|The White House||Date||October 25, 1966|
|President Lyndon B. Johnson||Day||Wednesday|
|The President began his day at:||Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippine Islands|
|Time||Telephone (f or t)||Activity (include visited by)|
|Breakfasted on scrambled eggs, two pieces of bacon, toast, melon balls and hot tea|
|Jake Jacobsen, Marvin Watson|
|Harry McPherson, Walt Rostow|
|10:47a||Depart Manila Hotel|
|7:58p||Returned to suite and changed into a native shirt –for visit to Palace– and Barrio Fiesta|
|8:31p||Departed Manila Hotel via motorcade|
|Riding w/ the President — Mrs. Johnson, MF, YB, and Paul Glynn|
|His Excellency Benjamin R. Romualdez, Amb. of the Philippines|
|11:47p||Arrive Manila Hotel|
Manila Airport, 5 am. The I.S.’s [Igor Stravinsky’s] count their baggage—ras, dva, tri, chetiry—over and over, like rosary beads. The U.S. Cultural Attaché, a Mr. Morris, accompanies us to the Manila Hotel, where a dozen eager porters pack us into our rooms. Old Manila is black and grim, except for pretty lattices and grilles, and the translucent mother-of-pearl “capiz,” or clamshell windows. The shores of the Bay are lined with hundreds of “night clubs,” in reality, tiny two-customer booths and simple Coca-Cola carts. They are a squalid sight now, at daybreak, but after we have seen the labyrinth of orange-crate dwellings inside the old walls, they seem almost gay. Drive to Taytay and Lake Taal, stopping at the Church of Las Piñas, on the way, to hear a bamboo organ. Built by a Spanish friar who had no metal, the organ—keys, pedals, seven hundred and fourteen pipes—is entirely bamboo. A young monk plays Gounod’s Ave Maria for our alms. The sound is like a choir of recorders: sweet, weak in volume, badly out of tune.
The road leaving Manila crosses salt flats, and the shoulders of the highway are heaped with bags marked asin, the dialect word for salt. One other common sign is Sari-Sani, the Chinese for sundries, but all directions and most billboards are in English, because the eight major Filipino dialects have made no progress toward consolidation. Beyond the flats, at the edge of the jungle, a police roadblock warns us of banditry in the neighborhood. This both alarms and encourages the I.S.’s. The road is hemmed in at first, by thick canebrakes, and at times it is entirely canopied by liana. The only signs of habitation— bamboo huts on stilts—are in the coconut and banana groves, but we see only two people, men carrying red-shakoed cocks. Halfway to Taytay a carabao herd crosses the road.
Taytay is high and treeless, and the natives carry black umbrellas against the torrid sun. A bus with all its passengers asleep is parked along the roadside. They are merely observing the siesta, of course, but they look as though enveloped by poison gas. All other Taytayans clamor to be photographed and to sell us fruit. A few say “Happy New Year,” but the only other “English” syllables they know are “Coca-Cola,” which product appears to be the economic index of the whole community, judging by the monuments of empty cases. We eat at the Taal View Lodge, with a panorama of the volcanic lake a thousand feet below.
Dinner at the U.S. Embassy with the Bohlens, who obviously enjoy exercising their Russian, which they speak with an attractive American drawl. We spend most of the evening looking at photographs taken during their Russian term, but they also show colorslides of the Banaue country in northern Luzon. Two geologists were decapitated in this region a week ago, probably because of suspicious questioning, and in one frightening photograph a Banaue warrior charges toward the camera brandishing a spear, though his intention, says the Ambassador, was not to throw the spear, but to sell it. We ask the Bohlens about José Rizal, the Philippine “Washington” and “Goethe,” whose statues fill Manila’s parks and whose biography fills its bookstores, but the Ambassador considers Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere to be “competent literature, no more.” The Bohlens say that dog meat is a delicacy in the islands, edible even in high society, and that markets exist where the buyer may select his canine still in the quick. The Bohlens have had to hide their poodle since its arrival in the country, so great is the native appetite and the danger from dognappers. During dinner, the Ambassador opens the screen doors for more ventilation, and a large rat leaps inside. It is not found by the time we leave.
We try to sleep with our lights on, hoping they might discourage the musical geckos on the wall—“chirp, chirp’—and the cockroaches and other monsters on the floor from joining us in our beds.
Yesterday and today I wrote 12 letters, — to US, England, Australia, Spain, Portugal, India, Hongkong, Taiwan, Burma and Shanghai. Had first swim in the hotel pool, and enjoyed it.
Dinner at the Huie’s. He is in the Luzon Stevedoring Co.; she is daughter of Rev. Mr. Gleystern (Peking). They have an 11 month baby boy, who came to my arms and smiled at me. Other guests were Chick and Mrs. Parsons and Col. And Mrs. Duke (?) of JUSMAG (“Yoosmaag”). Adm. Giles Stedman and another lady were in for a drink. A very delightful evening, and an excellent dinner.
Had all three meals in the hotel for about the first time. The food here get very monotonous.
Wrote several letters.
Holiday for E.C.A. but I worked, finishing odds and ends and getting my report polished up. With Foster Knight lunched at Capt. Rayon’s [Razon] house, with Sr. deLeon, former Commissioner of Customs, and Sr. Francisco (of the Dalupan Committee). De Leon said that getting rid of political influence in the Customs is even more important than raising pay. He was very bitter against the politicians. Capt. Razon said that the Philippine people have lost all confidence in, and respect for, the government. He intimated strongly that the best thing that would happen to the Philippines would be re-occupation by the USA.
Had an hour’s chat on the general situation and the E.C.A. program with Charles Glaser and David Sternberg. The latter is a cripple and confined to a wheel chair. He knows the country and the people pretty intimately. One thing that worries Glaser and Sternberg is the apathy of the people toward reform. They can’t understand why the common people are not more excited about the failure of the Congress to pass the Minimum Wage Law. Sternberg says they are “politically illiterate.” To buffet dinner given by Admiral Giles Stedman at Elks Club. Invited for 7:30 and arrived at 7:30. Dinner served at 9:30 —- by which time I was fit to be tied. I still dislike this type of entertaining intensely.
Fortunately, I had a table with Mr. and Mrs. Huie. Mr. Huie was in Navy during war (Commander) and had his ship blown out from under him in Manila Bay. Lost 40% of his complement. After occupation he was ordered to go to Santo Tomas, get a Chinese and his family and put them on a destroyer. He took 16 men, all armed to the teeth, and and finally found the family. He has forgotten the name but says the man was T.V. Soong’s secretary. Mrs. Huie was Miss Gloysteen, of Peking. She is very charming and easy on the eye. We have many friends in common. She spent a summer at Sacconnet, R.I. when she was at Smith took care of two children. Later, taught at Tingchow. I told her that I went to Junior Prom at Smith the year she was born (1914). Rotary Club had. a “Barrio Fiesta” on the lawn of the hotel tonight, and it was most colorful. Many of the American women wore the Philippine woman’s costume, and some of the American men wore Filipino “pina” shirts.
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.
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.
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?
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.