I posted Episode 31 late on Monday; sorry I didn’t announce it here sooner. With this podcast episode, we begin a narrative completely in the twentieth century, so welcome to recent history! Here we also conclude the four-part miniseries about the Philippines. This time we cover the years from 1902 to 1941, looking at the minor wars that came after the Philippine Insurrection (or Philippine-American War, if you’re politically correct), and seeing how Americans and Filipinos learned to work together, so that the Philippines can become independent someday.
(Transcript, added 06/25/2020.)
<Twentieth Century intro>
Welcome to the History of Southeast Asia Podcast. I am your host, Charles Kimball.
Episode 31: The Philippines, the Hollywood Years
Greetings, dear listeners! No, you did not tune into the wrong podcast by mistake. If you came here wanting to hear about Southeast Asia, you’re in the right place. The musical score came from “The Twentieth Century,” a documentary about events in recent history that aired on TV every week when I was a small child; it was hosted by Walter Cronkite, the famous news anchorman. I put that on in place of the usual introductory music because we are beginning a new era in history; this is the first episode in this podcast series to talk only about events in the twentieth century. Don’t worry, it won’t happen again; next time I plan to bring back “Sounds of Vietnam,” the musical score I have been using since the podcast was launched.
So how long did it take us to get this far? If you haven’t listened to all of the episodes yet, I have been uploading two episodes a month since July 2016. Episodes 1 and 2 covered prehistoric times, Episodes 3 to 5 covered ancient times, Episodes 6 through 11 covered medieval times, and Episodes 12 to 20 covered the early modern era, from about 1500 to 1800. Most recently, it took ten episodes, 21 to 30, to take care of Southeast Asia in the nineteenth century. The twentieth century is full of events people find interesting, especially World War II and the Vietnam War, so I expect a lot of new listeners will join us as we move on.
We are beginning a new era in our coverage of the Philippines as well, the period when they were under American rule. Indeed, one of my sources is a book entitled “The New Era in the Philippines.” It was written by Arthur J. Brown in 1903, right at the beginning of the period we are looking at today. The first half of the book is a brief history of the Philippines up to 1903, and a description of the different islands and cities; nowadays if you saw that in a book, you would call it a travel guide. For me it’s a snapshot of the Philippines in the early twentieth century. The second half talks about the state of the Catholic Church in the islands, and the Protestant missions established so far; this shows that the book was written from a missionary’s point of view.
This is the fourth and the last episode (I promise!) in our mini-series about the Philippines. Of course I recommend you listen to the previous three episodes before listening to this one, unless you’re one of those folks who won’t get confused by listening to them out of order. Episode 28 covered the Philippines during the latter part of the long era when Spain ruled the archipelago, with special emphasis on the nationalists who appeared in the late nineteenth century. Then we looked at the two wars that transferred the Philippines from Spanish rule to American rule. Episode 29 covered the Spanish-American War, while Episode 30 covered the conflict called either the Philippine Insurrection or the Philippine-American War. Now we are going to look at the period of American rule, which lasted until (spoiler alert!) 1946. However, for this episode we will just go as far as 1941, and save World War II for another time.
Filipinos like to summarize their colonial history as, quote: “Three hundred years in a Spanish convent followed by half a century in Hollywood.” Unquote. That is where I got the title for this episode. And somebody, I forget who, described Philippine culture as a mixture of Malay, Madrid, and Madison Avenue. This explains why most of today’s Filipinos know the United States very well, and why so many of them can speak fluent English when they appear on TV and in the news. Now let’s get started with today’s narrative.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Philippines. Citizens of any country show a double standard in wartime. Normally if a person kills somebody and takes his property, he is a thief and a murderer, subject to the penalties of the law; however, if he does the same thing to enemy soldiers, we praise him as a hero and a patriot. At some point, nations seem to realize that this is inconsistent, and when they do, they stop expanding. With the United States, it happened in the Philippines, in the first years of the twentieth century. The long, dirty war fought in the archipelago caused Americans to think that they didn’t want to play the imperialist game after all, if the main rule was “meet exotic people and kill them.” Thus, after 1902 most Americans did not want to keep the Philippines forever, and one of the priorities of the US administration would be preparing the islands for eventual independence.
In the beginning, Americans considered promoting the Philippines from a colony to a US state, rather than ruling the archipelago temporarily. After all, Hawaii was annexed in the same year as the Philippines, and it eventually became the 50th US state. And once my Filipino father-in-law confided that he would have liked it if the Philippines had stayed part of the United States, because then he would not need a passport and visa to visit the States; all he would need is an airplane ticket. Along that line, quite a few Filipinos moved to the US while the door was wide open. Naturally, most of them settled in the parts of the United States nearest to the Philippines: Guam, Hawaii, and California. Today the largest Filipino community in the States is Daly City, a suburb of San Francisco where one out of every three residents is Filipino.
Washington only considered statehood for a few years. The first obstacle to this idea was distance; the Philippine archipelago is four times as far from California as Hawaii is. Consider the differences in time, for a start. Hawaii’s time zone is two hours behind the time zone California is in, while the Philippines are not only six hours behind Hawaii, but also on the other side of the International Date Line. The presence of the International Date Line means that the Philippines are really eighteen hours ahead of Hawaii, and sixteen hours ahead of the US mainland’s Pacific coast. And because the Philippines does not practice Daylight Savings Time, an additional hour has to be factored in for more than half of every year. I trust you can see how all this would make administration, communications and commerce much more complicated.
The second obstacle was racism. Polite people didn’t mention this, but they surely must have thought about it. A 1903 census of the Philippines put the population at 7.6 million, almost 10 percent of the total for the rest of the United States at that time. This meant that if the Philippines became a state, they would have two senators and almost forty representatives in Congress, and whereas Hawaii had a growing white community, the so-called Haoles, anybody in the Philippines who was important enough to get elected would be Filipino. If you’re familiar with American history, you will know this was the golden age of immigration from Europe, but aside from Hawaii, only a trickle of immigration was allowed from Asia, and there were periods when Chinese and Japanese immigrants were kept out completely. In those days, many Americans would not have accepted a caucus of about forty Asians on Capitol Hill. Finally, Hawaii had been acquired peacefully, so while some Hawaiians may have wanted independence rather than statehood, they never made as much noise as the Filipino nationalists.
We mentioned in the last episode that the Philippine-American War was declared over in 1902, but that didn’t mean the fighting ended then. This is Southeast Asia, for crying out loud, and Southeast Asian wars don’t have clearly marked end dates! The rough terrain in most of the region gives guerrillas an opportunity to keep on fighting indefinitely, and that happened here. On the western tip of Mindanao, the big southern island, the Spanish garrison of Zamboanga City had surrendered in May 1899 to a Filipino general, Vicente Alvarez, but instead of handing the city over to the Americans or to the Katipunan, the main revolutionary movement in the Philippines, Alvarez proclaimed the creation of the Republic of Zamboanga, with himself (who else?) as the first president. For six months Alvarez claimed rule over all of Mindanao, Basilan and the Sulu islands, though in practice, he controlled little besides Zamboanga City itself. The Americans captured Zamboanga in November, and Alvarez first resorted to guerrilla warfare in the nearby countryside. When the Americans continued to win, Alvarez retreated to Basilan, and then to Misamis Occidental, my wife’s home province. He was captured by the Americans in 1902, and the Americans dissolved the Zamboanga Republic in March 1903.
When the Philippine leader Emilio Aguinaldo was captured in 1901, the generals under him refused to lay down their arms. One of them was Makario Sakay, a veteran of both the Katipunan and the recent war with the Americans. In 1902 Sakay established his own state in the mountains of central Luzon, an area now called Rizal Province. He called it the Repúbliká ng~ Katagalugan, meaning the Tagalog Republic, proclaimed himself president and commander in chief of it, and declared this was the rightful government over the whole Philippines. However, he made no headway against American forces after that, so eventually he decided that henceforth the struggle would be a political struggle, not a military one. In 1906 he surrendered under these conditions: that a general amnesty be granted to his men, that they be permitted to carry firearms, and that he and his officers be permitted to leave the country. Immediately after that, Sakay attended a series of receptions and banquets in Manila, and at one of them, he and his chief lieutenants were suddenly arrested. They were accused of banditry, which back then meant any armed resistance to American rule, put on trial under that charge, and hanged in 1907. Some of Sakay’s followers escaped to Japan, where they eventually joined another former Katipunan general, Artemio Ricarte; they would return with the Japanese armed forces during World War II.
The southern Philippines were mostly quiet while the American forces were active on Luzon. This was the work of Brigadier General John C. Bates, who in 1899 negotiated a treaty, the so-called Bates Agreement, with the Sultan of Sulu. In return for the right to fly the US flag on buildings and ships, and the right to station American troops in the southern Philippines, the Americans would grant autonomy to the Moros, or Philippine Moslems; the Moros would be allowed to keep their traditional chiefs, called datus, and govern themselves under their interpretation of Islamic law, the Shariah. What the Americans wanted the most was that the Moros would not give them any trouble, or give aid to Philippine rebels elsewhere, and they got exactly that for a while. But the Moros had some customs the Americans could not accept: piracy, petty wars between the tribes, polygamy, and most of all, slavery. These customs were so much a part of Moro life that the Moros felt they could not do without them any more than they could renounce Islam. And speaking of Islam, many Americans hoped to convert the Moros to Christianity, preferably the Protestant kind.
For American soldiers in Moro areas, individual natives running amok were the greatest danger. “Running amok” is a term of Malay origin. From time to time, a person of Malay ancestry, for various personal reasons, can go absolutely berserk, and he will madly try to kill as many enemies as possible before meeting his own, expected death. Filipinos call this state of rage juramentado when the berserker is religiously motivated to attack enemies of Islam. Like the suicide bombers in today’s War on Terror, juramentados believed that if they were killed while fighting infidels, they would go straight to Paradise. Their favorite weapon was the kris, a long, wavy-bladed dagger that was believed to have magic powers, but they could also be armed with a blowgun and poison darts, or a muzzle-loading rifle. Because juramentados ambushed their opponents, Americans never knew where or when they would strike, and their frenzied charges usually allowed them to hit at least one American before they met their fates. One of my sources tells about an attack at Zamboanga City, where the juramentado was hit in seven different places by revolver shots, but before he went down, he managed to reach an American officer and slice off one of his legs.
The American response came after three ambushes of American troops south of Lake Lanao, a large lake in the interior of Mindanao. An American general, Adna R. Chaffee, demanded that the local datu hand over the killers of the Americans and the government property they stole. When the natives did not comply, an American force was sent into the area, commanded by Colonel Frank Baldwin and Captain John “Blackjack” Pershing. On May 2, 1902, they fought the battle of Bayan, in which they captured two Moro cotas, or forts. One of the forts, Pandapatan, put up unexpectedly heavy resistance; it took two days to take it, and eighteen Americans were killed, much more than the usual amount from Filipino-American battles.
From this experience the Americans learned to bombard forts with artillery before sending in the troops, so the battles after this went much easier; typically there would be 100 Moros dead for every American killed. Even so, they left several forts around Lake Lanao in Moro hands, because Pershing had successfully negotiated with the Moros before the battle, and he thought it was still possible to make friends with some of them. Pershing went on to win a few battles around Lake Lanao in 1903, but his diplomatic skills did the most to secure the area; he read the Koran and learned part of the local languages, so he understood the Moros better than any other American officer. The former Moro commander of Pandapatan even made Pershing an honorary datu. President Theodore Roosevelt was so impressed by Pershing’s performance that he made Pershing a brigadier general, thereby passing over more than 800 senior officers, and brought him home.
By mid-1903, the Americans were confident enough of their hold over the southern Philippines to establish Moro Province, to administer two-thirds of Mindanao and the nearby Basilan and Sulu islands. The first governor over the new province was General Leonard Wood, who with Roosevelt had commanded the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War. The Americans also revoked the Bates Agreement in early 1904, saying it was no longer needed. Unfortunately that made Moro attacks more frequent, as many Moros came to see the situation as a fight to the death.
Although fighting continued, the battles of late 1903, 1904 and 1905 were all little ones. Then in March 1906 came the bloodiest battle of the Moro War, the first battle of Bud Dajo. On the island of Jolo, several hundred Moro warriors had heard a rumor that the Americans were planning to exterminate them, so they took refuge in Bud Dajo, the crater of an extinct volcano, and brought their families with them. A 2,000-foot-high volcano that’s not erupting is a superbly defensible position, and the Moros also believed that the spirits of the volcano would help them when they needed it the most. Nevertheless, Americans and troops from the pro-American Philippine Constabulary marched up the volcano’s slopes and attacked. When the clash came, twenty-one Americans were killed, while estimates of the number of Moro dead range from 600 to 900. The Moro body count includes women and children, so this battle has also been called the Bud Dajo massacre. As General Wood reported, quote: “All the defenders were killed as near as could be counted.” Unquote.
Afterwards, Wood said the reason why so many civilians were killed was because some of the women were disguised as men, and children were used by warriors as “human shields.” We think these statements are true, because there were other reports of Moro women dressing like men, and both Roosevelt and Taft praised Wood for getting tough. However, a lot of Americans at home disagreed, seeing the battle as nothing but cold-blooded killing. Mark Twain, for example, wrote an essay against it entitled The Incident in the Philippines. That is probably the reason why Wood was recalled soon after the battle. His replacement as provincial governor, Major General Tasker Bliss, was less aggressive, and there were no big battles during his three-year term, from 1906 to 1909.
Here I will insert a footnote to tie this story to current events. The president of the Philippines at this time, Rodrigo Duterte, is not as friendly to the United States as his predecessors, and when criticizing the United States, he has mentioned the Bud Dajo massacre more than once, as an example of how Americans treated his country. Since Duterte is the first president from Mindanao, he may also believe that some distant relatives of his were killed in the massacre. End footnote.
Because General Bliss was taking too long to win the Moro War, General Pershing was sent back to the Philippines in 1909; he became the third – and last – military governor over Moro Province. In 1911 he decided that the quickest way to end the war was to disarm the Moros, and all Moros were given a three-month grace period to turn in their weapons. Those who complied were regarded as loyal citizens, those who didn’t were viewed as the next targets to attack. The result was a second battle of Bud Dajo in December 1911, which was far less bloody than the first, because Pershing managed to persuade most of the Moros gathered on the volcano to go home.
The final battle of the Moro War was the battle of Bud Bagsak, in June 1913. A chief on Jolo, Datu Amil, refused to surrender weapons or known criminals to the Americans. Instead, he and all of his followers, between 6,000 and 10,000 people, withdrew to another volcano, Bud Bagsak, and told the Americans to, quote: “Come on and fight.” Unquote. This volcano had a horseshoe-shaped crater, and was guarded by five forts on the crater’s rim. Pershing deliberately kept American soldiers away from Bud Bagsak for several days, in the hope that the women and children in the forts would leave while they had the chance, and secretly brought in units of Filipino soldiers, including two companies of pro-American Moro Scouts. When the assault came, it took five days, from June 11 to June 15, to capture all the forts. Again the casualty counts were lopsided: 14 killed and 25 wounded on the American side, while between 200 and 500 Moros were killed, including women and children. There is a picture of the battle posted on the Facebook page and this episode’s page on Blubrry.com, which was painted in 1963, 50 years after it took place. When the fighting was over, Pershing wrote a letter to his wife in which he said, quote: “The fighting was the fiercest I have ever seen. They are absolutely fearless, and once committed to combat they count death as a mere incident.” End quote. He stuck around just long enough after that to replace the military government of Moro Province with a civilian one.
Today Americans remember General Pershing for chasing Pancho Villa through the deserts of northern Mexico, and for leading the US Army in World War I. It’s probably just as well the Moro War did not go on after 1913, or Pershing might have been stuck in the Philippines, and would not have returned to America in time to take part in those other activities. Few Americans remember the Moro War today, and those that do have some misconceptions, which I will try to straighten out here.
1. Although the Moros got Krag-Jorgensen rifles and hand grenades late in the war, up until the end their favorite tactic during battles was to madly charge their enemies in groups of ten to twenty, running as far as 300 yards to attack with spears and krises. This gave the Americans time to stop most of them with their rifles and pistols. The Colt .45 automatic pistol was invented during the war, and it gets the credit for being the best “man stopper,” but we don’t know if it was used at all. The first Colts weren’t shipped to the Philippines until 1913, and we don’t have any photos of American soldiers holding one before the Moro War ended.
2. There is a popular story going around the Internet about how Pershing ended the Moro War when he had 49 Moro prisoners shot, buried them with slaughtered pigs, and let the last Moro prisoner go, to spread the word about the deed. This plays into the superstition among some Moslems that if they come into contact with any part of a pig, they cannot go to Paradise. However, there is no evidence that Pershing actually did this; Snopes.com suggests that another officer did it, Colonel Alexander Rodgers of the 6th Cavalry. And we do have a few reports of dead juramentados being buried in pigskins; while that did not end the war, it apparently caused would-be amoks and juramentados to think twice before going berserk.
The Moro-in-a-pigskin story was also promoted by a scene in a 1939 movie, “The Real Glory.” This movie has Gary Cooper playing a doctor on Mindanao in 1906, and he teaches pro-American Filipino soldiers to fight with as much courage as their Moro opponents. Go ahead and watch the movie as an extra-curricular activity, to see what Philippine costumes and villages looked like at the beginning of the twentieth century. I hear the Hollywood studio that made the movie found enough actors to play the Filipino characters by inviting every Filipino living in or near Los Angeles to come and audition for the parts!
Okay, now that we have the wars between Americans and Filipinos behind us, let’s get on with what happened during peacetime. During the first forty years of the twentieth century, Washington gradually reduced the number of Americans in charge and replaced them with Filipinos, giving them experience in self-government. At the same time Americans built roads, railroads and schools all over the islands, taught English and baseball to the natives, and worked to develop the local economy, and improve health and sanitation. Most important of all, the Americans ruled the Philippines with a lighter hand than the British, Dutch and French had done with their colonies. To keep them from gaining control over the economy, non-Filipinos were restricted on how much land they could own; individuals were limited to 25 acres, and businesses were limited to 2,500 acres. In addition, the United States did not attempt to exploit the native population, and there were no mass arrests when the natives expressed opposition, like what had been done when nationalist movements appeared in British Burma and French Indochina. The main restriction that Americans imposed on the archipelago was the requirement that all imports come from the United States, so American products like Kellogg’s corn flakes, Ivory soap and Borden canned milk were common sights in Philippine stores.
For these reasons, a genuine friendship developed between Americans and Filipinos, which has lasted until this day. Whereas the other colonial powers made sure that native troops in their colonies never outnumbered European soldiers, by the 1920s the armed forces and police in the Philippines were mostly Filipino. A mountaintop village named Baguio, about 100 miles north of Manila, gained attention because it was the only spot in the country with a cool climate, and in a few years it grew to become a major city and a popular resort for Americans, especially in the summer. In fact, it became the summer capital, with most US officials moving there at that time of the year.
I told you previously that William Howard Taft was the first civilian governor over the Philippines. He served as governor for not quite four years; in 1904 his boss, Secretary of War Elihu Root, became Secretary of State, and Roosevelt chose Taft as the new War Secretary. And if you’re familiar with American history, you know that Taft went on to become president of the United States after Roosevelt, from 1909 to 1913, and he ended his career as Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court.
Taft did not go down in history as the greatest American president, but weighing in at 325 lbs., he was the biggest president. He installed a new bathtub in the White House to accommodate his large frame, but there is no truth to the story that he did it because he got stuck in the old bathtub. He had enough sense to take showers until the new bathtub was ready for him. I am mentioning this because one of my books has a picture of Taft taken in 1901, riding a carabao, a water buffalo. This amused me because it is hard to tell who is bigger, Taft or the carabao! I scanned the picture and posted it on the Facebook page and the Blubrry.com page for this episode; take a look and see how much they look alike to you. Once while governor, Taft let Washington, D.C. know he had recovered from an illness by sending a telegram that described a trip to Baguio City. Quote: “Stood trip well. Rode horseback twenty-five miles to five thousand feet altitude.” Unquote. Elihu Root cabled back, quote: “How is horse?” Unquote.
Like most American administrators at this date, Taft saw most Filipinos as superstitious and ignorant, and doubted whether they would be able to stand on their own. Showing a condescending attitude, he called the Filipinos “little brown brothers.” Since the fighting in the islands wasn’t completely over yet, an anonymous American soldier composed this verse in response. Quote:
“They say I’ve got brown brothers here,
But still I draw the line,
He may be a brother of Big Bill Taft,
But he ain’t no brother of mine.”
What Taft mainly accomplished was that he reduced the power of the Catholic Church in the islands by buying Church-owned lands from the Vatican for $7 million, and selling them to Filipinos. Since many priests and monks were still Spanish at this date, this broke the last grip Spain had on the Philippines. The main event of the Taft administration was not accomplished by him, though; Congress passed the Philippine Organic Act in 1902. We mentioned this bill in Episode 28, and that it was introduced by a congressman named Henry A. Cooper. The Philippine Organic Act promised the creation of an elected Philippine Assembly after the following conditions were met:
1. An end to the insurrection in the Philippine Islands;
2. The completion and publication of a census; and
3. A two-year period of peace and cooperation between Americans and Filipinos will follow after the census is complete.
It took until 1907 to complete these conditions, and when that happened, elections were held to fill the seats in the Lower House of the new Assembly. The pro-American political party that we mentioned in the last episode, the Federalistas, fell out of favor after Taft’s term as governor ended, and a new generation of educated Filipinos founded a new party, the Union Nacionalistas, which called for eventual independence. The two leaders of this party, Manuel Quezon and Sergio Osmena, were both twenty-nine years old, and they would dominate the political scene of the Philippines for the rest of the American era. As for the Federalistas, they tried to rebrand themselves by changing their name to the Progresistas, but in the final results, the Nationalists won 32 of the 80 seats, the Progresistas won 16 seats, and minor parties won the other 32. By forming a coalition that added 27 of the minor party seats to their own, the Nationalists gained a solid majority in Asia’s first freely elected legislative body.
Most of the progress toward Philippine independence happened while the Democratic Party controlled the US presidency and Congress. As for the Republicans, they hoped that the Philippines would stay with the United States, like Puerto Rico. Therefore under the Roosevelt and Taft administrations, there were moves toward self-rule, but no promise of independence. The promise was put down in writing after Woodrow Wilson succeeded Taft as president, with the passage of the Jones Law, also called the Jones Act or the Philippine Autonomy Act, in 1916. This law superseded the 1902 Philippine Organic Act, becoming a de facto constitution for the islands. Previously the Upper House in the Assembly had all its members appointed, while members in the Lower House were elected; now an elected Senate replaced the Upper House. Finally, the right to vote was granted to all literate adult men. When the first election was held for the Senate in the same year, the Nationalists won an even greater landslide than before; all but one of the 21 Senate seats went to them. The only power left in the hands of the Americans was the right of the US governor to veto any legislation passed by the Assembly, and the current governor, Francis B. Harrison, hardly ever did this; he was more interested in replacing Americans in civil service jobs with Filipinos as quickly as possible.
Despite America’s best efforts, problems developed because of the basic differences between Philippine and American societies. Philippine society is an oligarchic one; a few families hold most of the power and money, and personal relationships are defined by who owes favors to whom. And while Americans were prevented from building large plantations in the archipelago, Filipinos were free to buy as much land as they wanted, and those who did so got very rich from the crops they grew on their land, further increasing the gap between rich and poor. America was vaguely aware that a US-style democracy would not work under such a system, but no effort was made to change it, because that would have alienated the local politicians, whose support was essential for the American program to succeed. That would be the main cause of the country’s economic and political problems in the years following independence.
It’s just as well that Harrison accomplished as much as he did, for in 1921 his term as governor ended, and President Wilson left the White House. Wilson’s successor, Warren G. Harding, had gotten elected on a promise to “return to normalcy,” as he put it, meaning the United States would pull back from an active role on the world scene, and stop the rapid string of reforms that had marked the Wilson administration. As a result, the promise of Philippine independence was forgotten. This showed in Harding’s choice for governor; he brought back Leonard Wood, the old general and former governor of Moro Province. Since Wood was a hardliner, he clashed with Filipino politicians like Quezon, made no concessions to them, and the process of transferring rule to Filipinos halted completely until Wood’s death from a brain tumor in 1927.
Wood was replaced by Henry Stimson, a veteran of Washington who only served for one year before he was called back by the incoming president, Herbert Hoover, to become Secretary of State. He was also against independence, but at least he could get along with the Filipinos. At one point, Stimson secretly suggested to Quezon that the Philippines should accept a semi-independent relationship like the one between Canada and Britain, and Quezon agreed, saying, quote: “Give us certainty, and we will take dominion status.” Unquote. But because Quezon’s rivals still wanted full independence, he quickly added, quote: “If you quote me on this, I will say you lie.” Unquote.
In the middle of the Great Depression a Democratic senator from Missouri, Henry Hawes, single-handedly restarted the independence process, by sponsoring an independence bill in Congress. He negotiated the terms with the help of Sergio Osmena and Manuel Roxas, a young Filipino senator we’ll be hearing more from in a future episode. The bill reached President Hoover’s desk in January 1933, shortly before he left the White House, and Hoover vetoed it, but Congress easily overrode the veto. However, Quezon realized that if this bill went into effect, two rival politicians would get the credit for bringing independence, so he had the Philippine legislature reject it, and then went to Washington to negotiate his own independence plan. The result was another bill almost identical to the first one, except that it had different names on it. This was called the Tydings-McDuffie Act; Congress passed it in March 1934, and Quezon was there when President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed it. Here the Philippines were declared a commonwealth, and in 1935 Quezon and Osmena were elected as the first president and vice president, respectively. General Douglas MacArthur, the son of General Arthur MacArthur from the last episode, became Quezon’s military advisor, and another future American war hero, Major Dwight David Eisenhower, became MacArthur’s second in command. July 4, 1945 was the date set for independence. This plan was proceeding on schedule when Japan attacked Luzon in December 1941.
We did it! At last, after four episodes we have finished this miniseries on the Philippines.
Those islands are now “all caught up” with our narrative. However, we need to catch up on a few more countries before we are ready for the Second World War. In particular, we should look at the nationalist movements that sprang up in Burma, Indonesia and Vietnam, while Europeans ruled those nations in the early twentieth century. Here we will meet several characters who will become important later on, especially Sukarno and Ho Chi Minh. I expect that will take three episodes, and then for the last episode of 2017, we can begin talking about World War II, so join me for all that.
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