February 26, 1950

Lunch at the Staplers lovely house in Rizal (next door to the Huie home). He is Capt. Jack Stapler’s brother, and in Marsman & Co. He says the outlook for foreign firms in the Philippines is pretty dim, chiefly because they are the only ones which pay 100% taxes. Stapler also spoke of the crowd of American swindlers and carpetbaggers who came to Manila after the war, and gave the American community a black eye. He also mentioned the scandalous sale of US Army and surplus stores by American officers and men; and said that US Army people are even today selling supplies stolen from Clark Field. Dinner here with Foster Knight and a man named Fuller, who is going to Formosa for E.C.A. He told of the 4 brides who compared notes after a month of marriage and discussed, in political terms, their wedding night experiences. No. 1 said it was a case of Roosevelt, — over and over again. No. 2 said she could quote Churchill: blood, sweat and tears. No. 3 mentioned Dewey, who tried to get in twice but failed both times; No. 4 said it was like Truman: he got in twice but didn’t know what to do after he got in.

Where to place a statue of Quirino in Washington. Not near Washington, who couldn’t tell a lie. Not near Honest Abe Lincoln. Put it next to Christopher Columbus, who didn’t know where he was going when he started, didn’t know where he was when he got there, and did it all on borrowed money.

February 19, 1950

My nose to the grindstone all day, drafting my report — or starting it. Foster Knight had Mr. David Gunnell to lunch here. He is President of the Philippine Educational Company (books). His description of the corruption among the officials made sorry listening. He has been here 40 years, and now faces the liquidation of his fine old company unless the authorities change their tactics.

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 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 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 8, 1950

Foster Knight returned last night from an inspection trip with Pio Pedrosa, the Secretary of Finance. It was nice to see him again; odd how our paths have crossed after all these years. I recall — many years ago — his stay in the German Hospital in
Shanghai, where he was found to have T.B. Then lost touch for years until we met in Washington during the war. Next, we met in Chungking. Last summer, when E.C.A. had to evacuate Korea, Foster Knight came to Tokyo, when I saw a lot of him. Now, we are in the same office — in Manila. Lunch with Representative Allas, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee; he asked me my frank opinion of the Philippines Customs, and I told him — laying stress on the necessity of (1) eliminating political influence from the Service and (2) raising the pay of the staff to a living wage. Called on Pio Pedrosa, Secretary of Finance. Preached my little sermon, with which he professed complete agreement. He showed me two letters on his desk from the Speaker of the House requesting him to intervene in favor of two of the 180 Customs employees recently discharged. Pedrosa asked me to stay three months in Manila. I said “no can do”, but handed him a draft letter for his signature requesting E.C.A. to appoint Hugh Bradley as Customs Consultant here. Pedrosa agreed to send it in. Had Gil and Virginia “Gina”) Stuart, Ian and Daphne Bradley, and Foster Knight to dinner here. Ian impresses me as very “vital”, honest and good young man, with plenty of steel underneath a very pleasant and sincere manner. […]

February 1, 1950

Had about 6 hours sleep but routed out of bed before daylight to breakfast at Wake Island. The sun came up as we ate in the little dining room — with which I have become quite familiar. Arrived Guam about noon; lunched there and took off at 2:30. Guam was pretty hot. Several of our passengers left here, and were not missed — especially 3 or 4 young men who came out for the contractors who are working here. These lads started drinking at 8 a.m., and kept it up all day. One of them — an electrician — said he had a swell job: all expenses paid and pay of about $25.00 a day. Time difference between Wake and Manila is 4 hours, so we sat our watches back accordingly. Arrived Manila at 6:45 p.m., Manila time, and met by Senor Jacinto, Commissioner of Customs, and Mr. ? of the E.C.A. staff. Five or six newspaper reporters on hand. To Manila Hotel. No room for me, because President Sukarno of the Indonesian Republic is paying a state visit to Manila. I am in Foster Knight’s room; he is away for a few days.