June 3, 1942

Shoreham Hotel. Helping Quezon with the preparation of his address to be made before the United States Senate tomorrow. I suggested to him that if he used the phrase that “he did not come to ask that they send troops to drive the invader from his beloved land,” (in preference to their putting their American effort into another theater of war)–he might be called into account later by his own people. He replied: “I have an answer to that: I do not want the Philippines to be utterly wrecked by becoming again the theater of war–I hope the United States will strike directly at Japan. God forbid that our country should be treated like France today–that is simply awful.”

Osmeña came to see Quezon, but the latter was closeted with Supreme Court Justice Frankfurter, so Don Sergio came to my room for a talk. His purpose was to suggest the introduction in the speech tomorrow of a strong statement Quezon had made in October 1941 in Manila in which he stressed the absolute necessity for the Filipinos to join with the United States if they were drawn into the war. I think Quezon will use it.

I asked Osmeña about the early days of American government in the Philippines. He said that General Franklin Bell as Provost Marshal of Manila was considered by them as a liberal. Frank McIntyre was the first American he ever met. Osmeña was then editing a newspaper in Cebu and McIntyre was the Military Censor there. General MacArthur (the father) was Military Governor of the Philippines for only a short time–then he had a row with Mr. Taft over turning over the government to the latter.

Osmeña and Quezon were then governors of their respective provinces and together founded the Nacionalista party, but advocated co-operation with the Americans–which produced a storm of protest. The opposition to the Americans, however, came rather from the Spanish and Spanish mestizos than from the bulk of the Filipinos; Quezon was an exception. Dr. Pardo Tavera was active in opposition to America.

Don Sergio said that another time they would not fortify the region around Manila, which is indefensible; it is better for them to have their capital in the mountains of Pampanga or Tarlac–says at Fort Stotsenburg, which can be defended. He thinks that with the help of the United States the damage now done to the Philippines can be repaired in a comparatively short time.

Dinner with Quezon. He is very much disturbed by the evening news of the bombing by the Japanese of Dutch Harbor, Alaska. I told him that if they effected a foothold on the mainland of Alaska, they could bomb Chicago and Detroit. He said: “then somebody ought to be impeached.”

Our talk was then mostly about Japan. He said he had first met Matsuoka when the latter was head of the South Manchuria Railway; at that time, Matsuoka talked very frankly against the Chinese policy of his own government and ridiculed the idea that an indemnity should be exacted by them from China. “Why,” he asked “should we make them pay when we ourselves have invaded and devastated their country?” Quezon believes that he himself might have been asked to be a referee between China and Japan except for the complete control of Philippine foreign policy by the United States.

I expressed again to Quezon my regret that Professor Africa’s plea in 1936 for the training of young Filipinos in American consulates which I had at that time favorably recommended to him, had not been allowed by the United States. He replied that Secretary of State Hull had, at the time, agreed to the proposition and he supposes it had been blocked by some clerk in the State Department, or possibly a chief of bureau.

Quezon then turned to the subject of his luncheon with the Emperor of Japan. The presentation and wait before lunch were very formal. Then the Minister of the Household disappeared and they sat down at the table. Quezon was to the left of the Emperor, whose brother was on his right and on the other side of him sat American Ambassador Grew. Grew’s deaf ear was turned towards the rest of them, and the Emperor’s brother talked very loudly into it. This enabled the Emperor to have a quiet conversation with Quezon. His Majesty spoke English, but an interpreter stood behind his chair; he asked a good many questions of Quezon, and Quezon of him. Afterwards, Grew asked Quezon what they had talked about, especially when the Emperor and Quezon were alone in the “study.” Quezon refused to tell what the Emperor had said to him, and also what he, himself had said in reply, stating that it would be insulting if Grew suggested that he, Quezon, had said anything disloyal to the United States. This was in February, 1937.

He then turned again to a discussion of Francis Sayre, the High Commissioner to the Philippines. He touched on a discussion which had occurred between them as to the future trade relations between the United States and the Philippines which had taken place while Sayre was still in the Department of State. It was then suggested that this most important subject be referred to a Joint Committee, and Sayre proposed as Chairman former Vice Governor Hayden, recommending him because he was a professor. Quezon made a grimace. “Why,” said Sayre, “I have been a professor myself.” Later, when Sayre was appointed High Commissioner, and Quezon gave him a banquet, he introduced him as a “professor,” and everybody laughed. Quezon added that he entirely agrees with the opinion once expressed by Professor Becker, head of the Agricultural College at Los Baños, who stated before the Board of Visitors of the University of the Philippines (Governor General Wood, Quezon and Osmeña), that: “A Doctor of Philosophy cannot run anything.”

Turning to another subject, Quezon lamented that the United States Government had not backed up Morgan Shuster on his mission as treasurer of Persia, but had let him be run out of office by Sir Edward Grey, then the English Foreign Secretary. He added the remark to me that: “Shuster and you certainly started something thirty years ago–he in Persia, and you in the Philippines.”

Turning back to the subject of Japan once more, Quezon said he was sure Prince Konoye tried to prevent war between Japan and the United States. He sent Nomura over here as Ambassador to this country. When he saw he was going to fall. Prince Konoye resigned as Premier.

Finally, Quezon observed that Siam had made a mistake in joining even nominally with Japan; that France and England are no longer able to parcel off pieces of Siam for their own Empires, and would never be so again. Sic transit gloria mundi.

May 31, 1942

Quezon came into my room at the Shoreham for a two hours’ talk. Yesterday he had offered me an official position to go around with him and help him with his English in preparing his speeches. I told him I thought his command of English was excellent, and that I had not come to him to get a job. “But that was the reason why I asked you to come,” he replied. So here I am back again as adviser to the President, as I had been in 1935 and 1936. I hope I may be of some use to him in his very trying situation as head of a government-in-exile.

I then asked him whether he had foreseen the coming of war between the United States and Japan. He replied that during those last few weeks before the Japanese struck he had been sure of it. I enquired what he had thought of the note handed by Secretary of State Hull on November 26, 1941 to the two Japanese Ambassadors. He replied: “What did you think of it?” “I thought it,” I said, “the equivalent of a declaration of war upon Japan.” “So did I,” he put in; “with such a people as the Japanese,–no government could possibly accept such a proposal as to get out of China and give up Manchuria; the government which did that could not survive. So immediately I asked Admiral Hart urgently to call on me, and told him: ‘Admiral, this is the same as a declaration of war by the United States upon Japan. What will happen if our communications with the Mainland (i.e., the U.S.) are cut?’ The Admiral replied: ‘Oh, it will only be a matter of three weeks.'” Quezon continued by saying that a few days before Pearl Harbor in his speech on “Heroes’ day” (on December 2nd, 1941) at the University of the Philippines in Manila, he told the students how heavy his heart was, because many of those magnificent young men who had just passed in parade before him were soon to lay down their lives for their country.

Quezon then went on to describe to me the meeting of the American-Japan Society in Tokyo which was attended by Ambassador Grew, on the occasion of the appointment of Nomura as Ambassador to the United States. At this meeting, Foreign Minister Matsuoka had told them of his efforts to get Nomura, a retired admiral, to go to United States as Ambassador, because Nomura was known to be a personal friend of President Roosevelt. At first Nomura had been unwilling to accept the post, but Matsuoka went to his house and persuaded him to take on the serious and difficult talk of reaching a working agreement with the United States Government. Matsuoka then emphasis his opinion that it was the duty of the United States and of Japan to avoid war–if not, it would be a terrible conflict, and would destroy civilization. Matsuoka then sent a letter to Quezon enclosing a copy of this speech and wrote at the bottom of the letter as follows: “To His Excellency President Quezon: Dear Mr President, I hope you will agree with my views.” The envelope was addressed in Matsuoka’s own handwriting, and was handed to Quezon by the Japanese Consul General at Manila–so every precaution had been taken to conceal the identity of the person to whom the letter was to be delivered–even the stenographer was not to know. Quezon said that at the time, he thought this was a very “suspicious circumstance,” and that Matsuoka was in deadly earnest. “But,” Quezon added, “I did not then know anything about the real strength of Japan, and I simply wondered how they dared even to consider a war against the United States, since he assumed that America would immediately send their whole fleet against Japan and completely destroy the Japanese navy.”

He did not believe that the second Japanese envoy Kurusu was sent to the United States to join with Nomura in order to “gain time.” Indeed, he thought that it was the United States that needed “time”–not Japan, and he added: “The seriousness of the situation was apaprent when the attack was made on Pearl Harbor, because the Japanese never go to war unless they are thoroughly prepared.”

On the question as to why the Japanese aviation had bombed President Quezon’s birth place, Baler, Quezon did not believe at any time that this was done in reprisal because he had called upon his people to support the American side; “If it was aimed at me,” he asked, “why did they respect my houses at Baguio, at Mariquina and Malacañan Palace itself? Those buildings have not been damaged nor looted.” (N.B. It transpired later that the bombing at Baler had been aimed at the small wireless station there.)

Quezon then reported a conversation he had had a few days ago with the Chinese Ambassador who had told him Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek had recently gone to India not, as reported, to try to persuade the Indians to join the English in resistance against Japan, but to try to persuade the British Government to give independence to India!

I then asked the President to elucidate the phrase he had used: “doubts as to my duty to the people of the Philippines” which beset him when he arrived at Corregidor and of which he at once had informed President Roosevelt by cable. Of course, I could understand his perplexity as to whether it would be best to insist upon further resistance when he was already convinced that the United States neither could nor would send reinforcements nor supplies to them while concentrating on the German War, but I asked him to explain further his state of mind then on that momentous question. Thereupon, he replied that he might have considered advising his countrymen to join an association of Asiatic nations which were to be partners in the real meaning of the word but that he had no confidence in the Japanese offer to them of self-government. He added: “Those fellows would not really leave us alone to govern ourselves—-it would take them three hundred years longer to learn how to do so.”

Asked about the internal situation in the Philippines just before the war, Quezon began his reply by stating that he himself was a sincere democrat and really believed in the rule of the people, but that in dealing with the application of this theory, especially in times of strain, there were too many people going around advocating democracy for everybody without any real sense of responsibility towards the people themselves or knowledge of the struggle and fight necessary to protect democracy. He believed it was especially necessary to know the background of a people, and to understand what their history meant. This, of course, recalled my effort in 1936 to prepare for him at his suggestion, and when first acting as his adviser, a bill to reform the system of landholding in the Philippines, so as to protect the millions of small farmers (taos) in their tenant holdings and really to begin the dividing up of the many great haciendas. The bill was modelled upon Gladstone’s “three F’s” land bill of the 1880’s for Ireland, as had been suggested to me by Quezon himself. But, as related in the first part of this “diary,” the members of his Cabinet all balked at it and the President had handed it back to me with the remark that it was “loaded with dynamite.” I replied that I had, at the time, been greatly distressed by the failure of this effort at reform, but that I know a little of the background in Philippine history: how, always until the Spanish liberals had begun in their own country for reforms, with repercussions upon the Filipinos, the state of society in the Philippines as in other Malay communities elsewhere had been entirely aristocratic. “Why,” I said, “Your own Cabinet then, and most of the members of the legislature–those gentlemen were almost all aristocrats.” “Except me” he interrupted, “I wasn’t one.”

Then I got him to tell part, at least, of the story of the constant friction existing between High Commissioner Sayre and himself during the year before this war. He started by saying that Sayre is, personally, a very nice fellow, but unlike his late father-in-law, Woodrow Wilson, he does not understand government. He is one of those lovers of liberty who goes around trying to apply liberty as a solution to problems which arise without much consideration of the results to follow; that he started all his arguments with him (Quezon) with the statement: “I am a Christian gentleman,” which is no doubt perfectly true, but in itself does not solve by its application all political problems. The serious disagreement between Quezon and Sayre which had some bearings on inadequate civilian preparedness in the Philippines just before this war broke out, arose through what the United States would call the “Office of Civilian Defense,” and had nothing to do, as I had previously presumed, with any attempt by President Quezon to spend part of the $50,000,000 then held in the United States for the Philippines. Nor did Quezon try to get the United States to pay for his Office of Civilian Defense.

The trouble between the President of the Philippines and the High Commissioner started in 1940 when the legislature passed an act delegating to Quezon powers to regulate the civilian defense corps and otherwise prepare for a supply of food and for making air-raid shelters for the protection of the civilian population of the Philippines. The Philippine constitution placed his power in the legislature only “in a national emergency,” with restrictions on the power to be exercised by the President. They had studied the history of difficulties which had arisen in the United States over the “delegated powers” which are forbidden by the American constitution.

In 1941, during the growing tension throughout the Far East, Quezon issued the necessary executive orders based upon this grant to him of limited delegated powers. At once, a group of young Filipinos called the “Civil Liberties Union” passed a resolution of protest. High Commissioner Sayre was aroused, and is believed to have notified President Roosevelt who cabled Quezon warning him that adverse sentiment was aroused in the United States since the American “Civil Liberties Union” had joined in the fray. Quezon at once cabled back to Roosevelt that he would not exercise any of the powers so delegated to him without a direct application to him from High Commissioner Sayre.

A few months later, Major General Grunert then in command of the Philippine Department of the American Army, asked Quezon to attend a meeting with him. High Commissioner Sayre and the American Admiral. The general wanted to know what plans there were for the protection of the civilian population in the event of war and complained that so far as he could see, nothing had been done; what was Quezon going to do about it? The President replied: “Ask High Commissioner Sayre”–who sat absolutely silent. Finally, at this conference, it was agreed that a committee should be appointed as an Office of Civilian Defense, consisting of General Douglas MacArthur, then a retired Lieutenant General of the American Army, but engaged as Quezon’s Adviser on Military Affairs and occupied in organizing the Philippine Army, and Quezon’s secretary George Vargas, and A. D. Williams, adviser to the President on public works. This committee was to cooperate with the American General and Admiral. At the meeting, General MacArthur asked Major General Grunert if he would state to him first of all, as Department Commander, whether the American Army was going to protect the Philippines and what plans he had for getting the equipment necessary for such protection? The Department Commander replied that he was only a soldier, and knew nothing of politics; that he intended to fight for the protection of the Philippines but could not state what equipment would come to him for that purpose. General MacArthur then expressed himself as dissatisfied with the latter part of the Department Commander’s reply, and refused to serve on this committee until he had a satisfactory answer. So MacArthur retired from this committee and A. D. Williams and Vargas went ahead with their plans for air-raid shelters, etc.

Shortly after this, A. D. Williams returned to the United States after forty years of service in the Philippines on public works and construction, and by this time General MacArthur had been put in command of all American and Philippine forces in the islands.

At the public meeting on “Heroes’ day,” December 2, 1941, to which reference has already been made in these pages. President Quezon said in his public address that he had not been able to discharge his full duty and prepare adequately for the civilian population a sufficient food supply nor adequate air-raid shelters because he had been prevented from doing so by the President of the United States, and this statement was reported in garbled and misleading form in some newspapers in the United States. Further, Quezon stated that the protest against due preparation in the Philippines had been started by the local Civil Liberties Union, and that if they were thus responsible for any evil results, they merited condign punishment.

At dinner that evening, Quezon told me had rented the house of General Hurley, “Belmont,” near Leesburg, Loudon County, Virginia from next Sunday for the summer, so he will be only two days at Hot Springs–another of those sudden and unexpected changes of his plans to which his entourage are thoroughly well accustomed. This means, however, that I am not to have him to myself to get on with the manuscript.

Bridge in my room at the Shoreham, nine p.m. to two a.m. Very lively bidding and the playing was animated. The other players were Quezon, Dr. Trepp, his devoted physician from Manila and the attractive and modest young a.d.c., Lieutenant-Colonel Velasquez from the Province of Bulacan, a West Pointer, who has been through the battle of Bataan. When the Governor General of Australia met Quezon a few months ago, Quezon told the Governor General that Velasquez was one of the Filipinos who had been doing the fighting. The Governor General talked with him for five minutes and turned and thanked Quezon for the delaying battle in the Philippines which had helped to save Australia. Quezon, however, agrees with me in doubting whether the Japanese plans included the conquest of Australia.

November 24, 1941

The US 16th Naval District HQ at Cavite Navy Yard welcome today the arrival of four large submarines to augment the Asiatic Fleet under Adm. T. Hart USN.  Eight days ago (Nov. 16) the 28th Bombardment Squadron of B-17’s under Maj. William P. Fisher USAAC arrived to reinforce the Far East Air Command of Gen. Brereton.  The runaway of the Malabang Airfield in Mindanao was lengthened to accommodate these B-17’s. In the re-surfacing of the runaway, volcanic cinders was used.

Manila news stated that serious talk is going on in Washington DC between the US State Department under Sec. Cordell Hull and Japanese Ambassadors Nomura and Kurusu. The Japanese is proposing status quo (they will halt their military campaigns but retain what they already have) if the US will lift the embargo against Japan.

Author’s note: 

Aforementioned are what I knew then. What I knew later based on records of the Japanese Navy, is that by Nov. 24, 1941, the Japanese Imperial Navy under Admiral Yamamoto have not only completed a comprehensive plan but also rehearsed the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Hawaii Task Force under Admiral Nagumo  was secretly  anchored at Hitokappu Bay in Etorafu Island waiting for the go signal. Admiral Nagumo had completed the briefings aboard his flagship “Akagi” where he announced Pearl Harbor as their objective. By this time also, the US had broken the Japanese Diplomatic Code and could decipher their messages.