Quezon returned from a conference with Secretary Ickes, whom he greatly likes.
He is getting more interested every day in composing ideas for his book, which I am glad to see. Today, he expressed his wish not to have any controversial subjects in this war story, but will save them for the biography he wishes to write later. He may insert Japanese atrocity stories of their invasion of the Philippines, but only “as told to him”–not as being of his knowledge true. This settles neatly a ticklish question of policy.
Quezon observed that Assistant Secretary of State Sumner Welles is more “effective” than our old friend Hull, and believes it best to sound him out first on any plans for the future of the Philippines.
Stated that he had told ex-Vice Governor Hayden that in his book he had been so kind about him that he felt he could say in criticism only that Hayden appeared to be an adherent of Governor General Wood–“You are still a Republican”–Hayden reddened. Quezon told him that the theory that Leonard Wood had “saved” Philippine finances was ridiculous. “If I had not stopped him, he would have thrown away assets worth three hundred million pesos in the Philippines.” Hayden replied “I suppose you mean the railroad, bank, etc.”
Lord Halifax had given Quezon a luncheon. This was the day after Quezon’s first appearance upon the Pacific War Council. Halifax said to Quezon at luncheon: “I liked your remark to the press.” Quezon said he liked Lady Halifax better than he did her husband. She had told Halifax after luncheon: “You’d better have a talk with President Quezon–You may learn something.”
Mrs. Quezon who was then present with us, had just attended a luncheon given for her by Mrs. Sayre. Sayre is about to resign as High Commissioner. She told Mrs. Quezon that there had been a broadcast from Manila in May arranged by the Japanese. In it an American lady told how the American civilian prisoners at Santo Tomas in Manila were allowed to establish their own form of government; had their own entertainments and their own schools for their children. Exercise was allowed daily in Santo Tomas grounds etc. She then added that their chief concern was that they had no milk for their children–at this point a Japanese spokesman interrupted and said: “That is the fault of the Americans for destroying all supplies before we arrived.” I asked Mrs. Quezon if it was true that they had destroyed all the food supplies before going to Corregidor, and she replied “Of course.”
I then asked Quezon further about his famous luncheon with the Japanese Emperor in 1937–whether the Emperor had offered him any “special treaties” (n.b. this was one of the questions recently submitted to Quezon by the Cosmopolitan). He said “no.” I asked him whether Ambassador Grew’s annoyance with this whole affair had not changed the United States Government’s attitude toward Quezon for a time. He said not; that President Roosevelt and Secretary Hull were all right, but that he might have had some enemies, like Stanley Hornbeck, the “Far Eastern expert” in the State Department. Denied that the State Department had interfered to spoil his subsequent trip to Mexico; that the Mexican President had sent him his gorgeous $500,000 train,–“like a hotel” to convey him to Mexico City.
Told the story of his shift in plans during his escape to Australia in going from Dumaguete by speed boat with Lieutenant Bulkeley across to Mindanao. Wainwright had wired him that there were five Japanese destroyers in the straits, and it was inadvisable to go now–better to postpone. But Colonel Soriano together with Major Fernando of the Philippine Army Air Corps had just spent several hours in one of those old planes off Negros waters. They had sighted only one Japanese destroyer, which at 6 p.m. had gone off towards the Sulu Sea. So, after midnight, when he and his family, having received Wainwright’s warning message, had gotten nearly all the way back from Dumaguete to Bais (20 miles), Soriano caught up with them in the dark, and he and Bulkeley advised Quezon to turn around again and take the chance of getting across that night to Mindanao. Quezon accepted.
To an enquiry as to whether Mrs Quezon ever expressed her opinions about such decisions on this dangerous voyage; he replied: “Never; she always did just what I decided.” I then enquired how he had felt about the possibility of his capture by the Japanese? He said he did his best to avoid capture, but he always felt that if taken by them, they would treat him with every consideration, and probably put him right back in Malacañan.
He added that he thought Chief Justice Jose Abad Santos had gotten caught by the Japanese in Cebu. (N.B. they shot him there).
Exchange of cables between Quezon in Corregidor and Roosevelt: Quezon advised him that he was in grave doubts as to whether he should encourage his people to further resistance since he was satisfied that the United States could not relieve them; that he did not see why a nation which could not protect them should expect further demonstrations of loyalty from them. Roosevelt in reply, said he understood Quezon’s feelings and expressed his regret that he could not do much at the moment. He said: “go ahead and join them if you feel you must.” This scared MacArthur. Quezon says: “If he had refused, I would have gone back to Manila.” Roosevelt also promised to retake the Philippines and give them their independence and protect it. This was more than the Filipinos had ever had offered them before: a pledge that all the resources and man power of United States were back of this promise of protected independence. So Quezon replied: “I abide by your decision.”
I asked him why he supposed Roosevelt had refused the joint recommendation of himself and MacArthur. He replied that he did not know the President’s reasons. Osmena and Roxas had said at the time that he would reject it. Roosevelt was not moved by imperialism nor by vested interests, nor by anything of that sort. Probably he was actuated by unwillingness to recognize anything Japan had done by force (vide Manchuria). Quezon thinks that in Washington only the Chief of Staff (General Marshall) who received the message from MacArthur in private code, and Roosevelt himself, knew about this request for immediate independence.
When Quezon finally got to the White House, Roosevelt was chiefly concerned about Quezon’s health. Roosevelt never made any reference to their exchange of cables.
Quezon added that, so far as he was aware, the Japanese had never made a direct offer to the United States Government to guarantee the neutrality of the Philippines, but many times they made such an offer to him personally.
“It was not that I apprehended personally ill treatment from the Japanese” said Quezon; “What made me stand was because I had raised the Philippine Army–a citizen army–I had mobilized them in this war. The question for me was whether having called them, I should go with this army, or stay behind in Manila with my people. I was between the Devil and the deep sea. So I decided that I should go where the army did. That was my hardest decision–my greatest moral torture. I proposed by cable to President Roosevelt that the United States Government should advise the Japanese that they had granted independence to the Philippines. This should have been done before the invasion and immediately after the first Japanese attack by air. The Japanese had repeatedly offered to guarantee the neutrality of an independent Philippines. This was what they thought should be done.” Quezon is going to propose the passage by Congress of a Joint Resolution, as they did in the case of Cuba, that “the Philippines are and of right out to be independent” and that “the United States would use their armed forces to protect them.”
When asked by Shuster to try to describe his own frame of mind when he was told at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 8 of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Quezon said he had never believed that the Japanese would dare to do it; but since they had done so, it was at once evident that they were infinitely more powerful than had been supposed– therefore he immediately perceived that the Philippines were probably doomed.
In Washington the other day, he asked the Chinese Ambassador whether the Japanese had not fooled all the rest of the world by pretending to be weak. The ambassador just laughed. Quezon says that if consulted, he would have advised the Chinese to take a leaf from the Japanese book on cunning. The Japanese had been checked in their expansion plans three times, (after each of their three successful wars), by the concert of Great Powers–each time they “bowed their head” and submitted. Finally, after waiting nearly half a century, their chance had come, and they took it. So, if the Chinese, at the time the “China Incident” broke had pretended to submit, then allowed themselves to be armed and trained by the Japanese, they would only have had to wait their chance.