December 24, 1938

Breakfast at seven o’clock. The President and I still alone together, and both rather sleepy. He woke up, however, when I began to talk of the great iron deposits in eastern Surigao, reserved since 1915 by Executive Order for the disposition of the government. Quezon said that Marsman would not press his Challenge as to the constitutionality of the Executive Order. Geologist Bain believes that the only way to work these iron fields is in conjunction with the South Manchuria Railway–he has just come back from there. I asked Quezon whether this would mean heavy industries in the Philippines, and that the Filipinos were going to make their own steel? He said “Yes.” This led to an exposition by him of the extreme awkwardness of the geographical position of the Philippine Islands, lying more or less between Japan and the United States. He had advised Mr. Bain that nothing could be done in this respect at this moment of great strain; he had also sent Bain’s report on this subject to High Commissioner McNutt, so that the American Government would not think that he was dealing directly with Japan, adding: “They already think in Washington that this was the purpose of my visit to Japan last summer. If we go on, however, opposing every single thing that the Japanese want, as the Chinese so foolishly did, we may meet the fate of China.”

Thereupon, I raised once more the thorny question as to whether the Filipinos were considering the raising of their tariff laws as to the importation of textiles, which would be possibly construed at being aimed at Japan. Quezon replied that he had taken up this question personally with President Roosevelt, telling him that on certain higher qualities of cotton goods it might be possible for them to favour the United States, but positively not on common cotton cloth, affecting every inhabitant of the Philippines. He could not stand for that, and Roosevelt remarked that he himself wondered why all the Filipinos should pay tribute to American textile companies; he added, however, that the Filipinos could start their own textile manufactures and protect them, and that, he said, would be “all right.” This was a thoroughly Satanic suggestion as it seems to me, for the American mills under free trade with the Philippines, will get all the protection ostensibly proposed for native industry in the Philippines, and the cost of clothing for every inhabitant in these islands will rise.

Quezon then turned again to the rather acute situation arising as regards Japanese holdings of hemp plantations in Davao. The province is so large that the fifteen thousand hectares held by the Japanese are, so the President explained, a mere “drop in the bucket” (?). A lot of their hemp land was obtained by them through dummy Filipino owners. Instead of cancelling leases and raising a direct issue with Japan, he proposes to wait for the expiration of these leases and then refuse to renew them.

One hundred and twenty guests assembled in the lower reception hall by the river, at Malacañan, for a luncheon given in my honor. The entertainment went off with a bang and real cordiality was shown me by both the Americans and the Filipinos present. In his address, Quezon was very effective in making the points of which a resume was later published in the press. All of the pleasant and very personal humour of the President’s remarks about me as well as my comments about him in return was omitted by the press.

At the little table with Quezon and myself, sat General MacArthur and High Commissioner McNutt. I concluded my own remarks on a serious note with the statement that I was sailing away from them tomorrow to the uncharted seas of a European war. As I sat down, MacArthur asked me what I meant by a European war? I replied to him that I had just recently come from France and was returning there, and that I was as certain as I could ever be of anything in the future that a war was coming very soon in Europe. General MacArthur replied: “They cannot afford a war, but if there were a war, Germany would go through Russia like a knife through cheese.”

5 p.m. Don Alejandro Roces, the proprietor of the influential chain of newspapers known as “T.V.T.” invited me by telephone to take a “cup of chocolate” with him at his residence this evening–“no butter,” he added. It turned out, of course, to be a four course banquet with Philippine delicacies. The guests were: President Quezon, Secretaries Manuel Roxas and Jose Abad Santos, Alberto Barretto, Miguel Unson, Paez and Jake Rosenthal. Quezon acted as Santa Claus in presenting me with a handsome gold wrist-watch as a joint Christmas gift from all those present.

After the sumptuous meal, they took me out doors a few yards to the corner of the park and the boulevard, both of which had been named in 1921. There they pointed out to me the site upon which they were going to erect a statue to me! Up to that moment, I had believed that our host, Alejandro Roces was making a broma but all of a sudden, I realized they were in earnest. I was really extremely embarrassed and could find nothing sensible to say. At first I pointed out that statues were not raised to living men, but they countered by referring to the statue of Lord Curzon in Calcutta. I refrained from answering with the statement: “Yes, and look at the pedestal of that statue, all covered with betel-nut saliva from the Indians.” I merely remarked feebly that the fashion in statues changed so rapidly and after a while, parents could hardly tell their children, “who that old guy was up there?” This made no impression, so I had to think rapidly, and came out with the reflection that in the passage of a few years, the only beings which made real use of statues in the parks were the pigeons and the sparrows. This brought a general laugh, and the situation was saved.

Miguel Unson then told me that the young people in the Philippines knew nothing about my administration of some twenty years earlier. I replied that this, perhaps, was the natural course of events, but he said “no”–that it was largely the result of the vigorous campaign made by my successor. Governor General Leonard Wood and his “Cavalry Cabinet” to discredit me. He added that they had even cut down the tree which I had planted, explaining that this was done so they might practice polo there, but Unson said it was intentional.

Young Roces then told me that his father often said that he made his successful start as a newspaper man by backing my administration throughout–and this was the only newspaper support I ever had either in the Philippines or in the United States.

October 25, 1935, 9 p.m. — October 29, 8 a.m.

My wife and I are on a trip to the Bicol Provinces as guests of Sr. A. Roces. Sr. Paez, head of the Manila Railroad Co., accompanied us, also Ramon Roces and his wife (Manuelita Barretto), on a private train. Fishing in Ragay Gulf (Doria caught 2, I one); shooting snipe and duck at Pili –at the home of Prieto in Camarines Sur; trip to rest house in Albay on Mt. Mayon driving up through hemp plantations, on the new Paez road.We were given an attractive tea dance at the Mayon Pavilion by Governor Imperial of Albay. Spent a comfortable night there. Sensational scenery, views of the Pacific Ocean; future health resort at altitude of 2500 feet, with a temperature of about 70°. Numerous conversations with Roces, Paez, etc.

A. Roces, Sr. is the proprietor of Vanguardia, Tribune and Tagalog Daily and of the Ideal Cinema. He is a very generous, warm-hearted man, full of ideals, and rather puritanic zeal for the welfare of the poor people; is really an ardent patriot– not a politician, and is thoroughly stubborn and fearless. He wishes well for Commonwealth and is willing to give Quezon full support if a decent honest government is set up –but is rather anti-capitalist. Has always been devoted friend of mine and a supporter of my work here. Would be glad to see me Economic Adviser –and favors low tariffs on the necessaries of life. He advocates also a 25 years period before full independence but accepts the new law. Roces believes it is a waste of time to work for the permanent continuance of the old free trade with the United States, but believes the American people are “sentimental” and can be appealed to for a modification of the present restrictions. I agreed. He advises me to consult with Manuel Roxas about the economic future –thinks him safe in judgment– and considers him sane and studious –believes him to be the coming man, and says that Quezon takes his advice.

Here are some of Alejandro Roces’ opinions on people.

Quezon is impetuous –changes quickly– is not personally concerned over money –has great opportunity now to give a decent government. Roces advised him to go in for a reputation as a good President and not to care about financial benefits; better leave a good name to your children rather than a fortune. He commented that Jim Ross and Jacob Rosenthal are Quezon’s best friends among Americans.

Osmeña, in the opinion of Roces, is too lacking in firmness of character –is always 50-50!

Aguinaldo is entirely ignorant –has no organization and is pitiful.

Wood was a tragedy –was dotty when he came out here; Wood said of Quezon that when surrounded by angels he was an angel –and vice versa.

Davis was nothing.

Governor Cailles is a “100% liar” –that he (Roces) did not believe Cailles’ story of the killing of seven Sakdalistas. He laughed over a photo of Cailles smoking a cigar and pointing a revolver at three dead men.

Don Isauro Gabaldon is an honest man.

Governor Murphy is lacking in firmness —vide the award of Government printing.

Yulo represents capitalists.

Does not advise Roxas to accept the post of Secretary of Finance, nor Paez to accept that of Secretary of Communications.

Sison is the best of the present cabinet –and is absolutely honest.

He then denounced by name several prominent Filipinos whom he believed to have accepted or demanded large sums of money for their influence in public life.

Roces says Quezon is afraid of assassination –that the President had told him that this eventuality was “inherent in his job.” I said that assassination was “not in the Filipino character”; he replied he used to believe that –but not now.

Says Barretto is too old; that Singson is not a reliable man; Sumulong is a good man, he believes, but he cannot understand him at times. Tirona is of no real account.

Agrees with me that there is too much higher education in the Philippines –it makes only for discontent.

Roces, Sr. advocates a National Transportation Corporation to take over all the motor bus lines –capital required now is about three million pesos but they would take shares or installment payments; they can be run as feeders for the Railroad. Paez agrees with him. Roces advocates moving Bilibid prison out of town and making the site a central market and the hub of motor buses –thus cutting out the middleman. This has been tried in Spain –and is a success.

Doria reports a conversation with Mrs. Roces, Jr. and the provincial officials of Albay in which she told them the Philippines was being exploited by American salesmen –with which they rather shamefacedly agreed. Mrs. Roces said to her, “I know why I like you so much because you are English –the Americans treat us like niggers.” Mrs. Roces said where possible she bought only Jap goods. Doria said the Wolfsons and the American hairdressers in the beauty shops talk of Filipinos as if they were imbeciles.

At Pili Prieto talked of his starch factory there –he employs about 100 men– their starch is 80% for the laundry because, it is “more viscose” –20% for food (tapioca). they failed at first because they used camotes –now they make $200,000 gross per annum using cassava plants which he smuggled out of Java in 1933 –they are nearly double the size of the native Philippine cassava.

Talked October 27 with Gov. Imperial of Albay about hemp central and hemp-stripping machines –the latter are made by Int. Harvester Co. and cost about six thousand dollars; too expensive for the small farmer with a plantation averaging about 40 hectares. It would take two to three generations to teach cultivators to cooperate on a central. Said Albay has a 6000-horsepower waterfall –which had been abandoned by Meralco.

At the tea dance in Mayon Pavilion there was a good orchestra from Tabajo –people danced like Americans. Mrs. Imperial said her chief ambition was to go to Hollywood.

Duck and snipe shooting at Pili –duck were teal and mallard– very novel method of screening bankas –men went into water like retrievers after a wounded duck.

Mayon Rest House “the beauty spot of the Philippines.” Volcano erupted last year for the first time in a century, as is still smoking –comfort and modern conveniences at the rest house.

Clouds of locusts in Camarines Sur.