During the Spanish regime, the cabeza de barangay was the collector of the cedula personal tax; he was handed a list of all inhabitants over 18 and had to produce revenue called for by the list, whether he had been able to collect it or not; as a result he was usually ruined. See references in Rizal’s novels, which are, however poorly translated into English.
Rizal, said Quezon, had never been one of his heroes–he was persevering, but never a man of decision–he refused, when an exile in Dapitan, to join Bonifacio in the revolution; this fact was counted on by the defense at his trial–but his execution was foreordained. The uncertainty in the mind of the reader of Rizal’s famous books Noli me Tangere and El Filibusterismo as to whether it is Elias or Ibarra who is really the hero of his novels indicated either Rizal’s own habitual indecision, or a wish to cover up his belief against a subsequent inquisition by the Spanish authorities.
Mabini (the “divine paralytic”) is more nearly Quezon’s hero. His ms. was unknown until his death; is now in Philippine National Library–and has never been printed. It denounces Aguinaldo severely, on account of his narrowness and selfishness. Mabini was captured and held as a prisoner by the Americans, and never could be forced to recant. After the insurrection, he took the oath of allegiance to the United States. While on Corregidor, Quezon wanted to go back to Manila and, like Mabini before him, have nothing to do with the captors (Japanese) even if necessary to go to prison.
At the Malolos Congress, Buencamino and Paterno urged Aguinaldo to quit the hopeless fight and negotiate with Schurman, President of McKinley’s Philippine Mission.
Quezon next turned to an account of the debates among his government associates on Corregidor upon the question of Surrender of the Philippine Army to the Japanese: They, none of them, believed in any permanence in the independence then offered by the Japanese. Osmeña and Roxas, as well as Quezon thought that if this offer was accepted by them, the Japanese Army could be persuaded to withdraw within a reasonable time, and that they might allow the American Army to be evacuated to the United States. Quezon and his advisers believed that the war would eventually be decided by an attack on Tokyo, and nowhere else in the Far East. Meanwhile, they felt it better to put up with Japanese interference in their affairs–thus sparing the Philippines all that it otherwise might go through. As for permanent independence granted them by the Japanese, it would mean very little for the Japanese Consul General would be the real Chief Executive of the Philippines. He would come to Malacañan with all “due courtesy” but the first time a serious one of his “requests” was refused, it would mean war.
Quezon called my attention to what I had told the Americans in Manila in my time namely that Quezon was the “best friend they had in the Philippines.” As a choice between the Americans and Japanese he would take the former every time; he could put up with even such absurdities as those of Governor General Wood, because he was an American–he could talk and drink with him. When he was Resident Commissioner in Washington he had lots of American friends who treated him exactly like one of themselves. With the Japanese, he could never be at ease–never could really understand them. The Japanese policy in Asiatic countries is utterly selfish; they had been so long isolated that they still thought only of themselves.
Ever since the fracas of the League of Nations, Quezon has believed that if America withdrew from the Philippines the Japanese would absorb the Islands. The Filipinos, he thinks, could not have “made terms” with them. “We would have been in the present position of the Siamese; they have the form but not the substance of self-government –that generally satisfies the Orientals but not the Filipinos.”
The following account by Quezon of the beginning of the political fight between himself and Osmeña was dictated by him to Canceran in my presence on June 7th, for use in his book The Good Fight but was omitted from the book when printed, so it is reproduced here.
“I was elected to the Assembly as Nacionalista in 1907. I was the floor leader and Osmeña the Speaker. In 1909 I was appointed Resident Commissioner and occupied the position until 1916. I secured from Congress the passage of the Jones Law and was elected Senator and then made the President of the Senate.
“The great fight between Osmeña and me started when General Wood was there. The remote cause of my fight with Osmeña was the jealousy of the Senate of its prerogatives and the Senators never admitted that. They thought that the recognition of the Speaker of the House as the number one man was a denial of the seniority of the Senate over the House. It was a mistake of Osmeña. I swear before God that I never intended to replace him as the leader of the party. I had so much love for this fellow. As a matter of fact I thought he was better prepared than me. I had no doubt that at that time he was better prepared. And this idea was so sincere with me that even when the fight on the Hare-Hawes-Cutting bill came I decided that I was not going to fight it. I was only going to explain my opinion for I thought it was my duty to tell the people. I even told Governor General Murphy that Osmeña and Roxas were the men best prepared to run the government, and that even after my election as President. But with the acts of these two men they convinced me that I could do that better than they. I will tell you how I discovered this.
“After my election as President of the Philippines, I did not want to give Osmeña a portfolio in my Cabinet. I wanted him to be my senior adviser and have all papers of the different departments go to his office before they were acted upon. But he is so interested in the appearance of things that he insisted that I appoint him Secretary of Public Instruction and he thought that his men would believe that I had disregarded him if I did not give him that portfolio and that would make him lose prestige with the ‘Pros. ‘ He insisted and I appointed him. I told him ‘I am going to appoint you but you must understand that in these circumstances you will not be my adviser any longer. You will have a seat in the Cabinet; will have a voice and no more. And you will understand that I cannot offend the other members of the Cabinet by having their views submitted to another secretary of department.’ So I dealt with the secretaries of department without taking his views first.
“However, I still thought of meeting his views on general policies and gave instructions to my aides and Secretary that the Vice President could see me any time without previous engagement, and I set aside a time for him every day. But instead of talking to me about public policies he brought petitions of men who stood by him, as well as gossip. I tolerated this for three weeks, but later on I revoked my instructions to my Secretary and aides about seeing the Vice President because I got sick about the things he brought to me. So he ceased to be what I wanted him to be–my adviser. The immediate effect was for me to go through all the departments of the government. That is why when you were there I was practically handling everything.
“Now, there is one department of the government in which I was convinced of my utter ignorance–the department of finance. I had an understanding with Osmeña and Roxas that I would make Roxas Secretary of Finance. I did not appoint him right away because I wanted his services in the House. He was a minority leader and I wanted him to work in conjunction with the majority leader so there would not be any trouble in the House. When the House was about to adjourn, I sent for him and told him about his appointment to the secretaryship, but he said that he wanted to go to Capiz and consult with his followers. He came back and said: ‘Mr President, I am ready.’
“I had talked with Quirino, the Secretary of Finance then, and had prepared him for the change a long time ago. I sent for Quirino and told him that I would appoint Roxas Secretary of Finance and him as Secretary of the Interior. I called Roxas over the phone and asked him: ‘Are you ready?’ He said ‘yes.’ Then I told him that I was going to write him a letter offering him the position. I wrote the letter, sent it to him; but I was so tired that day, I told my aides that I would not see anybody and went to bed. I fell asleep and did not wake up until five in the afternoon. During that time the reply of Roxas was delivered in which he said: ‘I have received your letter and I felt that I should remain in the House unless you think that my services are absolutely essential in the Executive Department.’ That made me so mad. I thought it was an act of treachery; that he wanted me to write another letter begging and tell him: ‘you are so essential that I cannot run the government without you.’ I was so angry that I called my children and took them for a ride with my launch in the Pasig River.
“At seven the following morning I sent for Antonio de las Alas. He came and I said: ‘Alas you are the Secretary of Finance.’ I almost killed him with the news and after telling him about his appointment I left the Palace and told the people in the Palace that I did not want to see anybody. I answered Roxas’ letter and simply told him: ‘I understand your position and I therefore shall not appoint you Secretary of Finance.’ That is all I told him, and he has been trying [sic] to see me, but I never saw him. After giving out to the press the appointment of Alas I sent word to Roxas that I would see him. He came and said: ‘Mr President, I have received your letter and I have come to tell you that I withdraw my letter.’ ‘Well, it is just a little too late’ I said. ‘And I want to tell you something so that there may be this clear understanding between us. Manoling, I have told you time and again that I could not run this government without you as Secretary of Finance and I never changed my mind about it, but when I wrote you the letter it was the President of the Philippines offering you that position. The President will not admit that he cannot run the government without you or anyone. I am going to run this government without the “Pros” and you can all go to hell.’
“The Vice President wanted to see me. I thought he was going to intervene and I was determined to tell him that I wanted his resignation as Secretary of Public Instruction. So I told my aides that I would see him right away. But to my disappointment, he did not say a word about the case. Later on I discovered why. That fellow Sabido went to see the Vice President and told him not to mention anything about the case of Roxas to me saying: ‘The President, I am afraid, will have us all out. ‘
“That is the reason why I say that these people forced me and gave me the chance to discover whether I could run this government or not. You know that in a banquet in the Palace I said that I have always thought that the Vice President was much better qualified than I was to run the government. But it was he himself who convinced me that I can run it better than anybody.
“Way back in 1916, upon the passage of the Jones Law, Osmeña telegraphed me asking what position he could occupy–what I thought should be done–where do you think I should go? I told him that I wanted him to continue being the leader of the party and that therefore he should go to the Senate and be its president. He telegraphed me again that in consultation with the leaders of the party he had decided that he should continue as Speaker and that they would elect me senator. I told them that I wanted to practice my law profession.
“So from the beginning I feared that there would be this conflict and he himself saw it.
“You know the report that the Wood-Forbes Mission made. That report made me mad like hell. I arrived in the Philippines sick with fever and before my arrival Wood had been appointed Governor General. I learned that the legislature had approved, upon the appointment and assumption of office on the part of General Wood, the same joint resolution which was approved when you were appointed Governor General. I sent for Senator Sison and told him: ‘How is it possible that you people have approved his resolution?’ He said: ‘Well, it was presented by Palma. You left Palma as your representative and we assumed that they have consulted with you.’
“That was the most humiliating thing for the legislature to do. So from that time on I realized that Osmeña was not the man to lead the country under those circumstances. I did not immediately start the trouble, but I began to show him that I was not pleased. I criticized him for that and from that time on I started letting him know that there was trouble coming. So we did not have trouble until I was ready for it, and the fight for leadership started. The elections came and I defeated him.”