Railways in Mindanao: Then and Now

Department of Transportation and Communications, 2010

 

News is that the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) has approved a Feasibility Study to proceed for the proposed Mindanao Railway Project. The map above gives an indication of the scope of the proposed railway system.It’s been a long time coming. An overview of railways in the past can be found in The Colonial Iron Horse: Railroads and Regional Development in the Philippines, 1875-1935 by Arturo G. Corpuz. The British, of course, were railway pioneers in the Philippines, and as this report on a US Congressional Hearing in 1904 shows, the Americans were wary of British commercial interests in this regard. See also a 1907 journal article by Frank McIntyre, Railroads in the Philippine Islands.

The Philippine Diary Project gives a glimpse into the first glimmerings of a railway scheme for Mindanao. These glimpses are through the diary of Francis Burton Harrison, former Governor-General, and who served as an adviser to the Commonwealth of the Philippines from 1935-36 and again from 1942-44 (and after independence, on foreign affairs). Aside from having been a chief executive, Harrison was a longtime resident of the United Kingdom and was thus attuned both to British psychology and their reliance on railways, in contrast to the American preference for highways. See Planes, trains, and automobiles from July 16, 2008 for some background:

Courtesy of Augusto de Viana is The railways in Philippine history which, however, so compresses the most interesting years, the 20s to the 50s, as to render that section meaningless. Oh well. Viviana overlooks the ambivalence and even hostility American officials felt towards railways, since it would affect the Philippine market for automobiles… When autonomy was achieved, railroad development accelerated. And the policy debate on highways versus railways also began, along with still-unrealized plans such as a railroad for Mindanao (the development of Maria Cristina Fall’s hydroelectric power was originally envisioned as primarily powering the Mindanao railways: there are interesting snippets on these debates in F.B. Harrison’s diary: as an Anglophile, he was pro-railways, pointing with envy to Britain’s not altogether altruistic promotion of its own steam engine industry in its colonies…

Harrison’s interest in railways can be seen in his entry for October 25-29, 1935, Harrison records an extended conversation with Alejandro Roces, the leading newspaper publisher at the time:

Roces, Sr. advocates a National Transportation Corporation to take over all the motor bus lines –capital required now is about three million pesos but they would take shares or installment payments; they can be run as feeders for the Railroad. Paez agrees with him. Roces advocates moving Bilibid prison out of town and making the site a central market and the hub of motor buses –thus cutting out the middleman. This has been tried in Spain –and is a success.

His interest is also shown by railways-related details he notices. Two days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth (November 13, 1935), Harrison visits Pasay and noticed,

Called at Pasay. Quezon was closeted with General MacIntyre, General Creed Cox (Chief of the Bureau of Insular Affairs), Osmeña, Roxas, Paez and Carmona –I believe they were discussing the subject of the bonds of the Manila Railroad.

Harrison quite early on (the idea was first broached in broad strokes on November 2, 1935, thirteen days before the inauguration of the Commonwealth) was engaged as an adviser on communications, and his first task was advising the Philippine government on how to handle the British owners of the Manila Railway Company. See his diary entry for November 26, 1935:

We then discussed my appointment as Adviser on Communications and he asked me also to help him in the reorganization of the government. He is to put me in touch with Quirino and Paez on the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds from the English.

Harrison seems to have immediately set about getting himself up to speed on the railway situation. See his diary entry for November 27, 1935:

Talk with [James J.] Rafferty and McCreery, who is auditor and acting manager of the Philippine Railway. He said that the Iloilo line, is practically self-sustaining. Cebu is not suited to a railway.

Two days later, he was actively taking up the task assigned him with the railways manager. See his diary entry for November 29, 1935:

Conference 9-10 a.m. with [Jose] Paez over the proposed purchase of the Manila RR. Southern 4’s from the Southern Syndicate. He is much in favor of accepting the British offer, and says that if the plan is carried thru’ the RR. can meet its indebtedness for interest even in bad times.

About a week later, he was being consulted by representatives of investors on what to do, see his entry for December 6, 1935:

[John H.] Pardee wants to know whether the Philippine Railway Co., should pay its Dutch bond holders on a gold basis, or whether the Manila RR. had decided that under American law they could pay only 4%. If so, the Philippine Railway Co., would pay only 4%, because the gold clause was not in their bonds and upon “instructions” from the Secretary of War in the time of Taft this had not been followed by a vote of their board. No written word of this exists in the War Department today.

Three days later, the government position was formally communicated to the new National Assembly. See Message of President Quezon to the First National Assembly on Railroad Bonds Redemption, December 9, 1935.

Politics being what it is, by December 15, 1935 Harrison was noticing political intrigue concerning his assignment on railways:

[A.D. Williams] reported that it is now rumoured that I came out here this time to advance the interests of the English in the Manila RR. bond redemption. (Exactly contrary to facts –as usual). Says Paez insisted on resigning if the bonds are not redeemed. I feel certain we could have made a better bargain with the English; that I could have done it; and that it is legally possible to avoid paying them receipts from the “gold clause” in the bonds, and that the English know it. (N.B. Quezon asked me to prepare “advise” on this subject and then never asked for my opinion.)

Five days after that, Harrison records his discussions with the president, and then with the British consul on December 20, 1935 (along the way it’s an interesting glimpse into the contending interests that come into play whenever any commercial interest is affected by government policies –press, politicians, governments local and foreign, get into the act):

Then I asked him [Quezon] what was the matter with the Manila RR. bond purchase? He said it has been held up to enquire of the United States Government as to whether they considered that the Philippine Government was resposible for the principal of these bonds; they had replied thru the High Commissioner in the affirmative –so Quezon said the bill would go through because this meant that the United States would act on the maturity of the bonds and seize the Customs House. He said that if the American Government had decided this Government was not responsible for the principal, he was going to say to the English that he had been in favour of purchase but the Legislature demands better terms. I told him that this Government was not responsible for principal of these bonds –that just as we had bought the railroad we could sell it. Then he said Confesor (Assemblyman) had told him of F. Theo Roger’s (of Free Press) story that I had come out here to get what I could for the English! He said that he had authorized Confesor to state the true facts in the Legislature –that this impugned his honor as well as my own– that he would put Rogers in prison if he printed such a gross libel. He asked me to bring him the memorandum on these bonds which I had prepared for him on December 6, which I did…

…I then went to home of A.P. Blunt, British Consul General –he did not get there until 8 o’clock, having been at work in his office, getting off in the mail all his reports on governmental development here… As I left, Blunt asked me in a casual voice what had happened about the purchase of the Manila RR. bonds –I said there had been “a hitch.” He eagerly enquired “what hitch?” I said it had been caused by Vicente Villamin’s speech –“ah!” he said “they fear the wily English bankers, whereas our fellows would rather get this agreement now than perhaps lose everything later.” I replied that there was much to be said on each side, but I really thought the deal would go through –(it passed the Legislature just about that time).

The story resumes some weeks later, on January 16, 1936:

I asked him [Quezon] whether he wanted me to talk public business at luncheon, and he replied that he enjoyed it with people he liked. Told him I had just been with Paez and had written for him (Quezon) an opinion on the Manila RR. I advised him to instruct the public utilities commission to stop for the present issuing any more “certificates” or licenses for the bus lines. Said he would do so. Told him it was fortunate he could put the railroad and the busses under one control –other countries could not now do so but he was catching the situation nearly as it began.

I also expressed the hope that he would be able to get the Legislature to agree to permit the Manila Railroad to abandon those branches which were (dead) unprofitable.

(a few days later, on January 20, 1936, Harrison would note that he submitted a memorandum on Manila Railroad plans “for the next few years”). A few months later, the situation seems to have been resolved, as recorded in his diary entry for March 19, 1936:

Quirino said to me that my silver purchase suggestion was “gaining ground.” He also remarked that I had helped in the purchase of the Manila Railroad bonds, because I knew the “psychological background” of the English bondholders.

But this entry is about the proposed Mindanao Railway. And here, Harrison gives insights into the thinking behind the Mindanao Railway –and the opposition to it.

The entries related to a Mindanao Railways plan start on February 18, 1936, when A.D. Williams, the American adviser of the government on public works, makes an inquiry with Harrison:

A. D. Williams came in to enquire whether there was any basis for Quezon’s newspaper statement that it was being considered whether to build main roads in Mindanao, or railroads, which would cost ten times as much and probably be a heavy loss. We agreed that roads were the modern solution, and that a railroad was only justified if leading to a mine or other heavy industry.

A month later, Harrison, on March 17, 1936 notes that Teofisto Guingona, Sr. (who would be Commissioner of Mindanao and Sulu) had a different point of view:

Guingona is in favour of constructing roads rather than railroads in Mindanao.

The clash between these points of views is discussed in his entry for March 25, 1936:

Busy morning at office. Miguel Unson has seen Quezon…

We talked over the issue of railway vs. roads in Mindanao: he says the plan is to take down there that useless railroad outfit in Cebu, and perhaps in Iloilo as well, and to build roads as feeders. I also saw Osmeña for a moment before the Cabinet meeting and he talked on the same subject: says the time has come to decide either for railroad or roads, and not to make the same mistake as in Luzon, where they run parallel.

It seems that the issue continued to remain unresolved –or that those opposed to railways were still lobbying to change the policy. See Harrison’s entry for April 28, 1936:

At Malacañan. A. D. Williams had just come from a conference with Quezon, Paez and Ramon Fernandez; says the President is set on building railways in Mindanao, and “A.D.” and Fernandez tried to convince him they would not pay. “A.D.” said he thought he had offended Quezon still more by replying to his (Quezon’s) complaints that the roads offered too unfair competition to the Manila Railroad, that the competition from trucks was unfair and when they had finally managed by January 1, 1936 to get the tax on trucks raised from one peso to two pesos per 100 kilos, the rate had at once been reduced again. This was Quezon’s own doing on the advice of Geo. Vargas, and they both looked pretty glum.

But the policy remained. See May 8, 1936:

This morning, Quezon gave a press interview to both “foreign” and “local” reporters. Evidently, he had important things to give out. The newspapers published:

(a)  A statement that Davao land “leases” would go to the courts.

(b)  The President contemplates the construction of a 150 kilometer (300!) electric railway between Davao and Cagayan de Misamis, and also would complete the Aloneros-Pasacao gap in the southern lines of the Manila Railroad. The Maria Cristina Falls in Lanao are to be used for part of the power for the first project.

(c)  That the Philippines would sooner ask for immediate independence than wait for the end of the ten years period if there are no prospects of improving the provisions of the economic clauses of the Tydings-McDuffie law.

Still, the opponents of the railways scheme hadn’t given up, as recorded in this entry for May 9, 1936:

[A.D. Williams] told me again of a talk with Quezon concerning transportation. It arose out of a project to build a wharf for the Cebu Portland Cement Co. Williams pointed out that this would reduce the revenues of the Cebu Railway. Quezon replied: “our guarantee of interest on the bonds expires next year. We will have to buy the road and move it.” Williams agreed and suggested moving it to Negros. Quezon remained silent. What he wants is to move it to Mindanao which Williams opposes since he believes that a railroad would be so much more expensive to maintain and operate than roads.

The policy, however, still remained. As the entry for May 18, 1936, the railways head was dispatched to Mindanao to conduct an inspection:

Quezon returned from Hong Kong and after a day at Malacañan left for Baguio. His office work is greatly in arrears and is in confusion. Vargas handed me a memorandum prepared by Quezon dated April 14 in Iloilo, addressed to me, (and unsigned) asking me to prepare papers to carry out the recommendations of the annual report of the Manila Railroad Co. This I received May 18!! Vargas says he found it “on the boat” (Arayat?). I hardly think it was meant for me, anyway, but probably for Paez who is away inspecting the line for the proposed railroad in Mindanao.

A month later, the lobbying of the National Assembly included a pitch for the Mindanao railways scheme, see June 6, 1936:

Before making wharf at Iligan, Quezon addressed the Assemblymen, asking for funds for the development of Mindanao. He used maps, and said that an electric railway was to be built from Misamis, via Bukidnon to Davao, the water power for this project coming from the falls in Lanao. Only four or five of the Assemblymen had ever been in Mindanao before. The gathering seemed to be willing to vote the money, but wanted to know how they were to get the colonists? Quezon replied “Open roads, and they will come of themselves.”

These behind-the-scenes stories in Harrison’s diaries, help provide context to the official declaration of policy in the Second State of the Nation Address, June 16, 1936 in which the railroad bonds, and future plans, including the expansion of the railways system, were discussed:

Manila Railroad Company –A very important measure approved by the National Assembly is Commonwealth Act No. 4 providing funds to be loaned to the Manila Railroad Company for the purchase, before maturity, of certain outstanding bonds of the said Company. In accordance with the provisions of this Act, I directed the Insular Treasurer to loan to the Manila Railroad Company P9,900,000, and authorized the Philippine National Bank to use P3,360,000 of its funds in the purchase of said bonds.

On January 29, 1936, upon payment to the Manila Railway Company (1906) Ltd., through the Chase National Bank, New York City, of the sum of $6,698,631.41 covering the principal, interest and exchange premium, all of the Souther Lines 4 per cent gold bonds maturing May 1, 1939, held by the English Company, with par value of P16,340,000, were delivered to the order of the Bureau of Insular Affairs, Washington, D.C., acting as representative of the Commonwealth Government and the Manila Railroad Company.

The successful culmination of this exceedingly important transaction resulted in great financial advantages to the direct benefit of the Manila Railroad Company and indirectly of the Commonwealth Government, which is the sole owner of the property. The following estimates indicate in round figures the savings that will be effected between now and the maturity of the bonds:

Total face value of the bonds held by the Manila Railway Company (1906), Ltd. …………….. P16,340,000.00
Cost at 80 per cent of face value …………….. 13,072,000.00
Savings in principal …………….. 3,268,000.00
Less –premium …………….. 165,500.00
Net saving in principal …………….. 3,102,500.00
Normal 4 per cent annual interest on English Company holdings P653,600.00
Normal interest for 1936, 1937, 1938 and half of 1939 2,287,600.00
Premium for 3-1/2 years at P441,180 each year 1,544,130.00—————— 3,831,730.00—————————–
Total …………….. P6,934,230.00
Less-
2% on P13,350,000 for 3-1/2 years 934,500.00—————————–
Total savings in principal and interest …………….. P5,999,730.00================

The above savings on the English Company holdings are based on the principal of the bonds being redeemed at maturity at their face value. However, both the principal and interest are subject, at the holders’ option, to payment in certain European currencies at the former gold equivalent, and if this option should be exercised covering the principal at the time of maturity, the amount necessary to redeem the bonds being held by the English Company would, on the present basis of exchange, represent a total sum of approximately P27,287,800. The purchase of these new bonds at this time for the sum of P13,072,000, therefore, means a saving in interest and principal of about P14,200,000 besides a savings in interest and premium amounting to about P2,900,000 after allowing for the two per cent interest on the loan from the Government, or a total saving of about P17,100,000.

The investment of the Government in the Manila Railroad Company including bonded indebtedness of the Company all told amounts to approximately P28,000,000. This is a respectable sum for any Government and doubly so for a Government whose yearly revenue at present is around P78,000,000 and at its highest peak only reached the total of P92,783,173.70.

Bus and truck transportation due to improved roads in the northern and central provinces of Luzon have caused a large decline in the income of the Manila Railroad Company. We cannot afford to allow this situation to continue and permit the Government to suffer tremendous losses in railroad operation, for the time might come when the Government would either be compelled to suspend the operation of the Railway or carry a yearly financial burden that sooner or later would bankrupt the National Treasury.

The Manila Railroad was acquired by the Insular Government in 1917 in order partly to withdraw from foreign hands the control of our most important means of transportation at that time. Soon after the Government assumed the administration of this property, the railroad began paying interest on the bonds from its revenue, and even extended some of its lines with its own resources. Only during the last two or three years has the income of the railroad begun to decline due, as already stated, to bus and truck competition. If it should be found advisable, I am prepared to authorize the Manila Railroad Company to purchase some of these competing bus transportation companies or else to have the Government establish and operate its own bus and truck services. The Constitution expressly authorizes the Government to establish and operate means of transportation and communication, and, upon payment of just compensation, transfer to public ownership utilities held by private individuals to be operated by the Government.

Another step that must be taken at once is the completion of the railroad line to the Bicol provinces. This, I am informed, will make the southern lines a paying enterprise. In pursuance of the authority vested in me by law, I have directed the Secretary of Finance to purchase P3,000,000 worth of stocks of the Manila Railroad to finance the completion of the Aloneros-Ragay line. It is my understanding that to complete the road the Government will have to invest only P700,000 more in addition to the P3,000,000 referred to above.

But this amount will have to be greatly increased if the Manila Railroad Company is not given permission to abandon the Legaspi-Tabaco, Las Pinas-Naic, Rosario-Montalban and Batangas-Bauan lines which are absolutely unnecessary from the point of view of public convenience and which, consequently, are causing an annual loss of about P100,000 to the Railroad Company. Once these lines are abandoned their materials and equipment will be used in the construction of the Aloneros-Ragay line.

I, therefore, earnestly recommend that a law be enacted authorizing the Manila Railroad Company to abandon the lines above mentioned.

After this, there isn’t any discussion on the Mindanao railways scheme, as Harrison resigned as adviser in 1936. As a postscript, the last mention of railroad planning in Harrison’s Diary is on December 23, 1938 when, during a visit, he mentions the recently-completed Bicol Express:

Staying with the President alone at the Guest House across the Pasig River from Malacañan Palace.

At luncheon we had Don Alejandro Roces, proprietor of the T.V.T. newspapers and Paez, manager of the Manila Railroad Company. Paez told of the success of the new branch of the railroad in the Bicol Provinces –at last, they have through connection with Manila and it is no longer necessary to cross Ragay Gulf by steamer. Quezon mentioned that he had refused the request of residents of those provinces for a highway parallel with the railroad.

For the official record on this, see the Fifth State of the Nation Address, January 24, 1939:

The Manila Railroad Company has at long last completed its southern line. The gap which existed for many years between Tayabas and Camarines Sur was connected at a cost of about P2,000,000. This was one of my dreams that have come true. The significance of this achievement will be readily seen when we consider the fact that a daily, comfortable, fast and inexpensive communication service has been established between Manila and the Bicol provinces. At the same time the completion of this southern line means increased earnings for the railroad.

Some photos (click to enlarge):

 

The Hondagua reception committee consisted of the crew of a Manila railroad boat.
Railroad officials inspecting the construction of the Sinuknipan Bridge along the new railway line
Government officials and assemblyman welcomed Commissioner McNutt and President Quezon
Coming down
A big crowd cheered the gayly-decorated special trains bearing guests of the Manila Railroad Company as it reached Del Gallego
High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt, President Manuel L. Quezon and Speaker Gil Montilla at the historical stone marker
The historical stone marker unveiled by Commissioner McNutt
Another partial view of the unveiling of the stone marker at Del Gallego, Commissioner McNutt (left) and President Quezon are shown standing before the marker in the background
Manila-Legaspi Line Inauguration
Line to the South

We can catch glimpses of the continuing story, also in the official record for the next two years:

Sixth State of the Nation Address, January 22, 1940:

In addition to this public debt, however, the Manila Railroad Company has an outstanding obligation in the amount of P26,472,000 for which no sinking funds are being provided. In order to protect the credit of one of our most im­portant enterprises, the Government will have to as­sume the payment of this debt maturing in 1956. I recommend that the National Assembly consider a plan establishing a sinking fund for these obliga­tions from the proceeds of the excise tax in the event the Manila Railroad Company is unable to provide therefore.

Seventh State of the Nation Address, January 31, 1941:

With the completion of the Tayabas-Legaspi section of its main Southern Line, the Manila Railroad Company has been enabled to maintain through train operation between Manila and Albay…

The Manila Railroad Company has also outstanding bonds amounting to P28,718,000.00. We have taken steps to enable this company to redeem its outstanding bonds upon maturity. For this purpose the National Assembly last year appropriated P7,000,000 from the Coconut Oil Excise Tax Fund. The present program of the Government contemplates further yearly appropriations from this same Fund until the total bonded debt of the Manila Railroad Company is fully covered.

World War II would put an end to railway schemes. In the years that followed, the story would be destruction and trying to rehabilitate the railways system.

See the two-part series by in the Cebu Daily News: “What happened to the Philippine Railway Company?” on June 12, 2014 and June 19, 2014.

See Statement of the Presidential Spokesperson on the restoration of rail service between Manila and Bicol on June 29, 2011:

The Bicol Express commenced in 1938 when, half a kilometer from del Gallego town proper in Camarines Sur, a golden nail was driven into a railroad tie, marking the meeting point of the south and north railroad lines and so officially linking Manila and Legaspi City by rail. The devastating weather of the early 1970s devastated the South Railway, and only token efforts were made to restore rail services. The railway was only rehabilitated in 1985, but deteriorated again soon after that. Then rail service between Manila and Bicol ceased in 2006 due to typhoon damage.

See also The Railways and Industrial Heritage Society of the Philippines website.

 


February 25, 1943

Shoreham Hotel.

Quezon says that when he first came to Washington as Resident Commissioner he, like most Filipinos, believed that when they saw an American man and woman out driving together, whom they knew not to be married to one another, they were sexually intimate. This was the old Spanish idea. But when he got to Washington and made friends with American girls, he soon found out the truth as to our views on the sexes–he was delighted, and when he went back to the Philippines, he convinced them as to the real American situation in these matters.

This conversation arose from an amusing incident–he was at his desk writing a letter to a well-known Washington hostess–a widow, but still young. She had recently entertained him in her house at a diner a deux. This was the first and only time they had met, and she terrified him by stories of the spying of the various secret services which, apparently, has always gone on in Washington. She told how, during the last war, she had warned Bernard Baruch, then a most important official, that she knew there were six police dictaphones in “his” house. He thought the statement ridiculous, but went home, made a search and found six of them–two under his bed! He was so furious that he went at once to President Wilson and resigned his office. The President finally calmed him down. Well, this lady, in return for some orchids which Quezon had sent her after the dinner, wrote him a rather empresse letter–a little coy and pleasantly familiar. He was struggling with his English vocabulary in writing his reply and asked me to help him. I read his letter and told him that it wouldn’t do at all–his phrase: “I was to find that, as the Spanish say, you carry your heart in your hand”–I protested that it was dangerous for a statesman to write such a letter–if a third party found it, use might be made of it. He jumped as if he had been shot–he was only trying to be polite. He explained that the phrase above quoted meant in Spanish only “sincere” or “virtuous” but I again objected that in English “virtue” meant not the old Latin sense of the word, but only referred to sex! He was horrified, entirely rewrote the letter in uncompromising phrases and thanked me rather effusively for saving him. He made a great story for his family out of this!

Quezon, Andres Soriano, Secretary of Finance and myself in conversation. More talk on news from the Philippines, which comes from Colonel Peralta, chief of guerrillas in Panay, through MacArthur in Australia, from time to time, and also, in bits, from returned travelers like Consul Willoquet, etc.

George Vargas, altho head of the government commission under the Japanese is not trusted by them. He is always attended by Japanese “aide-de-camp” when he goes out; Japanese officers live in his house. His wife confessed to Willoquet who saw her alone, that they are not free agents.

Quezon thinks the Japanese have disposed of Manuel Roxas by a feigned airplane accident. Soriano thinks that they have taken him to Japan to hold as a hostage. When Quezon was in the tunnel at Corregidor, he thought he was dying, and wanted to go back to Malacañan. Roxas begged him not to do so. Later when the time came for Quezon to leave Corregidor to join to MacArthur in Australia (an event which was not then anticipated), Manuel Roxas begged him with tears in his eyes not to go from Corregidor. He exhorted him to “think of your fame.” Roxas followed Quezon to Dumaguete, and went with him to Mindanao, though he did not wish to leave Wainwright at Corregidor. Refused to leave Mindanao and joined General Sharp’s forces there. Sharp was ordered by Wainwright from Corregidor, when the latter fell, to surrender explaining that the Japanese would not give any terms to those on Corregidor unless all the military forces in the Islands also surrendered themselves. So, to save the men and women on Corregidor, Sharp and Roxas came in and gave themselves up to the nearest Japanese command. (NOTE–later–Roxas and Commander Worcester, U.S.N.R. fled to the mountains of Bukidnon). General Paulino Santos and Guingona, [who were not in the army, are in Mindanao. They have “gone over” to the Japanese.] Quezon says that Guingona was with him when Vargas’ co-operation with the Japanese was mentioned in Quezon’s presence, and, as Quezon says, when he heard no adverse comment upon Vargas’ action, being a “bright fellow” (Q.), Guingona followed suit. Quezon expressed a desire to know what Guingona had done with the four million pesos of Philippine currency he took to Mindanao to pay the army there–“if he kept it for himself…” I protested vigorously that nobody who knew Guingona could believe such a thing possible. Quezon agreed. “But,” I said “I have now heard you say twice that–if he kept it for himself.” Finally we agreed that he had probably burned the money, as his instructions required.

Soriano asked if he could bring the Spanish Cabinet Minister of War (Bergdorfer?), who is now in Washington, to call on Quezon tomorrow morning? Soriano said B. was an anti-Nazi, and had remarked that Quezon’s fame was now great in Spain. Quezon replied that he could squeeze in a half-hour for the call from B. “which should be long enough if I don’t start making speeches–which I always do!”

It appears that Justice Frank Murphy presented to Roosevelt the plan for the recent announcement that Roosevelt has already recognized the Philippines as possessing the attributes of an independent nation by putting Quezon on the Pacific War Council and asking him to sign the United Nations declaration. Murphy then told Roosevelt quite heatedly that he disapproved the decision to make Hitler the No. 1 enemy, and concentrate on him to the disadvantage of the Pacific area. Roosevelt took Murphy’s objections in good temper and told Murphy to “cool off.”

Somehow, the conversation turned back to Dr. Dominador Gomez. Quezon described him as a pure Malay type, but very big and a tremendous orator in the Spanish style, who swayed his audiences as he pleased. He had been a colonel in the Spanish Army. Was elected in 1907 as a delegate to the First Philippine Assembly. The election was declared void by the Assembly because there was no proof that Gomez was a Philippine citizen. Another election, and Gomez was returned by an even larger majority amid tumults and mob fighting. So they let him in!

When Quezon was Resident Commissioner in Washington he had occasion to make some uncomplimentary remark about Gomez. Quezon, traveling homewards, got to Shanghai on the steamer where he received a letter from Gomez challenging him to a duel. On arrival in Manila Quezon received a visit from the famous Colonel Blanco, also formerly a colonel in the Spanish Army in the Philippines and founder of the Macabebe Scouts, who appeared as Gomez’s second to challenge Quezon and asking who his second would be. Quezon replied: “I shall appoint no second. I do not wish to fight a duel with Dr. Gomez. But you may tell him this: ‘I give him leave to shoot me any time he sees me. Also tell him that any time he comes within one metre of me, I shall immediately shoot him.'” Shortly afterwards, Quezon attended a burial in Manila. With him were his cousin Miss Aurora Aragon–now Mrs. Quezon and Mary Buencamino. They knew about the challenge and were horrified to see Dominador Gomez standing near Quezon and all the more so since Gomez had his hand in his side pocket! Mrs. Buencamino slipped right behind Gomez and stood there to grab his arm, but Quezon pushed right in front of him to look down into the grave. Gomez drew out his hand from his pocket, but produced only a pocket handkerchief to mop his face!

Quezon then told of his marriage to Miss Aragon in Hong Kong in 1919. I (the present writer) was on the Ocean (Pacific) en route for New York when I received a radio from Quezon. “Married Hong Kong.” I went down to Dr. Oñate’s cabin to wake him, and demanded that he should tell me who Quezon had married. He was afraid to commit himself and it was a half-hour before I could get out of him the guess that it was Quezon’s cousin, Miss Aurora Aragon.

The marriage was secretly decided on when Quezon and Miss Aragon were in Hong Kong. Quezon sent his a.d.c. to the American Consul and requested that he should ask the Governor to waive the required 10 days residence, which was done. When the guests and the principals had met in rickshaws at the civil marriage bureau, Quezon turned to Luis Yancko and said: “Do you know why we are gathered here? I am going to be married right now!” Yancko’s mouth fell open with surprise and he stammered “but to whom?” Quezon replied: “To this young lady who stands beside me.” “But, but that’s impossible” said Yancko (meaning because they were within the degrees of relationship prohibited by the Church). “Impossible–how do you mean?” “Well” said Yancko “not impossible but improbable!”

Yancko gave them a beautiful wedding breakfast at the leading Hong Kong hotel.

At lunch today Mrs. Quezon and General Valdes were describing the discomforts of life in the tunnel at Corregidor. Mrs. Quezon got tired of waiting in line before support to get her shower, so she would wait until 2 a.m. and bathe then. Soon others discovered the way, and they began standing in line in the middle of the night. No curtain hung on the alcove which contained the shower. After the heavy bombings, the water main was broken, and for two weeks they had not only to bathe in salt water, but also to cook their rice and make their coffee in salt water, which entirely upset their stomachs.

Colonel Velasquez, a West Pointer, who was in the front lines at Bataan and Corregidor, was recently at the military school at Fort Benning, Georgia, where he says he made himself rather unpopular when the meals were discussed by saying: “Sometimes we may have to go hungry for a long time.” Velasquez told me he thought a campaign like that in Tunisia was necessary to harden the American troops, who were now overfed and thinking and talking all the time about their three big meals a day. He said he thought our American troops were pampered.

Quezon has started work again on his book. Has rewritten the foreword. Warner Bros have offered to make a film of it. Much talk with Bernstein about terms and arrangements. Quezon does not think that Morgan Shuster has been careful enough in editing the English of his ms. He evidently wishes to be thought letter-perfect in English. He says he now wants to finish the book–can’t do it in Washington–too many interruptions. Requests me to go off with him for 20-30 days and work with him on the book.


May 30, 1942

Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. May 30th 1942

A few days ago, Quezon had wired me at Charlottesville, Virginia, inviting me to join him as his guest at the Ambassador Hotel in New York and just as I was about to start for there another wire came stating he was coming down to Washington, so I joined him here this morning at nine o’clock –our first meeting since his despedida party for me at Malacañan Palace on Christmas day of 1938 in Manila– two and a half years during which the constitution of the Philippine Commonwealth had been amended so as to permit his re-election as President last November. Within thirty days thereafter, the Japanese had struck, and Quezon’s inauguration for a new term was held after Christmas of 1941 in the beleaguered fortress of Corregidor, without the presence of the Legislature and under the Japanese bombs.

The President was not yet up when I arrived at the hotel but welcomed me very warmly, clad in his pajamas. He was in good spirits, as animated as ever, but he had a very bad cough which he ascribed to the continual dust of the bomb shelters on Corregidor Island.

He told me of his escape with his family from that fortress by submarine, and his exciting and hazardous journey by boat and plane down to Melbourne, Australia; all of which is to be told in the book he wishes to write.

They had left Manuel Roxas, by then a Colonel in the army, in Mindanao, and had designated him as President-elect or “Designate” in case Quezon and Vice-President Osmeña failed to survive the hazardous journey before them. Roxas had refused to accompany them out of the Philippines, since he insisted on staying behind to continue the fight. The last they saw of him was at the Del Monte plantation in Mindanao, from which their two planes took off for Australia. Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos had already left the fleeing presidential party, and had gone to Cebu, where subsequently the Japanese found him and later killed him because he refused to cooperate with them in any way. Thus perished a dear and greatly esteemed friend of mine, whose lofty character and ardent patriotism should entitle him to an especial shrine in the memory of the people of the Philippines.

In the City of Melbourne, Quezon fretted greatly, in spite of the many courtesies paid him there by General MacArthur, and the gratifying statement made to him by the Governor General of Australia, who said to the exiled President that the delaying action on Bataan and Corregidor had saved Australia.

Quezon felt, however, that while his country was being occupied by the Japanese, he was, at that moment doing nothing useful to help them and he became exceedingly restless in Melbourne living idly in comfort while his fellow countrymen at home were in the “Clutch of Circumstance.” So he decided to go to Washington.

President Roosevelt sent a cruiser to escort the President Coolidge from Australia to San Francisco; gave Quezon and his family and their suite the presidential train across the American continent, and, together with his Cabinet officials, met Quezon at the train at the Union Station in Washington. Quezon and his family stayed overnight at the White House, and to the guests at a Cabinet dinner, he told that evening his story of the invasion of the Philippines and of his own daring escape from the hazards of Corregidor. He found himself a hero of the Administration and of the American public.

I found him very reluctant to be considered a hero since he had really wanted with all his heart to stay behind in the Philippines with his own people in their supreme test. His health was shattered by his experiences but his spirit was that of a lion.

Osmeña, who joined us at breakfast in Quezon’s rooms at the Shoreham was cordial, and told me that his own plan had been to escape from Corregidor and join Manuel Roxas and Guingona as remontados in the mountains of Mindanao.

Quezon reverted again to the fame which had come to him as a “hero” –he said that in fact he had been dreadfully scared by the bombing on Corregidor. He had been greatly impressed by the cool courage there of his eldest daughter, “Baby,” who whenever the bombing began, refused to run for the shelter of Malinta tunnel. She explained to her worried mother that when all those big men were running for the tunnel, she preferred “not to get trampled upon at the entrance.”

While they were at first on Corregidor, the Japanese had sent Quezon word that if he would come back to Malacañan Palace they would give the Filipinos their independence “with honor.” Quezon was at that time in real doubt whether, for the sake of his people, he should not accept –he was greatly bothered by the responsibility of his decision, knowing that no early relief or reinforcements would be sent to the Philippines, so he cabled to President Roosevelt a summary of his perplexities. On December 28th, 1941, the President replied to him stating that the United States would give the Filipinos back their country and an independence which the United States would secure and protect.

He thinks the Americans and Filipinos in Manila were at first well treated by the Japanese forces, but was not fully informed as to conditions there until he arrived in Panay, where he met several governors of Provinces in Luzon, who had managed to slip through the lines.

I enquired about several of my friends –Quezon said that Alejandro Roces was publishing Japanese stuff in his papers, but that he did not blame him for that, because the enemy had probably taken possession of his publishing plant.

He said he did not leave Manila and go to Corregidor until strongly urged to do so by General MacArthur and American High Commissioner Sayre went with him to the island fortress. There was incessant bombing around them while they were in the tender at the little wharf by the Manila Hotel for an hour and a half. When General MacArthur followed that night, he was not bombed in the darkness.

Quezon left nobody in Malacañan Palace because the superintendent, Nick Kaminsky was in Baguio; all his papers were left behind there, but he is told that the Palace had not been damaged. The beautiful old Treasury building near the mouth of the Pasig River was destroyed because there were some inter-island boats moored there at which the Japanese bombers were aiming. He said the first lot of the enemy bombers were remarkable shots.

Quezon then went on to describe the army in defense of the Philippines at the time. As mobilized, it consisted of 7,000 American soldiers and 8,000 Philippine Scouts (American Army troops who are Filipinos), and 120,000 Philippine Army soldiers and officers; 75-80,000 of the Filipino Army were on Luzon. There were heavy casualties in the field before they got to Bataan; once there, there were not very many killed, but a considerable number of officers, both American and Filipino were later picked off by the Japanese sharp-shooters. Quezon’s own nephew was wounded.

He remarked that Aguinaldo was no “Quisling” –that he only wanted independence. George Vargas, the presidential secretary was left in charge of the City Administration.

On Corregidor, Quezon said, General MacArthur was utterly fearless; refused to take shelter while the bombing went on, and declined to wear a steel helmet. Others ran for shelter.

He also commented that in his opinion this war was a direct result of the American policy towards China to which the United States had so consistently adhered.

Quezon declared that before leaving Manila for Corregidor, he had laid his perplexities as to the policy best for the welfare of the Philippines before his Council of State as also before General MacArthur. The General told him he must not falter now because he had become a “world hero.” He replied to MacArthur that he and the general had worked together for eight years, but the general did not really know him yet, adding: “I never took any decision in my career merely to gain the esteem of others but only to retain my own –I am still your President.” MacArthur replied by rising and stating: “You are still my President.”

Quezon seemed very sore about England; especially as to their handling of the Singapore campaign, and even more than that over Great Britain’s pulling away all the American navy for use in the Atlantic. He is sure the United States Navy could have defeated Japan at the beginning if they had then sent their whole navy against the Japanese fleets. Was also angry when he spoke of the American troops being sent to Ireland. This was what the American and British official propaganda cynically called “global strategy,” meaning the abandonment of the Philippines until Germany should be defeated.

Since his arrival in Washington, Quezon said Secretary of the Navy Knox has asked him whether General Hurley had not sent the Philippines abundant supplies from New Zealand since the attack, and Quezon had replied that Hurley had sent practically nothing –“only a basketful.”

The rest of this morning was spent by us in driving about and looking at big houses with a view to acquiring a presidential residence for the Quezons; I observed that since my own time in Washington, residences had dropped to less than half their former capital values although rents are as high or higher than they were long ago. This is due to the recent heavy taxation on luxury homes; the Philippine Government might have to pay these taxes. Osmeña and Soriano were with us –the usual hurry and scurry went on as always on one of Quezon’s outings.

Then back to the Resident Commissioner’s residence where an informal Cabinet meeting was held to hear an accounting from the Philippine Purchasing Agent Harry L. Hershey, who is stationed in New York. Quezon evidently thought that Hershey had been getting commissions for his purchases, and questioned him as to that more than once. Hershey, of course, replying that his only recompense had been his salary. “How much do you get?” asked Quezon. “Six thousand dollars a year,” replied Hershey. Quezon expressed surprise and asked: “How do you live on that?” Hershey replied very modestly and simply. “Why, I have never had more than that to live on –it’s all we need.” That won Quezon, who told me later that he had sent for Hershey to fire him. I heard Hershey from across the big room say he had been my secretary in Malacañan, and had been appointed Purchasing Agent by me –so I put in: “Yes, he was the best Secretary to the Governor General I ever had, and the most reliable.” Quezon told me later he was going to raise Hershey’s salary.

We next went to a luncheon party given at the Cosmos Club in Washington by former Representative Keating of Colorado, now, I believe, the publisher of a labour newspaper in Washington. The twelve men present, with one or two exceptions had been in the House of Representatives when Quezon was Resident Commissioner from the Philippines, and I was a former member of the House from New York. There were with us now Senators Norris, La Follette, MacKellar, Gerry and Hayden and old Sabath of Illinois from the House; also Sumner and Crosser, Woodbury of Michigan and ex-Representative Timothy Ansberry of Ohio, now a lawyer in Washington, and an old friend of Quezon.

In a reply to a toast to him, Quezon made a short speech and then for two hours they fired a barrage of questions at him in very sympathetic terms, showing that the fight put up by the Filipinos had raised them to a “new high” level in American esteem. It was all very gratifying to Quezon, who answered all their questions in his customary frank and quick way –except when they came to investigate preparations made for the initial defense of the Philippines, where he did not allow a single criticism against the American Command out there. To escape questions on American preparedness in the Philippines he answered by saying he did not know –had not even wished to enquire.

The timing of the Japanese attack in relation to that on Pearl Harbor was the subject of many questions.

Quezon’s story of his own personal experiences and observations during those first few days of the invasion of his country were listened to by those present with absorbed interest. He said he was first awakened in Baguio at five-thirty in the morning by a telephone call from Manila from George Vargas his secretary, to say that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. Quezon stated: “I had foreseen events pretty much as they actually happened, but I never had believed they would assault Pearl Harbor. I thought that perhaps, Vargas was still half asleep at that early hour, and was imagining things, so I told him to call up General MacArthur and verify the rumour. I don’t know whether he actually did so, but a few minutes later he called me again and said the report was true. At seven-thirty, I was talking with Major Speth, an American who was vice-mayor of Baguio, when we saw some thirty or forty planes over the town. We ran out to watch them, and Speth said: ‘American bombers’ –but then they began to drop bombs on nearby Camp John Hay, the American military reservation nearby, and my house shook. Their bombing, as I afterwards learned, was extremely accurate; they had come, not from carriers, but from the islands of Formosa, just to the north of Luzon.”

Quezon was then asked by the American statesmen present what the American defense was doing at that time? He replied that some of their planes had been ordered up at once but were recalled from the air for instructions, and it was while they were grounded again at Camp Clark, near Stotsenburg, that the Japanese bombs fell on them about half past ten in the morning, and destroyed most of these planes.

At this point in the conversation, Ansberry, who sat next to me whispered: “Casey is skating on pretty thin ice, but has crossed it very well.” Since Quezon up to that point in his narrative, had had no responsibility for the defense, he did not let himself be put in the position of criticizing it. The only point –at which he let go some criticism against the policies of the U.S. Army; was later on describing the Filipino division which he and I had raised in the First World War. He said: “Some of the American generals in 1917 were afraid of us (i.e. of their loyalty) and delayed the formation of our division until it was too late, but Filipinos would have fought just as bravely for the Americans then as they did lately when their own lands were invaded.”

I was referred to by Quezon and put in that they held us up so long that it took us eighteen months to get our division to the point where it could be mustered into the federal service. That was just before the armistice in November 1918.

Quezon pointed out to those present that the Philippines had been invaded because the American flag was there –that the Japanese had not wanted to attack the Filipinos. That he had always tried to make friends with the Japanese, as he had with the Chinese; that every time he had been to Japan, even on vacation, each Japanese Foreign Minister had made a big fuss over him, and added that he had been invited to luncheon with the Emperor. But he added the American Government had always been suspicious of all this, and had interfered with him.

He told them how on December 28th, when he arrived at Corregidor he was uncertain whether or not it was his duty to his people to continue the resistance and had wired President Roosevelt to that effect and Roosevelt replied pledging to free the Philippines of the Japanese, give the Filipinos their independence as previously promised, and to secure and protect it. This Quezon added was a great gain over the previous pre-war position where the United States had proposed to say “Good-bye boys, we’ve been good friends, but now you must look out for yourselves.” With this great advantage in the future now promised by President Roosevelt, Quezon decided to continue the resistance. “Of course,” he added, “I know that the President has not the authority to bind the American people, for I have been in the legislature myself.” But he added that he had relied upon the nature of this promise and the circumstances in which it was made, to consider it binding for the future.

The Senators quizzed him about the number of troops engaged in the Philippines, how many planes, etc., but most of all as to whether the stubborn resistance of the Filipinos was not based upon the treatment which the United States had given them. He gave this an emphatic affirmative. La Follette insisted that similar treatment must be secured for all the rest of the subject people of the world. Norris dwelt upon the kind of disarmament which should not be imposed upon the aggressors –Germany and Japan– to overcome their belief in their own superiority in which this generation had been brought up: “We must see that they have not a gun, not a tank, no means of war for fifty years if that is necessary.”

Quezon continued on the subject of Japanese-Philippine relations before the war by saying that he had never believed the former would attack them: that this aggression was because of the presence of the American Army there.

Note the wisdom of Quezon’s successful campaign in Congress in 1935 to get the Hare-Hawes-Cutting law amended by the existing Tydings-McDuffie law!

Now, he remarked, the situation was entirely changed; the Japanese and the Filipinos were no longer friends but enemies –the Philippines could never be safe as an independent nation after this war, without a new international system.

About the Filipino Army, he said the soldiers were not mere taos, for all the best families in the islands had sent their sons. His nephew had been wounded. General Francisco had told him in the weeks of war that they could win if properly supported, since “We can kill ten Japs for every Filipino we lose.” That at Singapore the British army had suffered greatly by “infiltration.” When the Japanese penetrated their lines and shot them from behind. On Bataan however every single Japanese soldier who got through was killed or taken captive. At one time, 500 of them got through and almost all were destroyed or captured; some of them threw themselves over the cliffs rather than surrender.

They asked him whether Japanese bravery was not due to their religion, that if they were killed in battle, they would go to Heaven. Quezon replied that religion had very little to do with Japanese character –that it was their training from boyhood– their devotion to their Emperor. He admitted that this was a “sort of religion.” Now, he added, the Japanese learned that the Filipinos could and would fight.

Quezon said he went to Corregidor on MacArthur’s urgent persuasion the day after Manila was declared an open city. That from that day on he really knew very little of what was going on in Manila and the surrounding provinces except from messengers who got through the Japanese lines both by sea and land. When he got away and arrived at the Visayas he met there the governors of several of the Luzon provinces who had escaped; and thus he learned more about the actual situation.

The losses among the Filipino soldiers had been very considerable in the open warfare on Luzon before the battle of Bataan; afterwards, on Bataan there had been important losses of both American and Filipino officers from snipers, but not so many among the enlisted men. He did not believe that in the whole Philippine war, the United States had had as many of their officers and men killed as at Pearl Harbor.

Later in the day, at the Shoreham Hotel with Quezon and Osmeña, I remarked that Secretary of War Stimson was one of the best members of Mr. Roosevelt’s administration, and we could be sure he would provide the Philippines with all the support in this war which was possible. Quezon was thus led to tell the story of how they had secured Stimson’s appointment some thirteen years ago as Governor General of the Philippines on the death of Governor Leonard Wood. Quezon and Osmeña were in Washington and were determined not to have again so terrible a time in the Philippines as they had experienced under General Wood. Stimson was then Secretary of War, and he refused their urgent appeal to come out to the Philippines, though he remarked to them that the post of Governor General was one of the most important in the American Government. Then Quezon went to him again and promised to support him as Governor General, and if he came to the point where he differed from him, he would keep silent –but if it came to some issue which he in conscience could not put up with he would resign. After Stimson became Governor General, finally such a big issue arose in Manila. He served notice that he was going to veto a bill passed by the legislature which they regarded as absolutely essential; so Quezon went to the Palace and was escorted upstairs by Colonel Winship (afterwards Governor of Puerto Rico). As they entered his office, Stimson said: “Get out Winship,” believing that Quezon had won him over. Winship vanished like smoke. Then Stimson, slapping his desk, said it was no use talking to him because he had made up his mind. Quezon then went to work and repeated the exact words he had first used in persuading Stimson to take the office, and added that the precise situation had now arisen, and that he would resign as President of the Senate. After hearing Quezon’s argument and his statement that the whole legislative body would be roused against him by a veto, Stimson reversed his position and told Quezon he had “saved him from himself”; a phrase he again used in his final report as Governor General.

Another incident with Governor General Stimson was when Don Miguel Unson, Secretary of Finance, and Filimon Perez, also then in the Cabinet, came to Quezon and insisted they must resign because Stimson had insulted them. Quezon went to Stimson and told him he did not know how how to treat the Filipinos; that as Quezon knew, Stimson had never intended to insult any of them, that with Quezon, he could tell him to “go to hell,” and Quezon could answer back in the same terms and neither would be insulted, but with the rest of them, Stimson could not use that brusque manner. Stimson replied: “Why, I consider Don Miguel Unson the best man I have in my Cabinet.” He really appreciated Quezon’s advice and the whole issue was successfully ironed out.

 


July 9, 1936

One hour with Miguel Unson at the Survey Board, where we went over the ground of my recent conversation with the President concerning the policy of having appointive governors in the Provinces.

Unson next asked my advice as to how he should go about reporting to the President three resolutions of the Survey Board on matters in which Quezon has already acted or formed an intention of doing so, over the heads of Unson and of his other colleagues on the Board, and against Unson’s deepest convictions:

(a)  Salaries in the Bureau of Justice recently fixed by Quezon (a “hot one” just put over by Secretary of Justice Yulo), which deranges the other scales of salaries under the standardization plan;

(b)  Quezon’s reported plan to put the Bureau of Prisons under the Philippine Army (another “hot one”–this time by General Paulino Santos);

(c)  Creation of new machinery for the Moro Province. This is Guingona’s influence, and when Unson had him before the Survey Board, Guingona refused to answer our questions, alleging that he had already taken up the matter with the President and considered it confidential! Unson had then read to Guingona the law requiring all government officials to answer questions of the board, but the latter still refused to reply and stuck to his guns!

Inasmuch as both Quezon and Unson, separately, have previously expressed to me the same ideas as to how to deal with the Moros, viz.: to stop “babying” them and to block their drive for “separation” from the rest of the population of the Philippines, it appears to me that this breach is only one of form, or procedure and not of principle. However, the way of the reformer (Unson) is no path of roses, especially when an equally determined “reformer” (Quezon) is his superior officer, and has already decided things!

Rafferty came in to my office and said he had recently talked with Osmeña, who commented on how much my past and present services were appreciated here, and how well the Assemblymen thought of me. Celestino Rodriguez, (who has never been very pro-American) told Rafferty the same story. These comments came as rather an anti-climax to my scene with Quezon yesterday over the Landlord and Tenant bill.

Rafael Palma next came to see me, happy over an interview held just previously with Quezon, concerning an attempt to introduce religious instruction in the government schools. To Palma’s great delight, the President had told him that, as a leading Mason, he should keep in the background, and must leave to him, Quezon, the duty of putting a stop to the Church’s attempted intrusion into the schools. Palma looks younger, more serene and happier than he has appeared since my return here last Autumn. This man is through and through an ardent patriot and always an upright public servant. He has entirely recovered his former serenity now that he is doing really useful public service, as head of the National Council of Education.

I commented to Palma that I could barely understand the English spoken by the young Filipinos of today. He admitted that their accent is getting worse and worse, and hopes that this may be corrected by the use of gramophones in the schools. He added that it was superhumanly difficult to get a new idea through what he called “The Junta.”

My last caller was “Deacon” Prautch, who wished to talk “Credit Unions.” He has a peculiarity I have never observed in another man:–he not only evades an answer to any direct question, but doesn’t even trouble to reply.


June 11, 1936

Arrived early in Jolo. The party went off to tour the island, while Quezon took me swimming to a beach half an hour by motor from Jolo, an ideal strand and cool crystal water. This is the only proper swimming place we have yet found. We were followed by Major Gallardo and six soldiers, who were posted at sharpest attention facing back from the beach on to the jungle. There have been three killings this week in Jolo–one of a soldier by a juramentado. Quezon found the water rather too cold, but was exhilarated by the spur of it. We were taken there by a Spanish mestizo formerly in government service in Manila who now owns the electric light plant in Jolo. The President introduced him as the “Rockefeller of Jolo” and said to him: “you have made millions out of the Moros”–to which he replied: “no Sir! out of the cristianos, because the Moros go to bed immediately after dinner!” Quezon roared, and said: “Now this man is a friend of mine.”

We talked of General Wood, and Quezon said: “When I write my history of his administration here people will say I was prejudiced, but Wood wished to sell the whole Philippines. He was also so anxious to make friends with the Moros that he told the Constabulary not to shoot at them”–“the result was that a few years ago the Moros massacred nearly a whole company of Constabulary here in Jolo, and killed all the officers; the only survivors were those who were the fastest runners”–“I do not feel any rancour against General Wood, only pity.”

The Sultan of Sulu has just died, and the question of the perpetuation of the “Sultanate” is raised. His brother is the claimant tho his niece Dayang-Dayang wishes to be Sultan. Quezon says she is, by far, the ablest of the Moros, and is married to Datu Umbra. (I remember her telling me 20 years ago how she had fought against the American army in the trenches at the battle of Bud Daho.) The Mohammedan law, so far as I know, does not permit of a woman being Sultan, but anyhow the late Sultan surrendered a large part of his political sovereignty to General Bliss in 1903 (?) and finally to Carpenter in 1915. “Much greater surrender of rights to Carpenter” said Quezon. He told me Governor Fort of Jolo wished the government to select the Sultan, but Guingona stopped his making this blunder before it was too late. There is to be a conference at 10 a.m. today to settle this question; Quezon said he would recognize the Sultan only as the religious head. I asked him whether it would not be easier to do as the English and Dutch do? “No! not at the expense of good government. My first thought is always of that.” (An excellent and characteristic bit of philosophy).

He is now talking confidentially with Mrs. Rogers (a German mestiza who is the wife of a former Governor of Jolo, and is the source of much of his information here). I heard him say: “If you were a man, I would make you Governor of Jolo.” I asked Mrs Rogers if there were any dances at Jolo? “No! only killings.”

Quezon told me that Osmeña made a speech during the late political campaign denouncing him for his fight against Governor General Wood, and stating that he (Osmeña) had only taken part “as a matter of discipline.” Quezon remarked: “I was very glad to learn this–they were scared.” To my question, he said “I forced the Cabinet to resign.”

I told Quezon that the closest parallel to his constructive work was that of Mustapha Kemal in Turkey, who has given perhaps the best example today of government work in modernizing and organizing an Asiatic race. He replied: ”Yes! he is more like me than anybody else.” He has evidently been studying Kemal’s career. Quezon added: “the chief difference between us is the religious one–he is a Mohammedan and I a Christian.” I remarked that Kemal had separated Church and State. “Yes, but the religious difference between us, however superficial the religion of each of us, permits him a different behaviour. We both love to gamble, but I refrain from doing so–Kemal seeks his excitement, when government affairs are quiet, in the underworld, drinking with the lowest men and frequenting the coarsest women.” I remarked: “Well, Kemal is not a gentleman.” Quezon replied “Neither am I,–I come from the common people.” He went on to say that Kemal, like himself had an “unbalanced nervous character,” but while Kemal satisfied his tendencies in abovementioned ways, Quezon restrained himself. He agreed with my remark that he (Quezon) would not be so well if he did not have all these troubles and excitements of political life with which to contend.

The President then talked of the Philippine Army. I said that if they had not taken away from us the National Guard which he and I organized in 1917-18 (Air Corps and submarine also) we would be better off here now. “Yes,” he replied, “our work would now be partly accomplished.” We spoke of the parade on the Luneta in which I led the National Guard division in review before him. Quezon said “Wasn’t that splendid! I want you and myself to review at least one hundred thousand Filipino soldiers before the end of my administration; many of our rich people here don’t want to pay for protection! But this will cure the inferiority complex of the Filipinos.” He spoke of the fine soldiers now here on the wharf, and we agreed that these fellows were “killers.”

There has been only one typhoon in Jolo in 80 years–that of 1932, which took off most of the roofs in the town.

I asked him (Quezon) again about the 5 torpedo boat vessels he has ordered from Italy, and he said they were exceedingly fast and quite cheap, adding: “these are the boats with which Mussolini scared the British Navy out of the Mediterranean.”

Bridge in p.m.; at night a ball in the Park pavilion in Zamboanga. I went with Osmeña. Major General Holbrook was there, having brought three planes down from Manila. The steamer sailed early in the morning for Manila direct, cutting out the Culion (leper colony) part of the program because many of the Assemblymen are prone to seasickness.


March 19, 1936

Arrived at Zamboanga one hour before the Mayon which brought Quezon, his daughter “Baby” and a considerable suite. Walk up to market place where Assemblyman Alano introduced Quezon who spoke in Spanish. His address was on the duties of citizenship and the relations of the provinces with the Commonwealth Government; said also that whereas in the past elective officials who were guilty of misdeeds were more leniently treated than appointed officials would be–now the new government would treat them all severely since it was their own administration. Just afterwards, he proceeded to a hearing on charges of petty graft against Provincial Governor Ramos (mulcting ten pesos from policeman etc.). He gave no decision, tho’ during the hearing, Quezon suspended a stenographer and the Secretary of the Provincial Board for having falsified the record in favour of Ramos. Afterwards, Quezon told me he thought Ramos was guilty but did not know whom to appoint in his place. He gave a hearing to a Moro Datu who was opposed to military conscription. Quezon told the Datu, to the latter’s surprise, “I don’t give a damn whether you enroll or not. You will have time to study the question, and later on, if you don’t enroll something will happen.” This is in accordance with his idea that Moros are great bluffers, and will never agree with what you seem to want unless they can put you under an obligation.

Drive to San Ramon–a wonderful penal colony. Talk with Joe Cooley, who started it. He was unwise enough to go into business with an associate whom he describes as thoroughly unreliable–and with Joe Harriman the New York banker who is now in prison.

Visits to quarters of the Huntsberry, and the Tiltons–both are Lieutenants in the army.

Tea dance at the Zamboanga Club–met many old acquaintances; the most torrid heat I have ever felt. There was a big thunderstorm at night which delayed the departure of Arayat. Instead of leaving at 8 p.m. we did not get off until 2 a.m., so would be unable to keep our appointment at the mouth of the Cotobato River on the morning of March 20th–docked instead at Parang and we drove 28 kilometers over the hills on the new road across this part of Cotobato and arrived at the latter place at 12 noon. Meanwhile, the water parade which had been waiting for us at the mouth of the river had returned, much disgruntled.

From numerous conversations, I gather that the famous “Moro problem” has been “solved”– though it is still possible to have local disturbances in Jolo and Lanao. Roads are being pushed everywhere. Cotobato Moros are dirty, unkempt and doped looking–poor specimens physically. Cristianos, especially Ilocanos, are settling everywhere in this wonderful valley. Cotobato is the most hideously ugly, galvanized iron town I have ever seen. Cattle, coconuts and palay. The Provincial Engineer said that by next year we would be able to motor from Cotobato to Lanao. Rains–reception at Provincial Treasurer Palillo’s, who was outspokenly furious at the failure of Quezon to come to his merienda. I tried to pacify him. Provincial Governor Gutierrez (Major in the Constabulary) had been tried on charges of using prison labour for his own purposes, but when it turned out that the labour made the magnificent flying field which he has leased to the government for one peso a year for five years, Governor Gutierrez was acquitted and reinstated.

Secretary Quirino says he will transfer the offices of the Department of the Interior for three months of every year to Zamboanga to show the Southern Islands that they are really part of the Philippines.

I congratulated Assemblyman Tomas Confesor on his independence speech answering Pedro Guevara.

Bridge with Quezon, Doria and Felicia Howell. The President said he wanted to stay on in the Southern Islands, but he had two military reviews near Manila. I consoled him by saying that all the hard work he had put in by cultivating the American Army officers was bearing most excellent results.

Quirino said that as Secretary of the Interior, he really occupies the former position of the Governor General, having authority over all the Provincial Governors. He also reported that when Quezon came down from Baguio recently he asked him: “Why did you suspend my Major” (Gutierrez, Major of the Constabulary is the appointed Governor of Cotobato), he (Quirino) replied: “Why shouldn’t I suspend my Governor?” Secretary Quirino started life as a school teacher at the age of fifteen–and his mother then took all his salary. Some years later, he said, Isabelo de los Reyes beat him as a candidate for Senator, and at the next election retired, saying he wanted to give Quirino a chance!

Quirino said to me that my silver purchase suggestion was “gaining ground.” He also remarked that I had helped in the purchase of the Manila Railroad bonds, because I knew the “psychological background” of the English bondholders.

Talk with Alano, the Assemblyman from Zamboanga. He is the manager of the United States Rubber Company’s plantation on Basilan Island. Lawyer. Used to be stenographer for Quezon in the American Congress in 1911. He was born in province of Bulacan. He recently accepted a nomination for the Assembly simply as a matter of “civic duty,” as he is a successful lawyer and plantation manager. Said Yulo had persuaded to such effect, that he replied he was willing to serve just as a stenographer as he did twenty-five years ago in Washington. He said the Assembly would be “all right” when it met in Manila in June. They were not going to make a fight for silly privileges.

Twelve thousand crocodiles were killed last year in the Cotobato River–the hides were sent to Manila for sale.

One merchant in Cotobato claims to have exported 1½ million pesos worth of palay (rice) last year.

Bridge with Quezon, Doria and Felicia Howell–Quezon is way ahead. He plays and bids excellently.

Left Parang at 6 o’c bound for Zamboanga or Basilan. Quien sabe?

Guingona was aboard and in lively discourse with a group of Assemblymen about the very advantageous flying fields they had mapped out and were preparing in Mindanao.

Major Hutter of the United States Army Medical Corps says General MacArthur states that my administration was the best the Americans had in the Philippines. This is something of a pleasant surprise!


March 17, 1936

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.