Thousands of Islands
with sandy shores lined with palms a land where every sunset is a
Turneresque splendour, where little negritos - dwarf Negroes – scamper
away at the sight of foreigners, where in the south even fez-covered
Mohammedans live and where there is a nucleus of civilisation in the
capital city, Manila — such are the Philippines, which were conquered
by the Americans from Spain in 1898.
that date, although, they have been pampered and petted by the Americans
to such an extent that they now have the highest standard of living in
Asia, the Filipino politicians have been crying for independence until
the United States Congress granted it to them.
years the islands are to be a Commonwealth, and then in about 1946 a,
new nation, having east off the “shackles” - shackles of velvet and
gold, in my view - of American domination will rise in, the most
strategic and central point of the Western Pacific; the- Philippines
Republic will be born.
arrived not many hours after President Roosevelt had signed the Constitution
giving ultimate freedom to the Filipinos, who are mainly of the Malay
rate. “What rejoicing there will be”!
reflected “I shall witness the ecstasy of one of the only nations in
the world, if not the only nation, which has attained independence
without fighting. I shall see the unique example of a great Power, which
has given absolute freedom, to a colon. There is no parallel to
this in the history of colonialism. What joy I shall see!”
my way through the city of Manila watched the, high pony-drawn
two-wheeled carriages admired the vast coloured puffs which the women
wear over their shoulders and over the tops of their arms, and was
surprised to see the men wearing delicately-hued shirts with designs of
flowers and of leaves upon them.
No Joy in Freedom
called upon some of the leading politicians, upon journalists, upon
consuls, and upon, American businessmen, I soon learned that there is no
joy in the Philippines at the coming of freedom, that American
politicians have treated the Islands with ruthlessness and
unscrupulousness, that Congress merely passed the Act granting freedom
to the Philippines in order to get rid of Filipino competition in sugar,
cordage, coconut oil (from which margarine is made) and other products,
and that everyone looks to the next 20 years with terror.
Filipinos are quaking with dread at a future without American help, and
they realise now that “independence” was a politicians’ parrot-cry
to arouse the emotions of the ignorant masses.
of those to whom I talked during my stay in the Philippines said to me,
“You come from Wales? That is the home of one of the greatest
authorities on the Philippines, Mr Ifor Powell, now at Barry. Few
people in the world have such a minute knowledge of our problems.
His library on the Philippines as one of the best ever collected.
He will be able to tell you that absolute freedom offers no bright
prospect for the Filipinos.”
Fear of Japan
then, do the Filipinos fear independence when they have been crying for
it for years?
first reason is the belief that Japan will step in and conquer the
will be giving up dependence upon America and merely exchanging it for
dependence upon Japan,” stated one Filipino to me. “The
Japanese will dominate us even if they do not conquer us in a military
way. There will be Japanese commercial penetration, which will be
so thorough that we will not be able to call our souls our own.”
British at Manila and in the Far East share this fear of Japan.
The British are alarmed at the Americans leaving the Philippines.
will mean that Japan will have complete mastery of the Western Pacific
and will control the routes to Australia and to the Dutch East Indies.
It will place the Japanese only a short distance from the oilfields of
Royal Dutch in Borneo.”
the Japanese do not enter the Philippines, the Filipinos fear an
economic catastrophe it they are left to their own resources.
present they have Free Trade with America and they send 86 per cent, of
their exports to the United States.
are gradually to have high tariffs placed upon their goods entering
America until they will find their market closed.
Americans do not buy their sugar and coconut oil and cordage they will
be ruined. The sugar Industry is faced with doom, because it
depends entirely on the American market, which it will lose if high
tariffs are placed upon Filipino sugar.
economic disaster which every-body prophesies for the Philippines will,
bring internal trouble, and in the Filipino Constitution vast powers are
given to the future President to deal with disorder.
and rioting are foreseen when independence comes, because on the sugar
estates and in the towns thousands will be thrown out of employment
through the loss of the present free trade market in America.
feared that this disorder will have an effect upon the Roman Catholic
Church, which is immensely rich in the Philippines, and owns estates
companies and banks.
Battle Against Church
Philippines may become another Mexico or Spain, and there may be a
battle against the wealth of the Church, and even confiscation of the
Church lands,” was a prophecy often made to me. Many Roman
Catholics fear the day when American protection is withdrawn and when
the cry: “Down with the Pope may reverberate even in areas which are
now almost entirely Roman Catholic.
loss of democracy and the creation of a dictatorship are feared, if the
Filipinos gain their freedom. “We are accustomed to be ruled in
an absolutist way. We will become the next dictatorship.” Those
are remarks one often hears from responsible authorities in the
prospects are therefore bleak - a probable economic crash in 10 years
time, a coming dictatorship, fear of bloodshed, and, in addition, a
large educated class of doctors and lawyers without scope for their
Filipinos, regretting their former zeal for freedom, hope that some link
with the United States will be maintained. “What we want is
political freedom, but an economic association with America,” they
Link May be Maintained
the link will yet be maintained, they say, because there are still 10
years before the Republic is declared.
United States may realise the immense mineral wealth of the Philippines,
the recently discovered vast deposits of chromite, so valuable for war
materials, the uses of coconut oil in making bombs, and the richness of
the iron ore, which is said to be of the highest quality in the Far
is a chance that America, rather than let these essentials for war be
controlled by Japan, will keep her grip on the Philippines.
decision will depend on Washington’s answer to the question: “ Will
the United States remain in the Far East?“