over the silver and jewelry and personal possessions they had been able to bring from Malacañan Palace on their flight. It had been taken out of the bank in Melbourne that day and a little later was sent back there. Nieto and I went downstairs and cried.” This simple Swiss was evidently unaccustomed to the life of those who sit in the seats of the mighty, nor did he allow for the fact that Quezon had known from day to day, through General MacArthur of the approaching and certain disaster to the armies on Bataan and Corregidor.

I asked Trepp why Quezon had spent $20,000 of the Government’s funds in redecorating and refurnishing the suite in the Shoreham Hotel in Washington? “$20,000!” he cried: “it was $60,000–I saw the bills.” Trepp, with his Swiss conscience did not understand the tremendous inner urge in Quezon to be always building and recreating Malacañan and all of his surroundings as President of the Philippines. It not only compensated Quezon’s own soul for his starved surroundings as a barrio boy in Baler during his childhood, but it truly expressed, as Quezon believed, the desire of a people approaching nationhood to “put their best foot forward.” However brilliant the Swiss may be in interpreting the psychology of foreigners who come there to have themselves analyzed by their doughty psycho-analysts, the rest of the world will always be a puzzle to these fierce democrats of Switzerland.

Quezon had told me that the offer of “independence with honour” was made him by the Japanese before he took his final decision to fight alongside the Americans. Trepp now tells me that Quezon did not learn of this offer until he was in Melbourne, some months later, and that then his first comment was: “If I had only known!”

Poor lonely, defeated man! He had been ousted from “the seats of the mighty” and plunged into the depth of “some divine despair.”

One’s comment on Trepp’s perhaps quite natural feeling is that “any man may be a hero–except to his valet.”


January 20, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Quezon and Nieto back from an hour with J. Edgar Hoover, Chief of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ever since Coolidge’s day. He has a small office at the end of a long narrow room like a corridor–visitors are visible for a long while as they approach him–rather like Mussolini’s arrangements for those whom he receives. Hoover, he says, is a very fine man and intensely patriotic–is against all forms of “isms,” but more especially is opposed to communism, which he detests.

At luncheon, we met Mr. Sinclair, newspaper publisher from Oregon and on the staff of an office which apportions for the government the newsprint to the newspapers. Says this paper is useful also for explosives (nitrates) and for containers. Present shortage will increase. They do not advise the papers to cut down on advertising, but leave them to arrange their own space. Advertising however is bound soon to diminish, since motors, radios, etc., no longer are being made for the public.

At lunch Sinclair questioned President Quezon on two main subjects:

(a)  Were they always aware of their danger from Japan? Quezon said: “No! Only aware during a year or so before the Japanese struck.”

(b)  Could an independent Philippines survive economically? Quezon said: “Yes, the loss or partial loss of the American market would affect the Philippine Government only temporarily or until readjustments were made. The great mass of the people would not be much affected in any case. The United States would need 600,000 tons of sugar from the Philippines even after absorbing their own sugar production and that of Cuba and Hawaii; in other respects, Philippine trade might increase in new channels. Trade modifications under an American law of independence for the Philippines was to be expected.”

The Philippines are necessary to the United States as a foothold, or outpost, especially in aviation, etc.