Shoreham Hotel. Lunch with Mr. Canceran, private secretary to Quezon. Canceran much bothered by the President’s frequent changes of plan for his trip to Florida causing the utmost possible inconvenience to everybody around him. This is the usual performance, but none of them get really used to it, and all grumble as much as they dare. I asked Canceran how the President got that way? He replied: “It was his life in Malacañan–absolute authority; all opposition crushed–complete selfishness–thinks about nobody but himself.”
Canceran is a young man, son of a farmer in the Cagayan valley. He is tall, lithe and graceful. His chin is up, his shoulders thrown back. He would look equally as well in a G-string and necklace of cowrie shells, and with a spear in his hand instead of a pen. As it is, he contents himself with a suit of “Kollege-Kut Klassy Klothes,” and flirts with all the waitresses. As this is the only possible way to get served in an American restaurant, it must be admitted that he shows a good deal of practical sense. He possesses a measure of native dignity and good taste in his pride of country. He is not impressed by American movies.
I told Quezon about the School of Military Government at Charlottesville. He replied: “Not one of those–fellows will get to the Philippines. The President has assured me that the first man to land there will be President Quezon, arriving in an American battleship.”
Discussion of the Moro problem: Quezon pointed out the mistake of Americans in not letting the Sultan govern Jolo–that they would thereby have avoided all those disorders and little wars. The Americans whom he left last Spring in Mindanao made another mistake: the American Army officers have always believed that the Moros loved them and hated and despised the Filipinos. General Sharp (in command there) and his staff were making plans for the great aid the Moros would render in repelling the Japanese in Mindanao. Quezon said to Sharp: “That’s all very well, but for God’s sake don’t give them any guns.” The other day he was laughing over a report from MacArthur of questions put by one of his staff to an officer who had escaped from Mindanao–the staff officer was trying to bring forth an answer showing how the Moros loved the American Army, and asked what kind of people the Moros were killing now? “Oh! every kind–Americans, Filipinos and Japanese” was the answer. As a matter of fact they had recently assassinated three American Army officers.
I suspect that Quezon’s own policy toward the Moros is that of the American of past days in our own country. “The best indian is a dead indian.”
When Quezon, before the war, granted permission to 10,000 Jews to settle in the Philippines at the rate of 1,000 a year, the Jewish Committee picked out, as the best farming land–Lanao! Quezon says he refused this, since they wouldn’t be alive at the end of a year. Quezon tells me that Lanao has as many rich and wonderful Moro farms as has Jolo nowadays.
Quezon settled the question of the recent succession to the Sultanate of Jolo, by refusing to make the choice. The Government of North Borneo, a territory most of which is part of the Jolo Sultanate, wrote to him to enquire whom he now recognized as Sultan. He replied: “The Sultan is, for us, only the head of his Church–he will not meddle in the choice.” So the North Borneo Administration sent for the two candidates to come to Sandakan and present their claims–which they did. Datu Umbra, himself of the late Sultan, the royal blood, the husband of Princess Dayang-Dayang, niece of the late Sultan, was elected over the other claimant–a brother of the late Sultan.
This decision aroused two factions in Jolo, and greatly weakened their subsequent claim to the North Borneo lands. Some years later, the Chartered Company of North Borneo transferred “their” land, to Great Britain–but they had waited for this momentous action until six days after the inauguration of the Philippine Republic! Thus the Jolo Moros were dispossessed of their great inheritance in North Borneo!
The question of Quezon’s health is always to the fore, every day of his life. Even his American friends in the Philippines used to say that he used his illness as a means of avoiding unnecessary engagements or contingencies. Dr. Trepp tells me that so far as Quezon’s TB is concerned, that is perfectly in hand, and there is no reason why he should not live for years. As for his blood pressure, Trepp himself, who, not long ago had a heart attack, has a much higher blood pressure! Recently the President was urged to cut down on his food, and especially to avoid heavy meats. That regime lasted a few days, and then he claimed to be fading away so rapidly, and had become so feeble, he could hardly speak. At once, the family set up a terrible clamor that the doctors were killing him, and the regime was relaxed. It must have been a superb piece of acting. As it is now, he and his family, at least once a day, eat a Filipino dish reeking with fat, and with great lumps of pork, ham and sausage.
Every now and then, Trepp persuades Quezon to go out for a walk, which consists of creeping along the hotel corridors, doctor on one side and a.d.c. on the other, to his luxurious motor. They drive out to the suburbs and Quezon walks slowly for three or four hundred yards. Back home again, Quezon goes to work, or to receiving visitors to whom he talks for hours and hours–rounding off with four or five hours of concentration on bridge, until well after midnight.
Truly a remarkable “invalid”–he wears out all of his associates!