February 17, 1950

Finished memorandum on Customs Enforcement Divisions. Wrote a lot of short letters. Walked to National City Bank to cash a cheek Paid hotel bill. Spent an hour alone on the roof garden watching the sun set over the Bataan hills. These Manila sunsets are inexpressibly beautiful. Foster Knight and I dined together and watched the dancing for an hour. The floor was crowded, and we couldn’t help wondering at all the gaiety — and all the expense– in a city which is in grave danger either from internal disturbances or — later — from external aggression. Knight said that, when he arrived last month from the grimness of Korea, he was struck by the luxury of Manila as exemplified in this hotel, and by the apparent lack of awareness among the people here of the conflagration in Korea.

February 16, 1950

Interview with President Quirino. (Introduced by Selden Chapin, US Chargé d’ Affaires). He was very cordial, and gave me an opening to preach my little sermon on politics and corruption in the Customs. I remarked that the disease is easy to diagnose but hard to cure, but added that, if (1) political influence could be eliminated from the Customs personnel and (2) Customs employees paid a living wage, the Philippines could have just as good a Customs Service as any country. He made one very discouraging but very Oriental, comment to the effect that, even if the Customs staff were paid more, they’d keep on squeezing. If this opinion (which is not correct of the pre-war Chinese Customs Service) is widely held, I doubt whether any permanent improvement can be made in the Customs here. Malacañang Palace is a handsome building, and I couldn’t help thinking of some of the able American Governors-General who occupied it in the old days. Most of the honest Filipinos would welcome the return of American control. To wack wack Golf Club, where Prof. Dalupan gave a luncheon for the E.C.A. staff. Worked on memorandum suggesting an enforcement division in the Bureau of Customs.

February 15, 1950

Had conference with Jacinto, Milleres and Foster Knight at custom House. Jacinto had appeared before Budget Committees of House of Representatives this morning, and had told them that the Commissioner of Customs should be ex officio Collector of the port of Manila. He did not mention my alternative plan, i.e., complete separation of Commissioner and Collector. In view of the position he took, I said it would be a waste of time for me to draw up details of this alternative plan. Jacinto and Milleres both said that my plan might be the better in normal circumstances but, with the present set-up in the Custom House, the Commissioner must be the ex officio Collector in order to check malpractice by the present Deputy Commissioner and ex officio Collector Melicio Fabros!! And he must maintain his office in the Custom House in order to watch Fabros and company. A pretty nasty situation.

To dinner at Bing Escoda’s. She lives with two aunts — one single and one married — in a lovely house in Quezon City. Other guests were Mr. and Mrs. Hendry (he was born in China; she is part Filipina and very lovely); Mr. and Mrs. Ford Wilkins; Mr. Escoda (Bing’s uncle; Press Officer of House of Representatives); Mr. Roy, Chairman of the Banking Committee of the House of Representatives; and 2 other attractive Filipino couples. We had a delicious Filipino dinner — a whole pig, and Spanish rice and several other dishes. Excellent conversation. One of the guests was
formerly Philippine Cultural Attaché at the Legation in Buenos Aires. While in Rome last year, he called on Santayana, who was living in a hospital, cared for by English nuns. Santayana is 90-odd years old, but (except for deafness) in command of all his faculties. Mr. Escoda drove home with me, and we talked a long time in the hotel. I asked him about the Huks, and he said that the government had made progress against them recently. He said that he thought they would not be eliminated for 30 years; after the Americans took the Philippines in 1900, the rebels had only about 500 old-fashioned rifles, but it took the American army 5 years to suppress them. The Huks have 200,000 rifles, and plenty of machine-guns. Mr. Escoda said that the Huks live off the country, and are often cruel to the peasants, but that the Constabulary have treated the peasants even worse than the Huks! The Huks take one of his chickens; the Constabulary take two. Escoda referred to the US “surplus” scandal and said that a good many American Army officers made a lot of illegal money. One of his friends — a small saloon-keeper — was approached by an American officer who drove a truck-load of silk piece goods up to his shop and offered them to him for US $200. The saloon-keeper had only a few pesos at the time, but a wealthy Chinese came along, examined that silk, and a offered the officer $300. The officer said: “For $300 you have the silk and the truck.” The Chinese sold the silk for over US $100,000.

(At Lion’s Club lunch yesterday, the Sec. of Finance was dragged into the discussion. An awkward question was asked, and he said: “I feel like the fish in the market, who
remarked ‘If I’d kept my mouth shut, I wouldn’t be here.’” Ford Wilkins next to whom I was sitting, said that the original motto under the stuffed fish was:

“My address would still be Pacific South If I’d only remembered to close my mouth”.

Second line would be better thus:

“If I hadn’t opened my big, old mouth.”

February 14, 1950

To lunch at Lion’s Club as guest of Pio Pedrosa, Secretary of Finance. 9-10 had conference with Pedrosa, Jacinto, Jastram and Knight. Handed my memorandum re relationship between Commissioner of Customs and Collector of the Port of Manila to the Secretary. We had general discussion of the two alternatives I proposed, and the Secretary asked me to work out details of the two proposed, which he can submit to the Legislature. In the course of our talk, it was made shockingly clear how much the Customs is involved in politics. The present Deputy Commissioner and ex officio Collector at Manila (Fabros) has far more power than his nominal superior (Jacinto), and has placed relatives in several of the key posts in the Customs. He has very powerful political connections, and is, I fear, a thorough-going rascal.

The discussion at the Lion’s Club was about the desirability of creating a free-port, or foreign trade zone at Manila, and I have seldom heard more uninformed and half-baked ideas. It was a nice affair, however. The service clubs (Rotary, Lions, etc.) seem to be very popular in the Philippines. There must have been 150-200 men at today’s lunch. Called on Col. Soriano, president of Philippine Air Lines, San Miguel Brewery, etc. – one of the world’s rich men, I’m told. He was once a Spaniard, then a
Filipino, and is now an American citizen. We had half an hour’s talk about the Customs. Like everybody else, he says get politics out of the Customs and pay the staff a living wage. With Foster Knight, inspected the two principal piers with Delgado, the Arrestre contractor. The storage sheds are very capacious and well-built, and the stacking and handling of cargo are very well done. Lift-trucks and other mechanized equipment was in full use. Delgado took over the Arrestre contract last month, and his predecessor company did everything possible to sabotage the property and equipment. A very disgraceful performance. I had following to dinner here: Dr. and Mrs. Ray Moyer; Jim Ivy; Doris Bebb; Mrs. Pedigo. We had amusing time watching the dancing (it was Valentine’s Night). Many of the young Filipino couples were dancing the ?, which consists chiefly of facing each other 2 feet
apart and wiggling their behinds. Most of them kept very sober faces, and seemed to be taking their pleasures sadly.

February 13, 1950

Made a couple of calls. Lunch here: Roy Jastram (Internal Revenue); Foster Knight; Dr. Dalupan; Mr. Gomez; Dr. Francisco (3 members of the Dept. of Finance Reorganization Committee). A very intelligent and public-spirited group of Filipinos. Dinner at Ambassador and Mrs. Cowens for Mr. and Mrs. John Foster Dulles. About 150 guests, and buffet supper served on the lawn. I happened to sit with Mr. and Mrs. Day (he is an old-timer here — in the oil business — Lever Bros.). They come from Vermont, and have a home at Orford, New Hampshire just above Hanover. They know the doctors at the Clinic, and love the country. I also met a lot of old friends, Giles Stedman; Ed and Mrs. Rice; etc., etc. Mrs. Cowen is a gracious and good-looking hostess. Mr. Dulles told me that his brother Allan had returned to service
in the C.I.A. as deputy to Gen. Bedell Smith.

February 12, 1950

To Custom House. Finished two memorandums. Had 1 hour talk with Muni, head of Allied Warehouses (Customs brokers, etc.) and learned a lot about the Customs, and very little good. Dined at Liu’s. (She was peggy Auyang Pauline’s daughter). Chinese food, semi “pien fan”, and good. K and Mrs. Huang; Mr. & Mrs. Picasso, and 2 other Chinese couples there. A very gay and pleasant group. All have far too much money, but they are intelligent, friendly and entertaining.

February 11, 1950

Worked several hours on memorandum. To baseball game at Rizal Stadium –Formosa vs some local community (Santo Tomas). Quite a good game. Have been entirely alone today even eaten three meals all by myself. My Alice once stayed in this hotel, the year before I knew her. I wonder if she might have slept in this very room?

February 10, 1950

Plugged away in the office all morning, although Saturday is a holiday. Got quite a lot of writing done. Foster Knight had dinner with me here. This hotel is the center of
Philippine entertaining, and Saturday night it is very crowded. Generally speaking, the Philippine women are nowhere near as attractive as the Chinese women of the same class. There is, I guess, much more mixture of races here than in China.

February 9, 1950

E.C.A. staff meeting at 8:15 am. Wrote memorandum to Secretary of Finance recommending change in relationship between Commissioner of Customs and Collector of Port of Manila. To Finance office to buy Military Scrip (same as we
used in Japan), then to PX to buy tobacco and toilet articles, then to National City Bank to cash a check into pesos. Manila is an extremely expensive city to live in. I must, of course, use the official exchange rate (2 to 1) while the black market rate is 4 to 1. Lunch with C.P. Chen, Chinese Ambassador, at New Europe Restaurant. Ambassador worried because a Representative has filed a bill in the House which would drive every Chinese retailer in the Philippines out of business in the years. He said that the he had been a member of the Kuomintang over twenty years, but that
the Kuomintang was chiefly responsible for the disasters which have befallen China. To Custom House. Had a chat with Fabros, the collector of the Port. To cocktail party at Chapin’s (Counsellor of Embassy) to meet Bishop Lane (?). Maryknoll Mission, and
several other priests. Back to hotel, and then off to dinner at the UNO Club, given by Albino Sycip to the E.C.A. top staff. Four tables, one of which was all women; other three all men. Met a lot of Chinese. Bonnie Liu Sycip and Alexander were there.