Speech of President Quezon on the MacArthurs in Philippine History, August 24, 1936






[Delivered at a Dinner in Honor of Field Marshal Douglas MacArthur
at Malacañan Palace, Manila, August 24, 1936]

Marshal MacArthur and Gentlemen:

The occasion tonight brings to my mind reminiscences of the past and with your permission I shall refer to them as my opening remarks.

Thirty-seven years ago I was privileged for the first time to walk into the grounds of Malacañang and enter the Palace halls. The circumstances attending my errand were such that my visit left a lasting vivid impression in my mind. Before that day I had no occasion to see Malacañang even from the street. I knew, of course, of the Palace as the official residence of the Spanish Captain General, who was also the Governor-General of the Philippine Islands; and my idea of the grandeur of the place was in harmony with my conception of the power and authority of the personage occupying it. “El Capitan General,” as His Excellency was called, was to my youthful mind a demigod. His word was law and his will supreme. Liberty, property, life itself were in the hollow of his hand. I envisioned Malacañan Palace as a sort of a sanctum sanctorum from which my feet of clay were forever barred to enter.

But one day in 1900, when General Mascardo’s headquarters were located in the mountains between Bagac and Moron, of the Province of Bataan, we read the news in a Manila newspaper that General Aguinaldo had been captured, and was a prisoner in Malacañan. General Mascardo at once summoned his General Staff. The first impression among us was that the story could not be true, for even our own headquarters did not know the exact whereabouts of General Aguinaldo. We thought that it was a fabricated story published for the purpose of demoralizing the ranks of the Philippine Army. But our Chief of Staff, the late Colonel Leysan, a former office of the Spanish Army, remarked that the importance of the news required that we ascertain its veracity. Thereupon General Mascardo ordered me to surrender to the American forces and try to find out whether or not General Aguinaldo had really been captured. I was at the time suffering from malaria and had become more of a burden to our headquarters than anything else. The General, therefore, thought it best for me to go to Manila and undergo treatment. “If General Aguinaldo is a captive in Manila, try to get in touch with him,” General Mascardo said to me. “Ask him if he has any order to give and write me a letter.”

The following day I left the camp and went to Mariveles with my two orderlies. After a long and hard journey I at last reached the foot of the Mariveles Mountain where I encamped and from where I sent word to the American commander of the post that I was willing to surrender if he could guarantee that after giving myself up I would be set free. In reply I was told that unless I had committed some crime, such as ordering the killing of some American prisoners or some Filipino civilians, and provided that I was willing to take the oath of allegiance to the United States, I would be released immediately. Given this assurance, and knowing that I had committed no crime, with my orderlies I entered the town of Mariveles in the afternoon, and surrendered to the American officer whom I subsequently found to be Lieutenant Lawrence S. Miller.

True to his word, Lieutenant Miller told me that I was a free man after I had signed the oath of allegiance to the United States. I then informed the lieutenant that one of the reasons for my surrender was to find out the truth about the report of General Aguinaldo’s capture, and if true, I wanted to see him with my own eyes in order that I could inform General Mascardo of the fact. The following day Lieutenant Miller sent for me and told me that I could go to Manila on one of the Army launches and proceed directly to Malacañan where General Aguinaldo was detained.

I took the launch, came to Manila, arrived early in the evening, and from the boat I was taken to Malacañan. It was with a feeling of awe that I entered these forbidden grounds and, with diverse feelings, went up the stairs, entered this very hall where we are having this banquet, and was ushered into that last door on the right side. As I entered the door I saw an imposing military figure dressed in the uniform of a general of the United States Army, who, upon seeing me, rose to his full six feet. At his side there stood a young Army officer and a man dressed in civilian clothes, who acted as the interpreter. The general was General Arthur MacArthur; the young Army officer, his aide and, I understand, the brother of our guest of honor; and the interpreter, Fred Fischer, later to become a member of the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

After my introduction to the General, I told him that I had come to find out if General Aguinaldo had really been captured, and if so, to see the General and talk to him. General MacArthur pointed to the opposite door, said a few words in English, which were translated to me as meaning that General Aguinaldo was in the room and that I could go and talk to him. I then withdrew, walked toward the room pointed out to me, at the door of which there were two American soldiers standing with white gloves, each soldier holding a gun with drawn bayonet. As I entered the room and saw General Aguinaldo, I felt that the world had ended. The last time I saw General Aguinaldo, he was in his general headquarters in Tarlac, still the supreme head of the Philippine Republic, the Commander-in-Chief of our forces, the man whose every order no Filipino dared to question. I was then on his staff and had come that day to bid him good-bye, for I was going to the front, at my own request, to join the command of General Mascardo.

As long as I live I shall never forget the anguish of my heart when I saw my former Commander-in-Chief a prisoner, alone in that room, guarded by armed soldiers, and accompanied only by Dr. Barcelona, his personal physician. I approached General Aguinaldo with all the respect and veneration that I felt for him and told him of the purpose of my visit. General Aguinaldo looked at me with suspicious eyes, and as I divined what he had in mind, I said: “General, please take a good look at me and see my clothing speak to you of a life led in the mountains? And see these scars,—don’t they remind you of the effects of a certain medicine only the people in the hills use?” After my remarks General Aguinaldo’s countenance changed somewhat, but he simply said to me: “Well, as you see, I am a prisoner. Tell General Mascardo you have seen me and that I have nothing to say.” He then asked how many more rifles we had. I told him we had 800 but hardly any ammunition. Seeing that he had no further questions to ask I took my leave.

Gentlemen, that was my first visit to Malacañan. As you see, when I first came to the Palace, its occupant was the great sire of the great man whom we are paying a well-deserved tribute to-night. With your permission, let me digress for a while to pay homage to the memory of the man who was as great a soldier as he was a statesman.

He came to take command of all the American forces that were then engaged in putting down the armed resistance that the Filipino people were putting up against the establishment in these Islands of the American sovereignty. He still found the Philippine Army fighting desperately in the field, but while he was doing his work as a soldier thoroughly and effectively, his eyes were set in another direction. He had a clear vision of the path of duty that Americans should follow in dealing with the people of these Islands. He knew his country’s history, traditions, and ideals, and he saw in his flag,—the flag which he lived to serve,—the symbol not of force or subjection, but of justice and freedom. Hence, while directing the campaign that was finally to bring about the surrender of the Filipino forces, he was at the same time laying the foundation for civil government and ordered liberty. He adopted at once a policy of enlightenment and made secure individual liberty and freedom of conscience. He allowed every town occupied by the American forces to be governed by native officials. He opened the schools, established civil courts, and issued two executive orders, among others, that became in those early days of military régime the Magna Charta of Philippine liberty. I refer to Executive Order No. 58 establishing the rules of procedure in criminal cases to be followed in place of the old Spanish criminal procedure which afforded no protection to the rights of the accused; and this executive order is still in force today as the Code of Civil Procedure. He also instituted the writ of habeas corpus which up to that time had never been known in the Philippines. These and many other measures that blazed the way for the adoption of the policy “the Philippines for the Filipinos,” then were the work of General Arthur MacArthur. As far back then as those early days of American occupation, he was building the government to be in the future the examples set for the world by the United States in the promotion of human liberty and progress. And as General MacArthur saw the future, and acted in preparation for that future, so did his brothers-in-arms pursue the course which he marked out.

Gentlemen, let me on this occasion say once more what on several others I have said: The Army and Navy of the United States are entitled to the eternal recognition of my country. And now let me turn to our distinguished guest of honor.

When I first met General Douglas MacArthur many years back, I immediately felt strongly attracted by his magnetic personality. Moreover, I remembered the young officer who was the aide of General Arthur MacArthur when I first came to Malacañan and asked him if he was the same man. He answered me that it was his elder brother. Since that time we have become very close friends.

It is not my purpose to speak to you tonight of Douglas MacArthur’s extraordinary record. It is plainly and permanently written, for all to see. Happily that career has brought him time and again to sojourn and serve with us. As a young lieutenant, as a brigade commander, and finally as head of the American Army in the Philippines he has dwelt here and worked here, always increasing his understanding of our present and future problems, his regard for our traditions and our aspirations, and gaining for himself an ever-growing respect, admiration and esteem among our people.

When, finally, the tortuous line that for many years marked the course of the Philippine movement toward political independence straightened out to an undeviating direction, assuring, within a decade, final attainment of our objective, there simultaneously fell to us the task of solving the inescapable problems incident to sovereignty. Chief among them was that of substituting effective measures of our own to provide the security heretofore assured these Islands through the presence of the American flag. I thought at once of General McArthur, then the Chief of Staff of the United States Army, as the one man we knew best to whom we could turn for advice, and, if possible, for the task of organizing our national defense. Without tracing the course of the negotiations that won the consent of the President of the United States to this arrangement, I simply state that for me, and I believe for every patriotic Filipino, it was a day of real rejoicing when I could announce to my people that Douglas McArthur had again come back to us, this time to serve as Military adviser for the Commonwealth.

With clear vision he analyzed our defensive problems and forthright and honest fashion enumerated the measures necessary to their successful solution. He inspired us to renewed confidence in our destiny—he gave to us a plan of preparation that by its accurate adjustment to our peculiar needs makes attainment of national security a practical goal within the limit of our means. He has labored diligently and effectively to establish the machinery through which that plan will reach fruition. But, more important even than these, he has instilled in us the truth that attainment of security is not merely a function of money and of wealth; but rather is a result of properly directed patriotism, of willingness to sacrifice self for the attainment of a spiritual ideal, and is a practical expression of a unified and unwavering determination to remain free, and in dependent—a fearless member of the family of nations!

In this accomplishment will be recorded the final recognition of Douglas MacArthur’s service to the Philippines. As the product of his energy and skill the Army will be his monument in these Islands, and its value to our people will measure the extent of his influence upon our destiny. It is my pleasure, in this connection, to make of record the generous cooperation that the Army and Navy of the United States are lending to General MacArthur and the Government of the Commonwealth.

In testimony of my own personal and official faith in the plans that he has brought to us and in recognition of the assistance he is giving us, I recently invoked the authority of the National Defense Act to confer upon him the highest military rank known to civilized nations. It is now my privilege to hand to you, General, your commission as Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. To that rank there has traditionally attached a badge of office—a marshal’s baton. This badge of office has been provided by a circle of your warm personal friends as a spontaneous expression of their admiration and esteem,—a touch of sentiment which, I know, will further enhance any satisfaction you may take in its possession.

I shall ask Mrs. Quezon to present to you in the name of those friends the Baton of a Field Marshal of the Army of the Philippines!

Source: Presidential Museum and Library