From the Readers (4)

I got this e-mail message from Manolo Quezon responding to a recent piece I wrote about his grandfather. I'd asked him if MLQ had said "country" or "government" in that famous quotation mentioned below, and Manolo had replied "country"--a little too quickly, as it turned out. I wrote Manolo back an amused note absolving him of all blame--"it happens to the best of us"--but it's a hallmark of Manolo's thoroughness that he went to these lengths to get the facts of a seemingly small detail straight. Here's what he wrote:

Uh oh. Read your column. Mea maxima culpa.

I couldn't find the massive encyclopedia of Quezoniana put together by Alfredo Saulo (Manuel Luis Quezon on His Centenary: Appraisal, Chronology, Reader, Bibliography commissioned by the the National Science Development Board in 1978), which is massively footnoted.

Here's the proper quote:"I would prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to one run like heaven by Americans, because no matter how bad, a Filipino government might be improved."

Saulo cites the ff. sources: Teodoro M. Kalaw's autobiography (Ms) pp. 259-260; quoted in Theodore Friend, Fn. 19, p.40. They basically date the statement to 1922.

He (Saulo) also cites another, more contemporary, version:

"When we have our unfettered self-rule, I dare say we shall make mistakes, but in that respect we shall not be original or monopolistic. It is by our mistakes that we shall learn. America has aided us to learn much of the art of government, but we can master the art only by self-practice. In politics, as in law or medicine or music or painting, concrete achievement is not in the scholastic sphere, but only in the sphere of scholasticism applied. And, anyway, even in the United States and in England, democracy is still on trial. It is better for the Philippines to be ill-governed by the Filipinos than well-governed by the Americans."

Which came from an exclusive interview with Edward Price Bell for the Chicago Daily News, 1925.

But there's another quote from a speech MLQ made in 1939 (CLU-sponsored inter-university oratorical contest, Ateneo Auditorium, December 9, 1939) which has him quoting himself:

"I have listened to a speech warning our people against independence, on the ground that every liberty you now enjoy may be lost, while under the American flag you are not denied any individual liberty.

"No one has outdone me in giving credit to the government and people of the United States for what they have done in the Philippines. But I cannot permit anyone to say in my presence that our people have enjoyed greater freedom under the American administration, or that our people will not enjoy their freedom under an independent Philippines, as much as they have enjoyed it under the American flag.

"It is true, and I am proud of it, that I once said, 'I would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by Americans.'

"I want to tell you that I have, in my life, made no other remark which went around the world but that. There had been no paper in the United States, including a village paper, which did not print that statement, and I also had seen it printed in many newspapers in Europe. I would rather have a government run like hell by Filipinos than a government run like heaven by any foreigner. I said that once; I say it again, and I will always say it as long as I live." (applause)