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 6, 1950

To lunch here: Mr. and Mrs. Alexander Sycip (formerly Bonnie Liu). Mr. Sycip’s grandfather came to Manila from Amoy. His Chinese name was “Hsueh”, which is pronounced “Si” in Amoy dialect. The origin of the “cip” is unknown, but probably the Amoy pronunciation of another Chinese character. In the Spanish days, anybody who was baptized into the Catholic Church became ipso facto a Spanish subject. Sycip grandpére was baptized and given the Christian name Jose Larade Sy. My other guests were Charles Glaser of E.C.A. and Chapman, whom I met once in Shanghai. He used to be with Mackay radio, but is now retired. He had the next bed to W.H. Donald while interned at St. Tomas and was with him in Shanghai when he died — and a bearer at his funeral. He told me that he has a verbatim record of many of Donald’s stories and recollections made during internment. He has sent to America for them, and will let me see them if they arrive before I leave. He said that Donald would never have permitted the publication of “Donald of China” had he lived. Donald paid the author of that book $4,000! He could have gotten 25 to 50 thousand dollars from the S.E.P. or Time for his autobiography.

Had an hour’s talk with Jacinto in the office. He is very anxious to prepare legislation to improve the Customs organization, and wants me to get Bradley out here as soon as possible to help him. Spoke to Cecchi about it. Called on Donn Muni (away for a week), Wilkins (Manila Bulletin) and Ramon Escoda. Col. Miguel Enriquez came to my room at 9 a.m. to hand me copies of documents prepared last June by the reorganization committee of the Ministry of Finance setting forth a plan of reorganization of the Customs. (This was before the Bell Mission was formed.)