Sunday, November 23, 2008


On February 19, 1937, had the U.S. Charge d'Affaires in London, Ray Atherton, not discovered the nature of the clandestine meeting that was to be held between President Manuel Quezon and the British Foreign Minister, Anthony Eden, the Filipinos would have been belting out "God Save the Queen instead of humming Yankee doodle de dum tunes at major local gatherings.

Two years prior to this discovery, m
aking good on his infamous sound bite, "I would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans," Quezon -- upon assuming the presidency of the Commonwealth of the Philippines -- immediately pursued the task of laying the foundations of the future Philippine Republic.

However, the relations between Quezon and his American overlords during the transition period were often less than amenable; the resulting tensions and exasperations eventually prompted Quezon to secretly approach the British and explore the likelihood of the Philippines becoming a part of the British Empire -- as a self-governing dominion, like Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

As early as August 1933, then Senate President Quezon had already told his British friend and adviser, Frank Hodsoll, that should the United States abandon their protectorate interests in the Philippines, he would go to London, and on behalf of the 14,000,000 Filipinos, ask for admission to the British Commonwealth of Nations. Hodsoll, acting as Quezon's secret liaison agent, finally contacted top British officials on January 20, 1935.

At this time, Quezon was already coping with serious concerns about the threat of a Japanese invasion. He was also alarmed by the Americans' continued indifference on the issue, as well as their lackadaisical attitude toward strengthening the military defenses of the Philippines.

The British Foreign Office recognized the merits of Quezon's concerns and approved holding official, though initially clandestine, talks with Quezon. Unfortunately, the Americans got wind of the planned meeting in London. President Roosevelt and many high-ranking government officials were aghast; thus, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Francis B. Sayre
immediately censured Quezon as per orders received from Washington.

In his response, Quezon riposted that
for the survival of the Philippines, it was his duty to seek protection from another powerful nation; that is, if the United States were unable to provide it. He then pointed out the lack of palpable measures by the United States to fortify the archipelago and make her impregnable to a Japanese invasion.

Quezon also admitted that he would consider a treaty of amity and alliance with Japan if the United States and Great Britain refused to protect his country.

Ironically, despite their horrified reaction to Quezon's seemingly lack of loyalty, the United States' war plans from 1937 onwards, prioritized winning the war in Europe. Essentially, America was prepared to accept the initial fall of Guam, Hawaii, and the Philippines to Japan. Such priority was mainly due to the fact that the American oligarchy at that time was mostly of European ancestry. Therefore, the Philippines was merely regarded as a not too significant a territory located in some far-flung remote region across the Pacific.

Furthermore, the U.S. did not appear to be in any position to guarantee, let alone provide, formidable military defense systems and logistics for the Philippines. This was made apparent when the American contingent at the 1941 secret Japan-US diplomatic negotiations
began to consider permanently declaring the Philippines as a neutral country. Regrettably, diplomatic talks between the U.S. and Japan came to a sudden halt when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

These days, local historians could only speculate that perhaps, the eventual massive carpet-bombing of Manila by the U.S. forces during its liberation, might have been America's ultimate true response to Quezon's disloyalty, though his death saved him from seeing the city -- the seat of his government -- practically reduced to rubbles.

Title: View of burnt-out Manila, 1945
Date: 1945-03-12
Place/Time: Post-war commonwealth / Philippines / Manila
Publisher: US Signal Corps

Description: Vividly illustrating the condition of burned-out, battle-scarred Manila, as U.S. engineers and thousands of Filipinos begin the huge task of reconstruction, is this aerial view looking southwest across the Pasig River toward hulks of sunken ships in the harbor. Tall building, left foreground, is gutted, Eastern Hotel, center, across river, is burned out, general post office, extreme left, across river is Metropolitan Opera House in ruins. Battered wall of Intramuros, Walled City, and destroyed buildings inside, occupies rectangular area beyond post office. Left is demolished Santa Cruz Bridge, repaired by Army engineers. The streets have already been cleared of rubble.

Rights: U.S. National Archives
Submitter: McCoy, Alfred W.: University of Wisconsin--Madison. Center for Southeast Asian Studies.
Local Identifier: SEAiT.Philippines.ph00835.bib

* * *


History of the Filipino People
by Teodoro A. Agoncillo
Garotech Publishing

The Philippines: A unique Nation
by Sonia M. Zaide
All-Nations Publishing

* * *

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I very much appreciate my articles and photos appearing on fellow bloggers' sites, popular broadsheets, and local broadcast news segments, but I would appreciate even more a request for permission first.
Thank you!





posted by Señor Enrique at 9:22 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The way things have gone down in our history, I'd choose the British over the Americans.

Though if it were really up to me, I say, we go for full independence.

I wonder, if Jose Rizal, in his prophetic mindset, considered a scenario where the Philippines had been under the British Crown?

It's time to hit the books again, I guess.

November 23, 2008 2:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"I wonder, if Jose Rizal, in his prophetic mindset, considered a scenario where the Philippines had been under the British Crown?"

Very good point, Jhay. Not sure if actually did, but I bet he was intrigued by America and its history.

As for a full independence, I wonder if we were actually ready for self-governance back then, considering the Bonifacio-Aguinaldo conflict.

But then again, a good book to also include on the reading list is "Swatting the Spanish Flies: A Critical Commentary on Some Sweet Lies/Bitter Truths in Philippine History" by Margarita Ventenilla Hamada. It's an intriguing book!

November 24, 2008 8:27 AM  

Blogger nutart said...

i read somewhere that the bombing of Manila was even worse than that of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But because of political factors the US gave a lot of reconstruction assistance to Japan instead of the Philippines. It is really interesting how President Quezon went about options in setting up a republic. I really do not understand the various political systems/thoughts yet (kaya naging artist na lang ako :-)!) but as an individual I would really understand the difference between repression and being free to think and speak one's truth!

I am always aghast at how these political elite have played on humanity's and even the natural world's vulnerability...and they're not even stopping a bit through time! :-C

November 24, 2008 10:50 AM  

Blogger Unknown said...

It’s difficult to say who’d be the better colonizer---both the Americans and the British have not always been benevolent masters. At that time, the American oligarch and even the British probably viewed Filipinos as savages who were better off dead. India, for example, was one of the world’s poorest economies after their independence from the British. Puerto Rico, a US territory, remains poor.

It’s interesting to note how Quezon “peddled” the Philippines to protect it from Japanese invasion when he was known as a crusader for its independence. If I were Quezon, mag-a-ala Bonifacio ako---Sulong mga kapatid, patay kung patay! :D

November 24, 2008 2:05 PM  

Blogger escape said...

i cant believe looking at that photo. i didnt know that the damage was that big.

no more war please.

November 24, 2008 2:45 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"But because of political factors the US gave a lot of reconstruction assistance to Japan instead of the Philippines."

Because of the emerging threat of communism in Asia, the US had to make Japan an ally right after second world war; hence, Japan received much attention from the US and many Japanese war criminals were never pursued.

And in the end, Bernadette, the Philippines was merely a pawn in the whole scheme of things. Sad :(

November 25, 2008 7:43 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

"At that time, the American oligarch and even the British probably viewed Filipinos as savages who were better off dead."

And this may explain why Manila was reduced to rubbles just to flush out the remaining Japanese forces in Manila, Luna.

Lol ... I don't think Quezon was combative enough to start a revolution!

November 25, 2008 7:47 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

That's right, donG!

November 25, 2008 7:47 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I didn't realize that Manila was carpet bombed by the AMericans. Have they ever thought of the massive number of Pinoys they would kill? I'm assuming there was some kind of a warning for Pinoys to move out of Manila - either by leaflets dropped from the plane or radio - otherwise it was a callous action by the Americans :(

November 27, 2008 8:18 PM  

Blogger reyd said...

"I would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans,"- Quezon

If MLQ is alive right now and witness what's going on with our country, he would wish he was not a part of it. :lol:
Well, it is being run like HELL now by the Filipinos. :D
And this cliche about his statement would always echo.

"He got what he wish for. :D

I'm not going to argue on how people here saw Manila in rubble because of what the Americans did to liberated the country.
Collateral damage is always present in any war. The atrocities commited by the Japanese and the American liberators are part of our history, let it stand as a reminder for the cost of our freedom.

November 28, 2008 6:23 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi BW,

Many Filipino civilians were massacred by the Japanese and many more were killed by the American carpet bombing of Manila during the war's final 30 days.

Below is an excerpt from a PBS write up on the incident:


In their analysis, a trio of British historians have likened the Battle for Manila to "a Greek tragedy, with the main actors drawn inexorably toward a bloody climax by forces largely outside their control." Indeed, neither MacArthur nor General Tomoyuki Yamashita, the Japanese commander in the Philippines, wanted to fight there. But each made decisions which made the battle inevitable: MacArthur by racing madly toward Manila without leaving the Japanese a way out, Yamashita by failing to force the commander of his Naval Defense Force to evacuate the city when he had the chance. Although greatly outnumbered, the Japanese improvised effective defenses which forced the Americans to reluctantly use major artillery to dislodge them. In fact, the American bombardment may have killed more people than the Japanese did, and certainly caused more physical damage. But whatever the factors which conspired to cause it, the destruction of Manila stands as one of the great tragedies of the Second World War. -


You may also want to check out a previous post of mine on the Battle for Manila:

November 28, 2008 7:10 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Reyd,

True. What happened to Manila and its citizens during the liberation, as well as with the Jews in Auswich should remind everyone the intense anger man is capable of harboring and manifesting against his fellowman in times of wars.

Notwithstanding, current and future generations ought to "study" previous conflicts so they would prevent such from ever happening again. Hence, as a storyteller/blogger, I am compelled to post articles that will, as you said, "stand as a reminder for the cost of our freedom."

However, my war-related posts are not intended as general indictments against the Japanese and Americans and their respective society of today -- including their Filipino collaborators/allies -- for many things have changed since these tragic wartime events took place some sixty years ago. Political forces have realigned that enemies have become friends and sadly, atrocities have been forgotten to the detriment of those whose justice had not been served.

Thanks, Reyd!

November 28, 2008 7:33 AM  

Blogger Nicky said...

Rizal,yeah he was intrigued by America and its history, in one of his essays "The Philippines, a century hence," he envisioned the US to expand their interests to the Pacific. If you have time, check Zaide's Book on Rizal, it is in one of the Appendices.

December 25, 2008 7:13 PM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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