December 24, 1938

Breakfast at seven o’clock. The President and I still alone together, and both rather sleepy. He woke up, however, when I began to talk of the great iron deposits in eastern Surigao, reserved since 1915 by Executive Order for the disposition of the government. Quezon said that Marsman would not press his Challenge as to the constitutionality of the Executive Order. Geologist Bain believes that the only way to work these iron fields is in conjunction with the South Manchuria Railway–he has just come back from there. I asked Quezon whether this would mean heavy industries in the Philippines, and that the Filipinos were going to make their own steel? He said “Yes.” This led to an exposition by him of the extreme awkwardness of the geographical position of the Philippine Islands, lying more or less between Japan and the United States. He had advised Mr. Bain that nothing could be done in this respect at this moment of great strain; he had also sent Bain’s report on this subject to High Commissioner McNutt, so that the American Government would not think that he was dealing directly with Japan, adding: “They already think in Washington that this was the purpose of my visit to Japan last summer. If we go on, however, opposing every single thing that the Japanese want, as the Chinese so foolishly did, we may meet the fate of China.”

Thereupon, I raised once more the thorny question as to whether the Filipinos were considering the raising of their tariff laws as to the importation of textiles, which would be possibly construed at being aimed at Japan. Quezon replied that he had taken up this question personally with President Roosevelt, telling him that on certain higher qualities of cotton goods it might be possible for them to favour the United States, but positively not on common cotton cloth, affecting every inhabitant of the Philippines. He could not stand for that, and Roosevelt remarked that he himself wondered why all the Filipinos should pay tribute to American textile companies; he added, however, that the Filipinos could start their own textile manufactures and protect them, and that, he said, would be “all right.” This was a thoroughly Satanic suggestion as it seems to me, for the American mills under free trade with the Philippines, will get all the protection ostensibly proposed for native industry in the Philippines, and the cost of clothing for every inhabitant in these islands will rise.

Quezon then turned again to the rather acute situation arising as regards Japanese holdings of hemp plantations in Davao. The province is so large that the fifteen thousand hectares held by the Japanese are, so the President explained, a mere “drop in the bucket” (?). A lot of their hemp land was obtained by them through dummy Filipino owners. Instead of cancelling leases and raising a direct issue with Japan, he proposes to wait for the expiration of these leases and then refuse to renew them.

One hundred and twenty guests assembled in the lower reception hall by the river, at Malacañan, for a luncheon given in my honor. The entertainment went off with a bang and real cordiality was shown me by both the Americans and the Filipinos present. In his address, Quezon was very effective in making the points of which a resume was later published in the press. All of the pleasant and very personal humour of the President’s remarks about me as well as my comments about him in return was omitted by the press.

At the little table with Quezon and myself, sat General MacArthur and High Commissioner McNutt. I concluded my own remarks on a serious note with the statement that I was sailing away from them tomorrow to the uncharted seas of a European war. As I sat down, MacArthur asked me what I meant by a European war? I replied to him that I had just recently come from France and was returning there, and that I was as certain as I could ever be of anything in the future that a war was coming very soon in Europe. General MacArthur replied: “They cannot afford a war, but if there were a war, Germany would go through Russia like a knife through cheese.”

5 p.m. Don Alejandro Roces, the proprietor of the influential chain of newspapers known as “T.V.T.” invited me by telephone to take a “cup of chocolate” with him at his residence this evening–“no butter,” he added. It turned out, of course, to be a four course banquet with Philippine delicacies. The guests were: President Quezon, Secretaries Manuel Roxas and Jose Abad Santos, Alberto Barretto, Miguel Unson, Paez and Jake Rosenthal. Quezon acted as Santa Claus in presenting me with a handsome gold wrist-watch as a joint Christmas gift from all those present.

After the sumptuous meal, they took me out doors a few yards to the corner of the park and the boulevard, both of which had been named in 1921. There they pointed out to me the site upon which they were going to erect a statue to me! Up to that moment, I had believed that our host, Alejandro Roces was making a broma but all of a sudden, I realized they were in earnest. I was really extremely embarrassed and could find nothing sensible to say. At first I pointed out that statues were not raised to living men, but they countered by referring to the statue of Lord Curzon in Calcutta. I refrained from answering with the statement: “Yes, and look at the pedestal of that statue, all covered with betel-nut saliva from the Indians.” I merely remarked feebly that the fashion in statues changed so rapidly and after a while, parents could hardly tell their children, “who that old guy was up there?” This made no impression, so I had to think rapidly, and came out with the reflection that in the passage of a few years, the only beings which made real use of statues in the parks were the pigeons and the sparrows. This brought a general laugh, and the situation was saved.

Miguel Unson then told me that the young people in the Philippines knew nothing about my administration of some twenty years earlier. I replied that this, perhaps, was the natural course of events, but he said “no”–that it was largely the result of the vigorous campaign made by my successor. Governor General Leonard Wood and his “Cavalry Cabinet” to discredit me. He added that they had even cut down the tree which I had planted, explaining that this was done so they might practice polo there, but Unson said it was intentional.

Young Roces then told me that his father often said that he made his successful start as a newspaper man by backing my administration throughout–and this was the only newspaper support I ever had either in the Philippines or in the United States.

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