Morning at Elizalde’s office, discussing with him, Ugarte and Zafra preparation of our official report on the recent international conference at Mont Tremblant.
Also talk with Elizalde on the subject of Bernstein–he was very much upset because they already had a budget for that office of $150,000–and no Filipinos were on the staff, except a recently appointed librarian. Says that Quezon has had no publicity since Bernstein took over two months ago. Cited his Saturday night speech in Baltimore which did not appear in the papers. The fact was, however, as Quezon told me, that he did not deliver his speech as prepared because he looked over the audience of the Maryland Bar Association, and listened to their dull chairman, and decided they needed a stronger and more personal address than he had prepared. He added that it was the “toughest looking” audience he ever faced, so he started off “on his own” and gave it to them “hot from the griddle.” I am told he had them applauding wildly and won rather an ovation.
At lunch with Quezon, Mr. and Mrs. Andres Soriano, and two important Pacific Coast magnates with their wives decked out in valuable furs and new gowns. Quezon began by looking very tired, speaking slowly and reaching for his words in English. As he warmed up, he showed at his very best. Described the lunch of the day before at which he had entertained Mr. and Mrs. Henry Luce. Mrs. Luce is not enjoying her first days in Congress–the new member is usually treated with little consideration by the House. She could not get on the Committee on Foreign Affairs, etc. Quezon was much relieved to find that Mrs. Luce, who had been so very active in the propaganda for China, was now not in favour of entirely overthrowing the balance of power in Asia and of leaving Japan (as well as the rest of her neighbours) at the mercy of China.
Quezon had told her his plans for a joint resolution of Congress declaring the independence of the Philippines when a plebiscite of the Filipinos should accept it. When she asked whether an independent Philippines would grant commercial airports to the United States, he said “not only commercial, but military” she professed herself delighted and said she was entirely in favour of the resolution. (N.B. This morning Elizalde had expressed serious doubts whether Congress will pass such a resolution, and said it would meet opposition in the State Department until the general situation in the Far East becomes clearer.)
Then Quezon talked of his respect and regard for Congress, and denounced last summer’s smear campaign against it. “If a member of the House was a fool” he said “that only means that his constituents likewise were fools.”
He told again, and told well, the story of his last address to the students of the University of the Philippines one week before the Japanese struck.
One of the guests present today was a California contractor who had been employed by the Navy a year before Pearl Harbor to extend Cavite airport and other posts in the Pacific islands. Quezon told him how A. D. Williams disputed with the Navy over the extension of Cavite airfield and urged that extra fields, well camouflaged, should be constructed instead. But both Navy and Army authorities refused to listen to him.
I spent Monday morning and all day Tuesday in Elizalde’s office, working with him, Rotor, Ugarte and Zafra on the preparation of our formal report as delegates to the Institute of Pacific Relations last month at Mont Tremblant, Quebec. Very interesting discussions and really entertaining.
When we were alone, I asked Elizalde, whether he had read Romulo’s book, I saw the Fall of the Philippines. He said: “Yes, I read it twice–it is bunk.” I inquired what it was that Quezon had objected to–he replied: “First because he put MacArthur ahead of Quezon all the time, and then because he had put in a full list of the persons whom Quezon took with him to safety from Corregidor; such people as Valdes, Major (Dr.) Cruz, Ah Dong, his personal servant, etc.” Elizalde says he left more important persons behind–should have ordered Manuel Roxas to come to Australia with him instead of consenting to his staying behind; that Romulo was obliged to have the book recast and to pay $1,800 to the publishers for resetting, renumbering the pages etc. This came out of his first payment of $2,500. That the blackouts in the book were really at the instance of the War Department; they were left in the book to add importance to it. Romulo has sold already 25,000 copies–will probably get $20,000 out of the book.
In the Philippine Government circles I find general anxiety over probably future aggressions by Russia and China. Many stories of Russian plundering of the elite in the part of Poland which they annexed.
Quezon is still planning to go in about two weeks to Phoenix, Arizona, and invites me to accompany him for a couple of weeks. Intends to stay there a month or six weeks. I wonder?