At the office in the morning Hoskins was discussing the landlord and tenant situation. He said that with rice (palay) selling at 3 pesos a ganta the peasant, who gets one-half share from his landlord can just manage to make both ends meet –but with palay at its present price of 1.50 pesos they cannot make a living; that often a man borrows at the rate of 80 centavos a ganta in the planting season and has to deliver the palay six months later to his creditor (Chino or Cacique) when it is worth 3 pesos. He explained the slow growth of the country banks and the country branches of the Philippine National Bank of which he is a director. Also discussed the currency situation and advocated the purchase of silver at the present price of 45 cents and the issue of silver certificates against the same.
In the afternoon at Malacañan from 4-7. Quezon was rather tired and appeared absorbed in refitting the Palace; he is making a new entrance on the street side and all quarters on that side, including the dining room are to be for the use of his wife and children; the old ball room is to be made into a banquet sala; the bedroom where Kiko (my son F.B.H. Jr.) was born in 1921 is now Quezon’s library and office; the downstairs floor-space by the river is to be made into a “club” with bridge tables, dance floor and bar; land on opposite side of the Pasig River is to be bought and made into a park; a new building is to be erected on the opposite bank of the river with guest rooms on the top floor, and the President’s office and that of the Council of State on the ground floor. Thus he hopes to make the (old) Palace “habitable for his family”! He received Ed. Harrison and Baroness Von Hagen who are to be married soon; she had just arrived in Manila preceded by a newspaper blast announcing her as a “criminologist.”
The President said he was quizzing Supreme Court Justices daily to find out whether they placed “human” rights on an equality with “property” rights; that he was going to have on that bench only justices who would interpret the Constitution in the spirit of the age in which it was written; that Recto thought as he (Quezon) did; that he might have to get ride of one or two of those old Justices.
Quezon also said he was about to “explode a bomb” tomorrow or the day after, because he was going to suspend the leases obtained over 1,300,000 acres of land in the Philippine oil fields by a syndicate composed (incidentally!) of four or five of his best friends (Buencamino, Luz, &c) that the son of Osmeña was one of them and had been selling some worthless stock in his company; that he would force them to go to the courts over their leases –that he would fight the monopoly. I told him that the heads of both the Asiatic Petroleum and Socony had told me in recent months that they did not believe there was any paying oil in the district.
He also told me he had changed his plans for the reorganization of the government –that he was going to make Manuel Roxas Secretary of Finance and turn the reorganization over to him. (This lets me out of this complicated task.)
The President asked me to make a thorough study of the Landlord & Tenant situation. To go about the provinces and examine. That he wanted me to do it because any Filipino whom he might delegate would belong to one class or the other (i.e., landlord or tenant) or be influenced by it. That I could have what assistance I needed, and could choose either to be associated openly with Secretary of Labor Torres (the nominal head) or go at it without being known to be employed on that research. When I asked him whether he would be willing to tax the large estates (Friar &c) out of existence, he said he positively intended to –I advised him that he must get a law first fixing rents and the tenure of holdings for the tenants.
He asked me to go up to Cabuyao tomorrow with him to see the farm there which he owns, and on which he intends to build a nipa house, and to farm.
Also said that if his health lasted, he would in three years have a “model government” here.
Quezon was interested in Whittall’s suggestion (via me) to have a visitors book in Malacañan similar to those in English “Government Houses.”
He talked of moving Bilibid prison immediately; stating that the law authorized him to sell it but that to buy the new site he would have to use the funds of the National Development Co. and then face the Legislature on this. Is going to make a park out of Bilibid grounds, for he felt it was a crime not to have more parks in a tropical city like Manila; and if the municipal board would not agree to this, he would “get rid” of them. He not only wants several more parks in Manila but said also he was going to transform Harrison Park.
Afterwards played bridge with Quezon, Guevara, Zamora and Karadag.
Quezon left for twenty minutes treatment by his doctor; he is always worried by a draft or by any cool air, and wears more clothes than anyone else in the tropics.