A thread on the Lockdown

A note on Rafael Antón, the Philippines, and the Spanish Civil War

In 1986, during our visit to Spain, my father took me to visit the Valle de los Caidos (Valley of the Fallen). It was a few months after the EDSA Revolution, and Marcos was still fresh in everyone’s minds. It was a somber experience, from the moment we caught sight of the imposing complex. My father immediately pointed out how unfortunate it was, that Marcos had modeled the Dambana ng Kagitingan on Mount Samat in Bataan, on Franco’s memorial to himself and his Fascist state.
Inside,  as we toured the imposing but gloomy Basilica (located near Philip II’s El Escorial, and so, pointedly situated as a companion in grandeur and prestige to Philip II’s vast monastery-palace-monument to Spain and its monarchy), my father kept telling me how the place had been built with forced labor: the captured soldiers and supporters of the defeated Spanish Republic. Though Franco justified the complex as a monument to “reconciliation,” my father kept reminding me it was an effort to perpetuate Franco’s victory.
We looked down at Francisco Franco’s ostentatiously simple tomb:

And here, as we looked at Franco’s tombstone, my father paused to remind me that there were –are– two Spains. The Spain of Franco and the Spain of the Republic; that as Filipinos, our sympathies ought to be, always, with the Spain of the Republic, and the Spaniards who’d fought to defend that Republic; and how it was that Spain that had resumed after the death of Franco, and which had just a few months earlier, been among the first nations to recognize the Philippines as a newly-restored democracy.  This, the new, and not the old, Spain was the Spain that deserved fraternal affection, he said.
He also went on a bit of a harangue over the Spanish mestizos in the Philippines who’d supported Franco, and the clergy (chief among them, his otherwise much-beloved Spanish Dominicans and his alma mater, UST), who had proclaimed support for Franco, before the war. He reminisced about his father’s castigating the Spanish Dominicans in a speech in Letran.
Spanish newsreel of President Quirino’s visit to Spain, where he was received by the Caudillo in 1951: the full panoply of the Spanish State under Franco.
Later on, reading on my own, I encountered an interesting account of how, after World War II, Franco, having survived World War II, his power intact, had to send a ship to Manila to repatriate Spaniards who’d cooperated with the Japanese (edit: Benito Legarda Jr. clarified in an email that “They [the Spaniards] were homeless because the areas where they lived, Ermita and Malate, were razed. The Spanish government protested to the Jap[anese] government about killing Spaniards, and the Jap government paid indemnity to the victims.”); and how Franco had recognized the Spanish-sponsored government in the Philippines as part of a vague but ultimately thwarted scheme, to try to regain the Philippines for Spain. A more recent and thorough exploration of Franco, the Philippines, and Japan can be found in Franco”s Spain and the Japanese Empire (1937-1945), by Florentino Radao.
Last night, as I watched online coverage of the exhumation and removal from the Valle de los Caidos, of the remains of Generalissimo Franciso Franco, I remembered a white-haired Spanish gentleman named Rafael Antón and Tweeted about it. The few times I met him, he was acting as the F&B Manager of Club Filipino. Every time he and my father would see each other, they would stand at attention, and raise their fists, and then warmly embrace. This, it turns out, was the greeting of the Republicans of Spain.
My father told me that Rafael Antón had come to the Philippines before the war, as a refugee: a Republican now deprived of a country, fleeing Franco’s persecution. That is all I knew of him, but the memory –particularly of their broad smiles as he and my father would greet each other with clenched fists– of meeting an authentic Spanish Republican, and the subsequent story of Spain’s restoration of democracy, including King Juan Carlos I’s facing down a coup attempt by the Spanish military, stuck. And I’ve been interested in the story of the Spanish Civil War ever since.
And so, last night, seeing Franco essentially expelled from his own monument, I thought to myself, how Rafael Antón (and my dad) would have been delighted to see the Generalissimo’s removal from the Valle de los Caidos.
After remembering Rafael Antón last night, I became curious to find out more about him and there is actually  quite a bit to be found. And that there’s more to the Valle de los Caidos and Rafael Antón: it now seems to me, that Rafael Antón would only have been partially pleased, because someone else remains enshrined in the Valle de los Caidos.
This brings us to Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. His tomb, more than Franco’s, is the central focus of the Valle de los Caidos. His tombstone is even plainer than Franco’s, bearing only his given names: Jose Antonio.
A brief Philippine connection is in order: Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, the Marquis of Estella, was the son of Miguel Primo de Rivera, one of the last Spanish governors-general, who fought our forces during the Philippine Revolution. Jose Antonio was enshrined in the Valle de los Caidos as the official founder of the Spanish Falange, the Fascist party of Spain.
Above: the opening episode of the marvelous BBC documentary, “The Spanish Civil War,” includes an introduction to the life and career of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. 
Which brings us back to Rafael Antón:  he was a refugee-exile of some prominence because of the role he played in the death of Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. Writing in The Spanish Community in the Philippines, 1935-1939, Florentino Rodao pointed out that Antón was a lawyer:
Apart from Jaén Morente, the Republicans in the Philippines did not receive many other reinforcements. The only two noteworthy exiles were a Deputy (Diputado) of the Spanish Parliament, Benito Pabón who had anarchist leanings and Rafael Antón, a lawyer who had taken part in the tribunal that condemned to death the Falangist leader, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera. However they were of little help, even for propaganda purposes as the former was accused of being a Trotskyite and in fact later tried returning to Spain once the anti-POUM purges ceased, and the latter aware of the need to maintain a low profile, wrote articles under a pseudonym.
Long after it occurred, it seems Antón had a conversation with a compatriot –a fellow Spaniard, but one fully devoted to the Fascist side, about the execution of Primo de Rivera. On a Falangist website, writing on May 4, 2008, Javier Pérez Pellón recounted a series of conversations with Rafael Antón (here in a lightly edited, and so wobbly, automatic translation):
Covering the goings-on for the TVE about an important meeting of the International Monetary Fund, which was held in Manila, in September 1976, I had the opportunity to meet and treat Rafael Antón Carratalá, who was the youngest vocal magistrate of the Popular Tribunal which, In November 1936, José Antonio Primo de Rivera ended up tried and sentenced to death. Rafael Anton lived, I would say opulently, in a golden exile in the Philippines, where he had founded a merchant company that worked, in turn, for large American companies in that area of the Pacific.
He invited me several times to eat in the most luxurious and delicious restaurants, including those of Chinese cuisine, of Manila and during these convivial days he told me many things about that judicial process. Although he did not hesitate to sign the death sentence of the founder of the Falange, he could not but recognize and admire the extraordinary magnetism and the enthusiastic and generous patriotism that Primo de Rivera exhibited in his personal relations. Admiration that, as is known, was also shared Indalecio Prieto and Manuel Azaña, who did everything possible to prevent the execution of the sentence. Rafael Antón recognized that the execution of José Antonio had been a huge mistake that had done a very weak service to the republican cause because, above all, “it was a stupid and barbaric lynching of a Great Man that Felipe González and his cheerful wartime companion,  Serra Solana would like so much,”  to the point of making him erect a bronze statue on the Paseo de la Castellana in Madrid! See to believe!
The interview with Rafael Antón was lost in that immense trunk of memories where so many pieces of censored film have been lost, because, at that time, as it still is on TVE, this was not a time for joking.
The Falangists never forgot what Rafael Antón had helped make possible. During World War II, Elmer Ordoñez, in an extremely interesting article, added that,
The Republicans who were imprisoned in Manila by the Japanese were Miguel Pujalte (father and son), Tomas del Rio (father and son), Restituto Ynchausti, Ricardo Ariandiaga, Leonor Gonzalez, Rafael Anton, Jose Maria Campos and Benito Pabon.
Writing in Espías vascos (“Basque spies”), Mikel Rodriguez mentioned that this was because of the Spanish Falangists in Manila (English paraphrase mine):
During the [Japanese] occupation, the falangists entrusted to the Military police of the Japanese a list containing the names of those “red active elements” to be interned. Among them were Suárez de Urbina, Rafael Antón, writing under the pseudonym Ramiro Aldave, and Benito Pabón.
In Spanish Falange in the Philippines, 1936-1945, Florentino Rodao says as much, adding that at first the Spanish Republicans were interned in Villamor Hall of the University of the Philippines, but that “after some weeks” most were freed; but that “a group of them who were charged with more serious offenses were transferred to the military prison in Fort Santiago.” According to Radao,
Those who were detained for a longer time were Benito Pabón and Rafael Antón… who were set free in the autumn of 1942 for health reasons despite pressure from [the Spanish consul] Castaño that they should continue to be detained in prison… one should point out that the responsibility of Castaño in the detention of Pabón and Antón were not his alone, inasmuch as he was also urged from Madrid “to request those authorities to continue to detain Benito Pabón and Rafael Antón who were guilty of crimes against civil law, with maximum security and with orders from Spanish authorities for extradition at the opportune time.”
If the Falangists never forgot Primo de Rivera, then Antón surely never did; as seen above, he told a Spanish Fascist he didn’t hesitate to sign Primo de Rivera’s death sentence. But while Franco has been exhumed, Primo de Rivera remains in the Valle de los Caidos, and according to this article, will remain enshrined in that place:

Vice-President Carmen Calvo has said the remains of Spanish Phalanx party founder Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera will remain in situ next to Franco’s former plot.

Calvo said Jose Antonio, son of dictator Miguel Primo de Rivera (1923-1930), will remain in the Valley of the Fallen because he was a victim of the Spanish Civil War, killed early during the armed conflict in 1936.

“Primo de Rivera is a victim of the dispute, for which the permanence of his remains in the Valley of the Fallen is justified on the same grounds as the rest of the victims,” Calvo said on Friday.

Primo de Rivera was executed by the Second Republic for conspiracy and military rebellion on November 20, 1936. He was the founder of the Spanish Phalanx, a military fascist political organization aiming to topple the democratic republic and replace it with a totalitarian government in his father’s fashion.

Primo de Rivera was enshrined by the Franco regime and became a martyr, earning a special place in the honorary cemetery, at the ‘Basilica de Cuelgamuros,’ in 1959.


So it seems to me, this state of affairs would have limited any delight over Franco’s exhumation.
An aside on the Spanish Civil War: there were Filipinos who fought for the Republic too; Elmer Ordoñez mentioned that,

According to Andreu Castells in Las Brigadas Internacionales de la Guerra en España, the total number of Filipinos in the Republican ranks was at least sixteen, one of whom was killed and four injured. But according to one volunteer, Pedro Penino, who was able to return to the Philippines, there were around fifty Filipinos (“pure Filipinos” and “mestizos”) who joined the International Brigade as well as the Spanish Republican Army and Militia.

In a 1938 interview with the Spanish weekly Union, Penino said that among the “pure Filipinos” who fought in defense of the Spanish Republic were a certain Claro, a political commissar, in a Mixed Brigade; a Colonel Santiago (from Tondo) and someone surnamed Mendoza who both held high positions in the general staff of General Jose Miaja of the Republican Army; someone surnamed Manuel; and another militia man in Valencia who claimed to be related to Commonwealth president Quezon.

Apparently there is no record of anyone leaving the Philippines for Spain directly. Most of the Filipinos who served in the Republican ranks either left from the US or Mexico or were already in Spain when the war began. Most of the volunteers were not heard of again. With the defeat of the Republican forces, Franco’s falangists herded thousands of prisoners in camps where many were executed or died of hardships.

Through unlawyer on Twitter, I found out about a German propaganda film from 1939, Im Kampf gegen den Weltfeind — Deutsche Freiwillige in Spanien, with a curious cameo: a Filipino prisoner asked by the German Condor Legion why he went to Spain to kill Germans. The answer, on camera at least, was evasive. Here’s an extract from the film: Filipino in Spanish Civil War 1939.
While what happened to them is obscure, more documented is what the Spanish Republicans managed to do: find refuge in the Philippines. A UNHCR feature details how the defeated Spanish Republicans came to find refuge in the Philippines:

In 1939, Spanish republicans fleeing the end of the Spanish Civil War entered as the third wave of refugees, benefitting from the Philippine government’s policy of absolute neutrality.


Prior to the end of the war, President Quezon had stressed the importance of absolute neutrality in the war to the public. In a letter dated November 10, 1937 to the Rector of San Juan de Letran College, Quezon urged that the Philippines’ interest in the war should be limited to seeing peace reestablished in Spain. Support for President Quezon’s policy came from loyalists to the Spanish Republic, several religious orders and the local Spanish community.


From 1936 to 1939, Spanish Republicans had fled from the fascist Falange Española of General Francisco Franco. Head of the Nationalist movement, General Franco was cracking down on Republicans in Spain forcing 500,000 Spanish Republicans and their families to flee the country for France and North Africa to avoid incarceration or death. From France, refugees struggled to obtain visas to other countries. Among the few countries who did grant them visas were former Spanish territories such as Mexico, the Dominican Republic and the Philippines.


Returning to Antón, a postscript. Aside from the information above (that Antón eventually did well for himself by having an import-export business), an article by Danny Dolor in 2009 tells us that he was a co-founder of Lebran Pictures, one of the Big Four Philippine movie studios of the 1950s. A 2019 article by Alexa Villano adds that his partners were William Brandt, Manuel Valdes, Rita Valdes Araneta, and Carmen Valdes Nieto, and that “Lebran stopped producing films in 1956 due to poor return of investment. Its owners went on to concentrate in the real estate business.” Benito Legarda Jr. in an email told me Antón prospered by marrying his (Legarda’s), widowed aunt, Rosario Valdes de Stevens, and “was given management of the Valdes real estate holdings lodged in Rita Legarda, Inc. ” We know that he eventually became a Filipino citizen: a list of shareholders of the Manila Jockey Club includes Rafael Antón, and states he was a Filipino citizen. And I know he was associated with the Club Filipino in the 1970s. What a life he must have lived.


Code of Citizenship and Ethics: 1939

On August 19, 1939 a Code of Citizenship and Ethics was promulgated by President Quezon through Executive Order No. 217. It remains in force to this day. In 1940 a small book was published by the Committee that drafted the Code, explaining the meaning of each item in the Code, and providing examples that teachers could use in teaching it. Here is the contents of that book.
“We are engaged in the gigantic task of nation-building in the midst of a troubled and bewildered world. So that we may succeed in this difficult task, we must forge our people into a united, patriotic, God-fearing and contented citizenry; a people influenced by a single devotion—devotion to our native land; a people inspired by a single will—the will to make our country great and a people animated by a single hope—the hope that the Philippines may take her rightful place in the family of nations. For this, we need all the unselfish love, all the unflinching courage, all the reserve wisdom, all the clear vision, and all the patient devotion of which we are capable.
A nation, if it is to grow up strong and progressive, must be moved by the force of its own dynamic moral energy. The seeds of moral discipline must be nurtured from within, not from without. History teaches that the rise and fall of nations depend essentially upon the underlying moral strength of their citizens. And the frantic despair and the spiritual blackout now experienced by many nations of the world are due primarily to their failure to grasp this basic fact.
Character means strength and power and will. Character, however, may be true or false, right or wrong, good or evil. In any case, it is the man of character that moulds and shapes the destinies of men and of nations, for weal or for woe. Hence, the transcendental importance of giving our people the proper and correct character training.
As a man thinks, so will he act; from repeated acts, habits arise; and the accumulation of habits determines a man’s character. Real character makes a man true to God and to his country, faithful to his conscience and to his principles, and loyal to his fellowmen and to himself.
A man of good moral character makes the best citizen. He is pure in thought, moderate in action, upright in deed, just in judgment, and noble in purpose. To form a man of true character, all the infinite elements that make up the man—his intelligence, his beliefs, his feelings, his emotions, his likes, his desires, and even his fears, his hatreds, his prejudices,—all must be controlled, adjusted, integrated and developed into a harmonious and well-balanced personality.
Down through the ages from generation to generation, there has been handed down as a priceless heritage, certain traits of character and norms of conduct which have guided mankind in its never-ending search for perfection and self-improvement. The search for the better life is as old as the human race itself. It is closely intertwined with the fundamental instinct of self-preservation. And because man is essentially gregarious, the rules which he evolved naturally dealt with his relations with his fellowmen. But these rules change with the changing mores of the times which are determined in many particulars by economic and social factors which result from his physical environment. It is the peculiar problem of each generation, therefore, to see that the ruling traits or virtues are strengthened and developed, and that they do not degenerate because of the unwholesome modernisms or the undermining influence of untried philosophies. It is the bounden duty of each generation to so balance and synchronize the stimulation of social and economic forces as to avoid the over-development of some factors which result in the dwarfing or suppression of others needed for healthy growth.
The Chinese founded their way of life upon the five-fold precepts of filial love, loyalty, marital fidelity, obedience and sincerity, as regulating the relationship between parents and children; rulers and people; husbands and wives; masters and servants; and man and friend, respectively, which found sanction in Confucius’ negative postulation of the Golden Rule. BUSHIDO (the way of the warrior) implemented by Kodo (the way of the emperor) produced the type of Japanese citizen and soldier whose aggressiveness, tempered by moral qualities of Buddhism and Shintoism, found consummate expression in deeds of heroism, loyalty and patriotism. The classic design for living, though it was founded on the same concept of duty, did not fare so well. The glory that was Greece, imbued with the Spartan virtues of courage, loyalty, obedience and truthfulness, which under Athenian ascendancy witnessed the apogee of art and culture, finally decayed when the lust for personal comfort caused the loosening of old loyalties among its citizens. The grandeur that was Rome nurtured in the “homely virtues of piety, modesty, courage, fortitude, prudence, honesty and trustworthiness,” likewise degenerated when its rulers, engrossed in the problems of empire-building and the pursuit of material ease, sought to bolster their tottering influence by corrupting the populace with infamous orgies.
Humanism salvaged the classic tradition which, enriched by Gallic and Anglo-Saxon influences, crossed three oceans by different routes to the fertile soil of the Philippines which had witnessed the welding of Malayan, Sanscrit, and Mandarin culture. We do not have to look far, therefore, for the moulds upon which to cast the way of life which we wish to fashion for our people. But the mould must be the democratic life which connotes intelligence, love of work, self-discipline, moral strength, and capacity to exercise individual rights without injuring the public welfare or invading the rights of others.
The democratic government is often distinguished from the dictatorial government in its emphasis on the principle that the State exists for the individual, rather than the individual for the State. Modern democracies, however, find that they must, within certain limits, subordinate individual rights to the public welfare, if the individual is to continue to enjoy the privileges that only democracy is in a position to offer. This totalitarian principle is deemed necessary, so that the modern democracy may acquire the much needed efficiency and efficacy consistent with the modicum of personal liberty without which life would not be worth living. The true concept of democracy emphasizes not only rights but duties as well. The citizen should acquire the required balance of liberty and authority in his mind through education and personal discipline, so that there may be established the resultant equilibrium, which means peace and order and happiness for all.
A Code of Ethics designed to formulate a way of life for a free people must perforce be didactic rather than legislative. It must be based on an appeal to reason and the conscience and not on any threat of punishment, for the sense of right and the force of tradition often far outweigh the most exacting legal sanctions. It is also evident that such a code must draw on the history and culture of the people for whose benefit it is promulgated. In our quest for inspiration we must teach our people to direct their gaze upon our own heroes, our own traditions and our own history.
The genius of our past must kindle the throbbing mind of the present and inspired the future with its immortal fire.
This “Code of Ethics” is not to foster exaggerated nationalism, or to glorify narrow and blind patriotism. Its object is higher, purer, nobler. It is to strengthen the moral fiber of our youth; to keep alive in the hearts of our citizens the value of ethical principles; and to proclaim the truth that moral discipline is the only sure road to national greatness.
Endless days of unremitting toil and unceasing vigil lie ahead of our country, for national greatness never springs from the slime of ease or self-complacency, but from the crucible of grim struggle and patient industry. We should realize that national and individual progress can only be attained through work, more work, and more hard work. But we shall prove ourselves equal to the challenge flung against us, though it may mean the sacrifice of material comfort or personal convenience.
A nation erected upon the impregnable foundation of moral discipline and the industry of its citizens shall endure through the thundering ages, for it is a “house” built by loving hands, upon a “rock”, of which posterity may proudly say: “The rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and they beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock.” (Matt. 7:25)
Of supreme importance to the life of nations and peoples is faith in Divine Providence, Who created and upholds the universe, Whose power directs the course of the world, and Whose wisdom guides the destinies of men and nations. The Christian Bible, the Mohammedan Koran, as well as the sacred books of other religions, each have its own set of commandments for the observance of the faithful. All unite in the recognition of the existence and in fervid love of God by whatever name He is called. The Filipinos, even before the coming of the Spaniards, believed in one Supreme Being called Bathala by the Tagalogs, Laon or Abba by the Visayans, Akasi by the Zambals, Gugurang by the Bicols, and Kabunian by the Ilocanos and the Igorots.
In his enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People, Bonifacio ordained:
“1. Love God with all thy heart.
“2. Always bear in mind that true love of God is love of thy country, and that this love is also the true love for thy fellowmen.”
Emilio Jacinto, the brain of the Katipunan, in his Liwanag at Dilim, said: “God is the father of Humanity, and what a father requires of his children is not constant protestations of respect, fear, and love for him, but the performance of his mandates.”
Referring to the letter of Rizal to the young women of Malolos, Marcelo H. del Pilar wrote to the young Women of Bulacan: “. . . the virtue most acceptable to the Creator consists in perfecting the intelligence which He, in His infinite love, granted to His creatures to serve them as alight upon the path of life.”
As a nation, the Filipinos demonstrated unity of belief in one Supreme Ruler as much as oneness of political purpose. The Declaration of Philippine Independence at Kawit, Cavite, on June 12, 1898, called upon “the Supreme Judge of the Universe” as a witness and invoked the protection of “Divine Providence.” The preamble of the Malolos Constitution of January 21, 1899, invoked the assistance of the “Sovereign Legislator of the Universe” for the attainment of its aims. And when Mabini exhorted his compatriots to intransigence, convinced of the justice of the Philippine cause, he reminded them that “there is a Providence which punishes the crime of men and nations.” Our Constitution, in establishing a government that shall embody the ideals of the Filipino people, implores “the aid of Divine Providence.” (Preamble, Constitution.)
Our Constitution recognizes the freedom of religious profession and worship. (Article III, section 1, paragraph 7, Constitution.) Religious tolerance is necessary so that there may be peace among men and nations. And, because of the tremendous importance of religion as a moral force in the lives of private individuals, and with a view to giving impetus to the formation of a God-fearing citizenry in so far as is compatible with the freedom of conscience, our Constitution ordains that churches, buildings and improvements used exclusively for religious purposes shall be exempt from taxation (Article VI, section 14, paragraph 3) and provides for optional religious instruction in the public schools (Article XIII, section 5).
Love of country is demonstrated not by words but by deeds. It is not an occasional virtue to be exhibited now and then, but it is a flame that should constantly be kept aglow in our hearts. It is unflinching determination to serve and defend one’s country at all times and at all costs.
Apolinario Mabini, in his True Decalogue, said:
“Fourth—Thou shalt love thy country after thy God and thy honor and more than thyself; for she is the only Paradise which God has given thee in this life, the only patrimony of thy race, the only inheritance of thy ancestors, and the only hope of thy posterity; because of her, thou hast life, love and interests, happiness, honor and God.
“Fifth—Thou shalt strive for the happiness of thy country before thine own, making of her the kingdom of reason, of justice, and of labor: for if she be happy, thou, together with thy family, shalt likewise be happy.
“Sixth—Thou shalt strive for the independence of thy country: for only thou canst have any real interest in her advancement and exaltation, because her independence constitutes thy own liberty; her advancement, thy perfection; and her exaltation, thy own glory and immortality.
* * * * * * *
“Tenth—Thou shalt consider thy countryman more than thy neighbor; thou shalt see in him thy friend, thy brother, or at least thy comrade, with whom thou art bound by one fate, by the same joys and sorrows, and by common aspirations and interests.”
Marcelo H. del Pilar, indomitable champion of Filipino liberties, who succeeded Lopez-Jaena as editor of the La Solidaridad, was forced to flee from the country because of religious and political persecution. He suffered untold privations and died of starvation in Spain where he continued the fight for reforms. In the hour of his death, his last consuming thought was the freedom of his country. His dying message to his compatriots was: “Go ahead with the work and seek the happiness and liberty of our dear country.”
General Gregorio del Pilar’s valiant defense of Tirad Pass is another example of heroism and love of country. Barely out of his teens, he had already distinguished himself for valor and daring on the field of battle. Called upon to defend Tirad Pass with a handful of ill-equipped soldiers, he wrote in his diary on the fateful morning of December 2, 1899. “I understand that the task given me is a difficult one. And yet, I feel that this is the most glorious moment of my life. I do it all for my beloved country. No sacrifice can be greater.” Only eight of his brave band of sixty men survived, and General Del Pilar perished with the rest of his command, but the advance of the American troops was delayed. And in recognition of his bravery and heroism, he was buried with full military honors by the Americans near the spot where he had made his last stand. The following valedictory was also found in his diary: “I submit to the terrible fate that overwhelms me and my brave men; but I am glad to die fighting for my dear country.”
When Rizal returned to the Philippines in 1892, he knew that his life was in danger and his letter of farewell to his countrymen, written at Hongkong on June 20, 1892, which he asked to be published after his death, is an edifying example of self-effacement. He said: “Besides, I wish to show those who deny us patriotism that we know how to die for duty and principle. What matters death, if one dies for what one loves, for native land and those dear to one? . . . Always have I loved our unhappy land, and I am sure I shall continue loving it until my last moment, in case men should prove unjust to me. Life, career, happiness, I am ready to sacrifice for it. Whatever be my fate, I shall die blessing it and longing for the dawn of its redemption.” And on the eve of his execution, he wrote his last Farewell which begins thus:
“Farewell, dear Fatherland, clime of the sun caress’d,
Pearl of the orient seas, our Eden lost!
Gladly now I go to give thee this faded life’s best,
And were it brighter, fresher, or more blest,
Still would I give it thee, nor count the cost.”
Love of country is best exemplified by the self-sacrifice of Marcelo H. del Pilar, the undaunted courage of General Gregorio del Pilar, and the sublime self-immolation of Dr. Jose Rizal.
Service to the country is our inescapable obligation “and in the fulfillment of this duty all citizens may be required by law to render personal military or civil service.” (Section 2, Article II, Philippine Constitution.)
We are engaged in the task of nation-building. For this purpose we must be united. As Rizal said, “The isolated rib of the buri palm is easily broken, but not so the broom made of the ribs of the palm bound together.” We have one flag, one land, one heart, one purpose, one nation ever and forever.
The Constitution is the expression of the sovereignty of the people. Its primordial aim is the welfare of all. “The welfare of the people,” in the fiery language of Andres Bonifacio, “is the sole purpose of all the governments on earth. The people is all: blood and life, wealth and strength, all is the people.”
Reverence for law as the expression of the popular will is the starting point in a democracy. According to Bonifacio, “He who obeys the power conferred by the people obeys the people and identifies himself with the will of all the citizens that compose the people, which identification or accord is necessary for the very life of the people.”
The foundation stone of all governments is law and order. Without them it would be impossible to promote education, improve the condition of the masses, protect the poor and ignorant against exploitation, and otherwise insure the enjoyment of life, liberty and property. And the burden of effective law enforcement falls heavily on the citizen no less than on the government. For, unless the citizen is imbued with an intelligent concept of the supremacy of the law, no government, but the most despotic and tyrannical, can be expected to preserve and maintain even the semblance of a well-ordered society.
We should, therefore, follow the injunction of Bonifacio, in his enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People: “Let the acts of each, in good government and the performance of his duties, be such as to serve as an example to his neighbor.”
It is not enough that a citizen should take care that in his daily life he does not violate any of the many rules, regulations and ordinances of the State. He must also see that the laws are observed by the whole community, that the officers of the law attend to their enforcement and properly perform their duties. Passive inaction or tolerance is worse than actual and flagrant infringement of the law of the land, for in the latter case the law itself provides a remedy and administers a corrective measure to the erring individual; but the law is powerless to deal with that type of citizen who is so wanting in civic courage that he allows crime to be committed in his presence without even lifting a finger to prevent its execution, who is so lacking in civic pride that he tolerates the evils of vice and graft in the community, without even taking any step looking towards their eradication; who has such a distorted sense of civic values that so long as his selfish pursuits are not molested he does not even give a thought to whatever happens to his neighbors or to his fellow citizens for that matter, and who does not care whether there is such a thing as “government” or not.
A public office is a public trust. The beneficiaries of an established government are the people and the people only. The promotion of the common good is the guiding principle of all governmental activities. The holding of a public office is not an occasion for personal enhancement but is an opportunity for public service.
Citizens should participate not only in the privileges but also in the duties of citizenship. They should take a direct interest in public affairs, participate in the discussion of public policies, and exercise a prudent selection of the men who will carry out the measures for the attainment of the public welfare. In the language of Rizal, “Peoples and governments are correlated and complementary; a fatuous government would be an anomaly among a righteous people, just as corrupt people cannot exist under just rulers and wise laws. ‘What the people are, so is their government.'”
Taxation is an essential power of government. Man is a social and political being. His nature demands that he live in the society of his fellowmen. Living in society, however, entails rights and duties, among the most important of which is the duty of each and every citizen to pay his just share in the expenses of the government. We enjoy rights and privileges under the protection of the established government and we must pay the price of that protection.
Taxes are needed to defray the cost of public administration, law enforcement and dispensation of justice; national defense, and the promotion of social justice; and other important public services like the promotion of education, agriculture, trade and industry, as well as the construction of needed public works and improvements.
When the early Filipinos fell under the suzerainty of the Malayan empires of Shri-Visaya and Madjapahit and the Chinese Ming Dynasty, taxation took the form of tribute and it was distasteful because it was a mark of subjection to alien domination. And when the Spanish conquistadores came, this form of tribute was renewed and imposed in the guise of “polos y servicios.” Tax revolts were frequent which were directed not only against the abuses of the tax collectors, but also against the principle itself. Where, however, the Filipinos believed that the contributions were for their benefit, they readily paid their dues.
When by proclamation of February 8, 1814 the Governor-General explained that civil taxes were essential in order to defray the expenses of the government, taxation proved nevertheless irksome to the Filipinos because they did not have representation and hence had no voice in that government. Taxation without representation in the Spanish Cortes was one of the causes of our revolution against Spain. Under the republican system of government which we have adopted, the people, through their authorized representatives, determine what taxes shall be imposed and how they shall be collected and spent.
During the period of propaganda which preceded the revolution, the nationalist movement was given impetus by the monetary contribution of public-spirited citizens. When it was reported that Rizal lacked funds to enable him to write and publish the sequel to his Noli Me Tangere, he received aid from a voluntary fund raised by his townspeople to which even women contributed their modest savings.
When the revolution was finally declared, people all over the country generously and spontaneously contributed to the support of the revolutionary government and its army. The triumph of Filipino arms brought about the establishment of the Philippine Republic which was likewise supported by popular taxation. It is recorded that in 1898, Leocadio Valera, then provincial governor of Abra, traveled by cart 400 kilometers from Bangued to Malolos to personally deliver one thousand pesos in silver coins raised by, the people of Abra as their share of the expenses of the revolutionary government. It is also recorded that in the same year General Jose Ignacio Pawa traveled from the Camarines provinces to the revolutionary capital to carry by horseback the fifty thousand pieces of silver unselfishly contributed by the people of the Bicol Peninsula.
We have established an autonomous government and by July 4, 1946 we shall be completely independent. We need, more than ever, to prove our capacity to place that government on a sound economic basis. This cannot be achieved unless we contribute our just share of the nation’s burdens freely and without hesitation.
Suffrage is one of the most important political rights appertaining to citizenship. If exercised with purity and noble purpose, it is the security of popular government. On the other hand, if perverted or basely surrendered by those in whose hands the law has entrusted its safeguard and protection, it serves instead to undermine the entire edifice of democratic institutions.
Suffrage is a public and social duty which should not be neglected. The electors owe it to themselves and their government to exercise this important political right not only regularly but judiciously.
To preserve the integrity of elections, penalties for offenses against the ballot have been prescribed. No election law can be made effective without provisions defining and punishing offenses committed at the polls. To curb as much as possible attendant evils, our Election Law prescribes severe penalties for violations of its provisions. Penal laws, however, are not sufficient. The people should be conscious of their civic responsibility and should exercise “the watchful care and reverential guardianship” of their precious right.
The rule of the majority is the foundation stone of democracy, for if this principle of majority rule is not respected and honored, chaos and revolution will be the result. Rizal demonstrated sportsmanly acquiescence to the will of the majority when he separated from the La Solidaridad because of the opposition of the Madrid Committee of Filipinos. So did Mabini when he resigned from the Cabinet, during the Philippine-American War, when he found out that his policy of irreconciliation made futile further negotiations with the Americans. His resignation as well as that of the other members of his Cabinet paved the way for the formation of the Paterno Cabinet on May 9, 1889, in which predominated the elements in favor of a conciliatory attitude toward the proclamation of the American Commission offering autonomy to the Filipinos provided they laid down their arms. Mabini was only putting into practice the democratic theory which guided his first act as adviser to Emilio Aguinaldo abolishing the dictatorship and transforming the revolutionary government into a representative one. In the seventh and eight commandments of his True Decalogue, Mabini envisioned the implantation of democracy in this country based on the free suffrages of the people:
“Seventh—Thou shalt not recognize in thy country the authority of any person who has not been elected by thee and thy countrymen: for authority emanates from God, and as God speaks in the conscience of every man, the person designated and proclaimed by the conscience of a whole people is the only one who can use true authority.
“Eighth—Thou shalt strive for a republic and never for a monarchy in thy country: for the latter exalts one or several families and founds a dynasty; the former makes a people noble and worthy through reason, great through liberty, and prosperous and brilliant through labor.”
If democracies are to survive, if the free and untarnished expression of the popular will is to be insured, and if the principle of the rule of the majority is to be respected, the people must be ready at all times to act with unceasing vigilance in respect to these rights, for this is the high price demanded of a free people who directs the affairs of their government.
Nobody is more faithful and devoted to us, more sensitive of our needs, more generous to our failings, than our parents. Like a celestial message, filial love speaks more eloquently than the tongue of man can speak, more eloquently than the pen of man can write.
Rizal’s return to the Philippines in 1892 was motivated chiefly by his love for his parents and his family whom he did not wish persecuted on his account. He knew that he was courting death by placing himself at the mercy of the Spanish Government in the Islands, but he wanted to save his relatives, especially his aged mother, from humiliation and suffering. His letter to his “Beloved Parents, Brothers and Sisters, and Friends,” dated at Hongkong on June 20, 1892, is incomparable in its tender regard and solicitude for his loved ones, particularly his parents. He said:
“The affection that I have ever professed for you suggests this step, and time alone can tell whether or not it is sensible. Their outcome decides things by results, but whether that be favorable or unfavorable, it may always be said that duty urged me, so if I die in doing it, it will not matter.
“I realize how much suffering I have caused you, still I do not regret what I have done. Rather, if I had to begin over again, still I should do just the same, for it has been only duty. Gladly do I expose myself to peril, not as any expiation of misdeeds (for in this matter I believe myself guiltless of any), but to complete my work and myself offer the example of which I have always preached.
“A man ought to die for duty and his principles. I hold fast to every idea which I have advanced as to the condition and future of our country, and shall willingly die for it, and even more willingly to procure for you justice and peace.
“With pleasure, then, I risk life to save so many innocent persons—so many nieces and nephews, so many children of friends, and children, too, of ethers who are not even friends—who are suffering on my account. What am I? A single man, practically without family, and sufficiently undeceived as to life. I have had many disappointments and the future before me is gloomy, and will be gloomy if light does not illuminate it, the dawn of a better day for my native land. On the other hand, there are many individuals, filled with hope and ambition, who perhaps all might be happy were I dead, and then I hope my enemies would be satisfied and stop persecuting so many entirely innocent people. To a certain extent their hatred is justifiable as to myself, and my parents and relatives.
“Should fate go against me, you will all understand that I shall die happy in the thought that my death will end all your troubles. Return to our country and may you be happy in it.
“Till the last moment of my life I shall be thinking of you and wishing you all good fortune and happiness.”
In his letter of farewell to his countrymen of the same date, he said: “I cannot live knowing that many suffer unjust persecutions on my account. I cannot live seeing my brothers and sisters and their numerous families persecuted like criminals. I prefer to face death, and I gladly give my life to deliver so many innocent people from so unjust a persecution.” Previously he had written his parents when he was informed of their vicissitudes saying: “I deeply regret your misfortunes at Kalamba: but I admire you for not voicing any complaint. Were it possible for me to take upon myself all the pains, all the losses, and leave you all the joys and all the profits, God knows how gladly I would do it.” And in a letter dated June 21, 1892, he addressed himself to Eulogio Despujols, then Governor-General of the Philippine Islands: “It is a long time now that my aged parents, my relatives, friends and even individuals unknown to me are cruelly persecuted on my account, according to them, I now present myself to shoulder so many persecutions, to answer the charges that it may be desired to prefer against me, in order to put an end to that question so bitter to the innocent persons and sad to Your Excellency’s government, which is interested in being known for its justice.”
Mabini offered the following testimonial of the love which his mother bore for him and the affectionate regard in which he held her:
“Thereafter my poor mother began to work with true zeal in order to defray the cost of my studies. When I began the high school, it occurred to me, influenced by the example of my companions, to ask my parents for some nice clothes for Christmas. To please me, my mother sold all the coffee she had harvested in the barrio of Payapa (Lipa) and she personally brought me all the money so that I might buy what I liked best. That manifestation of abnegation and affection moved me so much that I had to desist from my desire to buy a costly suit, because I was imagining that with that money, she was giving me a part of her life and of her blood. In fact, the excessive work led her to the grave shortly afterwards.
“Due, perhaps, to my having lived apart from the family from childhood by reason of my studies, I was very much loved by my parents and by my maternal grandmother. My grandmother died a year ahead of my mother, when by coincidence I was spending my vacation with the family, and from her sickbed she used to recommend them every moment not to forget to attend to me and to take care of my food. My mother always showed a serene countenance every time I separated from her on account of my studies; but one day, when I had just gone home from Manila to spend my vacation, I knew, from an aunt of mine that my mother had wept much for my having told her inconsiderately that it was the same to me to live near the family or far from it. When shortly before she died, she saw her eight children whom she was leaving in poverty, she begun to cry; but she was reassured when I told her that I promised to watch over my brothers and sisters. She likewise wept when she saw me after I had been called from Bawan to her side during the last days of her life.
“MOTHER OF MINE: In the midst of my misfortunes, your memory is not painful to me, because I am comforted by the thought that Fate has spared you the sorrow of witnessing them. But, should lucky days come to me unexpectedly, perhaps I would complain against Fate for not having allowed you to enjoy my well-being.”
His dedication of his La Revolución Filipina to his mother touches the heart and purifies the emotions with its pathos and nobility:
“MOTHER OF MINE: When still a child I told you that I wished to study, to please you above everything else, because your golden dream was to have your son a priest; to be a minister of God was to you the greatest honor to which a man could aspire in this world.
“Seeing that you were too poor to suffer the expenses of my education, you weakened yourself in working, without giving heed to either sun or rain, until you contracted the illness which brought you to the grave.
“Fate has not wished me to be a priest; nevertheless, convinced that a true minister of God is not alone he who wears the long habiliments, but all those who proclaim His glory by means of good and useful service to the greatest possible number of His creatures, I will try to be faithful to your wishes while I do not lack strength for this end.
“Wishing to deposit above your tomb a crown devised by my own hands, I dedicate this little book to your memory; it is poor and unworthy of you, but up to this time it is the best crown that the inexpert hands of your son have been able to fashion.”
An instance of filial love was that demonstrated by little Anita, young daughter of Marcelo H. del Pilar, then just learning her alphabet. Del Pilar had written to his wife that often he had to pick up cigar stubs from the sidewalks of Madrid so that he could smoke and thus deceive his hunger; and he once stopped writing because he had no money with which to buy stamps. As his wife was also in dire financial straits, she applied to Anita who generously parted with her Easter presents to send them to her father. This sacrifice of little Anita brought tears to the eyes of Del Pilar.
That Rizal was willing to die so that his parents might find peace; that Mabini should remain faithful to the memory of his mother all his life; and that little Anita del Pilar should give up the presents so dear to her childish heart so that her father could have the necessities of life: all these show that each and everyone of them, in his or her own individual manner, loved and respected their parents. We can do no less, considering the sacrifices that our parents have made in our behalf. Many are the ways in which we could serve them and show our gratitude. By respecting our elders and by loving and helping our brothers and sisters, we reflect honor and credit to our parents. There are a thousand and one little things which we could do to gladden the hearts of our parents and brighten the remaining years of their old age.
Honor is what prompts a man to strive for all that is noble, true, and lofty, in word and in deed. It inspires a man to be pure in thought, faithful to his duties, magnanimous to those who offend him, and generous to his friends. It makes a man courteous, loyal and true. It never falters when duty calls.
In the words of Emilio Jacinto, “The real man is he who, of tried and trusty valor, does good, keeps his word, and is worthy and self-respecting.” This concept, as he embodied in the fifth, sixth, and thirteenth precepts of the Katipunan Primer, is expressed by him as follows:
“He whose sentiments are noble prefers honor to personal aggrandizement; he whose sentiments are perverse prefers personal desires to honor.
“To a man of honor, his word is his oath.
“. . . Great and noble is he who although born in the woods with no knowledge except that of his own native tongue, is possessed of good character, is true to his word and mindful of his dignity and honor; a man who does not oppress nor help those who oppress; a man who loves and looks after the welfare of his country.”
Rafael Palma showed a high concept of honor which transcended his honest and loyal service to his people in positions of high trust and major responsibility as the collaborator of Manuel L. Quezon and Sergio Osmeña in wresting greater Filipino control and participation in the Philippine Government during the early years of the American régime. After retiring from political life as Senator and Secretary of the Interior, he engaged in private business which unfortunately failed and left him in debt. He could have evaded responsibility by having himself declared insolvent by judicial decree, but with scrupulous regard for his plighted word he undertook to pay his obligations little by little from his subsequent earnings as publicist and President of the University of the Philippines. He died a poor man, but his honor he maintained unsullied to the end of his life.
Manuel Araullo, former Chief Justice of our Supreme Court, was a paragon of integrity. This was manifested not only in the way he dispensed justice on the bench without fear or favor, but in his private life as well. He considered it a point of honor to pay not only his debts but also those of his family. When he went to Spain to get his degree of doctor of laws, he left his brother to administer the estate left by their deceased father. Inefficient management sunk the estate in debt and although upon his return he devoted his energies in helping his brother salvage what remained of the estate, a large account incurred by his brother in its administration was left pending for many years. In order to preserve the good name of his family, he did not hesitate to assume the obligation or paying the debt of the estate little by little. This involved him in extreme difficulties but he kept his promise to pay.
Honor is closely associated with virtue and finds its most sublime expression in defense of the purity of womanhood. Said Marcelo H. del Pilar: “. . . Wherever the women are virtuous, there vice is timid and dignity predominates in the customs of the people, but where the women are frivolous, there the men bear the stamp of immorality, and neglect or contempt of the most sacred duties are the current thing.”
Incensed at isolated instances of the violation of Filipino women during the Revolution, Mabini apostrophized: “How are we to succeed in making foreigners respect our women if we ourselves give them example by offending against them? Can we, Filipino men, possibly aspire to be respectable if bur women are not respected? In the traditional nobility of the ancient nations, respect for women is conspicuous as the principal virtue of the fearless and faultless knight, because the habit of protecting the honor and life of the weak and defenseless is certainly an indication of big-heartedness and nobility of soul. And let it be remembered that this virtue is not a simple necessity of the legendary era of romanticism, but one of the great necessities of the life of nations, because if the woman finds simple respect and consideration within the sphere in which she habitually moves, she soon acquires that sense of dignity that saves her from many a weakness, which dignity, transmitted to her children, inspires them with courage and vigor for great undertakings, for acts of heroism.”
Rizal knew that honor is nurtured by the virtue of womanhood and he minced no words in impressing his countrymen with this idea in his letter to the young women of Malolos. He said: “A people that respects woman, like the Filipino people, must know the truth of the situation in order to be able to do what is expected of it. It seems an established fact that when a young student falls in love, he throws everything to the dogs—knowledge, honor, and money, as if a girl could not do anything but sow misfortune. The bravest youth becomes a coward when he marries, and the born coward becomes shameless, as if he had been waiting to get married to show his cowardice. The son in order to hide his pusillanimity, remembers his mother, swallows his wrath, suffers his ears to be boxed, obeys the most foolish order and becomes an accomplice to his own dishonor. It should be remembered that where nobody flees, there is no pursuer; when there is no little fish, there cannot be a big one. Why does not a girl require of her lover a noble and honored name, a manly heart offering protection to her weakness, and a high spirit incapable of seeing her satisfied with engendering slaves? Let her discard all fear, let her behave nobly and not deliver her youth to the weak and faint-hearted. When she is married, she must aid her husband, inspire him with courage, share his perils, refrain from causing him worry and sweeten his moments of affliction, always remembering that there is no grief that a brave heart cannot bear and there is no bitterer inheritance than that of infamy and slavery. Open your children’s eyes so that they may jealously guard their honor, love their fellow-men and their native land, and do their duty. Always impress upon them that they must prefer dying with honor to living in dishonor. The women of Sparta should serve as an example in this . . .”
In the nobility and chivalry of Rizal, Jacinto, Del Pilar and Mabini, we learn that honor is as valuable, if not more so, than life itself. And in the sterling integrity of Palma and Araullo, the lesson is brought home to us with telling force that to be poor but honorable is a thousand times better than amassing all the riches in the world at the cost of one’s good name. We should strive, therefore, to keep our reputation unblemished to the end of our days, and ever bear in mind that an honored name is the most precious legacy which we can leave to our children and our children’s children. “A good name is rather to be desired than great riches, and loving favor than silver and gold.”
Character is life dominated by principles. Truthfulness, honesty, charity, justice and courtesy are the qualities that round up a real man or woman. These are the virtues that give force and worth to the race.
Be truthful.—We should not only tell the truth but we should also welcome it. Only by knowing the truth are we able to correct our defects and shortcomings. Rizal realized this in his dedication of his Noli Me Tangere:
“TO MY COUNTRY: Recorded in the history of human sufferings is a cancer of so malignant a character that the least contact arouses in it the most acute pains. Now then, every time, in the midst of modern civilizations, I have wished to evoke thee, now to keep me company with thy memories, now to compare thee with other countries, so often did thy dear image appear to me with a similar social cancer.
“Desiring thy welfare, which is our own, and seeking the best treatment, I shall do with thee what the ancients did with their patients: they exposed them on the steps of the temple so that every one who should come to invoke the Deity might suggest, them a remedy.
“And to this end, I shall attempt to reproduce faithfully thy condition, without considerations; I shall lift a part of the veil that cloaks the evil, sacrificing to truth everything, nay self-esteem itself, since, as a son of thine, I likewise have thy shortcomings and weaknesses.”
In his letter to his friend, Dr. Blumentritt, enclosing one of the first copies of the book, he said:
“The novel tells of many things that until now have not been touched upon. They are so peculiar to ourselves that we have been sensitive about them. In this book I have attempted what no one else seems to have been willing to do. For one thing, I have dared to answer calumnies that for centuries have been heaped upon us and our country. I have written of the social condition of the Philippines and of the life of the Filipinos. I have told the truth about our beliefs, our hopes, our longings, our complaints, and our sorrows. I have tried to show the difference between real religion and the hypocrisy that under its cloak has impoverished and brutalized us. I have brought out the real meaning of the dazzling and deceptive words of our countrymen. I have related our mistakes, our vices, our faults. I have exposed how weakly we accept miseries as inevitable. Where there has been reason for it, I have given praise. I have not wept over our misfortunes, but rather laughed at them.
“No one would want to read a book full of tears, and then, too, laughter is the best means of concealing sorrow.
“The incidents that I have related are all true and have actually occurred.”
In his dissertation on the character of Rizal, Dr. T. H. Pardo de Tavera observed:
“If he had not been a fervent disciple and investigator of truth, he would never have had all the beautiful moral qualities which we have mentioned and which like self-control, constancy, firmness of opinion, for example, can not exist unless one has first worshipped at the shrine of truth.”
It is necessary to maintain a reputation for truth, because once it is lost or impaired it is not easily regained.
Be honest.—Honesty is always the best policy. Ignacio Villamor, in his Industrious Men, mentions Lorenzo Guerrero of Manila who “was so honest that he never wished to enter into any business which would cast the faintest shadow upon his immaculate honor. He was so active, so dutiful, that at times even if he was indisposed, he gave at his home lessons in drawing and painting. He abandoned them only five days before his death which occurred on April 8, 1904. He was so punctual in the performance of his duties that he made it a point to arrive at the house of his pupils five minutes before the lesson hour. More than with words he made use of exemplary practice to preach honesty and industry to his children.” One proof of the moral integrity and conscientiousness of Lorenzo Guerrero was his refusal to accept professional fees, unless he had earned them. Villamor also mentions Esteban Villanueva who, by the use of correct measures in his store, was able to survive in competition with Chinese merchants, which success laid the foundation of one of the largest fortunes in Vigan, Ilocos Sur.
With regard to the good faith and honesty of the early Filipinos, a Chinese trader wrote in the 14th century that after the Filipinos and the traders had agreed upon the price, the former were allowed to take away the goods and to bring their native products in exchange later. The traders trusted them for they never failed to live up to their stipulated bargains.
Be just and charitable.—In Bonifacio’s enumeration of the Duties of the Sons of the People, the eighth precept enjoins: “In so far as it is within thy power, share thy means with every indigent or unfortunate person.” The Kartilla of Jacinto went farther, its sixth rule being “Defend the oppressed and fight the oppressor.” This theme Jacinto elaborated in his essay on Liwanag at Dilim (Light and Darkness), under the heading Ang Pagibig (Love), as follows:
“Of all human sentiments, none is more sublime than love—love for the fellow-man. Without it, the peoples would disappear from the earth and the communities, the associations, and life itself would resemble the dry leaves of the tree swept away by the wind. For its sake, the greatest deeds are one’s own life and well-being sacrificed. But rascality and fraud reap their harvest under the guise of love, hiding their ferocious selfishness behind an infinitesimal quantity of charity.
“The compassion for our fellow-beings who are the victims of misfortune, which impels us to share with them what little is ours; the solicitude and even boldness which we show in the defense of the rights of the oppressed, and true charity for our fellow-men, from what source do they spring but from love?”
Pedro Cui of Cebu was not content with helping the poor and contributing liberally to the cause of the Revolution during his life time. On his death, he donated one-half of his fortune valued at one million pesos to the Hospicio de San Jose of Barili, which still exists to give refuge, food and clothing to invalid natives of Barili, Dumangas, Ronda, Alcantara, Moalboal, Carcar, Aloguinsan, Pinamuñgahan, Toledo, Balamban, all of the province of Cebu; and to maintain permanently three fellowships for poor students of both sexes who are natives of Cebu: one in the Cebu High School, another in the College of Medicine of the University of the Philippines, and the other in the School of Pharmacy of the same University. In the University of the Philippines, there also exist several scholarships for poor students, notable among which are the Limjap scholarships in engineering and the Bailon-De la Rama scholarships in medicine and other professions.
Charity is manifested in kind deeds by men whether endowed or not with material wealth. In the Katipunan Primer, we are told that, “To do good for some personal motive and not because of a true desire to do good is not virtue.” As Jacinto expressed it, “From love and helpfulness for our fellow-men spring sincerity and charity, that beautiful flower of the heart, that gentle and sweet balm of the unfortunate.”
Be courteous but dignified.—Ignacio Villamor said:
“Courtesy gains all and costs nothing. This is a truth especially applicable to our country where everything can be obtained through politeness; that is, where the manner counts far more than the strength. Often, good words spoken with kindness convince better than good arguments uttered with arrogant petulance.
“Courtesy, politeness, right conduct are those acts which make our relations with our fellow-beings pleasant. They are the expressions of good education, and good education is just as essential to the man of high position as it is to the ordinary man as well as to everyone else who lives in society.”
It is simple courtesy and not slavishness for the people to show respect and consideration for the men whom they themselves have elevated to high positions in the government. As Jacinto tersely puts it, “Do not let anyone believe that the equality proclaimed is contrary to the respect due all authority governing the people; no, this preëminence, which was created by the people, the people respect; but the representative of the authority, as a man, is a man just like the rest.”
Cleanliness is next to godliness. Life is more than a gift,—it is a trust which we must not abuse. We owe it to our Creator to conserve life and that we can do only by observing clean habits, both of mind and body. Cleanliness is closely associated with frugality. Frugality means the simple life,—both physically and morally. In its material aspect, it means bodily health and conservation of wealth and energy. From the spiritual standpoint, it means modesty of conduct, cleanliness of thought and speech, refinement of taste and behavior.
Rizal amply demonstrated this twofold development. When he was a boy he was sickly, but his uncle Manuel developed his physique until he had a supple body of silk and steel although he did not entirely lose his somewhat delicate looks. According to Retana, “Rizal although slim in build, and with an appearance that did not show great energy, yet showed extraordinary vigor and dexterity. From the time he was a child he was given to gymnastics which he perfected during his stay in Japan. From that time on he became some sort of an acrobat and daily exercised according to Japanese methods.” He was well-to-do but he did not waste his time in frivolity, because it would undermine not only his health but also his character. In comparing him with other youths who went to Europe, Tavera said: “The young men who left the Philippines to go to Europe did so in compliance with the will of their elders when they undertook the voyage for educational purposes, or on their own initiative when their purpose was to see the world and have a good time. Rizal desired to go to Europe in order to educate himself, to become more useful to his people. He was not moved by the wish to have a good time and to enjoy life.” In a letter to Mariano Ponce dated at London, June 27, 1888, Rizal expressed a becoming modesty when he referred to the manner in which he was being idolized even by foreigners for the publication of his Noli Me Tangere: “I am not immortal nor invulnerable, and my greatest joy would be to see myself eclipsed by a group of my countrymen at the hour of my death.” He welcomed criticism. In another letter to Ponce dated at Hongkong, May 23, 1892, wherein he asked to be furnished with clippings containing attacks against him, he said: “. . . for I am interested in knowing what they write against me because sometimes there are truths that are profitable. I have always wanted to hear attacks because they improve him who wishes to improve himself.”
Mabini was thrift and modesty exemplified. Raymundo Alindada in whose college Mabini taught to partly defray the expenses of his law studies, speaks of him thus: “His extreme fondness for study, to which he devoted himself with edifying earnestness, availing with undiminished vigor, of every leisure time, by day as well as by night, afforded by his duties as aspirante de Hacienda and as assistant professor in my College, filled me with admiration . . . Never during this period of time was he seen to take part in games and indecent jokes, or to frequent places of dissipation, or to allow the shortcomings of others recounted in his presence. These are points which I do not want to omit because of the brilliant evidence afforded by them in forming an idea of him.” Rafael Palma sums up the modesty of Mabini and the simplicity of his manners as follows: “Remembering his humble origin, he always preserved a plain modesty and a delightful simplicity of manners. Even during the days of his greatest intimacy with Aguinaldo, he neither grew conceited nor felt the giddiness of the heights. He appeared to his former childhood friends with the same affability and familiarity of old and he never tried to put distance between himself and his fellow-man, however humble he may be, by reason of his high position.”
Cayetano S. Arellano, famed Filipino jurist, was likewise the embodiment of simplicity and modesty. He rose from humble beginnings to become the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines under the American régime. He entered the Colegio de San Juan de Letran at the age of five as an agraciado so that he could finish his primary and secondary courses. He never indulged in extravagance or frivolity though he could well afford the luxuries of life in later years. He continued to be simple in his dress and unassuming in his behavior. His exemplary moral rectitude was manifested in his spotless private life and official conduct.
Of such a type also was Librada Avelino, founder and directress of the Centro Escolar de Señoritas, later Centro Escolar University, largest and most successful college for young women in her time. In writing the story of her life, her biographers confessed that one of their fundamental aims was “to honor in a modest way the life of a woman who was herself the very soul of modesty, but who had accomplished so much for her people in the field of education,” “Here is a woman,” they said, “without hypocrisies and superficialities. While it was the fashion of the day for women to be timid, to be full of sighs . . . this little teacher of powerful eyes and serene countenance remained natural, quiet, and preserved a moral fortitude which influenced those with whom she came in contact. She was devoid of all affectation in her manners. Neither was she of a showy sort of disposition, nor was she a woman fond of displaying that literary erudition and vast culture that by right was hers,—a temptation hard to resist in those days when a self-educated woman was considered a phenomenon, constituting the subject of conversation in social circles.”
Frugality and modesty are also conducive to personal and material well-being. In Julian Mercado of the eastern coast of Leyte, we have an example of a simple man who built a fortune on a foundation of thrift. He was a musician when he was not busy as a fisherman. When he finally became one of the wealthiest men in his province, he never gave up his habits of simplicity and moderation. While he sat to eat his usual dish of rice and fried dried fish for breakfast, some one criticized his economy. “My dear friend,” the rich man replied, “it is better to eat that which is familiar to me and which gives me health and strength than those delicacies which shorten life and energy.” Mariano Pamintuan of Pampanga who, although he possessed only the rudiments of reading and writing, came to accumulate one of the largest fortunes in his province, was so thrifty that in spite of his ample means, now and then he would caution his student son: “Don’t spend more than you can earn.” Juan Sison of Pangasinan was, because of his thrift and business acumen, able to convert the small inheritance which he received from his parents into vast property holdings. He never boasted of his riches and with exemplary modesty he presented himself with the same simplicity and poverty to which he was accustomed before he became rich.
In common with Rizal, Mabini, Arellano, and Librada Avelino, we should lead a life of modesty and moderation; and like Julian Mercado, Mariano Pamintuan and Juan Sison, a life of frugality and simplicity.
A nation will not long endure if it is wrought in the midst of foreign and exotic ideals. Just as a tree will not grow up straight, strong and luxuriant, unless it is native to the soil and air so a nation will not assume girth and strength unless its roots are planted deep into its own past and its soul is nourished by its own traditions. This does not mean that we should reject everything that is not Filipino, but it does mean that we should discard that false concept that everything foreign must be good and, therefore, must be imitated. We must use discrimination and prudence in adopting foreign models. If we have to fellow foreign patterns, we should blend them with our own customs, traditions and ideals, purifying them first of whatever grossness or imperfection they may be afflicted with.
Paraphrasing the language of President Lopez of the Federated Government of the Bisayas, asserting the authority of the Central Government of Malolos in defiance of the forces of American occupation on January 9, 1899: Filipino nationality is founded on the sacred bonds of blood, customs, ideals and common sacrifices.
The possession of a common imperishable tradition is the most potent of all factors in nation-moulding. The essence of nationality is sentiment. It is pride and glory in a common inheritance which strengthens the bonds of union. Our national heroes embody the character and ideals of our country. Their memory should thrill us with the spirit of emulation. The recollection of their glorious deeds should serve to rekindle in our hearts the love for freedom.
The veneration of our heroes implies our recognition that in playing their part, they did with courage and wisdom what their patriotic duty dictated them to do; it means also that in playing our part we assume the obligation to do in the light of present conditions what our heroes would do if they were alive. Each epoch has its own responsibilities. It behooves us now to discharge ours, with the same honor and dignity with which our leaders of the past discharged theirs. With virility and courage and with unswerving resolve, we must safeguard our magnificent national heritage, for our future lies not in slavish imitations of foreign ideals but in our native qualities, and in the “composite voices of our great heroes that once trod our soil.”
Life is work. Man perfects himself by working. Man reinforces himself by industry. Great ends necessarily demand great labor. There is virtue in the spade and in the hoe. There is as much nobility in plowing the field as in writing on philosophy.
Labor leads the mind of men to serious things; it sharpens the mind of men by study; it inspires manly vigor by exercise and discipline; and, it leads to the intense cultivation of land, so essential to the life of an agricultural nation. By labor, by work, by industry, jungles are cleared, barren lands are made to yield, fair fields arise, and stately cities born.
Emilio Jacinto said:
“. . . Many are ashamed to work, principally the wealthy, the powerful, and the learned who make a vain show of that which they style the comforts of life or corporal well-being.
“And they finish in the mire, leading a miserable and abject life that tends to bring about the destruction of the human race.
“Whatever is useful, whatever tends to make life easier, that let us support because it is a result well worthy of our efforts.
“He who toils keeps away from a life of disorderly and bad habits and boredom, finds diversion in labor, and becomes strong, prosperous, and cheerful.
* * * * * * *
“God wants us to work, because if we see ourselves surrounded with all we need and swim in abundance, it is the result of our efforts, hence, without doubt, work is neither punishment nor a penalty, but a reward and blessing bestowed by God upon man through the grace of his great love.”
Bonifacio said in his Duties of the Sons of the People:
“Diligence in the effort to earn means of subsistence is the genuine love of one’s self, one’s wife, son, daughter, brother, sister, and compatriot.”
Jose Acosta after many years of continuous hard work was able to acquire large tracts of land and leave a legacy which constituted one of the biggest fortunes in the province of Ilocos Norte. “Work unceasingly,” he was wont to tell his children, “for if a man does not work, the soil will produce only weeds and thorns.”
Esteban Manalo of Rizal, who was able to eke out a competence from the humble business of duck-raising, illustrated patience, assiduity and love of work. To save what he would otherwise, have paid for wages, he did the odd jobs in his business whenever he could. Moreover, he employed his student sons during vacations to accustom them to the habits of work.
General Miguel Malvar of Batangas, famed revolutionary hero, exemplified in his private life the dignity of labor. Said Villamor of him: “Since his childhood he showed a love of work, even going as far as to mow grass which he himself carried on his shoulders to sell in town. Far from giving himself up to leisure and entertainment during the long vacation he employed his time in the purchase and sale of articles, the proceeds of which he gave to his mother. In order to make his occupation more profitable he employed himself in the care of domestic fowls.” Such was his industry that after the revolution he devote himself anew to agriculture and commerce with fervor and enthusiasm that he was able to leave his children extensive farms at the time of his death.
Dr. Pardo de Tavera offers us the following keen analysis of the Filipino soul:
“Our very concept of happiness in life is erroneous: it seems as if we base it on the ideal of tranquility, and want to conquer peace by always fleeing away from the struggle, from all work that signifies bodily or mental exertion. We want a carefree life; a livelihood that banishes away all worries of penury; a tutelar and kindly government composed of just and wise men into whose hands we can commend everything so that they may take charge of punishing malefactors, destroying locusts, extinguishing fires, maintaining roads, repairing bridges, training men, establishing hospitals, extending railroad lines, lowering taxes, improving our conditions of living, chastising our enemies, and at the same time acquitting us when the Penal Code catches us in its toils. We also want lucrative sinecures so that we may be able to earn more remuneration with less work. We cannot attain true welfare by this mode of thinking. The dignity, utility and necessity of labor; a life of activity for the maintenance of intellectual as well as muscular suppleness, for the conservation of peace and order, for the increase of our material welfare, and for the extension of mutual help for the benefit of all—these are the elements that ought to characterize our mentality.”
Not alone among the rich few, softened by luxury and devitalized by idleness, but also among the poor multitude, resigned to a life of misery and want, should the gospel of work be taught, and taught hard. We must live by the sweat of our brow. Brain and brawn must join together in productive enterprise.
The meagerness of our national wealth production and national income is due to the fact that the Filipinos do not work enough, and what is worse, many Filipinos do not work at all. We should bear in mind that only by hard and sustained work can men and nations live and survive. And in work lies our salvation as a people. Indolent people are doomed to extinction. It is, therefore, extremely important that we develop the natural resources of our land, bring forth its hidden powers and wrest from bowels of the earth the treasures that await the calloused hands of labor. We should not allow our muscles be atrophied by indolence. Men are sent to this world not to stand the whole day idle, but to go forth to work and to labor until evening, not the evening of a day only, but the evening of life.
Our life is what we make it. If we are to succeed, it is necessary that we possess self-reliance, courage, and perseverance, for out of these qualities, new strength is born which will enable us to overcome adversities and conquer difficulties. Even a bended tree finally succeeds in ascending the sky and resisting the winds by its own self-sufficiency. Therefore, trust yourself, be courageous, and persevere in your task.
In the life of Apolinario Mabini, we see a shining example of the triumph of self-reliance and perseverance over dire poverty and physical infirmity. Born of poor parents, his life was a constant struggle against untold hardship and suffering. His studies were repeatedly interrupted for lack of funds and yet by dint of hard work and sheer tenacity and self-denial he was able to finish his law course, which though belated, was attained with highest honors. Friends and admirers offered him financial assistance during his student days but he consistently refused their proffer generosity. He feared that if he owed favors to anybody he might be forced later on to do an act against his convictions out of gratitude to his benefactor. He was thus able to maintain an unshakeable firmness of purpose and singular independence of thought and action to the end of his life.
Stricken with paralysis in his later years which deprived him of the use of both legs, his physical handicap did not deter him from taking an active part in the revolution, first as propagandist, then as principal adviser to General Aguinaldo and later as Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister of the Revolutionary Cabinet, which positions he discharged with such earnestness and brilliance that he is known to this day as the Brains of the Revolution. He was finally appointed Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, which office he was not able to assume because of the success of American arms and the consequent defeat of the ephemeral Philippine Republic.
In his biography of Mabini, Rafael Palma aptly said: “The study of the life of Mabini affords very important teachings. It shows how poverty, far from being a sign of malediction, is a strong stimulus which goads a man to improve his condition; how labor and study contribute to the formation of character, open to a man all the opportunities to rise and reach the heights, and help him maintain himself with dignity in any reverse of fortune, whether it be lucky or unlucky; how perseverance and determination win over difficulties and obstacles, and how success in all cases is the reward of consistency, perseverance and firmness of determination.”
Teodoro M. Kalaw said the following of Mabini: “Agree with me in that a great part of his life was a life of poverty, of sufferings and of abnegations. The inspiration of a poet would find (in it) a theme for an elegy. Rarely would the tragic picture of pain be found hovering above man and endeavoring to dominate the vision of his future. Rarely would privation be found intimately connected with sickness, until it ends in a horrible death. But agree with me also in that poverty of origin and life’s misfortunes were not insurmountable obstacles to the attainment of that human greatness, that extraordinary frame of mind that we admire in Mabini. Mabini triumphed over his century, and he triumphed not only as a patriot statesman, but as a man as well. Fate persecuted him from his birth and he triumphed against Fate. Through his own efforts, he made a career, by fighting against such obstacles, a thing which few in the world would have been able to do. He was a real self-made man.
Ignacio Villamor was another youth who rose from obscure poverty to positions of honor and responsibility in three distinct epochs of Philippine history, namely: the Spanish régime, the Philippine régime, and the American occupation. Because his parents lacked the means to defray his education, he enrolled in the Seminary of Vigan, Ilocos Sur, as an agraciado. In the Colegio de San Juan de Letran at Manila he worked his way first by helping his casera in her household and religious duties in exchange for free board and lodging and later as capistain the college. Before the advent of the revolution he had already founded two schools. Then, he became a member of the Malolos Congress representing Abra and was one of the founders of the Universidad Literaria de Malolos. During the American régime he helped Enrique Mendiola found the Liceo de Manila. Afterwards he was appointed President of the University of the Philippines, and later Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. In his book on Industrious Men which he dedicated to the youth of the land, he left us a legacy in the form of biographies of illustrious Filipinos who overcame poverty and ignorance through the sheer force of self-reliance, thrift, industry and perseverance. Worthy of emulation is the example of one of these men, Mariano Pamintuan, whose advice to the youth is “Don’t ask another for what you need; get it yourself.”
Self-reliance was the gospel of the Revolution. In a desperate but prophetic mood, when he had given up hope of the mother country ever initiating reforms to ameliorate conditions in the Philippines, Graciano Lopez-Jaena, reformist turned revolutionist, wrote from Madrid to Rizal at Berlin on March 16, 1887: “We see, therefore, that we have nothing to expect from the powers that be; we have to rely upon ourselves alone for our own progress and regeneration.”
If self-reliance was the shibboleth of the revolution, its twin-virtue, perseverance, was the slogan of the period of propaganda which preceded the revolution. Marcelo H. del Pilar, speaking for the intrepid group of reformists which Rizal and he headed, said: “Let us not hesitate even if we meet barriers and thorns on the way. What are these little inconveniences compared to the great misfortune of our country?”
The life of Rizal was the consummate flower of the virtue of perseverance, just as the life of Mabini was the quintessence of the virtue of self-reliance. Villamor said: “Dr. Rizal, like all great men, found his way strewn with difficulties and obstacles. But such difficulties were the touchstone of his character. We might almost say that he was born thinking of a country, that he studied and labored to make a country, and that he died in order to give life to a country. His difficulties and sufferings stimulated his perseverance, and the many; obstacles which he encountered along his way stirred up his energy and fortified his character. In this way he was able to complete his two literary works which gave him universal renown. And this is because in persons of good disposition, sufferings temper their character and give rise to profound and elevated thoughts. As there are flowers which need to be distilled in order that they may give out their most delicate fragrance, there are also individuals who must undergo some grueling test in order to arouse everything good that they have in them. Some Filipinos, apparently useless and without resolution, when placed in some difficult and responsible positions, have shown strength of character, ability, courage and abnegation which were never before seen in them. And it is because trying experiences bring forth their latent virtues and reveal their hidden qualities. His fortitude and determination is shown in the following evaluation of his character by Dr. Pardo de Tavera: ‘He submitted to the inevitable, and upon thinking that all that he was doing was leading him straight towards death, he smiled according to his custom, reflecting that all roads lead to death and that nobody can say how he shall die, but that everybody must decide how and for what he shall live.’
Self-reliance is incompatible with the idea of seeking progress or triumph through protection or recommendation.
The examples of Rizal and Mabini amply show that difficulties are no obstacle to the realization of our legitimate ambitions if we persist and try hard enough. They remained hopeful and brave in the face of great difficulties. As Mabini said: “A high ideal whatever it may be, although difficult of attainment, may be realized through constant endeavor and honest effort.”
The Creator has endowed each and everyone of us with certain aptitudes and these we should develop to the limit of our abilities, seeing that upon ourselves alone depend our own progress and advancement in life. Let us seek inspiration from Mabini’s injunction in his True Decalogue:
“Third—Thou shalt cultivate the special gifts which God has granted thee, working and studying according to thy ability, never leaving the path of righteousness and justice, in order to attain thy own perfection, by means whereof thou shalt contribute to the progress of humanity; thus shalt thou fulfill the mission to which God has appointed thee in this life, and by so doing, thou shalt be honored, and being honored, thou shalt glorify, God.”
A nation of energetic and busy people, a people working cheerfully and thoroughly, all shoulders to the wheel, with muscles swelling, with hearts pounding, a people finding in work the consummation of all their hopes and all their desires, a people who considers a duty well done as its own sufficient reward, is a nation destined, under God, to be great and strong.
The fourth precept of the Duties of the Sons of the People prepared by Bonifacio tells us that:
“Calmness, constancy, reason, and faith in all work and actions crown every good desire with success.”
And in the seventh rule of Katipunan Primer prepared by Jacinto, we find the following injunction:
“Do not squander time; lost riches can be recovered; but time lost can not be regained.”
Rizal exemplified these virtues to no mean degree in his passion for industry, thoroughness and determination to finish any work he had set out to accomplish. His advice to Mariano Ponce in a letter dated June 27, 1888, from London epitomizes his idealism in this respect:
“The fact that you have had little success in the newspapers does not mean that you may not be of any use as a writer. Not all of us are newspapermen, nor were born newspapermen, and not all literary men are newspapermen. I take it that the question of writing with more or less literature is a secondary thing; the principal thing is to think and feel straight, work for a goal, and the pen will take charge of transmitting it. The principal thing that should be required of a Filipino of our generation is not to be literary, but to be a good man, a good citizen who may help with his head, with his heart and, if need be, with his arms in the progress of his country. With the head and with the heart, we can and should work always; with the arms, when the moment arrives. Now the principal instrument of the heart and of the head is the pen; others prefer the painter’s brush, still others choose the chisel. I prefer the pen. Now, the instrument may not be to us the primal object. Sometimes with a bad one, say the Philippine bolo, great deeds are accomplished. Sometimes with a bad literature great truths may be stated.”
In another letter to Ponce, dated at London, October 12, 1888, he revealed that upon being offered the opportunity to direct a newspaper to carry on the Filipino propaganda in Spain, he had to prepare himself by studying day and night in order to be better able to discharge his new responsibility. He said:
“With respect to the newspaper, I am very grateful for your wish, but I am already engaged, or somewhat, to manage one. Now I am devoting myself night and day to certain studies, for I should not want to manage any paper without having certain knowledge of the country, its history, its administration, because, as I understand, we shall have to fight much, and it would be nice to fight and defeat the enemy. For this, I shall have much use for the very rich collection of the British Museum, a collection that is not found anywhere else, for which reason I shall still remain here for a long time. From here it is easy for me to go to Belgium, Sweden and Norway, by way of Holland, Germany and Denmark.”
According to a Tagalog parable which Rizal quoted in a letter written in Europe sometime in October, 1891, “Tunay at masama ang panahon, payat ang lupá, mabálang, mabagyó at inililipad ñg hañgin ang tanim, ñguni at sa kaiiñgat ay may palos na matutuklasan.” (It is true that the weather is bad, the land is barren, there are many locusts, it is stormy, and the plants are being carried by the wind; but if the field is well prepared, an eel is usually found in it.) Rizal also had occasion to quote the English adage “Do not leave for tomorrow what you can do today” in a letter to Ferdinand Blumentritt dated at Brussels, July 5, 1890, by way of advertence to the Spanish government to immediately effect reforms in the administration of the Philippines before it was too late.
Marcelo H. del Pilar was also a model of indefatigable energy and industry. Forced to seek sanctuary in Spain from political and religious persecution in his native land, without means and thrown upon the generosity of his friends he rolled up his sleeves and cheerfully braced himself for the task that was to bring him to an early grave. With indomitable courage and tenacity, he faced every difficulty on his way to carry out his mission of propaganda against the abuse, tyranny and corruption of the Spanish administration in the Philippines. He never knew the meaning of procrastination and he never missed any opportunity to harass the enemies of his country with his stinging wit and lashing satire. According to a biographer, if all his articles, essays and monographs, whether published independently or scattered throughout the newspapers and reviews, were gathered together and published in one collection, “they would make at least five or six volumes in quarto, of 400 pages each, and would have no equal in the Philippine bibliography so far as wealth of local and international information and serenity and fearlessness in journalistic controversy are concerned.”
When Edilberto Evangelista arrived in the Philippines after finishing the civil engineering course in the University of Ghent, the revolution was already in progress and he lost no time in offering his services to General Aguinaldo. He plunged into the work assigned to him with such zest that he was soon promoted to the rank of General and placed in command of the Engineer Corps. In the words of a Spanish writer, “he conceived the daring enterprise of converting the defenses of Cavite into a single redoubt.” He built several trenches in different places but he was not able to carry his plans to completion because he fell heroically at the battle of Zapote Bridge on February 17, 1897. But the trench which he built at Binakayan which was three meters wide and one kilometer long attested to his military engineering skill. The Spanish Army was repulsed here with great losses on November 9, 1886, and when the fortification finally fell into the hands of the enemy after the death of Evangelista, the Spanish general after examining it exclaimed: “I am satisfied; because if I did not conquer it then (referring to the attack of November 9th last), I understand that it is one of those that would check any army.” His death was a great loss to the revolutionary army which suffered terrible reverses thereafter.
The Filipino priests who strove for the secularization of the clergy, which struggle incidentally furnished one of the impelling motivations of the revolution, were characterized by their zeal and enthusiasm in their patriotic work. Worthy of special mention was the initiator of the movement, Dr. Pedro Pablo Pelaez. His supreme obsession was the Filipinization of the local clergy and when he died in the earthquake of June 3, 1863, Dr. Jose Burgos carried on his work. As learned as his predecessor, Dr. Burgos carried the campaign through the columns of the La Discusión, a newspaper published by the Regidor brothers. He disdained half-way measures and in bringing the issue to public notice he was even accused of injecting politics into a purely ecclesiastical affair. The enemies of the cause could not rest easy under the tirade of Dr. Burgos’ brilliant logic until the Cavite Revolt of 1872 furnished the flimsy excuse for his execution together with Fathers Mariano Gomez and Jacinto Zamora.
That these classic examples of Filipino initiative, enterprise and loyalty to duty may not lapse into futility, it behooves us present-day Filipinos to cultivate these virtues not only for our personal advancement but for the progress and prosperity of our fatherland as well. Without the will to work, industry degenerates into drudgery and is no better than slavery. Only by adopting a correct attitude towards our work and giving ourselves wholeheartedly to the proper fulfillment of our duties shall we be able to give full play to whatever talent is given us and justify our existence in this world. In the words of Emilio Jacinto, “Work is a gift to humanity, because it awakens and gives vigor to intellectual power, will, and body, which are indispensable for progress in life.”
The individual lives not for himself and for his family alone. His life is a community life. He has, therefore, larger interests to serve. He should take interest in the affairs of his government and of the community in which he lives. Civic conscience is a feeling of responsibility, courage and pride. Rizal said: “Man’s object is not to satisfy the passions of another man; the object is to seek happiness for himself and his kind by following the road of progress and perfection.”
Our Constitution ordains the “promotion of social justice to insure the well-being and economic security of all the people.” (Sec. 5, Art. II, Constitution.) Social justice is a vital principle in human relationship. It implies square deal and fairness in our social and economic relations with our fellowmen. It means human sympathy and concern for the welfare of others. It is against exploitation, oppression, extortion or plunder.
Luis R. Yangco shared his profits with his employees in addition to giving them regular salaries. The Reverend Valeriano Malabanan, beloved teacher of Mabini, who left a legacy of cultured and useful citizens to his country, admitted poor students to his school free of charge. In the administration of the Centro Escolar, Librada Avelino established a reputation for boundless generosity by contributing out of her personal funds to the education of poor but deserving students.
It is our duty to help in the promotion of social justice so that every Filipino may have the opportunity to acquire, through toil, his necessities in food, clothing and shelter, together with reasonable comforts, and a leisure which will permit cultural self-improvement and a participation in the blessings of an enlightened civilization.
It is important that we develop our local industries with the aim in view of diminishing our imports, retaining our wealth within the confines of our country and increasing the earning capacity of our people. Enterprising men and women have heeded this call to develop domestic production, and as a result, factories have sprung up in our towns, and even in the barrios we witness the expansion of household industries. But unless we patronize their products, the efforts of these men and women are doomed to failure. We should coöperate in the building up of our national economy and where we can not actively produce we should at least, as a matter of patriotic duty, buy locally-made products in preference to imported goods.
Roman Ongpin, whose love for things Filipino was so ardent that throughout his whole lifetime he wore no other garment than the simple barong tagalog, on his deathbed asked his children to dress his body in Filipino apparel. Lorenzo Guerrero was required to wear a European coat on the occasion of the award to him by the Spanish Government of the medal of civil merit for services rendered during the cholera epidemic of 1882, but he declined to obey the order, saying: “Let them pin the medal on my pechera (Filipino dress). Why, isn’t my Filipino shirt worthy to wear a medal as any European coat?”
Rizal realized the necessity of patronizing the trades of our countrymen as a means of insuring our economic advancement. During his exile at Dapitan, in order to supplement his medical practice which, although extensive, was not remunerative enough because most of his patients were poor, he established a commercial house for the purpose of offering competition to the Chinese who monopolized the retail trade in Mindanao as elsewhere in the Philippines. His letter to Blumentritt, dated August 29, 1894, describes his venture as follows:
“Here I have become half physician, half merchant. I have founded a commercial firm here. I have taught the poor inhabitants of Mindanao to unite and engage in commerce so that they may become independent and free themselves from the Chinese and thus be less exploited. But I have to talk much to the local Governor who, in spite of being a good man, is, however, in favor of the Chinese, and he prefers the Mongols to the inhabitants of Mindanao. Fortunately, the company is prospering; we gain something, and the poor people of Dapitan become active and contented.”
The problem which confronted Rizal still confronts us today. His attempt to break foreign monopoly of local trade may be regarded as the forerunner of the producers and consumers coöperatives now being organized by the Government all over the country. The elimination of middlemen, whether supported by domestic or foreign capital, will banish profiteering and thus insure to our farmers and artisans adequate return for their products and services and give to our consumers maximum purchasing power.
This is neither unprincipled selfishness nor vain idealism. It is nothing less than an enlightened mode of self-preservation. Charity begins at home and we should first set our house in order before we think of helping strangers stand on their own feet. We should, therefore, cultivate foreign trade only insofar as our products may be exchanged for goods which we cannot produce locally.
We are already producing locally-manufactured textiles, embroidery, hats, shirts, ties, shoes, slippers, cosmetics, cigarettes, canned goods, foodstuffs, toys, paper, office and school supplies, ceramics, building materials, kitchen utensils, and various household gadgets which we used to import before in large quantities. Our extensive and continued patronage of these local products will help bolster our infant industries and lead to national economic self-sufficiency. We would thus contribute in a large measure to the economic stability of our people and thereby promote their happiness and contentment.
Real freedom must go hand in hand with economic stability, if not economic prosperity. Our vast domain and natural resources constitute the inalienable heritage of our people. We cannot alienate them. We are at most usufructuaries thereof. They belong to the generations yet unborn. It is, therefore, our duty to conserve and develop them.
As early as February 7, 1781, a Spanish Governor-General, addressing the Sociedad Económica de Amigos del País which was organized pursuant to a royal decree convoking local talent to devote themselves to the economic development of the Islands, made the following glowing inventory of our resources:
“Of what will the Society of Manila not be capable when it extends its glance over the pleasant fields of the Philippines to investigate the beauties which Nature has deposited in them; to combine upon the important branches of agriculture, industry and commerce all that may lead to the advantageous establishment, and to save them from the chaos of poverty to which they are being reduced by alien commerce on the one hand and by inaction and indolence on the other. Is the cause perchance, that the Philippines lack the raw materials to meet the necessities of life and all our supplies? Certainly not. The Philippines are rich in the three vegetable, animal and mineral kingdoms. They merely await the law of wise application in order to make delivery of the treasures they contain in kind of clove, cinnamon, pepper, and nutmeg; in exquisite cotton, abaca, lanotan, tonduque for textiles; in indigo and bonga sibukaw dyes and other drugs; in rice, wheat, corn, kidney-bean and other grains; in abundant wax, cacao, sugar, tobacco, tea, coffee, edible birds’ nests, slug, coconut and sesame oils in abundant lumber for construction and other purposes; in many precious pearls, mother-of-pearl, tortoise shells, sigay or snails that serve as coins in some kingdoms of India; in amber, civet and many exquisite kinds of fishes; in domestic cattle, carabaos, cows, sheep, goats and horses, and also wild mountain game, as the wild boar and deer, from which three trades are derived from their skins, beef and tendons; in many placers and mines of gold, copper and iron; in diverse medicinal plants, resins, and gums used by us, our learning not having, up to the present, succeeded in investigating the entire riches and beauties of the Philippines, for lack of Natural History.”
Nature has richly endowed our country in the way of natural resources and wealth. Our principal natural treasure vault is our wide expanse of fertile arable land without which the abundant agricultural products enumerated in the preceding description would not be possible. Opportunity for the cultivation of numerous other plants and crops is unlimited. Later discoveries have also uncovered other underground riches with which we have been lavished; in addition to gold, copper and iron, we also have marble, coal, chromite, mineral oils, lead, zinc and manganese deposits. Our rivers and waterfalls are potential sources of power with which to furnish us electricity and turn the wheels of our industry. All these untold riches are ours to develop and exploit for ourselves and our children and our children’s children. And it is our duty both to our forefathers and our posterity, to husband these resources with that wise end in view, and prevent their unreasonable depletion either through wastage or through pilfering by aliens.
Our natural resources are primarily for the Filipinos. Corporations or associations desiring to exploit or develop them must be characterized by citizenship to the extent of sixty per centum of Filipino capital. Alien individuals are prohibited from acquiring public and private agricultural land, excepting with respect to the latter, in cases of hereditary succession. (Article XII, section 5.) This proceeds from the fact that the government which we are establishing is intended for Filipinos. It is designed to make them happy and progressive. This is sane nationalism and self-protection which every country of the world is practising today in the interest of self-preservation.
The nationalization and conservation of our natural resources are of such vital importance that the framers of our Constitution devoted the whole of its Article XII to this subject. Its first section provides that “All agricultural, timber, and mineral lands of the public domain, waters, minerals, coal, petroleum, and other mineral oils, all forces of potential energy, and other natural resources of the Philippines belong to the State, and their disposition, exploitation, development, or utilization shall be limited to citizens of the Philippines, or to corporations or associations at least sixty per centum of the capital of which is owned by such citizens, subject to any existing right, grant, lease or concession at the time of the inauguration of the Government established under this Constitution. Natural resources with the exception of public agricultural land, shall not be alienated, and no license, concession, or lease for the exploitation, development, or utilization of any of the natural resources shall be granted for a period exceeding twenty-five years, renewable for another twenty-five years, except as to water rights for irrigation, water supply, fisheries, or industrial uses other than the development of water power,
in which cases beneficial use may be the measure and the limit of the grant.”
Because of the vital importance of preserving our patrimony for ourselves and our posterity, the National Assembly passed Commonwealth Act No. 108 which was later amended by Commonwealth Act No. 421, imposing severe penalties on acts of evasion of the constitutional and legal provisions on the nationalization of certain rights, franchises and privileges. It is not enough, however, that we do not infringe the law in this regard; it is likewise our civic obligation to see that other people do not violate the law with impunity.
We should subscribe to the following profession of nationalistic creed: “I would rather live in a nipa shack whose ownership I may not only boast but within whose four corners I may also enjoy the companionship of my wife and children in the realization that its weather-beaten parts may some day be replaced by my progeny, or the fragile construction entirely demolished and a stronger and grander structure raised in its stead,—repaired or demolished, as the case may be, not by those who do not and cannot love it, but by those who have inherited it, who will cherish its possession and will be determined to defend it as a priceless gift of God.”

The Committee that drafted the Code of Citizenship and Ethics was composed of:


Chief JusticeRAMON AVANCEÑA, Chairman
Secretary of Finance MANUEL A. ROXAS, Member
Secretary of Public Instruction JORGE BOCOBO, Member
Associate Justice JOSE P. LAUREL,
Member(drafted and
submitted the Code)

Director of the National Library EULOGIO B. RODRIGUEZ, Secretary



Transmittal letter of the Committee:


MANILA, December 29, 1940
His Excellency,
President of the Philippines,
Malacañan Palace, Manila.
The Committee which you have informally commissioned to draw up a Code of Ethics submitted last year a set of basic precepts which were incorporated in Executive Order No. 217 issued on August 19, 1939. The Committee feels that no substantial departure should be made from the basic principles enunciated. While the arrangement may perhaps be rendered more logical and the principles reclassified, expanded and elaborated, the Committee believes that, considering the primary purpose for which they are intended, it is neither necessary nor advisable to change or disturb the form adopted in the aforesaid Executive Order. Accordingly, the Committee limited its labors to the illustration of the precepts by means of historical instances culled from Philippine sources, and the exposition of the object lessons to be derived from those examples. It is in this form that the Code is now presented. Reference to living men and women is avoided.
In the firm belief that the inculcation of principles enunciated in the Code of Ethics is of primary importance to the youth of the land, we recommend not only its teaching in our schools, but also the special preparation of teachers in this particular field. It is clear that as important as the teaching of the Code is the preparation of the teachers for that purpose. The method of teaching should also be made objectively practical.
The life of a nation depends upon the moral and civic virtues of its citizens. Now, more than ever, when nations great and small, are on the verge of collapse in the grip of relentless forces at work, do we realize this fundamental truth. It is imperative, therefore, that we renovate our educational policy in the direction indicated, giving emphasis to ethical and civic instruction, so that our citizenry may not be found wanting in the hour of need.
We are grieved to inform Your Excellency that death prevented the Honorable Teodoro M. Kalaw from taking part in the later and final deliberations of the Committee and signing this communication.
Very respectfully,

Readings on POGOs, the Philippines, and Beijing

As China grapples with a slowing economy, a turn inwards is pressuring even the super-wealthy to toe the party line in a conspicuous manner.

I. Backgrounder: All politics is local

November 22, 2017: Mixing the sand into the hardened soil, in Inquirer Opinion (my column):

Writing in the London Review of Books on Nov. 16, Qi Gua suggests that the “first task will be to bring the tech giants to heel” for the next five years of Xi’s rule. A month before the Communist Party congress that resulted in Xi being elevated to the status of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Tencent, Baidu and Weibo were fined by the Cyberspace Administration of China. Tencent game Honour of Kings was accused of “dragging Chinese youth into a mass gaming addiction,” and government criticism led to shares plunging 4 percent; the company tried to mollify the government by releasing a game, Applaud for Xi Jinping. Gua says Beijing has proposed to increase its holdings in Alibaba (1.3 percent), Tencent (0.8 percent) and Baidu by an additional 1 percent each: “The objective is to penetrate the two companies and oversee every key decision they make.” Foreign companies operating in China may also be required to report their earnings precisely so that dues owed the Communist Party for membership (calculated on the basis of corporate earnings) can be charged and spent on party activities.

July 23, 2019: China’s Xi Jinping is not a god and the backlash against him is building, by Peter Hartcher in Sydney Morning Herald:

Is Xi going to face a backlash? This is the critical question that Australia’s Richard McGregor poses in an absorbing new essay for the Lowy Institute. In his view, the backlash is already building. And the title commonly bestowed on Xi by foreign commentators – China’s “ruler for life” – is most unlikely to be fulfilled, he augurs.

Not that he thinks Xi’s power is at imminent risk: “To be sure, Xi is in no danger of being toppled from his perch. As long as China’s economy remains reasonably healthy, he can count on sufficient support to retain his hold on the system.

“But the anger towards Xi is potent nonetheless,” writes McGregor, a veteran foreign correspondent and former China reporter for The Financial Times. “In July 2018, I spent two weeks in Beijing during which officials and scholars, party members and non-party members spoke unprompted about their fury at Xi and the direction he was taking the country.

“They complained about how he had stifled criticism, built up a cult of personality and mishandled relations with Washington. Initially, the critics kept their complaints underground. Later in 2018, some started to speak in public.”

This is a topic rarely discussed in the media and difficult to cover knowledgeably, but vital to grasp. The history of the Chinese government since the Communist Party took power in 1949 is a long series of intense internal party convulsions…

How long can Xi last? McGregor doesn’t hazard a guess but does venture this scenario: “Just as it is difficult to anticipate where any challenge will come from, it is equally hard to see how Xi’s supremacy in domestic politics can be sustained.

“Other factors that remain out of Xi’s control will also weigh against him. China’s slowing economy and rapidly declining demographics can obviously be leveraged to argue in favour of maintaining tight authoritarian controls.

“But they are much more likely to work against Xi in future. The same applies to China’s tightening fiscal situation. Beijing’s ability to throw money at every problem, such as bailing out cash-strapped local governments, will only get harder. By the time of the next party congress, due in late 2022, the issue of succession should return with a vengeance.”

July 19, 2019: What’s Really Behind China’s Falling GDP, Wharton University:

More generally, the graph of China’s economic growth has sloped downward since 2009, Meyer notes. The last quarter’s number was related to internal problems. Three of the most important in his view are the following: (1) demographics, “China is getting older” and the workforce is beginning to shrink; (2) “regression to the mean” – countries that grow quickly “almost always encounter … very rapid deceleration in growth at some point;” and (3) “excessive reliance on capital investment,” particularly in infrastructure.

Added to overspending on infrastructure, China also is boosting consumer and industrial spending by expanding available credit, Dasher says. “They are really very debt-ridden.” He found it interesting that financial markets did not react “too unfavorably” to the very low GDP growth rate “because consumer spending is up over 9% (in part due to recent tax cuts). And industrial investments are higher than GDP growth. The only way you can do that is through extending more credit.” And officials have done that by giving banks a lot of funds to lend out…

But the most fundamental — and crucial — issue for China’s economic future is lagging productivity, according to Meyer. Productivity – “the amount of output we get per level of input” – is the most important driver of GDP in the long run for every economy and it has been low in China. In most industrial sectors, “some economists say it has been negative since as early as 2007. And certainly, I would say with a little more certainty since, say, 2012, 2013.”

In the meantime, the country has been piling up debt – by consumers and local governments in particular. “Who’s going to repay that debt? No one knows,” Meyer says. To repay it China will have to increase productivity, which almost certainly means moving up the value chain into “leading-edge industries.” Related to that, China analysts have long said that the nation must move from investment-led growth to consumption-led growth as a way to avoid the so-called middle-income trap.

August 2, 2019: The Gambling Investigation Scrutinizing Xi Jinping’s High-Rolling Cousin,
by Damien Cave and Alexandra Stevenson in the New York Times.

II. Policy evolution, China: State-mandated Crackdown

Gaming in China: overview, by Yap Wai-Ming and Cindy Pan, Morgan Lewis Stamford LLC, in Thomson Reuters Practical Law. See also: The Legalization of Casino Gambling in Mainland China, by Xi Liu
University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

September 15, 2011: What Happened at The Beijing News?, in China Media Project:

The biggest media story in China so far this September is the takeover of The Beijing News and the Beijing Times, two of the country’s leading commercial newspapers, by Beijing’s municipal propaganda department. The story, which deals with the highly sensitive issue of press control, cannot be openly addressed in domestic Chinese media. English-language coverage of the story, meanwhile, has been a knot of confusion.

Everyone knows, or senses, that the move is fundamentally about press control, and not, as the Beijing city leadership has said, about addressing things like resource scattering (????) and homogenized competition (?????) in the Beijing newspaper market — whatever those are.

September 3, 2013:  Chinese Gambling — by the Numbers, in Foreign Policy:

Projected size of Asia-Pacific casino gaming market by 2015: $80 billion

Size of Asia-Pacific casino gaming market in 2010: $34 billion

Year when Asia-Pacific will surpass the U.S. as the largest regional casino gaming market in the world: 2013

September 10, 2013: China’s gambling addiction could prove tempting to Beijing, by Isaac Stone Fish in Sydney Morning Herald:

China, where no vice is legal but every vice is tolerated, has a complicated history with gambling. Like opium, it was rife in the early 20th century. General Chiang Kai-shek, the country’s nominal leader in the 1930s and 1940s, saw gambling as a threat to his army’s morale and unsuccessfully tried to curtail it. After Chiang and his supporters made a run for Taiwan and Matsu in 1949, Mao Zedong took power in China and swiftly outlawed gambling, as well as other vices. But in the years following his death in 1976, drugs and prostitution re-emerged, and by the 1980s and 1990s, Chinese people could be found betting on everything from horse racing to soccer matches to cricket fighting.

Today, signs of gambling are nearly ubiquitous in mainland China. Tables for the rummy-like game of mahjong dot street corners around the country, while more serious wagering takes place in parlours that, like Chinese brothels hiding behind foot-massage signs and barber chairs, make little attempt to hide their purpose. “If you don’t play for a profit motive, it’s legal – but if you play to make money, that’s illegal,” explains Chen Haiping, a researcher at Beijing Normal University’s lottery research centre. But there are also much, much bigger games: In June, 17 people were indicted in Shanghai for the crime of opening an online casino into which they allegedly funnelled $US13 billion in bets.

There’s a rich Chinese tradition of legitimising morally questionable behaviour like gambling – you just call it something else. In the sixth century BC, Confucius established his theory of the “rectification of names”. He believed that social disorder stemmed from the failure to accurately perceive reality, and the solution was describing things as they are. Ever since then, the Chinese have tried to subvert Confucius’s dictum: Feet shaped by the excruciatingly painful process of foot-binding, for example, were called “golden lotuses”. The communists under Mao were notoriously good at euphemisms. The famine caused by the collectivist government program known as the Great Leap Forward, which killed tens of millions of people, is referred to as “the three years of natural disasters.” And euphemism remains the key to vice in China. Because a percentage of state lottery proceeds accrue to the Ministry of Civil Affairs, the lottery is not considered gambling but a legal, even beneficial, “social welfare” project.

Foreign gaming companies have tried to use this trick in their fitful efforts to penetrate the Chinese market. In 1993, for example, a Malaysian company opened a slot machine parlour in the dreary northeast city of Harbin, but because it paid out “gifts,” not cash, it was licensed for “entertainment”, not gambling, according to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post. Harbin tolerated foreign slot machines for a little while – a 2010 article in a provincial newspaper described 1994 and 1995 as “the craziest era for gambling” in the city – until it formally banned the machines in January 1996.

In 1993, another Malaysian company said it had obtained a licence to operate “electronic and electrical entertainment machines” in the nearby city of Dalian – an experiment that appears to have fared worse. Soon after the company announced the agreement, the city’s then-mayor, Bo Xilai – now best known for a 2012 political scandal involving coup rumours, attempted defections and murder – said he was not aware of any such deal. He added that gambling was strictly prohibited and disapproved of by the central communist government, according to a report in the Straits Times, a Singaporean newspaper. “If a club with betting machines should open its doors in Dalian, it would be immediately closed, and you can consider that an official statement,” a Bo aide said in July 1993.

Why doesn’t China, with its growing wealth, consumption-driven economy, and huge unmet demand, take advantage of its own gaming market?

That doesn’t mean that people in Dalian and Harbin actually stopped gambling or that enterprising businesspeople stopped providing them with illicit opportunities to do so. As China’s economy has grown, however, the stakes have gotten higher. In 2003, the disposable income of the average urban resident was about $US1000; in 2012, it was roughly $US4000. Chinese with the means to scratch the gambling itch go overseas; last year, Chinese people took 83 million trips abroad, on which they spent more than $US100 billion. “The Chinese are now the partygoer everyone wants to invite,” says Ben Lee, managing partner at IGamiX, a gambling consultancy in Macau.

Macau has laid out the red carpet – nearly 90 per cent of its visitors are Chinese, says Martin Williams, Asia editor of GamblingCompliance, a market analysis firm. The tiny former Portuguese colony borders southern China’s Guangdong province; with the right travel permit, it is an easy ferry, rail, or plane trip from the mainland or Hong Kong. Once a sleepy backwater, Macau allowed foreign companies to open casinos in 2002. In just a decade it has become the world’s undisputed gaming capital, with revenue six times greater than Las Vegas. On the day that the Sands Macao, that territory’s first Las Vegas-style casino, opened in 2004, more than 20,000 people swept in, literally ripping the doors off their hinges. Over the next three years, gaming companies will build at least six more casino resorts in Macau, at a cost of $US20 billion.

Most countries that abut China have built casinos to cater to the country’s legion of gamblers. Myanmar, Vietnam, and Laos host gaming resorts near the border “that exist just because of China”, says Andrew Klebanow, co-founder of the consultancy Gaming Market Advisors. Singapore, which only allowed casinos to open in 2010, already hosts the world’s two most profitable, with 2012 gaming revenues of $US5.9 billion driven by Chinese punters – just under the combined haul of all of Las Vegas’s dozens of casinos. Even Kazakhstan has gotten in on the game. The Astoria Club, for example, a gambling resort in a lakeside town outside Almaty, provides “a Chinese-language book of rules and tutorials”, says the casino’s event manager, who asked to go by his first name, Batikhan. “Chinese visitors are welcome here, for sure!”…

But officials worry about the downside. Throughout Chinese history, there has been a fear that the central government will not be able to maintain its grip on power and that the provinces might go their own way (a sentiment captured by the centuries-old expression “The mountains are high and the emperor is distant”). Legalising casinos would help provincial officials not only increase local tax revenues but also strengthen their power bases – something Beijing doesn’t want.

What’s more, high-ranking Communist Party officials are ardent students of their own history. Gambling was a major social disruption in the 19th and early 20th centuries – causing bankruptcies, breaking up families, and spurring other vices like opium use – and they fear that legalising gambling would revive those problems. “The government’s main concern is its potential to disturb social stability and harmony,” says Li. “It is a very sensitive subject.” The Communist Party is also aware that casinos often attract organised crime – as they did in Macau, as well as Las Vegas, which for decades was controlled by the mob.

Teresa Du, a communications manager at MGM Grand Sanya, doubts there will be any “significant policy changes” for at least the next five years, which is “frustrating”, she said. “Everyone knows MGM specialises in operating casinos, but the only thing we can do is send petitions to the government.” (A spokesman for MGM Resorts International said Du’s comments “don’t accurately reflect the company’s views”.) For investors, then, the key may be “to put your chips where they’re supposed to be,” says Desmond Lam, a marketing professor and gambling expert at the University of Macau. That way, if gambling is legalised in China, “they are in a good place”.

William Weidner appears to be taking the other side of that bet. “We think the likelihood of China allowing casinos, even in Hainan, is very low,” says Jennifer Lee, vice president of Weidner Resorts Taiwan. But Matsu has its own complications. Although relations are much better than in the past, tensions between Taiwan and mainland China still flare up occasionally. In June, Taipei deployed a multiple-launch rocket system in Matsu to fend off a potential Chinese amphibious landing. The irony, one imagines, is not lost on Weidner, who’s hoping for a different sort of Chinese invasion.

Other obstacles stand in the way of this flood of tourists. Unlike travelling to Hong Kong and Macau, it’s actually not that easy for Chinese to travel to Taiwan. And in February, testy Chinese officials in nearby Fujian province suggested they might ban residents from visiting the Matsu casino. (Lee said such comments are standard and not cause for concern.) Yang, the magistrate for Matsu, admitted that officials are still trying to work out the visa situation.

July 11, 2017: China adds more digital bricks to its ‘great firewall’, in CalvinAyre.com:

In January, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information announced a new crackdown on “disordered” internet activity in a bid to make it even more difficult for China’s netizens to access content the government views unkindly (including internationally licensed online gambling sites).

The crackdown, which included restrictions on the use of unauthorized virtual private networks (VPN), appears to be ramping up. Late last month, popular VPN service provider Green abruptly informed its customers that it would “cease our service on July 1st, 2017” after having “received notice from the higher authorities.” Meanwhile, a host of other VPN providers’ apps have been slowly vanishing from Android and iOS stores.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that all Chinese state-run telecom carriers have been ordered to block VPN services by February 1, 2018. That timeline is slightly ahead of the 14-month implementation the government envisioned when it first announced its crackdown.

It’s estimated that between 1%-3% of China’s vast internet user base have made use of technologies such as VPN in a bid to dodge the small army of online censors that Beijing employs to keep Chinese citizens from (a) hearing anything other than the official Party line on any given subject, and (b) enjoying access to activities on which the government frowns, including online gambling.

February 2, 2018: China Considers Legal Gambling on Hainan Island, in Bloomberg

August 8, 2018: Gambling legalisation in China: the view from Beijing, in MacauBusiness:

As a former head of the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences, Jia Kang is more influential than most. The Academy is a think tank with China’s Ministry of Finance, which overseas the nation’s economic policy and annual budget. He believes that the problem is pressing.

“In China we get all of the problems associated with gambling, brought back by our gamblers from their overseas trips” he says. “But we don’t get any of the benefits.”

Within the Mainland’s borders, state-run lotteries – or caipiao???) – raked in more than 400 billion yuan last year, a large share of which went into the government’s coffers. But prohibition of other kinds of gambling has driven it underground, where it acts as a motor for organised crime and police corruption.

If China were to build and tightly regulate integrated resorts, Jia believes, billions of dollars that now go to gangsters, foreign casinos or foreign concessionaires could instead be funnelled into developing the Mainland’s tourism industry. A well managed gaming industry could become a rock solid source of government revenue. As a good example, he points to Hong Kong’s racing monopoly, the Jockey Club, popularly referred to as ‘the government’s ATM’.

“All of these considerations demand a far-reaching and comprehensive evaluation,” says Jian. “But in China for many years it has been an issue that nobody dares talk about. There is no indication that this will change.”

Communist propaganda has traditionally condemned the three evils – prostitution, drugs and gambling. Under the concept of caipiao, Jia says some flexibility is allowed. But contemplating the wider issue of gambling legalisation is still completely out of bounds. “I have never heard of China’s leaders formally discussing the problem of the outflow and how liberalisation might address it,” he says. “There is absolutely no willingness to do so.”

So, while Jia recommends China study well disciplined examples of legalisation, such as Singapore, he also says nobody in the top leadership is ready to countenance such advice…

The tropical island of Hainan was a pilot for Deng’s reforms in the early 1980s as one of China’s five original Special Economic Zones. Unlike other SEZs such as Shenzhen and Zhuhai it never really prospered from its liberal privileges. The chief effect was perhaps a property bubble that burst and ruined a lot of people. Thus, in 2009 the central government had another go, designating it as a special zone for the development of international tourism.

The State Council directive that went with the new status – ‘Suggestions for the Development of Hainan as an International Tourism Island’ – was a 28-paragraph list of economic activities to explore. The first paragraph emphasised Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Deng Xiaoping Thought, and Jiang Zemin’s ‘Three Represents’ as the project’s guiding standards.

The 12th paragraph concerned culture, sport, and conferences and exhibitions. In addition to activities such as golf and filmmaking, it also identified two forms of parimutuel caipiao gambling: betting on major international sports fixtures and ‘sports lotteries of a guessing nature.’ The latter could be taken to mean things like football pools and complex accumulator betting on races.

According to Jia Kang, Hainan’s leaders subsequently did absolutely nothing to act upon the dispensation they had been granted: in fact, “they never dared to move,” he says….


August 15, 2018: Report: Chinese in Philippines Forced to Work in Gambling Dens, by Liang Chenyu, in Sixth Tone:

Thousands of Chinese migrants working as promoters at a gambling conglomerate in the Philippines are subject to slave-like conditions in a strictly controlled facility, an investigative report by The Beijing News revealed Monday.

The Chinese workers at the Pearl Plaza in metro Manila gave grueling testimonies of their jobs, which consist of 12-hour shifts and seven-day work weeks with only one day off per month, according to the investigation. The Chinese workers also said that Oriental Group — a gaming operator with offices in the Pearl Plaza — seized their passports and crammed up to a dozen people in a single dorm room. Male workers also described having to pretend they were women during online chats in order to tease money out of customers. The conditions are so bad that the employees refer to the Pearl Plaza as the “Oriental Prison.”

December 4, 2018: China sentences online gambling ringleaders to life in prison, in CalivnAyre.com:

On Tuesday, Chinese state-run media outlet Xinhua reported that the Intermediate People’s Court in the city of Baishan in the eastern province of Jilin had handed down life sentences for the two organizers of an illegal online lottery operation that police rumbled in July 2017.

The ring had bases of operation in China’s Guangdong province, as well as in Indonesia and Fiji. Some 77 members of the ring were repatriated from Fiji as part of the 2017 crackdown.

The scam, which was operational for around 15 months, involved contacting unsuspecting marks via online messaging platforms such as QQ and WeChat and encouraging them to purchase lottery products from an online operation that didn’t actually exist. Roughly RMB153m (US$22m) was stolen from the ring’s victims in this manner before the whip came down.

In addition to the two life sentences, the ring’s 280-odd other members were given custodial terms of six months to 15 years. A lucky eight members were spared any sentence based on their minimal involvement in the scam.

April 10, 2019: China’s “Hardcore Reporter” Online Casino Investigation, in Cambodia News English (translation of a blog by a writer known as “Hardcore Reporter”):

Online gambling is called “spinach” (the homonym of gambling) in the slang of practitioners, while practitioners call themselves “vegetable farmers”…

If you think that the spinach is very low and the bookmakers are growing wildly, you can be wrong. In fact, on the technical level, the professionalism of bookmakers is comparable to that of domestic internet companies. There are management system, employee incentives, and God-like pyramid schemes.

Gaming practitioners are broadly divided into four major types of customer service, personnel, promotion and development. In the development of this category is divided into UI design, website development and maintenance, Android and IOS front-end backend. A reader who is working on the development of gaming sites told me that their company is learning the style of Xiaomi.Gaming websites must be beautiful, generous and good-looking in order to increase trust. Icons, fonts and typography are very particular…

Such a crazy phenomenon can not help but ask questions, why is the scale of the overseas gaming industry so large? Who has fed this group of people? It is said that there is a market for demand, and this principle is equally applicable in the gambling industry.

“China has more than one billion people, the population base is too big, and there are many people who want to gamble. I estimate that there are at least 40 million gambling dogs.” A man who has been engaged in the gaming industry for more than half a year told me, ” The average vegetable farmers who promotes well has hundreds of customers, although the customer has duplicates, but hundreds of thousands of farmers, you count yourself.”

The man was promoted last year at a gaming company in Sihanoukville. He has a total of less than 100 promoters, but the number of customers exceeds 10,000, and the monthly betting flow reaches more than 100 million yuan ( $14,887,500). If you use this to calculate the turnover of all the gaming companies in Southeast Asia, it will be an astronomical number…

Chinese law prohibits gambling, including online gambling, so investors turn their attention to overseas, especially in corrupt Southeast Asian countries.

They are willing to accept the Chinese gaming industry. The government collects heavy taxes and officials receive red packets (bribes). Anyway, they earn Chinese money. Vegetable farmers can also stimulate local consumption. To put it bluntly, the Chinese gaming industry uses the money earned from the Chinese to honor the government of Southeast Asian countries…

Gaming is harmful, but it is difficult to eradicate. The Chinese police have repeatedly arrested gambling practitioners overseas, but it is difficult and costly to handle cases across the country. At Sihanoukville, a gambling practitioner bluntly said: “I will catch it, but can I catch it all? Tens of thousands of people are impossible. Now when we hear the wind, we are very Be vigilant, they all hide, and the wind will pass and continue.”

Even when telecom fraud and stock frauds are caught, gambling practitioners will ridicule: “If you have safe spinach, you don’t plant it, do telecommunication fraud, and you should be caught.”

June 15, 2019: Chinese Public Security Minister Pledges Crackdown on Cross-border Online Gambling, in EuropeanGaming:

Zhao Kezhi, the Public Security Minister of China, has pledged to resolutely crack down on cross-border online gambling according to the law. Zhao made the remarks at a meeting to deploy forces to bust those involved in illegal gambling.

He said that the police will bust a series of major criminal cases that organise outbound gambling and use the Internet to open casinos, and bust networks of criminal organisations involved in recruiting gamblers from China by overseas casinos and using the Internet to open casinos in China.

He also said that the police will also crack down on “underground banks” and online payment platforms that provide a financial settlement for cross-border online gambling and other crimes, and wipe out domestic network operators and companies that provide technical support for such crimes.

July 11, 2019: DICJ warns operators against online gambling and proxy betting, in Asia Gaming Brief:

The Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau has issued a warning to the city’s six gaming concessionaires, stressing the need to adhere to local and foreign laws on gambling.

The message was relayed during a meeting on Tuesday with the DICJ and representatives of Macau’s junkets and gaming concessionaires – only days after junket and IR operator Suncity Group was reported by a Chinese-state owned news outlet for offering illegal online gambling and proxy betting to Chinese nationals.

July 22, 2019: Macau gaming stocks up after online gambling crackdown was said to be beneficial to local operators, in Yogonet Gaming News:

Credit Suisse said that Macau’s tougher measures on online gambling were beneficial to local casino operators and Macau gaming stocks were higher this week.

This came even as Goldman Sachs rebutted the connection, saying that less business for online casinos based in Southeast Asia would not necessarily translate into more business for the Macau SAR…

Meanwhile, according to data released on Tuesday by the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau, the VIP gaming segment continued its decline in the second quarter of 2019.

July 28, 2019: Crown Drops on Junket Operators’ Reported Links to Triad Gangs, in BNN Bloomberg:

Crown Resorts Ltd. shares fell the most in two months after local media reported the company used junket operators linked to an Asian crime syndicate that allegedly laundered money in the gaming firm’s casinos.

III.  POGOs in the Philippines (Regulations and Developments):

PAGCOR Website: Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) conceptualized Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) to enable the Philippine government to capture a greater share of the growing, yet previously unregulated, online gaming pie. See also: List of Approved Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators.

July 20, 2015: The rise of the Philippine casino industry, in SGV:

Previously, PAGCOR operated most casinos under the Casino Filipino brand. With the grant of PAGCOR licenses to private entities, recent years have seen the rise of luxury casino hotels and integrated resorts located in Newport City and Entertainment City.

In 2009, Resorts World Manila, the first Philippine integrated resort, was built across NAIA Terminal 3, following the grant of a PAGCOR license to Genting group.

In March 2013, Bloomberry Resorts Corp.’s Solaire Resort & Casino (Solaire), opened in Entertainment City.

In December 2014, City of Dreams Manila opened. It is operated by Melco Crown (Philippines) Resorts Corp. in collaboration with Manila’s Belle Corp.

PAGCOR has also granted licenses to two more operators in the Entertainment City — Kazuo Okada’s Tiger Resort Leisure and Entertainment, Inc. and the Andrew Tan-led Resorts World Bayshore City, Inc., which are expected to open in 2015 and 2016, respectively.

This recent surge in casino operations in the Philippines has sparked speculation that Manila could soon rival Las Vegas in terms of the sheer number of casinos built along a designated gambling “strip.”

This interest in expanding the Philippine casino industry becomes more evident in light of the decrease in Macau’s VIP gambling business since the last half of 2014 due to the government crackdown on money transfers, the newly imposed transit visa restrictions for Chinese visitors, and recent comments warning of further sanctions to come.

Macau is also now facing increased regional competition for international VIPs, with new or expanding projects sprouting in Australia, the Philippines, South Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam, Russia and potentially Japan, should gaming legislation be passed in 2015.

Investment banker UBS issued a report in September 2014 saying other jurisdictions could generate VIP revenue of US $1.1 billion in 2015, with Macau’s VIP revenue seen to be shrinking between 4% and 5%. Regional players are, of course, hoping to pick up the VIP business lost by Macau. Given the high-quality experience to be found at Philippine integrated resorts, it is reasonable to expect that a significant portion of this business will land on Manila’s gaming tables.

September 20, 2016: Memorandum Circular No. 6, “Enjoining All Government Officials and Employees to Strictly Observe and Comply with the Prohibition Against Going to Gambling Casinos.”

February 2, 2017: Executive Order No. 13, s. 2017: “Strengthening the Fight Against Illegal Gambling and Clarifying the Jurisdiction and Authority of Concerned Agencies in the Regulation and Licensing of Gambling and Online Gaming Facilities, and for Other Purposes.” See summary of content and effects of the E.O.

September 18, 2018: The rise of POGOs: A new landscape in e-casinos and sports betting, by Richard R. Ibarra in P&A Grant Thornton:

PAGCOR conceptualized POGO to enable the Philippine government to capture a greater share of the growing, yet previously unregulated, online gaming pie.

In 2016, PAGCOR issued rules and regulations covering the operations of POGOs. A POGO refers to an entity that offers and participates in offshore gaming services by providing games to players, taking bets, and paying the winning players. The gaming activity refers to online games of chance through the internet, using a network and software, exclusively for offshore-authorized players who have registered and established an online gaming account with the PAGCOR-licensed POGO. Filipino citizens, even while overseas, are not allowed to play.

PAGCOR can issue a POGO license to qualified operators, which could be Filipino-based operators or foreign-based operators.

The POGO framework also covers service providers that provide the various components of gaming operations, such as the gaming software provider, business outsourcing provider, and content streaming provider. These providers also need to secure a PAGCOR license.

Under Revenue Memorandum Circular (RMC) No. 102-2017, POGO operators and accredited service providers are subject to three types of taxes. First income from gaming operations are subject to a 5% franchise tax in lieu of all kinds of taxes, levies, fees or assessment. This is the same tax regime enjoyed by PAGCOR. Second, income from other related services or non-gaming operations is subject to normal income tax, value-added tax, and other applicable taxes. Third, POGO operators are not relieved of their liabilities as tax withholding agents.

October 9, 2018: How China’s online gambling addiction is reshaping Manila, by Ralf Rivas and Alex Evangelista in Rappler:

POGOs previously had to go through investment promotional agencies like the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA) and Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (CEZA) to set up shop in the Philippines.

However, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order (EO) No. 13 in 2016, transferring the responsibility of regulating POGOs to Pagcor.

October 24-26, 2018: Estimating Casino Revenues and Transfers for the Philippine Balance of Payments Statistics, by Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas:

The revitalized casino and gaming industry is turning out to be of growing importance for
the Philippines and its economy, having generated about ?158 billion (US$3.3 billion) in gross
gaming revenues in 2016 and ?172 billion (US$3.4 billion) in 2017. In 2016, data from the
Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicated that tourism contributed 8.6 percent to nominal
GDP. A study conducted by Technavio Research noted that in 2015, over 67 percent of foreign
tourists in the Philippines visited a gambling hub in Manila. Euromonitor International also
estimates that casinos in the country account for about 60 percent of tourism-related activities in
terms of their total value. Conceptually, gambling expenditures of non-residents while on travel
(or other non-residents by definition, such as foreign diplomats and military stationed in foreign
territories) are recorded under travel services. Meanwhile, revenues from online gambling (in
which non-resident gamblers are not travelling to a foreign territory) are recorded under
personal, cultural, and recreational services of the trade-in-services account of the balance of
payments (BOP). In addition, non-residents’ winnings in gambling activities are recorded as
current transfers. Currently however, such receipts and transfers are data gaps in the Philippines’

This study recommends that it may be better to direct questions relating to winnings of nonresidents to PAGCOR or casino establishments. Some information used in the estimates can be
extracted from administrative data, company financial statements, and industry reports however,
reconciliation of available data sources prove to be difficult. In addition, there is also a need to
disaggregate and thoroughly understand available data to come up with better estimates of related
service revenues and winnings from non-residents. Given the existing limitations, filtering available
administrative data with the help of the industry regulator can be worked on moving forward. Also,
the proposed conduct of a casino survey in 2018 with the assistance of the ASEAN-Australia-New
Zealand Free Trade Agreement Economic Cooperation Work Program (AANZFTA-ECWP) can help the
Balance of Payments compilers of the BSP to collect more disaggregated, analytical, and accurate data
to generate better estimates of casino and gambling service revenues.

The Philippine gambling industry is on a trajectory of growth but the BOP statistics compiled by
the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) falls short in capturing service revenues from casino and gambling
activities. Under this premise, the paper discussed a brief background of the growing Philippine casino
industry, its current market, and some intricacies in the nature of casino transactions. The paper
additionally discussed casino revenues and proposed a method on how to estimate gaming industry
service revenues and casino winnings attributable to non-residents. As the industry is now reported to
generate around US$3.0 billion dollars in GGR annually, associated service revenues from non-residents
is estimated to fall between 30 to 50 percent of total industry GGR or about US$1.6 billion. Also, gambling
winnings of non-residents are estimated to fall between US$33.7 to US$36.1 billion. However, since these
amounts are assumed to be sourced from non-residents’ wagers, this will not be recorded in the BOP. In
addition, this paper recommends coordination and dialogue with the industry through PAGCOR in order
be able to navigate and understand other intricacies of the gambling industry that this paper may have
failed to take note of. Coordination with PAGCOR may also help with the understanding, disaggregation,
and improvement of administrative reports so as to cater to the data needs of the BSP for BOP statistics.

November 21, 2018: Joint Philippines-China Statement on the State Visit of Chinese President Xi to the Philippines, Department of Foreign Affairs:

12. Both sides agree to strengthen law enforcement cooperation, and will enhance cooperation and communication to combat transnational crimes, including job-related crimes, telecommunications fraud, illegal on-line gambling, cybercrimes, human trafficking and illegal wildlife trade. Both sides agree to speed up the discussions with a view to signing a bilateral agreement on Transfer of Sentenced Persons.

November 22, 2018: Why Is the Philippines the Home for Chinese Offshore Gambling?, by Alvin Camba in The Diplomat:

This segues perfectly as to why Chinese offshore gambling has increased in the Philippines: the consumption-based economy that relies on malls, hotels, and internal markets generate a suitable ecosystem for offshore and onsite casinos.

Gambling dominated much of Macau’s economy during Portuguese overlord rule and autonomy from China. While Hong Kong handled banking and mainland Chinese acquired export manufacturing, Macau’s economy relied on visits from Western, Australian, and Japanese tourists spending a few days in the small city-state, indulging on gambling, malls, prostitution, alcohol, and luxury accommodations. But rising real estate prices and legal actions by China against Macau’s gambling elites are pushing the migration of gambling capital elsewhere. The domestic economic landscape of the Philippines explains why much of Macau’s capital is moving here: it sees the Philippines as a similar prototype of what Macau was before the Chinese government’s increased scrutiny. A corruptible police force, the strength of the local governments, and the importance of Philippine oligarchs in the service sectors make it a prime destination for Macanese gambling capital.

Apart from the Philippines’ ideal configurations for gambling money, other Southeast Asian states have proven unable to meet gambling capital’s needs. Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia may have cheaper real estate, and do serve as locations for onsite gambling, but these economies also do not have the Philippines’ luxurious malls, hotels, and onsite casinos, which all attract wealthy tourists. The Philippines also has stronger infrastructure that attends to tourists and gamblers’ needs, boasting opportunities to gamble offline in safe venues. Furthermore, the Southeast Asia riparian states are also geographically closer to Beijing, which makes it more dangerous for Macanese capital, since gambling is illegal for mainland Chinese citizens.

Indonesia and Malaysia may have better infrastructure, but these countries are also limited by the religious regulations of their constituents. While offshore gambling operations do exist, it is only in far-flung areas away from the cities and limited to the export processing zones. In Thailand, the mobilization of monks and the state’s position against gambling limited offshore Chinese investments. The higher real estate prices of Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur, and Bangkok also discourage any expansion for gambling capital. In addition, because these countries have an export portfolio in their economies, Chinese firms have invested in their manufacturing, technology, and natural resource sectors. That empowers economic elites in these sectors to influence political elites, whose interest are met by political capital generation, employment, and economic growth. The export-oriented nature of these economies makes economic elites or firms interested in gambling less influential in government circles.

In sum, the structure of the Philippine economy — relying on consumption, exporting labor to acquire remittances, and possessing a strong internal market — and the nature of Philippine elites’ capital accumulation make it logical for offshore gambling firms to invest in the country. The Philippines’ relative autonomy from the Chinese government also encourage Macanese capital to invest in the Philippines, knowing that their Philippine host state allies can protect them from Beijing’s reach.

March 19, 2019: Virtual Casinos Deliver a Tricky Jackpot to the Philippines, by Jake Maxwell Watts, in The Wall Street Journal:

Many jurisdictions, including some U.S. states, allow online gambling among their own populations but few specifically license companies to target foreign markets. Those that do tend to be small tax havens looking to tap industries where they can be globally competitive.

The Philippines is the largest among them, more than double its nearest rival, Gibraltar, according to Global Betting and Gaming Consultants, on the Isle of Man.

As the business grew, President Rodrigo Duterte in 2017 put the national casino regulator in charge of licensing online-gambling providers, formally taking the role from special economic zones outside the capital and ending the contract of a private operator. The shift allowed the industry to proliferate in Manila, where connectivity is better and labor and support services easier to come by.

Mr. Duterte cast the move as an effort to rein in illegal gambling, but the gambling regulator’s ability to do that is limited. The Philippines prohibits online casinos from targeting markets where gambling is illegal, including China, according to the regulator, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., or Pagcor. But many online casinos use the Philippines purely as a base for their production and support operations, Pagcor says, and are registered and process payments elsewhere.

That limits Philippine jurisdiction when investigating and prosecuting alleged financial crimes, according to Pagcor, which says it still maintains a robust anticrime framework.

Since 2016, the year Mr. Duterte took office, Pagcor has licensed more than 50 online operators, almost all of them aimed at a Chinese market, with Chinese-language websites and advertising.

Online gambling companies contacted in Manila didn’t respond to requests for information about their operations and what share of their client base is in China—which offers the biggest supply of Chinese gamblers. The Chinese Embassy in Manila has repeatedly warned Chinese citizens not to participate in online gambling or move to Manila to work in the industry, citing examples of kidnappings and extortion…

At one of the Philippines’ tallest buildings, the 55-story PBCom Tower in Manila, more than half the tenants are Chinese, most of them online gambling firms, according to the building receptionist.

Online-gambling businesses brought in 7.4 billion pesos ($141 million) in licensing fees for the Philippine government in 2018. The broader Philippine casino industry generated a record $4.1 billion in revenue last year, Pagcor estimates show, up 8.5% from a year earlier….

May 9, 2019: Inside a Chinese gambling entity:  What happens, who works, how? by Alvin A. Camba, in Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism:

Offshore gambling originated during Joseph Estrada’s brief term as president, reemerged throughout the Benigno S. Aquino III presidency, and now has surged since Rodrigo R. Duterte took power. Similar to BPOs, Chinese offshore gambling firms target the external market, which do not threaten Philippine businesses, and instead present an additional opportunity to earn.

Offshore gambling is a booming sector because of three things. First, customers are located not only in China, but also in the ‘greater China’ area of Singapore, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. There are also reports that the Chinese across the United States and Europe avail of these services. It would be a mistake to put the blame on investors from China or Macau alone. A careful analysis of companies shows that investors come from China, Macau, and Taiwan. The workforce comprises labor from China, division heads from Malaysia, and management from Taiwan.

Second, all of these states have experienced some degree of social mobility and the emergence of the “new rich,” which means that there is surplus money that can be used. Among these states, the People’s Republic of China provides the most customers due to its massive population and the legal ramifications on gambling. And finally, Hong Kong and Macau’s offshore gambling firms were increasingly pushed out by Beijing in 2016. Because offshore gambling has also been a venue for laundering money out of China, which has led to the outflow of U.S. dollars, Beijing has begun to implement tighter regulations on the industry.

These three reasons coincided with a major change in Philippine regulations in offshore gambling. Specifically, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation or PACGOR, as a GOCC, has the power to sell licenses to offshore or online gambling companies. In the early 2000s, the Philippine private company PhilWeb signed a 13-year contract with PACGOR to sell these licenses outside the special economic zones. It was a monopoly for PhilWeb. But this was not maximized because of the company’s unwillingness to sell to the Chinese offshore gambling firms and its commitment to a business market that targeted Filipino gamblers. Since firms close to the Duterte administration realized that there was money to be made, Philweb’s contract was not renewed. PAGCOR then regained its powers to sell licenses, leading to an open market for offshore gambling firms and the uptick of Chinese business activities and services in the dataset. This move would not have been possible earlier because of PhilWeb’s close links with the Aquino administration and the possibility of a long legal battle at the Supreme Court.

Offshore gambling companies are very low maintenance. Unlike Western BPOs, they can set up shop anywhere so long as they have computers and Internet connection. Functions of online gambling include customer service, which entails talking to customers about the firm’s products, services, and games. This is similar to how Filipino call-center workers talk to U.S. mobile phone owners halfway across the world in order to deal with processing refund, hotel reservations, and other issues.

Some companies reportedly use customer service not only to deal with online gambling concerns, but also to provide service to Chinese companies that need to deal with consumers from China. There is a division on marketing, which targets the email addresses and home numbers of Chinese populations across the world, in order to induce them into playing. A gaming division exists, which comprises the Chinese workers pretending to be players in the game to induce players into playing more. A research and technology division creates new research and programs new apps. Some companies also have training divisions, which serve to train the outfit’s new workers.

June 17, 2019: Special Report : Inside a Philippine offshore gaming company, by Iris Gonzales in Philippine Star:

On the fourth floor of an offshore gaming firm somewhere in Paranaque City, a sprawling cafeteria serves a variety of Chinese food.

At mealtime, hundreds of workers form long queues beside rows of chafing dishes filled with everything Chinese – fresh, leafy Chinese broccoli, beef stew, Chinese fried rice, crunchy, yellow noodles and a variety of dimsum and dumplings.

A Chinese chef, aided by a team of Filipino cooks, is in charge of preparing the daily menu. The cafe serves all 7,000 Chinese employees of the online company who work on two 12-hour shifts to ensure the gaming entity’s 24/7 operations.

Not far from the mess hall is a small booth selling milk tea, a popular beverage in Taiwan that has become a craze among Filipinos and Chinese alike. On the same floor is a convenience store catering exclusively to employees of the gaming company.

Within the offices are bright red Chinese lanterns, corners with tables for tea and wall hangings bearing auspicious Chinese symbols.

There are rows and rows of long tables with dozens of desktops, each manned by a Chinese worker. They are young Chinese men and women, mostly in casual clothes – jeans and shirt – seated side by side.

They are all glued to their desktops, typing an email, responding to a chat or addressing a phone call on their microphones and headphones.

Mobile phones are neatly stacked at the end of every table as their owners are prohibited from using them while on duty.

Any first time visitor might easily think of it as an office in China with rooms filled with Chinese workers.

However, there are also a sizeable number of Filipinos – game developers and I.T. staff, finance and admin personnel, electricians, carpenters, drivers and other maintenance crew – inside the facility. A high-tech surveillance and computer server room is manned by an all-Filipino I.T. team.

The company is just one of 55 licensed Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) in the Philippines. Yet, it already employs thousands of Chinese workers expatriated straight from mainland China…

One studio has 25 gaming tables employing 150 Filipinas rotating on three shifts for 24/7 broadcasting. There are also some Koreans and Vietnamese targeting specific markets.

The work of the Filipinas is no different from dealers in brick and mortar casinos, except that gaming floors are broadcast live from POGO offices in the Philippines all the way to the computers, mobile phones or gadgets of players based in other countries.

The dealers are mostly attractive young ladies in their 20s who usually don brightly coloured Cheongsams, cherry red lipstick, pompadour hair and heavy make-up. They make an average of P30,000 a month, according to one of the dealers interviewed by The STAR.

June 25, 2019: Doing Business in the Philippines: POGO Regulations Every Business Should Know, by Christopher Ting in KMC SAVILLS:

The Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators continue to bring growth to the country’s revenue. The POGO sector has registered a significant increase in 2018 after it recorded PHP 7.265 billion in revenues. This is double the amount the sector contributed in 2016 and 2017 combined…

Given its increasing presence in the Philippines, the government has set up an interagency task force with other concerned bodies to ensure smoother operations. The Bureau of Internal Revenue created a customized taxation for POGOs while the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and Bureau of Immigration (BI) concern themselves with the employment of foreign workers in the country.

The providers are also tasked to register their company to the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) for lawful employment and monitoring of Tax Identification Number (TIN). Local authorities such as the Philippine National Police and the National Bureau of Investigation are tasked to consolidate and reconcile the list of foreign workers currently working for POGOs.

July 1, 2019: China has a new casino: the Philippines, by David Pierson, Alice Su, Los Angeles Times:

By some estimates, at least 100,000 people from mainland China have moved to Manila for jobs as gambling company marketing agents, tech support specialists and engineers — all to serve the Mandarin-speaking clientele…

The story of the rise of offshore Chinese gambling in the Philippines starts in the world of bricks and mortar.

Over the last decade, the country has built some of the region’s largest casino resorts, none bigger than those located along Manila Bay in a development called Entertainment City.

The gleaming gambling houses and hotels here have helped turn the Philippines into Asia’s third-most lucrative gambling destination, just behind Singapore and very far behind world-leading Macao.

Chinese high rollers once would have scorned the idea of gambling in the Philippines. Then in 2016 Duterte announced his “separation” from the U.S. and realignment with China. Over the next two years, according to the Philippine tourism department, the annual number of Chinese tourists nearly doubled to 1.2 million…

The online boom was set in motion when Duterte signed Executive Order No. 13 in 2016, stripping two small regional economic agencies of the authority to issue offshore gambling licenses and handing it to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which is both a national regulator and a gambling operator.

Almost overnight, investors in the Philippines and elsewhere in Southeast Asia seized the new opportunity to reach Chinese gamblers.

Their online game of choice is baccarat. The sites also featured roulette and the Chinese dice game sic bo. Many feature livestreams with dealers at empty tables.

Several sites each receive more than $3 million a day in deposits — the money players transfer to the sites to bet with — according to a gambling executive whose company provides payment software and operates a site that features virtual slot machines…

Property owners have naturally been more welcoming. Real estate prices around Manila have soared 40% since offshore gambling took off in 2016.

Some gambling operators, scrambling to find office space and apartments for their workers, are providing a year’s worth of rent in advance, according to David Leechiu, who heads a Manila-based real estate firm…

Both the Philippines and China have overlooked their own laws to allow the industry to thrive.

The law stipulates that the sites are not allowed to target any country where gambling is banned.

Kickbacks are also common. One former security consultant for a gambling operator in Manila said the company paid $500,000 to $1 million a month in bribes.

“Legislators, law enforcement, immigration officials, they all came asking for handouts because they knew the money was coming from China,” said the consultant, who spoke anonymously because of a confidentiality agreement.

For its part, Beijing has done little to pressure the Philippines to stop targeting China. Nor has it moved to break up the black-market banking system the industry relies on.

July 17, 2019: Special Report : Inside a Philippine offshore gaming company, by Iris Gonzales in Philippine Star:

POGOs are offshore gaming firms that facilitate online gaming via the internet. They use networks and software exclusively for authorized players outside the Philippines who have registered and established an online gaming account with the POGO operator.

From each POGO applicant, Pagcor charges application fees of $150,000 for an e-casino and $120,000 for sports betting. License fees, on the other hand, is $200,000 per e-casino and $150,000 for sports betting. A cash bond of $300,000 is also required per licensee.

Only foreigners based in another country are authorized to play, while foreign nationals in the Philippines and Filipinos residing abroad are not allowed to participate in online gaming activities according to POGO rules.

July 19, 2019: Are We Playing Our Cards Right? Breaking Down Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators, by Anri Ichimura in Esquire Philippines:

PAGCOR reported that, in their first year under the regulated body, Philippine offshore gaming operators contributed P657 million in 2016. The agency’s revenues shot up by 497.26 percent in 2017 when POGOs hit P3.924 billion. In 2018, POGOs contributed P7.365 billion, increasing 87.69 percent from the previous year. This year, PAGCOR chairperson and CEO Andrea Domingo stated that it expects POGO revenues to reach the P8 billion mark. If that happens, it would mean that the industry would contribute P20 billion pesos to the economy within the span of just three years.

To PAGCOR alone, POGOs are contributing a hefty sum in fees. Aside from registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission, a POGO must cough up $150,000 in application and processing fees, $200,000 in licensing fees, and $300,000 in security bond fees. That’s P33 million required to set up just one POGO.

Meanwhile, the Bureau of Internal Revenue recently announced its plan to start collecting withholding taxes from POGO workers starting this month. This means that if everyone in the industry paid the correct amount, the government will be able to collect P2 billion in one month, and P24 billion in one year. POGO workers will also need to pay their dues to the Social Security System and Pag-IBIG Fund.

The profitability of POGOs is not lost on corporations like PhilWeb Corporation and DFNN Inc., local tech companies that recently acquired a number of gaming sites between them…

One of the regulations of PAGCOR is that each Philippine offshore gaming operators must have an office space of a minimum of 10,000 square meters. With 56 registered POGOs in the country, that’s an estimated 560,000 square meters of commercial space rented out by these online gaming offices. But this is at bare minimum. KMC Savills Inc. projected that the POGOs have taken up 800,000 square meters of office space, and Colliers International report that POGOs account for 20 percent of office space in Metro Manila…

The increased demand—and rates—of commercial spaces has spilled over into the residential market as rental rates have surged in the POGO hotspots: the Bay Area, Makati, and Pasig. According to Leechiu, rental rates in the Bay Area have spiked 80 percent from three years ago. Studio units that were once priced at P18,000 are now P32,000 per unit.

Condominium units aren’t the only residential spaces that have been occupied by POGO workers. Even Makati’s most exclusive residential villages have experienced a proliferation of staff houses that violate the deed restrictions as single-family dwellings.

Soon enough, urban areas outside Manila will join the mix as a 20-hectare “POGO island” is being developed just off the coast of Cavite. This POGO hub plans to hire and accommodate over 20,000 workers.

July 29, 2019: Amid government’s crackdown on lotteries, Chinese gaming firms keep rising, by Catalina Ricci S. Madalang in Interaksyon:

The POGO system was introduced by the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. in 2016, allowing the country to take in online gaming operators from mainland China outlawed by Xi Jinping, China’s president.

Around the same time as it was launched, over 119,000 Chinese tourists skirted Philippine labor regulations to work for gaming firms tranferred offshore to catering to continuing demand of game players in China.

During the Senate probe into the influx of foreign workers, Duterte made a soft stance over their deportation, saying several Filipinos abroad have the same fate.

While the rise of POGO firms could be seen as a nod to the local economy, the Department of Finance and the Bureau of Internal Revenue found estimated an omission of P32 billion in unpaid income taxes from the gambling firms.

The sheer number of new employees, mostly Chinese, also became a burden to the BIR’s capacity to issue tax identification numbers.

The demand for office space increased as well and could soon replace the country’s information technology and business processing management sector in terms of scale, according to a property consulting firm.

Chinese migration is racking up prices of the local real estate market, particularly in Metro Manila, making them too expensive for Filipino buyers and tenants.

While some POGOs employ Filipinos and other nationalities, they still prefer those from mainland China to serve a Chinese-speaking clientele.

July 30, 2019: Pogo workers in their midst: Notes from an ‘invasion’, by Cathy Cañares Yamsuan in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Every midnight without fail, a white van unloads five or six Chinese men in front of a convenience store in BF Homes, Parañaque City.

They purchase energy drinks, sandwiches and fruits, and take a short walk to the parking area of a popular coffee shop, where they consume the stuff. They move out after about 10 minutes of loud chatter, leaving their litter behind.

The men are employees of an online casino—“gaming center” is the formal industry term—operating from one of the buildings just outside the village, the one behind tall walls and with glass windows that barely offer a peek into the tech-heavy dealings inside.

They are part of the swelling army of foreigners employed in Pogos, or Philippine offshore gaming operators— a burgeoning business sector that does not make it to the news, except when immigration agents crack down on overstaying aliens or when government officials gripe about how these workers are largely going untaxed.

July 31, 2019: The POGO Problem: Harmonizing Immigration, Gaming, and Gambling, by Napoleon L. Gonzales III, ACCRALAW:

It is highly illegal to gamble in China save for a few state-run lotteries. To avoid this prohibition, gambling companies operate offshore so that they may continue catering to Chinese nationals who play casino and e-games online. These companies took a sharp interest in expanding their businesses to the Philippines, which led to the rise of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs). A POGO is an entity which offers and participates in offshore gaming services by providing an online platform where players may gamble with others over the internet.

The emergence of these industries led to a surge of foreign nationals coming to the Philippines for work, and prompted concerns over their disadvantageous effect on the supposed priority given to Filipino workers. Seeking to streamline immigration procedures and impose tighter restrictions on this matter, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) issued BI Operations Order No. JHM-2019-008 on June 27. This outlines the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) on the issuance of Special and Provisional Work Permits to foreign nationals. The said IRR, which makes effective the joint guidelines of the Department of Labor and Employment, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Internal Revenue, and the BI, aims to “clarify and harmonize existing rules and regulations” affecting foreign workers and “establish systems for the joint monitoring thereof.”

The guidelines ensure that work permits are issued only to foreign nationals whose jobs cannot be performed by a Filipino. Following the mandate of the Labor Code of the Philippines, local companies may engage alien workers only after a determination that there is no Filipino who is competent, able, and willing to perform the services for which the alien is desired.

By way of a background, a Special Work Permit (SWP) is a document that allows an alien to work in the Philippines while on a temporary visitor (9[a]) visa. The Provisional Work Permit (PWP), on the other hand, is a document that enables a foreign national to work in the country while his application for an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) or a work visa is pending. Both the SWP and PWP are valid for a period of three months, and extendible only once for the same period.

Under the new guidelines, the SWP will be available only to foreign nationals who are working outside of an employment arrangement with a Philippine company. These aliens include, among others, those who are working as consultants, specialists, or service suppliers who do not receive any remuneration from a Philippine source. Unlike the previous rules where there was no such distinction, foreign workers who are actually employed by Philippine companies will now have to secure an AEP and the appropriate work visa, regardless of the duration of their employment.

As foreign employees are now required to secure an AEP and the appropriate work visa which takes several months to complete, those who only have short-term contracts such as probationary employees may be faced with a situation where their visa applications have yet to be approved even though their contracts have already lapsed.

Moreover, it is noteworthy that the BI now requires SWP applicants to secure a personal Tax Identification Number (TIN) before an application is filed. While the TIN has always been a requirement for AEP, PWP, and work visa applications, the new guidelines guarantee that even short-term assignees and consultants will be paying their taxes properly for the income they have derived from sources within the Philippines.

Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? Only through an effective implementation of the IRR will the BI achieve its desired objectives, and we can only wait and see how these guidelines may impact the regulation of foreign workers in the country.

August 9, 2019: Offshore Gaming: A Beleaguered High Roller in the Philippine Office Market, in Pronove Tai, International Property Consultants:

August 11, 2019: Why the Philippine economy is trading call centres for casinos, by Raissa Robles in South China Morning Post:

Making things worse for BPO, in June President Rodrigo Duterte signed Administrative Order No 18, ordering the Philippine Economic Zone Authority to stop processing applications for “eco-zones” in Manila. These are areas with tax breaks that have made the growth of BPO centres possible. The government wants to decentralise economic activity to benefit the countryside. But BPO firms are heavily clustered in Manila not just because of the tax perks, but also because the capital has both the infrastructure, including internet connections, and a pool of potential agents.

Last year, the American Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines warned decentralisation might “constrain growth” by forcing BPO companies to set up in areas that are “lacking facilities and a skilled workforce”. Foreign companies might either scale back expansion or not set up centres at all, it said.

Last month, the Information Technology and Business Process Association of the Philippines added: “While some IT-BPM [information technology and business process management] has been successful in expanding to provinces, this is primarily driven by voice services. However, as the industry pivots to digital, talent availability for mid- to high-level complexity work has been predominantly limited to metro cities such as Manila and Cebu.”

In a statement, the Contact Centre Association of the Philippines (CCAP) said the shift to provincial eco-zones “is causing some concerns within the industry”, and it called for “more dialogue” between the sector and government.

But authorities have so far rejected industry appeals to lift the ban on Manila eco-zones. Philippine Star business columnist Rey Gamboa recently wrote that in implementing the administrative order, “the government seems to have turned down 159 billion pesos [US$3.05 billion] in potential foreign investments and let go 50,000 jobs, and put at risk another 34.23 billion pesos in the BPO sector”.

He said that for the government, “the promise of much higher revenues [from gambling] is just too good to resist”.

The CCAP said BPO growth slowed to 5.1 per cent in 2018 instead of the projected 8 per cent, partly because some investors adopted a “wait-and-see stance” over decentralisation.

Pogos and decentralisation are relatively new worries for BPO firms. A threat that’s been hanging over the industry for years is AI – the replacement of Filipino agents by machines and software.
Rajneesh Tiwary, chief delivery officer at Sutherland Global Services, told Reuters: “I don’t think our excellent command of spoken English is going to really be a protection in five, 10 years from now. It [won’t] matter.”

Barbara Cuyugan de Jesus, senior director for operations at BPO company Alorica, told This Week In Asia “there are companies that have reduced head count – before they needed 1,000 [agents], now they only need 300”.

IV. POGO news and trends:


June 30, 2016: Duterte says online gambling must stop, in ABS-CBN News:

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he would stop online gambling operations and ordered regulators to revoke all licenses “soon.”

“I do not want a proliferation of gambling activities all over the country. Mahirap yan,” Duterte said during a televised Cabinet meeting in Malacanang.

“Online gambling must stop. It opened up a lot of avenues. It’s out of control… Kung saan saan na lang nag-sprout. In Davao, I stopped it in time,” he said.

Duterte said earnings from the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., the state gambling regulator, would be used to fund health services for the poor.

August 24, 2016: Duterte sets conditions for online gambling to resume, in ABS-CBN News:

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Wednesday he would allow online gambling to resume if correct taxes are paid and operations are moved away from schools and churches.

Duterte also renewed his criticism against PhilWeb Corp. owner Roberto Ongpin as an “oligarch” who must be stopped. The gaming café operator suspended operations earlier this month after regulators refused to renew its license.

December 22, 2016: Duterte says to order closure of all online gaming, in ABS-CBN News:

President Rodrigo Duterte said Thursday he was ordering the closure of online gaming operations in the country, sending gaming stocks on a tailspin.

Shares of PhilWeb Corp. fell 30 percent while Leisure and Resorts World dipped 20 percent after the President’s declaration, which came less than an hour before the market closed.

The President took a tougher stand after he declared in August that online gaming could resume as long as regulations are strictly enforced.

PhilWeb is applying for a new license after regulators refused in August to renew its authorization to supply software systems to gaming cafes. Its former chairman, tycoon Roberto Ongpin, resigned and divested from the company after Duterte branded him as an oligarch who must be destroyed.

“I am ordering the closure of all online gaming,” Duterte said in a speech at the presidential palace.

The President cited corruption in the granting of gaming licenses which he claimed amounted to P300 billion.

“’Yung ma-appoint sa PEZA [Philippine Economic Zone Authority], he gets about P300 billion selling the umbrella-type of license…Mabuti nalang nalaman ko ‘yan,” he said.

March 6, 2017: Atong Ang wants gaming, gambling laws fixed, in CNN Philippines:

Gaming tycoon Charlie ‘Atong’ Ang said Monday amendments should be made to gaming and gambling laws in the Philippines.

“Batas ang problema natin dito. Dahil sa walang malinaw na batas. Dapat magkaroon talaga. Tama yung pinag-uusapan sa Congress.” Ang said in CNN Philippines’ The Source.

[Translation: We have a problem with the law, because there is no clear law. And there should be [clear laws]. The Congress plenaries were right. ]

The businessman explained that despite all of his gaming businesses being above board, he still has to argue their legitimacy–to the point of filing cases in court.

May 8, 2017: As Philippines joins China to fight illegal gambling, more scrutiny of casinos likely, in DZRH:

In their first joint exercise, Philippine and Chinese authorities cracked a transnational cyber gambling operation in April, shutting four illegal websites run out of the Philippines, arresting 99 people and freezing more than 1,000 bank accounts, China’s Public Security Bureau said.

Martini Cruz, chief of the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation’s cyber-crime division, told Reuters authorities were preparing further raids in May targeting illegal betting and online fraud originating in the Philippines and targeted at Chinese gamblers.

“We have been visited by Chinese police to crack down on these illegal gambling operators. They are also targeting possible fugitives who have made our country a sanctuary,” Cruz said.

So far, the crackdown has not targeted proxy betting, which is permitted in licensed casinos in the Philippines and has contributed to a boom in VIP revenues. Casinos in the country raked in nearly $3 billion in overall revenue last year.

May 8, 2017, Impressing Duterte, in Biz Buzz, Philippine Daily Inquirer:

But Biz Buzz has learned that his outburst last week might be due more to a powerful piece of paper signed not too long ago by no less than President Duterte. We’re talking about the President’s ominously numbered Executive Order No. 13 titled “Strengthening the fight against illegal gambling and clarifying the jurisdiction and authority of concerned agencies in the regulation and licensing of gambling and online gaming facilities, and for other purposes.”

The EO’s title is quite a mouthful, but it really signals just one thing: A massive crackdown on illegal gambling—something that previous presidential administrations tried to stop or suppress, but failed. And in this latest effort, President Duterte has put in charge one of his trusted men at the Office of the President, Undersecretary Jesus Melchor Quitain, the former city administrator of Davao City.

According to the EO signed into effect last February (but only coming to light recently), Quitain is the new sheriff in town in charge of the fight against illegal gambling. As such, all government agencies involved in gambling as well as special economic zones which have their own charters that allow online gaming will—you guessed it—report to him.

The EO was meant to, among others, rein in the proliferation of online gaming operations that have sprouted surreptitiously across the country, but which don’t yield any meaningful benefits to the government in terms of taxes and royalties.

The state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. now also coordinates with Quitain in the drive against illegal online gaming, having managed to kill fly-by-night operations by mandating new licensing requirements for the industry.

And here lies the root of the Atong Ang-Kim Wong dispute, we’re told. Wong—the country’s largest casino junket operator—was able to secure Pagcor licenses for his online gaming operations, making them fully legitimate. His business rivals, however, were not able to turn a new page, either because they were unable to apply or failed to meet regulatory requirements, sources told Biz Buzz.

And because of this, Ang is now in the crosshairs of Quitain whose mandate is to stamp out illegal gambling.

November 7, 2017: Is POGO good for the country?, in Philippine Star:

Andrew Tan’s Megaworld Corp., which is among the top, if not the top lessor of office space in the country, for one, is reaping the rewards of this new and growing segment.

Megaworld senior vice president Jericho Go said the company has already leased 80,000 square meters to four POGO operators.

“They need space for their back office, customer support operations, IT and technical support.

POGOs require three categories of office space. Category one are those that have live streaming where there are ladies that serve as dealers for online games. Category two and three, meanwhile, are sub sectors of the business process outsourcing (BPO) industries which provide back office support.

“So for example, if there are questions on how a game is played online, they will provide clarifications. That is why you need a lot of Chinese and Mandarin proficient people and that is why they require a lot of office space. And in the same manner, if they have difficulties, if for example the website is down, there has to be an IT guy,” Go explained.

One POGO license requires a minimum of 10,000 square meters of office space.

David Leechiu, a known property consultant, said demand would continue to grow as POGO grows.

“There is strong office take up in 2017 despite softening of IT-BPM demand,” Leechiu said.

He said that in 2016, online gaming accounted for 56,000 sqm of office space, while as of end- August, online gaming already accounted for 125,000 sqm.

The demand is expected to pick up as Pagcor has indicated that it would issue more licenses.

January 25, 2018: Duterte: I asked ‘top gambler’ Atong Ang to help PCSO, in CNN Philippines:

In a speech before he left to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations – India Summit on Wednesday, Duterte said he called Ang to make the request.

“Tinawagan ko ‘yan siya. Sinabi ko, ‘Atong, ikaw ang number one na gambler dito sa Davao. Hawak mo lahat,’ ” Duterte said in a speech on Wednesday before leaving to attend the “Pumunta ka doon sa PCSO, hintuin mo ‘yang lahat ng illegal at tulungan mo ang gobyerno.”

[Translation: “I called him. I said, ‘Atong you are the number one gambler here in Davao. You hold everything. Go to PCSO, stop everything illegal and help the government.”]…

Duterte said he discouraged his “friend,” Ang, from starting jai-alai operations in Davao City when he was mayor. Results of jai-alai matches were often used for gambling purposes.

“Sabi ko sa kanya, ‘kaibigan tayo. Huwag mong pilitin ‘yan. Mag-aaway lang tayo,'” Duterte recalled.

[Translation: “I told him, ‘we’re friends. Do not insist on that or we will have a fight.'”]

February 7, 2018: Pagcor shuts doors on new casino applicants after Duterte orders moratorium, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Philippine gaming regulators have imposed a moratorium on new casinos operations after President Rodrigo Duterte raised concerns about their “proliferation”, the ongoing lucrative boom in the local industry notwithstanding.

In an interview with reporters, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. chair Andrea Domingo said only firms which submitted their applications before the President’s order to her last month — including a new casino in Clark, Pampanga owned by Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy — would be considered for approval.

February 8, 2018: Foreigners interested in PH-based offshore gaming operations – Pagcor, in Manila Bulletin:

Foreign online casinos have expressed interest to put up shops in the Philippines while government revenue from offshore gaming licenses is expected to nearly double this year, the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) said.

March 16, 2018: GLI to check POGO licence holders in the Philippines, in Reviewed Casinos:

Gaming Laboratories International has announced that it has been approved as the first independent accredited gaming test laboratory authorised to complete IP blocking certificates for holders of Philippine Offshore Gaming (POGO) licenses.

Such licensees are required by Philippines decree to block access to citizens of the Philippines, and the certificates are their monitored assurance that this has been done.

GLI says its testing and resultant certificates were undertaken in accordance with a memorandum issued by the Philippine Gaming and Amusement Corp. (Pagcor) to all POGO Licensees, requiring them to ensure that their IP address(es) used for offshore gaming operations were not accessible within the jurisdiction of the Philippines, on or before March 15, 2018.

May 4, 2018: Chinese Money Triggers a Dizzying Rally in Manila Property, in Bloomberg.

June 29, 2018: Island Cove Closing Down, New Owners To Take Over Property; The leisure park south of Manila has been operating for 20 years, in Entrepreneur Philippines:

Island Cove Hotel and Leisure Park (ICHLP) is closing down after 20 years of operations. Its last day will be on July 28, 2018.

The resort located in Binakayan, Kawit, Cavite made the formal announcement via Facebook and Twitter on Friday, June 29, although a report about the closure was published as early as Monday, June 25, by the government-run Philippine News Agency (PNA)…

According to the PNA report, the closure is “in line with the purchase conditions agreed upon with the still unnamed new owners.”

Former Cavite governor Juanito Remulla first opened Island Cove as Covelandia in 1976. It closed down 10 years later and reopened in 1997 as ICHLP. Remulla’s son Gilbert, a former broadcast journalist and former representative of the second district of Cavite, took over operations in 2007.

July 11, 2018: Assessing Duterte’s China investment drive: Separating the PRC and Hong Kong when calculating Chinese investment in the Philippines has major consequences, in The Interpreter:

Fourth, FDI projects outside the original $24 billion aid and FDI deals have already begun. Some examples include the purchase by Jack Ma’s Ant Financial of a substantial minority stake at Globe Telecoms…; the opening of 50 smaller offshore gambling companies in the Philippines; and Philippine Phoenix Petroleum’s agreement to build a Liquified Natural Gas container with China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC). In one recently concluded major FDI deal, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), which failed to invest in the Philippines during the Arroyo administration, just received permission to start operating.

July 26, 2018: Hong Kong group to build Manila casino despite Duterte ban, in Asia Nikkei Review:

Hong Kong-listed Landing International Development has won a permit to build a $1.5 billion resort with a casino in the Philippine capital’s entertainment district.

In a statement on Wednesday, Landing said it secured a provisional gaming license from regulator Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., or Pagcor, to build the integrated resort. A groundbreaking ceremony has been set for Aug. 7.

Pagcor confirmed in a statement on Thursday that it had granted the provisional license but said the Landing resort will not be able to open before 2022 in order to comply with a five-year halt on new casino permits in the Manila Bay entertainment district.

September 30, 2018: Philippines ‘steps up’ crackdown on illegal online gambling, in CalvinAyre.com:

Online gambling operators in the Philippines face a grim future if they continue to operate without a local license, according to the country’s gambling regulatory body.

October 22, 2018: Cancel Boracay casino licenses, TF tells Pagcor, in BusinessWorld:

THE Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) has requested the state-owned Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to pull the licenses of all casinos in the island paradise.

The request, as contained in an undated letter sent to Pagcor Chairman Andrea D. Domingo, also covers casinos that operated before the closure of Boracay on April 26. The letter to Domingo, a copy of which was obtained by the BusinessMirror, was signed by BIATF Chairman Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu, and Vice Chairmen Interior Officer in Charge Eduardo M. Año and
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Fatima Romulo Puyat.

“In view of the pronouncement of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that no casino shall be allowed in Boracay Island, and in the light of the mandate given to it through
Executive Order [EO] No. 5, Series of 2018, the [BIATF] requests that any and all gaming franchise/s and/or provisional license/s in Boracay Island shall be canceled by your good office,” the letter said.

October 25, 2018: Duterte new threat to ‘suppress’ Philippine online gambling, in CalvinAyre.com:

On Thursday, Duterte’s Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo told Rappler that “as far as I know, [Duterte’s comment] refers only to illegal online gambling.” That contradicts Duterte’s exact words, which, translated from Tagalog to English, read: “To hell with the contract [held by locally licensed operators], I told you I do not want gambling, period.”

It bears mentioning that this is hardly the first time that Duterte has issued such threats. In July 2016, within hours of being sworn into office, Duterte issued an ultimatum that “online gambling must stop.” That December, he ordered “the closure of all online gambling … All of them. They have no use.”

But in 2017 Duterte issued an executive order (EO) that eliminated the Philippines’ multi-jurisdictional online licensing scheme in favor of the new Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) license category.

Duterte’s reference to ‘online bingo’ also recalls his aggressive campaign against local eGames and eBingo operator PhilWeb, which offers ‘online’ gambling to local residents via digital terminals in retail shops across the country, while the POGO industry is strictly focused on international gambling markets.

Moreover, Duterte’s Wednesday comments regarding extortion and kidnapping appear to refer to incidents stemming primarily from land-based gambling. Such incidents have plagued Manila’s casino operators since their launch a few years ago.

Duterte even referenced the Okada Manila casino by name, saying “look at Okada, all the kidnappers, extortionists, scalawag policemen, they kidnap right there in the hotel room. They call the family. “You don’t want to pay?” Then they will kill them.”

October 26, 2018: China’s rise, new immigrants (??): Impact on the Philippines, in Tulay:

“Because of improving diplomatic ties with China, residential sales are no longer dominated by OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) buyers but by buyers from the mainland,” wrote LPC. “Residential projects notably in the Bay Area, Makati, Manila, Ortigas, and Quezon City, and in other areas near POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) locations and existing Filipino-Chinese are experiencing brisk take-ups of 12 [condominium] units a month.”

This heightened demand from Chinese buyers “will continue to push property prices up,” most especially in the Manila Bay Area. LPC revealed that at least 70 percent of the tenants in the Manila Bay Area’s residential projects are Mainland Chinese, compared to only 25 percent for Filipinos and five percent for other foreign nationalities.

The analyst provided three condo projects in the Bay Area as examples—Federal Land’s Bay Garden Club and Residences, SM Development Corp.’s Sea Residences, and Anchor Land’s Solemare Parksuites. These three developments saw their prices surge by 200 percent, 164 percent, and 74 percent, respectively, since their launch 10 years ago.

LPC also pointed out how many of the country’s major real estate developers are taking notice. For Ayala Land, Chinese investors were responsible for 34 percent of its sales in 2017, more than tripling from the year prior. SM Development Corp. also revealed that 30 percent of its residential sales for the first quarter of 2018 were from Chinese investors, a surge from 10 percent in 2017 and less than five percent in 2016.

November 10, 2018: Du30 says EO not needed for no-casino policy in Boracay, in Panay News:

President Rodrigo Duterte said there is no longer a need for him to issue an executive order (EO) declaring Boracay free from casinos.

“No. I’ll just say huwag na lang. Anyway it’s a privilege, whether I put it in writing or say it verbally,” Duterte told reporters in a chance interview on Thursday.

November 28, 2018: PH, China cooperation against illegal online gambling a must – Locsin, in UNTV:

“Two law enforcement agencies will be able to coordinate without it looking as we had surrendered our sovereignty,” the Foreign Affairs secretary said.

During Wednesday’s deliberation of Locsin’s confirmation, senators expressed concern that Filipino workers will end up competing with illegal aliens seeking for employment opportunities in the country.

December 12, 2018: How China’s love of online betting is boosting the Philippine property sector, The Star MY:

Warmer relations between Beijing and Manila under President Rodrigo Duterte have underpinned the influx; Chinese gaming firms took up 30% of the 775,000sq m of office space built in the Philippine capital last year.

But it is not just the commercial real estate segment that has benefited from the boom. Many of the gaming companies have bought flats for their workforces, estimated at between 100,000 and 200,000 people in total…

Beijing began a crackdown on Macau casinos in 2014 to stem the flow of capital from mainland China amid a declining yuan and to reduce illicit funds entering the casino hub. The crackdown has led Chinese gambling operators to look beyond Macau for revenues, and with Beijing’s improved relations with Manila, the Philippines has captured a significant portion of this expansion.,,

Colliers International said the recent property boom could mainly be traced to the expansion of offshore gaming firms entering three areas of the capital – Fort Bonifacio, the Bay Area, and the Makati central business district.

“Since the fourth quarter of 2016, the offshore gaming sector has been a major contributor to office space demand in Metro Manila,” said Joey Bondoc, Philippines research manager at Colliers International.

From 80,000sq m in 2016 to 296,000sq m in 2017 – more than a third of the total – the segment’s office take-up reached 280,000sq m in the first three quarter of 2018, and represented a quarter of all property deals between January and September, he said.

As of September, apartment sales in the pre-selling market – units that are under construction – had reached 42,000 units in Metro Manila, up from 38,000 units in the same period of 2017.

Developers have been ramping up completion of new flats, with 31,000 units launched between January and September, higher than the 22,600 units in the same period last year.

Chinese investors, Bondoc said, preferred to buy studio and one-bedroom flats with sizes ranging from 24sq m to 44sq m each and located in Manila’s Bay Area and Fort Bonifacio, the business district closest to Makati. These units fetch between US$3,770 (RM15,800) and US$5,280 (RM22,000) per sq m.

Hong Kong-based boutique real estate equity fund Arch Capital has recently bought two assets in the Philippines: an office building in Makati and an office development in Cebu City, the second largest metropolitan area after Metro Manila and known as the main business centre in the Visayas region.

December 15, 2018: China holds the cards as online betting booms in the Philippines, in South China Morning Post:

The promises are irresistible to any young Chinese jobseeker: a work visa in the Philippines, with wages of up to 10,000 yuan (US$1,458) a month in the first year, rising to 14,000 yuan and 17,000 yuan in the second and third years.

Education and work experience is not required. There’s free accommodation in an upscale condominium; five meals a day; and 15 days of annual leave with return flights provided. And don’t worry about not speaking any English…

In August, The Beijing News published a report exposing how Chinese workers lured to the Philippines online gambling scene had their passports confiscated so they could not escape from the country; were crammed into tiny bedrooms; not allowed to have meal breaks of longer than 30 minutes; and were banned from going to the toilet for longer than 10 minutes.

The workers described the Pasig City building they worked at – home to numerous online gambling companies and guarded by security personnel with guns – as an “Oriental prison”.

December 22, 2018: Chinese workers ‘flood’ the Philippines, yet Duterte’s officials ‘don’t know’ how many there are, in South China Morning Post:

The two-hour senate hearing failed to uncover just how many Chinese workers had come to the country to live and work since Duterte took office in 2016.

Still, according to data obtained by This Week in Asia, Chinese nationals are working legally in online gambling as well as in sectors where Filipinos are qualified – such as manufacturing and construction. The constitution enjoins the state “to promote the preferential use of Filipino labour”.

The 53,311 AEPs issued by DOLE from 2016 to May 2018 include 18,557 permits given to Chinese nationals in “administrative and supports service activities”; 10,560 in “arts, entertainment and recreation”, which includes gambling, online and offline; 7,754 in “information and communication”; 4,716 in manufacturing; and 2,884 in construction.

January 30, 2019: Domingo wants Duterte to relax ban on new casino licenses, in Asia Gaming Brief:

Andrea Domingo, head of the Philippines’ gaming regulator, said she hopes the president can relax his ban on new casino licenses, fearing the country would lose out on lucrative foreign investment, according to a report from Bloomberg.

“Gaming seems to be the sunrise industry now in Asia,” said Domingo in an interview on Tuesday with Bloomberg. “There are still areas in the Philippines that can still absorb and benefit from these investments, which won’t go here with the current ban.”

During the interview, Domingo said she plans to ask the President as early as this week to implement a selective ban on casino licenses, rather than the current blanket ban.

She would recommend that the ban would be in force in areas not accessible to foreign travelers, thereby alleviating the issue of problem gambling amongst Filipinos.

February 4, 2019: PAGCOR Chief disagrees with President Duterte over new casino ban, in European Gaming:

Andrea Domingo, the Head of PAGCOR, the Philippines gaming regulator, expressed his opposition to President Rodrigo Duterte’s ban on the issue of new casino licenses. She said that the country will fall behind other Asian hospitality industry if the ban stays.

March 5, 2019: Duterte under the gun over Chinese influx into Philippines, in Nikkei Asian Review.

March 21, 2019: How Chinese Investors are Making Philippine Real Estate More Expensive, In Esquire Philippines:

“Because of improving diplomatic ties with China, residential sales are no longer dominated by OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) buyers but by buyers from the mainland,” wrote LPC. “Residential projects notably in the Bay Area, Makati, Manila, Ortigas, and Quezon City, and in other areas near POGO (Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators) locations and existing Filipino-Chinese are experiencing brisk take-ups of 12 [condominium] units a month.”

This heightened demand from Chinese buyers “will continue to push property prices up,” most especially in the Manila Bay Area. LPC revealed that at least 70 percent of the tenants in the Manila Bay Area’s residential projects are Mainland Chinese, compared to only 25 percent for Filipinos and five percent for other foreign nationalities.

The analyst provided three condo projects in the Bay Area as examples—Federal Land’s Bay Garden Club and Residences, SM Development Corp.’s Sea Residences, and Anchor Land’s Solemare Parksuites. These three developments saw their prices surge by 200 percent, 164 percent, and 74 percent, respectively, since their launch 10 years ago.

LPC also pointed out how many of the country’s major real estate developers are taking notice. For Ayala Land, Chinese investors were responsible for 34 percent of its sales in 2017, more than tripling from the year prior. SM Development Corp. also revealed that 30 percent of its residential sales for the first quarter of 2018 were from Chinese investors, a surge from 10 percent in 2017 and less than five percent in 2016.

March 25, 2019: Philippine finance chief asks Pagcor to clarify POGO wages, in CDC Gaming Reports Inc.

April 5, 2019: PAGCOR: 3 POGOs left town due to higher taxes, in CalvinAyre.com:

It’s unclear if these POGOs left due to increased taxes on their operations, or on their employees. PAGCOR has been working with the recently revealed task force to tally up lists of foreigners who might not be paying their fair share.

Either way, it doesn’t speak well of PAGCOR’s total operation that these POGOs, which were licensed by the regulator, were either allowed to do so with an operation that did not meet the country’s tax laws in the first place, or then experienced tax increases they could not have anticipated. It would be a bit more impressive if the three operations that had left the country were operating entirely illegally.

That is happening as well, to some degree. After busting an illegal gambling ring, the Bureau of Immigration then stopped it again when they discovered it was continuing to operate from jail.

April 12, 2019: Demand for PH offshore gaming office space soars in Q1 2019, in Rappler:

Office space demand from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) surged by 118% year-on-year to 106,000 square meters (sqm) in the first quarter of 2019, according to property consulting firm Pronove Tai…

April 24, 2019, Philippines Cracks Down on illegal Gaming Workers, in Asia Sentinel:

The Philippines has belatedly begun a crackdown on the tens of thousands of Chinese workers who have swarmed into Manila illegally to work in the teeming offshore gaming industry, with Labor Undersecretary Ana C. Dione reporting on April 22 that as many as 130,000 workers in so-called POGO firms are unregistered with the Bureau of Internal Revenue and aren’t paying taxes to the Philippine government.

A review of 88 companies in the Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) sector found that only 16,550 workers have been issued work permits, with another 7,411 issued alien employment permits, according to the bureau. The unregistered workers are estimated by the Bureau of Internal Revenue to be costing Philippine coffers as much as PHP22 billion (US$421 million annually, with foreign workers being paid the equivalent of RMB10,000 (US$1,488) per month.

Earlier, President Rodrigo Duterte claimed there could be as many as 300,000 Chinese workers in the offshore gaming industry which has become a huge draw for mainland Chinese who want to gamble online. And while that figure may be a substantial overestimate, having 130,000 in the country, not paying taxes, has raised red flags.

Nonetheless, the industry is kind of the modern equivalent of the swarms of Chinese who moved to the west coast of the United States in the 1850s for what they called “Gold mountain” to work in California gold mines. These are jobs that, while there is almost certain to be exploitation, are far better than the Foxconn assembly factories in Dongguan. They are likely also to keep increasing unless the Chinese government becomes increasingly alarmed at the losses pouring out of Chinese consumers’ credit cards and into the coffers of the POGO companies.

May 12, 2019: Philippines Leader Rodrigo Duterte Announces Hands-Off Policy on Many Forms of Gambling Just Before National Election, in Casino.org:

Online casino operations in the Philippines have led to stepped up enforcement by authorities in China.

Earlier this month, Chinese police broke up a $312 million gambling ring recently working out of China’s Anhui Province that was associated with a sports betting website based in the Philippines. At least seven suspects were arrested by authorities investigating the online scheme.

More than 170 alleged illegal internet gaming enterprises have been raided by federal law enforcement agencies in the Philippines over the last two years. Some 100,000 Chinese foreigners also are in the Philippines helping to facilitate the illegal enterprises, authorities claim, with most of the operations targeting the Chinese market.

May 13, 2019:  Philippines President Duterte Backs Down from Fight with Gambling Sector, in VegasSlotsOnline.com:

The Philippines has embraced its gambling sector for many years, but Duterte in recent times has railed against it.

A government moratorium led to numerous high-profile shutdowns of casino resort development projects.The moratorium, which came into effect in January 2018, means no more resort casinos will be built.

Confusingly, the Philippines Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR), which regulates the gambling sector, issued two resort casino licenses after that date. However, Duterte eventually said the two licenses would not be valid. The president’s statement came after development had already begun.

One of the licenses was for the Galaxy Entertainment Group, which was in the process of building a new resort casino on Boracay. However, shortly after development began, President Duterte said no casinos would be allowed on the island.

Also blocked was a $1.5bn resort casino in Manila being developed by Landing International Development. News of the project’s shutdown came mere minutes after ground was broken on the project.

There has been no indication as to whether or not the ban on new resort casinos will continue.

There were also allegations that a lot of foreign workers coming to the Philippines to work in the gambling sector were not paying proper taxes. Most of these workers were from China. This has led to the authorities putting in place a tax on foreign casino workers.

May 26, 2019: Locsin says Xi Jinping wants Duterte to crack down on online casinos: It’s money laundering, in Bilyonaryo:

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin said China has asked the Duterte administration to deal with the online gaming which it believed was being used to clean dirty money from China.

“China wants us to crack down on online gaming. They see it as money laundering,” said Locsin in a tweet…

Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. has approved 57 Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations since President Rodrigo Duterte took over in 2016. The Department of Finance has initiated a crackdown on the hundreds of thousands of online casino Chinese workers in the Philippines by making punishing those without working permits and penalizing them for failing to pay their taxes.

June 2, 2019: Why are Chinese workers so unpopular in Southeast Asia?, in South China Morning Post:

Xu says he and his immigrant friends all believe Filipinos are generally friendly and the Chinese in the country rarely ever feel like outcasts.

But last month he had the shock of his life when he walked out of a restaurant in Manila’s Chinatown, in Binondo district, and saw five Filipinos on motorbikes all pointing guns at him and two friends.

“I didn’t know if they wanted to kidnap me or rob me,” Xu, now 39, says. “My friend was forced to the ground and one of the robbers was pointing a gun to his head. They took my stuff and left. We started yelling but they fired a shot in the air and warned us not to follow. I was scared.”

July 2, 2019:  Landlords big winners as Philippines bets on Chinese gaming boom, in ABS-CBN News:

Tessie, her husband and their adult son recently vacated their home of 37 years in a Manila suburb to make way for some unfamiliar tenants – 20 Chinese nationals.

It wasn’t an easy decision to let out their 5-bedroom home, but for 140,000 pesos ($2,730) a month in rent – nearly three times the norm in their middle-class neighborhood – it was an offer too good to refuse, said Tessie. She declined to be identified by her full name.

Like Tessie, many Filipino landlords are laying out welcome mats for the surging number of Chinese coming to Manila to work in online gaming companies taking sports and casino bets, undeterred by simmering anti-China sentiment and a common perception that Chinese are taking Filipino jobs.

“I was afraid at first because I heard so many bad things abut Chinese tenants but I was convinced later on when my friends told me they were doing the same”, said Tessie.

“It’s benefiting people like me who need to earn”, said the 63-year-old housewife.

Her home is close to a two-tower office building where five of the nine floors are used by Chinese gaming firms. A Chinese restaurant and Chinese tea shop downstairs do brisk trade.

Such arrangements are now commonplace across the business hubs of Manila, where Chinese gaming firms are capitalizing on the Philippines’ liberal gaming environment and an insatiable appetite for gambling in China, which forbids all types of betting.

July 8, 2019: Dominguez confirms POGO deal: Over 100,000 Chinese employees to pay income tax, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team and the largest online gaming operator in the country have agreed on a framework that will align the wages of over 100,000 Chinese workers in the industry with Philippine income tax laws.

July 8, 2019, “Pogo Island” tales, in Biz Buzz, Philippine Daily Inquirer:

July 9, 2019: Crackdown on illegal Pogo operators looms, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Firms legally engaged in the booming Philippine offshore gaming operations (Pogo) will help the government crack down on fly-by-night operations that could be employing as many as 50,000 undocumented workers from China— a result of the deal sealed recently between the industry and the Department of Finance (DOF).

July 10, 2019: POGOs seen to edge out BPOs as top PH office space takers by yearend – property consultant, in CNN Philippines:

LPC said offshore gaming has been the fastest growing industry in the local office market since President Rodrigo Duterte took office in 2016, with POGOs only coming in at a close second to BPOs in the first half of 2019 in the demand for offices.

BPOs accounted for 37 percent of the take up of 775,000 square meters (sqm) of office space in the first half of 2019, occupying 284,000 sqm, while POGOs occupied 253,000 sqm, with substantial take up in Bay City in Pasay, Makati and Alabang in Muntinlupa.

POGO firms’ demand for office spaces in Metro Manila have steadily increased in the past three years, from a mere nine percent share to 36 percent in the first half of 2019, when they took up 242,000 sqm, while BPOs took up 244,000 sqm of office spaces.

The uptick of POGOs in Metro Manila have also sent residential condominium rates skyrocketing by as much as 80 percent in Bay City in the last three years.

“Prices of studio units have increased from ?18,000 in 2015 to ?32,000 per unit per month in the first half of 2019. One bedroom units have gone from ?25,000 back in 2015 to ?55,000 per unit per month, while a two-bedroom unit’s price rose from ?55,000 to ?90,000 per unit per month,” the LPC report said.

LPC expects that once office dpace supply dwindles in Bay City, POGOs would head to Quezon City, which is currently dominated by BPOs. Only one percent of office space in Bay City and Alabang remains vacant in the first half .

POGOs have also expanded outside Metro Manila, having taken up a total of 130,000 sqm of office space in Laguna, Cebu City, Clark in Pampanga and Cavite since 2016. LPC predicted that POGOs would expand further in other cities with the completion of infrastructure projects.

Ongoing infrastructure developments in Clark under the Duterte administration’s “Build, Build, Build” program have turned it into the most favorable area outside Metro Manila for BPOs and POGOs.

July 12, 2019: Offshore gaming ‘here to stay’ as gov’t eyes P20-B haul, in ABS-CBN News:

Offshore gaming operations or POGOs are “here to stay,” and poised to deliver up to P20 billion in revenues as they submit to Philippine laws, the country’s gaming regulator said Friday.

The Philippines’ “very good model” encouraged up to 59 POGOs to set up shop. Recent rules that were finalized cover personal and corporate income taxes, the establishment of POGO hubs and setting 3-year and 5-year licenses to operate, said Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp Chairman Andrea Domingo.

The offshore gaming operations delivered P11.9 billion in revenues from 2016 to 2018 with P8 billion more expected in 2019, Domingo told the Phil-Asian Gaming Expo, a 3-day event, billed as Asia’s largest gaming expo.

July 12, 2019: PAGCOR chief eyes P8-B revenues from POGO in 2019, in Philippine News Agency:

In her speech during the opening ceremony of the first-ever Philippine Asian Gaming Expo (PAGE) at the SMX in Pasay City, which will be held until July 14, 2019, Pagcor Chairman Andrea Domingo said the expected collection from Philippine offshore gaming operators (POGO) this year will be on top of the PHP12 billion collected from 2016 to 2018.

She explained that in the previous years, the government was only able to collect about PHP56 million annually from the sector because the regulator “had a hard time to fully understand what the operator is, and what the service providers are, and how we can have an audit platform that will be independent and will assure us that the government is collecting the proper revenues.”

“In the last two years, we have concentrated on making enough rules and regulations to attract those who will otherwise be declared as illegally operating to go into the fold of the law and operate legally,” he said.

On Wednesday, officials from various government agencies like Pagcor, the Department of Finance (DOF), Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) and the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) signed a joint memorandum circular aimed at leveling the playing field through the more stringent implementation of labor regulations on foreigners working in the Philippines.

July 12, 2019: Manila hosts Asian gaming expo as Chinese expats under scrutiny, in ABS-CBN News:

Government agencies recently agreed on regulations for foreign workers and the Department of Finance said they should also pay proper taxes.

The PAGE event in Manila will be an opportunity for gaming industry professionals to “touch base” with regulators like PAGCOR, the Bureau of Immigration, the Department of Labor and Employment and local government units, according to the statement.

Participating companies include Playtech, Oriental Game, Hongtu Game, Global Entertainment, Tianhao, Good Gaming, UG Group, TC gaming, SA Gaming, VR Gaming, iSOFTBET, GPK, Titan Gaming, GuanJie Sports and World Network.

July 12, 2019: Gambling Operator to Build Two POGO Hubs in the Philippines, in Casino News Daily:

Philippine gambling company Oriental Group is building two online gambling hubs north and south of the capital Manila to help the country capitalize on its booming offshore gambling sector.

The two hubs will be able to host Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) that are licensed by the Philippines’ gambling regulator, PAGCOR, to provide their services to customers located outside the country.

Oriental Group revealed that it is investing PHP8 billion for the development of a 20-hectare POGO hub in Cavite City in the south. The hub, the larger of the two, will be able to accommodate 20,000 workers.

The other hub is set to be developed in Clark City, north of Manila. The first phase of the project will occupy 10 hectares and will be able to accommodate 5,000 workers.

July 12, 2019: Philippines Plans to Set Up Hubs for Online Casinos, in Bloomberg:

“POGO is legal and is here to stay,” Domingo said, referring to Philippine offshore gaming operators. The industry employs about 138,000 mostly Chinese workers in online casinos catering to gamblers from the mainland and is poised to surpass call centers as Manila’s top new office space user this year.

Oriental Group, one of the POGO operators licensed by the Philippine Amusement & Gaming Corp., is building hubs in Cavite City in the south and Clark City in the north, Domingo said. Those operating in hubs will get a five-year gaming license against the regular 3-year permit given to others, she said.

Oriental is investing 8 billion pesos ($156.5 million) for the 20-hectare POGO City in Cavite that can accommodate 20,000 workers, said General Manager Kevin Wong. The first phase in Clark will be about 10 hectares and can host 5,000 employees.

See also: July 12, 2019: Pagcor: Government not inclined to impose higher taxes on POGOs, in Manila Standard.

July 22, 2019: Philippines Gambling Scene Troubled by Kidnapping and Fake Police, by Andrew O’Malley in VegasSlotsOnline:

*One case saw loan sharks kidnap a Chinese national after losing all borrowed funds at a casino

*The kidnappers demanded that his wife in China send $39,000 as ransom

*Another group was arrested for posing as police to extort money from an online gambling operator

July 22, 2019: Fourth State of the Nation Address of President Rodrigo R. Duterte:

Institutions that are the stewards of our resources and agents of development have long been a major source of public frustration. Drastic reforms within these agencies have yielded results. Our government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs), infamous for high salaries and bonuses being paid their executives and employees, have started to shape up. As of July 9, 2019, we collected more than P61 billion from GOCCs or government corporations, 32% of which, or P16 billion, from PAGCOR. [applause] This is more than the P36 billion collected in 2017. My salute to Andrea Domingo. [applause] Magpasugal ka pa, ma’am, nang marami. [laughter]

July 26, 2019: Belle net profit falls 11% amid competition from small-town lotteries, in BusinessWorld:

The company noted the strong revenue growth of integrated resort City of Dreams Manila was offset by the performance of Pacific Online Systems Corp., whose revenue dropped 49% to P558.8 million.

Pacific Online is 50.1% owned by Belle’s gaming subsidiary, Premium Leisure Corp. (PLC). It leases online betting equipment to the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office for the latter’s lottery and keno operations. Belle said competition from small-town lotteries mainly weighed down on the top line.

“Pacific Online is working closely with the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office and its network of agents to boost the attractiveness of the pari-mutuel games it offers, and is working to implement cost efficiency measures across its operations,” the company said.

July 29, 2019: Amid government’s crackdown on lotteries, Chinese gaming firms keep rising, in Interaksyon. Also see Duterte hits the jackpot as China fuels online gambling boom, in Asia Nikkei Review:

Backed by exploding demand for online gaming from mainland China — where gambling is officially illegal — the 56 licensed Philippine offshore gaming operators, or POGOs, are expected to rake in over $8 billion in revenue this year, nearly double what the country’s brick-and-mortar casinos, including the four flagship integrated resorts, took in last year.

The online gaming boom is attracting locally listed companies. Gaming technology company DFNN Inc. announced on July 17 that it had set up its own offshore gaming subsidiary, Nico Bayan.

Online casinos are growing so fast that they could overtake the $24.5 billion business process outsourcing industry — mainly comprised of call centers — as Metro Manila’s largest office tenant this year, according to POGO real estate brokerage Leechiu Property Consultants.

In the first half of the year, online casinos accounted for 36% of business tenant space, just behind outsourcing companies at 37%, said CEO David Leechiu.

“BPOs take nine months to do a lease, POGOs nine minutes,” said Leechiu. “Without POGOs, this market would have crashed.”

Surging gaming revenues also helped pour $313 million into Philippine government coffers in the first half of this year.

July 31, 2019: Inquirer Opinion (my column):

Yesterday, two friendly voices chimed in to try to stem the tide of popular speculation on the PCSO operational shutdown, since beyond a few official mumblings, the most the public had to go on was reminders that last year, the President pitched for that impressive specimen of integrity, Atong Ang, to take charge of cleansing the PCSO: a proposal so startling it even jolted then PNP chief Bato dela Rosa to denounce Ang, insisting the squeaky-clean police weren’t on the take from small town lottery (STL) operators. Ang had accused the cops of being on the take from STL operators; Bato clarified that what the cops got was a percentage that was legally mandated and given to the regional and national headquarters, and used in the antigambling campaign (Bato had been waging war on illegal gambling since 2017).

Friendly voice No. 1 was the Supreme Insider’s, Mon Tulfo. The President, he said, was fed up over trusted lieutenants (PCSO general manager Royina Garma, a retired police colonel, and that other glittering poster child of impeccable behavior, Sandra Cam, a member of the board) who were bickering over “who would collect the remittances from STL, lotto, Peryahan ng Bayan and Keno operators.” Garma wanted her office to do it; Cam wanted the board and the PCSO chair to do it. Cam had succeeded in ousting a previous chair, Jose Jorge Corpuz, but it seems her luck’s run out.

Tulfo also pointed out that STL franchises had “ballooned” in the current era: When it took over, there’d been 18 STL operators; now there are 85. These were, according to Tulfo, handed out by the retired officers appointed to PCSO to their mistahs from the PMA. The previous chair gave out four, the current chair’s given out one. But the alumni backslapping is nothing compared to former justice secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II, whom Tulfo says got six franchises.

Friendly voice No. 2 is our very own Jake Maderazo, who says the President acted because the receivables of the PCSO had ballooned (something noted last year by the Commission on Audit); Maderazo received information that, in recent weeks, PCSO efforts to collect have been hampered by “numerous restraining orders” issued by judges upon the request of “errant STL operators.” He broadly described what Tulfo was more specific about.

Read more: https://opinion.inquirer.net/122963/lord-of-the-flies#ixzz5wMDljmg5
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August 1, 2019: Lambino: There are Philippine Offshore Gaming Operator (POGO) operations from around the world who are thinking of coming here to the Philippines, in CNN Philippines.

August 5, 2019: Manila’s online gambling boom highlights pivot to China, in Financial Times:

The Philippines has welcomed Chinese migrants for centuries, but views of the Pogos are mixed. Estate agents say the sector is bidding aggressively for large blocks of office space and condos alike. Morgan Stanley, the investment bank, wrote in a recent research note that Pogos were set to overtake outsourcing as the largest consumer of office space in metro Manila this year.

“They have been renting huge spaces,” said Richard Raymundo, managing director for the Philippines with Colliers International, who said that Pogos currently accounted for nearly 30 per cent of commercial property transactions in Manila. “The impact has pushed up rents, both office and residential.”

With Chinese economic growth slowing, state-controlled media have hinted that Beijing — mindful of capital outflows — could also crack down on online gaming, meaning that some of the money and benefits could disappear….

Alvin Camba, a researcher at John Hopkins University, who studies the sector, said the Chinese embassy had cautioned tourists against working in the Pogos and tried to persuade the Philippines to limit investment in them. “If you look at the nature of investors in online gambling, the multinational nature of the enterprise, and the sophistication of their operations, it’s a group of very powerful firms outside the boundaries of any state,” said Mr Camba.

August 8, 2019: Self-contained POGO hubs aimed at separating Chinese workers from locals: PAGCOR, in Inside Asian Gaming:

The development of two self-contained gaming hubs set to house the operations of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) is aimed at limiting interactions between Chinese workers and local Filipinos, according to a PAGCOR official.

In an interview aired on Philippines television, PAGCOR’s Vice President of Offshore Gaming, Jose Tria, said the hubs are a response to complaints from Filipinos over alleged “unruly behavior” from POGO workers.

August 8, 2019: China urges PH gov’t to order crackdown on illegal recruitment of Chinese nationals in gambling sites, in CNN Philippines: China to Philippines: ‘Punish’ casinos, POGOs illegally recruiting Chinese, in ABS-CBN News: for full text, see Chinese Embassy statement on issues of Chinese citizens concerning gambling in the Philippines, in ABS-CBN News:

August 8, 2019: China’s Crackdown on Philippine Casinos Hits the Property Sector, in Bloomberg (see also: China Targets Philippines in Crackdown on Offshore Gambling).

*China warns citizens against cross-border gambling: embassy
*Megaworld falls most in two years, leading property share drop

August 8, 2019: Duterte administration reels as Beijing slams Manila for undermining its cross-border gambling crackdown, in South China Morning Post:

The administration of President Rodrigo Duterte appears to have been caught flat-footed by a strongly worded statement from the Chinese government, which called on Manila to “punish” Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) as well as casinos illegally employing Chinese workers and mistreating them.
Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said: “They should file formal complaints so that this particular concern will be raised in the appropriate agencies of the government so we can properly respond.”…

The embassy was particularly ticked off by a recent remark from Jose Tria, vice-president of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation, that all Chinese nationals working in Pogos would be transferred to “self-contained” communities in a bid to address mounting complaints of their “unruly behaviour”.
In a television interview on August 6, Tria said the Pogo hubs would be set up to limit interactions “between Filipinos and foreign workers”…

A source told the South China Morning Post that the problems brought about by online gaming had been a topic of intense discussions between the countries since last year.

August 8, 2019: China says online casinos illegal but PH to continue collecting taxes from them, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

The government will continue to collect taxes due from foreign—mostly Chinese—workers in Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogos) and issue tax identification numbers (TINs) to those still unregistered even as the Chinese Embassy in Manila on Wednesday (Aug 7) said online gambling was illegal in the mainland.

“We will not suspend the issuance of TINs to foreign workers,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III told reporters when asked if the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) would suspend TIN issuance to unregistered Pogo workers.

Dominguez said he had yet to see the embassy statement.

August 9, 2019: China expresses ‘grave concern’ over POGO hubs, in Philippine Star:

The Chinese embassy has expressed grave concern over a proposal of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp. (Pagcor) to transfer Chinese nationals working in Philippine offshore gaming operations (POGOs) to “self-contained” communities or hubs.

In a statement, the embassy said yesterday Pagcor’s proposal, if carried out, “may infringe on the basic legal rights of the Chinese citizens concerned.” Malacañang raised the same concern.

August 9, 2019: Beijing’s crackdown on offshore gambling to hurt PHL operators, in BusinessWorld:

There are signs that the offshore services are penetrating more deeply into China’s population than expected. Some online gaming web sites offer punters wagers as low as 10 yuan and have round-the-clock live streams, making them easily accessible by lower-income Chinese in rural areas, who do not have the means to go to Macau or other ways of scratching the gambling itch…

The ban on junkets using Macau as a settling platform for overseas gambling services kicked in from August 1, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the order has not been made public. Macau’s Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau declined to comment on the directive sent to junket operators.

Junkets and Macau-based casinos with operations in Southeast Asia are already starting to halt proxy betting and video gaming services. Concern over the crackdown has hit Macau casino stocks, with a Bloomberg Intelligence index of the biggest companies down 15 percent since the first critical media reports were published on July 8…

The halt reduced the amount of incoming bets, which total about $230 billion annually, by around 10 percent, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified as the information is not public.

Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd., one of Macau’s biggest gaming operators, asked its junket partners to stop all proxy betting at its Manila resort last month on concern it could face reprisals in Macau, according to people familiar with the move. The regulator is set to renew casino licenses in the territory next year, for the first time in two decades.

Proxy betting is a channel for money laundering, according to a 2017 US government report, because the practice allows players to conceal their identities. Some Philippine lawmakers want casinos to be placed on a list of institutions monitored for money laundering due to high profile incidents, like a 2016 heist of $81 million from Bangladesh’s foreign reserves, which were routed through a Philippine casino, a junket operator and a gaming-room promoter.

August 11, 2019: DOF: Duterte, Xi sure to discuss China worries on ‘illegal” online casinos in PH, in Philippine Daily Inquirer.

August 11, 2019:  China threat to crackdown on Philippines gaming industry “could be a positive for Macau,” in Inside Asian Gaming.

August 12, 2019: Stocks to Watch: China’s war vs POGOs hits properties, in Rappler:

China expressed grave concern that the move would infringe on the rights of its citizens. It also said that a huge amount of funds has flown out of China illegally to the Philippines because of POGOs.

The news immediately started a selloff. As of Friday, August 9, the property index had gone down by 1.5%.

Meanwhile, shares of Megaworld fell by almost 6% when news broke on Thursday, August 8, its sharpest drop since 2017.

August 13, 2019: Investors unload SMPH shares on market jitters, in BusinessWorld:

SM PRIME Holdings, Inc. (SMPH) was among the most traded stocks last week due to a slew of factors that may adversely affect the company’s bottom line in the short term such as the lower-than-expected second-quarter economic growth, the renewed escalation of US-China trade tensions, and statements of the Chinese Embassy signaling a crackdown of its citizens’ offshore gambling activities in the country.

August 14, 2019: Finance chief backs hubs for Pogo operations, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

“We welcome that—it’s easier to collect because they are all in one place. They were telling me: ‘There was one island taken over by the Pogos, [the former] Island Cove [in Cavite].’ We welcome that they are all staying there and it’s easy to catch them. It’s a welcome opportunity, it’s a welcome development,” Dominguez told reporters.

August 14, 2019: Resorts World Manila operator to delist from Philippine exchange: Move to take Travellers private comes amid weak share price performance, in Nikkei Asian Review.

August 14, 2019: Beijing Threatens Philippine Offshore Gaming, in Asian Sentinel:

Beijing is growing increasingly disenchanted with the burgeoning online gaming industry in the Philippines, which is draining hundreds of millions of renminbi through underground banks and cross-border money laundries – even as the industry shows signs of growing into a mainstay for the Philippine economy.

Authorities in Beijing say the government plans to step up action to stamp out illegal gambling and is warning its citizens at home that if they are gambling overseas. They may be committing a criminal act. As Asia Sentinel reported in April, many as 700 million of China’s 1.4 billion people are expected to be gambling online globally over the next five years unless Beijing cracks down…

With the advent of convenient, well-developed payment systems through credit cards. Small-time bettors using their phones can live-stream wagers of as little as 10 RMB (US69¢) through Putonghua-speaking computers. More affluent gamblers can use attractive fashionably-dressed proxies wearing headsets to play baccarat and other games. Thus the Chinese at home are finding it easy to spend vast amounts of money and time online, a growing percentage of that passing through Manila With computers and smartphones, they can hide their gambling from authorities.

The Pasay area itself features huge gleaming new casinos with garish interiors, a US$1 billion annual gaming district offering a respite that is thronged with Chinese, outside the range of the sharp eyes of China’s law enforcement personnel on the lookout for crooked mainland officials eager to gamble away government funds. Macau is now closely watched by Chinese authorities. The Philippines has become a route away from state control.

In July, it was announced in Manila that offshore gaming, most of it operated by an estimated 130,000 mainland Chinese – although President Rodrigo Duterte said there could be as many as half a million – who have flooded into the Philippines, either legally or illegally, is due to overtake offshore business processing as the biggest tenant of Manila real estate. The Philippines is the world’s biggest offshore business processing destination, outpointing India.

August 15, 2019: PNP probing casino junket operators for rise in kidnappings of Chinese gamblers, in Philippine Daily Inquirer.

August 16, 2019: Issuance of permits to POGO workers creates confusion between DOLE, BI, in Manila Bulletin:

The problem lay with the Bureau of Immigration (BI) and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for issuing permits for foreign workers in the Philippines.

“We found out that the Bureau of Immigrations has been issuing special working permits that they should not be issuing,” said Senator Villanueva.

According to the senator, DOLE was issuing the Alien Employment Permit (AEP). The Labor Department should be the only department to issue the permit but the immigration bureau was also issuing a similar permit.

According to the Bureau of Immigration, Special Work Permit (SWP) is for foreign nationals who shall work in the Philippines for three to six months.

The Alien Employment Permit (AEP) is a requirement for work visas to legally engage in employment in the country according to the Department of Labor and Employment.

“Ang DOLE about less than 50,000(AEP applications) a year, ang BI parang hundreds of thousands na ang (SWP) Special Working Permit,” Villanueva said.

August 16, 2019: Chinese casinos near PH military camps worry DND, in Philippine Daily Inquirer:

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday (Aug. 16) raised concern over the location of Chinese casinos, also known as Philippine offshore gaming operators (Pogo), which appeared to be too close for comfort to Philippine military camps in Metro Manila.

“This is very concerning until such time I saw the map,” Lorenzana told reporters. “They are near,” he said.

He cited the locations of Chinese casinos at Araneta Center and Eastwood which are within striking distance of the Armed Forces of the Philippines headquarters in Camp Aguinaldo.

August 16, 2019: Pogo hubs to shield legal Chinese workers from harassment, says Pagcor, in Philippine Daily Inquirer.

August 16, 2019: ‘Chinese workers in MM look like military men’, in Philippine Star.

August 19, 2019: Property companies limiting exposure to POGOs, in Philippine Star.

August 19, 2019: POGOs for espionage? China can spy on Philippines even from afar, says Duterte, in ABS-CBN News.

Clinton Palanca and the dilemma of the (un)hyphenated Filipino

Clinton Palanca and the dilemma of the (un)hyphenated Filipino

How the esteemed writer became a scholar of an evolving identity, from Filipino Chinese to Chinese Filipino.

Manuel L. Quezon III | Jun 07 2019

In the kitchen of his little London flat, some strange-looking vegetables materialized early one afternoon, and I asked Clinton Palanca what they were. “Rhubarb,” he said. Seeing my blank expression, he helpfully added, “I am going to make sinigang for dinner tonight.” Through some sort of culinary sorcery I still don’t understand, rhubarb apparently makes for a pleasing substitute for sampaloc and it turned out to be the most delicious sinigang I’ve ever had in my life.

In 2014, writing in the cookbook My Angkong’s Noodles, Clinton revealed that his time as a scholar in the U.K. was also a period of discovery in terms of food. He recalled that it was only then that he developed “a hankering for Chinese Filipino home cooking.” “Aside from being the taste of home,” he wrote, “Fujianese food had a clarity and purity of taste that the greasy Cantonese stir fries and oil-based Sichuan hot-pots that were available in Chinatown did not have.” He called home for recipes, and discovered something else, too: “I also cooked Filipino food while in Oxford and London and couldn’t help but be struck by the similarity between Fujianese food from the Philippines and mainstream Filipino food. Not only were so many of the ingredients similar, but so were many of the techniques.”

But this discovery, aside from inspiring a potential topic for his Ph.D studies, became “something of a touchy subject,” as he laid out in an illuminating passage:

“A Chinese cultural chauvinist could say there is very little in Filipino food in Luzon and the Visayas that wasn’t influenced (or taught) by the Chinese traders in some way or another. On the other hand a Philippine chauvinist could counter that Fujianese food is a simplistic cooking style that hasn’t been very popular even in its home province, and developed its complexity and was improved upon only in the Philippine setting. Neither would be completely wrong. The only fact we can agree on is that southern Chinese food and Philippine food were intertwined from very early on, from before recorded history when trading ships learned to cross the sea that separated the two cultures. There is ample proof that Filipino culture made an impact in Fujian, one of the few places where chocolate was imbibed as a stimulant, as well as in the architectural style and materials (for example, Machuca tiles) of wealthy traders’ houses. Both of these, however, date from the Spanish colonial period.”

The passage is illuminating because in the midst of his personal testimony about his absence from home finally inspiring an identification with the cuisine he’d formerly taken for granted, Clinton identified what could be “touchy”: extremism –chauvinism, one definition of which is “excessive or prejudiced support for one’s own cause, group, or sex.” In the overlapping circles that comprise the Venn Diagram of our lives, Clinton was, as he himself wrote in 2003 in his book of the same title, a member of the group called Chinese Filipinos. A passage from that book combines an image he would return to, time and again, with the definition he would insist on using for the rest of his life:

“There is a structure that still stands to this day on what was then called ‘Engineer Island’, or Tsui-tsu in Hokkien, where the immigrants who arrived from southern China during the first half of the twentieth century were held while their papers were sorted out. Some of them stayed for a few hours, others for days, and still others for months or years. It was the gateway by which several hundred thousand Chinese, most of them illiterate farmers, crossed the South China Sea and entered what was then known as the Philippine Islands. They did not come to stay, but eventually did; and today they make up the 1-2 percent of the population who are known as the ‘Chinese Filipinos.’”

Photograph from Amazon

Clinton went on to point out that the Chinese Filipinos of today were previously known as something else:

“This group of people was formerly known as the ‘Filipino Chinese.’ The new terminology was used as a catchphrase, in the advocacy arena, to encapsulate the new sort of Sinitic individuals living in the Philippines; primarily Filipino in nationality and allegiance, integrating into the mainstream society without sacrificing their culture and legacy. Chinese Filipinos, in reversing the order of the modifier and the modified, proclaimed they are Filipinos, who happen to be of Chinese origin.”

Engineer Island, introduced in Chinese Filipinos as our sort of home-grown version of Ellis Island, would reappear in Clinton’s other writings in a more personal way, most poignantly, perhaps, in his An Open Letter to F. Sionil Jose which appeared in Spot.ph in June, 2015:

“It would be a poor society that would deem as less of a Filipino one such as my father, who took his chance as a migrant and was held at Engineer’s Island as a young man, hoping to enter the Philippines. He then spent half a lifetime waiting to be given the chance to pledge his loyalty to a new homeland; with the same vigor, it would seem, that many are now seeking to escape it by emigration. To ask him or me to be less Chinese in order to be more of a patriot diminishes not just my humanity but the great diversity and history of integration that is part of the Filipino identity.”

Clinton’s father, Albert, belonged to the second great wave of migrants who came to the Philippines in the 20th Century from 1918-1948, during the era of American colonization to the Commonwealth and the first years of independence. He was a contemporary of my own father, and so through Clinton’s writings I came to appreciate just how different their worlds were, the fundamental division being along racial –and racist—lines. My father had a wicked sense of humor and liked putting arrogant mestizos –who assumed he shared their prejudices—in their place by replying to some private, anti-Chinese outburst from some acquaintance by pointing out he’d traced his family’s origins to the Parian and that if his father (supposedly the supreme mestizo) had any brains, “it was because of his Chinese blood.”

Well-deserved as such rebukes might be, neither he or anyone of his generation could possibly imagine the life of exclusion –and extortion—that was the lot of the migrant generation. The genesis, as I understand it, of Clinton’s Chinese Filipinos book was to describe, in an attractive coffee-table format, the origins and experiences, the difficulties and yet astounding durabilities, of those migrants at a time when their children and grandchildren had become free (because assimilated) enough, to begin forgetting or even dismissing the heritage that had ensured their progenitors’ survival.

The book was necessary not only for the transmission of collective memory but also because the past has an irrepressible ability to haunt the present and inflict itself on the future. Jonathan Fast and Jim Richardson in Roots of Dependency: Political and Economic Revolution in 19th Century Philippines, pointed out that there had been a first great wave of migration to the Philippines, with its origins in the 1830s to 1840s when the Spanish colonial authorities in the Philippines made one of their periodic about-faces in policy and decided to welcome, rather than forbid, Chinese emigration. With typical Spanish efficiency it was only in the 1850s that the policy, meant to attract labor to work on haciendas, really started to kick in: entering high gear from 1876-1886, “when the Chinese population rose from approximately thirty thousand to over ninety thousand. In the early 1880’s, over 10,000 Chinese immigrants a year were landing in Manila.”

This first wave may have been during the twilight of Spanish rule, but it established the social and political conventions that would endure into the second wave when Americans, then Filipinos, were in charge.

A true story: Two scions, one belonging to a venerable Spanish merchant house, and the other, the son of a Taipan, were drinking at a bar. The son of the Taipan bewailed the fact that he was the richest man in the club to which both scions belonged, but for all his billions, why didn’t he seem to get any respect? “That’s because,” his mestizo companion told him, in his best, bored, matter-of-fact manner, “you’ll always just be a Chink.”

Here, in a nutshell, was the traditional pecking order of things, at least at the time the story took place, which was slightly less than twenty years ago. In the nearly two decades since, however, our society has changed, and where there is change, there is tension.

Clinton was fully aware of these tensions but in a manner different from either his fellow Chinese Filipinos, Filipinos in general, or the foreigners who pontificate on our country and culture. If his book, Chinese Filipinos chronicled the formation of an identity, and its manifestations in everything from food, to language, to the urban landscape, the same period in Oxford and London that led him to seriously embrace and explore the cuisine of his Chinese Filipino heritage, led him to apply the scrutiny of a scholar to the tensions he had come to recognize in the larger whole and the subset he had helped label.

In Beyond Binondo and Ma Ling, published online by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism in July, 2007, Clinton distilled his findings into an essay suitable for ordinary readers. In it he describes what sets Chinese Filipinos apart from communities descended from Chinese migrants in some of our neighboring countries. In a nutshell, the vast majority of Filipino Chinese such as him, belong to a cohesive group (“mostly Fujianese, with just a handful from Guangdong”) in a nation, the Philippines, itself composed of many cohesive groups (Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Capangpangans, and so on). But if the story of how Chinese Filipinos came to be –and coped—has been told (not least in Chinese Filipinos, which came out just four years before this article), change, again, had come, disturbing what had so painstakingly taken generations to emerge. Change, in this case, was represented by the rise (really, the revival) of China’s power and prestige, as well as the influx of a new wave of Chinese migrants to the Philippines. As Clinton put it, “what is at present making the situation that much more complicated is the increasing influx of what are often termed the ‘new migrants,’ more properly known as the xinqiao. These are ‘mainlanders’ who have emigrated from China since its reopening and represent an entirely different generation of migrants.”

In the dozen years since this article came out, what Clinton had already identified and described, the tensions that have arisen in broader Philippine society and even within the Chinese Filipino community, has gotten increasingly impossible to ignore, not least because it has given old prejudices a new lease on life. It led to Clinton speaking out in only the way he could, in a much-noticed open letter to F. Sionil Jose. It was a trend Clinton found reprehensible not least because it needn’t be inevitable; what it demanded, however, was a clear-eyed appreciation of its insidious staying power. Just six months ago, he would reintroduce and update many of the ideas he first introduced in his 2007 article in another piece, Anti-Chinese Sentiment Grows In Philippines, published in the Asian Sentinel in December, 2018.

He closed that piece with an assertion and a warning:

“The Chinese Filipinos are caught in between—not because their loyalty is divided, as pundits such as Monsod would have it. Their loyalty has remained unchanged—but the friends and neighbors they have lived with for years are suddenly looking at them differently. All parties concerned are beneficiaries of a fragile peace that took three generations to build.

“Most Chinese Filipinos identify as Filipino—and many are, in fact, the most vocal critics of the economic colonization by China. But many, especially rabble-rousers in search of a scapegoat, don’t know the difference, or don’t care; and as the economy sours further, so mounts the ethnic tension.”

Chances are, like me, you tried to get through your studies on Rizal with minimal compliance. It was only later in life that I got to appreciate his words of dedication in the NoliI will do with thee what the ancients did with their sick, exposing them on the steps of the temple so that every one who came to invoke the Divinity might offer them a remedy.

On the penultimate night of Clinton Palanca’s wake, F. Sionil Jose and his wife appeared, to condole, and, as he sat quietly in the front row looking at the urn, I suppose, also to reflect. In the corner where we were seated a writer-friend turned to me and whispered, “Do you remember Frankie’s column and the way Clinton replied?” Of course. “Well, wasn’t that pure Clinton? Firm, yet kind, rational and respectful, but in the end, he put the old man in his place.”

And now here was the “old man.”

Was he returning the sentiments Clinton had expressed to close his open letter from four years ago? His last line had been, “I remain, and always will be, your friend in words and ideals.” I’d like to think so. But there was one additional comment during that huddled conversation in a corner of a wake that has stayed with me: “Clinton was the only one who bothered to leave open the door for dialogue even when he firmly drew the line on the kind of thinking that’s just plain wrong.”

What is a book, Chinese Filipinos, in a nation that might tolerate it as something decorative but hardly as an enduring guide to the future by way of the past? What is an article, whether meant as a contribution to the rigorous analysis of our society in a particular era, or a fraternal correction to a peer befuddled by bigotry, or even as reportage on a troubling trend, if it only serves to build walls instead of dismantling them? It would be pointless –and this is the point of this introduction to what I believe will long endure as Clinton’s most substantial contribution to the continuous puzzlement that is being an (un)hyphenated Filipino. Eloquently, rigorously, fearlessly, he contributed to our self-awareness without succumbing to the temptation to be self-absorbed.

Clinton Palanca showed the way forward, for all Filipinos. Remember that.

Clinton Palanca


Clinton Palanca

 / 05:04 AM June 05, 2019
The passing of a writer, whether, as they say, in the prime of life or at the end of a long career, is like the dropping of a stone in a pond. There are ripples of grief, radiating out and seemingly tsunami-like in intensity to the small, quarrelsome but ultimately mutually supportive community of writers who take such news seriously; but which quickly vanishes into the vast, placidly indifferent expanse of a society for whom the arts in general, and literature in particular, are less than relevant things.So it has been in the week since he passed. Wonderful words of tribute have been published in the pages of this newspaper and other publications. He was a fictionist, an essayist, a critic, a chef; he was also a teacher, an editor and a mentor to many aspiring writers and restaurateurs.

Rizal, in a famous oration, once declaimed, “genius knows no country.” But he also said that every genius bore the indelible stamp of the country that produced that genius; and that in the creations of that genius, the very nature of the land of that genius’ birth would find expression. Yes, I’ve used that word—genius—five (now six!) times, because that is what Clinton Palanca was. And I emphasize this not out of partisan hyperbole as a friend, but as someone who first came to know him as most others have—through his words.

One instantly got the impression—increasingly validated over time—that he was a writer who always respected his readers, believing both for himself and about them that dumbing things down was as objectionable, demeaning and ultimately lazy as imprisoning one’s thoughts in a prison of jargon.

Just as many aspects of Clinton—as a son, a husband, a father and a friend—must, because of limitations of space, be glossed over, so too have other aspects overshadowed his many other achievements. Let me identify just one: his technical brilliance, which manifested itself literally behind the scenes. As an editor, he was punctilious but not dictatorial; like the best of them, he was a nurturer of talent, adept at the quiet diplomacy and time-outs to provide encouragement the work demands, the mentorship that younger writers require and the collegiality and confidentiality that older ones crave.

And because he was drawn, inexorably, as we all know, to food: as a consumer of both his writing and cooking, I strongly feel the obvious must be said because oddly enough it is sometimes overlooked. His writing on food was informed by his appreciation of, actual competence in, and having grappled with the ruthless, even merciless, nature of the food business, and the physical, not to mention emotional, demands of working in and running a kitchen.

Add to this his study of food anthropology, and you have as well-rounded a capacity to write on food and its place in the human condition as it is possible to have in any one person.

But there were things he could never escape. One conversation I’ve never forgotten.

Acquaintance: “Ah, your friend Clinton Palanca has opened a restaurant?”

Me: “Yes, he has.”

Acquaintance: “What’s it called? Prosperous?”

Me: “No, no. Prospero’s.”

Acquaintance: “Yes, yes. Prosperous. Does he serve sweet and sour pork?”

And all because of Clinton’s ancestry, which therefore somehow limited his options to opening a Cantonese short-order place. The easy, callous—because ingrained—racism of our society has always been there, easily brushed aside when simply a matter of the doltishness I described above. These past few years, when bigotry has become increasingly assertive, Clinton never failed to speak out, not as an attention-seeking polemicist, but as the best kind of citizen, the kind committed to the resistance of the seductions of hate.

Teodoro M. Locsin, in a tribute to his friend Philip Buencamino III who was killed in the prime of his life, described how he, Buencamino, and Jose W. Diokno worked together in a newspaper during Liberation. Diokno, he recalled, kept the paper together even as it threatened to go to pieces every day; while he (Locsin), “thundered and shrilled; that is, I wrote the editorials.” As for the third man in their triumvirate, it was Philip’s “particular pride,” he recalled, “to give every man, even the devil, his due. While I jumped on a man, Philip would patiently listen to his side.”

This passage has always remained with me because even as it was written in remembrance of the unique alchemy that brought those three friends of that era together, it spoke—and speaks—to me of Clinton and his friendships. While I am not alone in being a friend who thundered and shrilled, he was unique in his generation in terms of possessing that ability to listen and be fair.

Review: ‘Quezon’s Game’ finds its way to the heart of the truth through make-believe

Raymond Bagatsing as Manuel L. Quezon

Review: ‘Quezon’s Game’ finds its way to the heart of the truth through make-believe

Don’t watch it to know about history, writes Manuel L. Quezon III—grandson of the film’s main protagonist—but be entertained, and appreciate how it seeks to tell truths through dramatic nuances

Manuel L. Quezon III | Jun 03 2019

Quezon’s Game opened May 29, and people have been asking me what I thought of the film after attending the premiere earlier this month. I happen to have a good opinion of the director-writer, Jay Rosen and his wife, whose passion-project this film is. As far as I’m concerned, may their tribe—and those of producers like Star Cinema, which has taken a gamble by producing the film—increase. We have too few historical films and I don’t see how we will develop this genre unless more films of this sort are made.

But because I love historical films, I tend to be hypercritical about them. That’s the privilege of being a member of the audience, and what’s more, just because it’s about Quezon shouldn’t automatically mean I should try to self-censor my opinions. So when I was asked to weigh in on the film, I thought, why not—so long as I really say what I feel (and this is just me, this isn’t a family point of view; we’re all too far opinionated as a family to have a party line on this or any other topic).

Let me start with what seems to me especially difficult about making a movie on this topic and with the main character being MLQ.

Here’s a basic problem: you’d have to be pushing eighty to have reached Quezon and his times, since he died 75 years ago come this August. There are very few people who are still in that position—and because of the passage of time, even their memories may have become fuzzy with the passage of the decades. Because of the ravages of time and our climate, we have to rely on snippets of films(most of them without sound) in archives abroad. Hardly anyone alive is old enough to remember his voice; to have seen his famous glare, or the way he gestured during a speech; or saw him review a parade, or who can say they saw him smile oreven wave to a crowd. For that matter, to see him and the people of his era in old films and pictures deprives us of something we take for granted: seeing people and places in color, even for a few seconds.

This film isn’t unique in working within the limitations of time and budget and sacrificing pinpoint-accuracy for something that can be done within limited means. Limited resources, however, doesn’t mean the filmmakers should get a free pass for every judgment call they had to make. Can a movie about past events disregard the facts, and play fast and free with the details, and still be right? The truth is, all historical films do—if they didn’t, they’d be documentaries instead of entertainment.

The gold standard these days when it comes to historical dramas is Jerrold Tarog but even in his films on Antonio Luna and Gregorio del Pilar he had to sacrifice accuracy. Compare a photograph of then-Major Manuel L. Quezon with this publicity still of Benjamin Alves playing his role in Goyo:

Photograph of then-Major Manuel L. Quezon (left), publicity still of Benjamin Alves playing his role in Goyo

Until around 1909, Quezon had what one writer described as “wonderful twirling moustachios” but Jerrold probably decided he’d better get rid of MLQ’s ‘stache because people might wonder why a Mexican bandit wandered into one of his films. Nor does Alves look like MLQ much at all, but there’s more to a role than physical resemblance. Making period films here at home always involves trying to do more with less and the less can be quite comical. Who can forget that even in Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s acclaimed Rizal, our national hero, apparently, was executed by a bunch of anorexic Iranians?

And of course even the West can reduce us to comedy. Forced to finish production in Sri Lanka because of threats of a lawsuit from one of the major figures in the EDSA Revolution, HBO’s A Dangerous Life, which featured Gary Busey as a journalist covering the fall of Ferdinand Marcos, had a climactic scene of Sri Lankans leaping about like lemurs, chanting “Cur-ry! Cur-ry!”

Filipinos were amused by this and aghast over the enormous prosthetic nose of Laurice Guillien who played “Curry” Aquino, or the way Cardinal Sin, played by the late, great, Rolando Tinio, turned out to be as skinny as Palito. But the film, for my generation, at least, contained a scene which silently portrayed in a few seconds, the fall of the Great Dictator better than any historically-based scene or dialogue could ever manage: Ruben Rustia, as Marcos, pausing by his presidential desk as he was about to flee, bending down, and kissing it. Here was a case of artistic license saying more than any factual scene ever could. In those fleeting seconds the finality of the fall of an entire regime was captured.

Bagatsing plays the role of MLQ with such flair.

Definitely you can say Bagatsing makes for a more authentic-looking Quezon. But it’s his acting that carries the film: he plays the role with such flair that in fact there are only two flaws in his portrayal. The first is probably due to a lack of materials to study: like the actor who played Littlefinger in Game of Thrones, sometimes it seemed Bagatsing couldn’t decide on what accent to use for his character, so his MLQ alternates between sounding Filipino or semi-American (MLQ’s accent is the type so extinct we last heard it in the diction of the late President Diosdado Macapagal: heavily inflected with Filipino-Spanish; if you go to Corregidor and beg the people in charge to play the Light and Sound Show put together by the late National Artlst Lamberto Javellana, you can get a good sense of how Quezon sounded, because Javellana knew him: he pronounced “General MacArthur,” for example, “Gen’rral Macarthah”).

The truth is, to carry through an authentic accent might be distracting to modern-day ears and possibly lapse into parody if the actor wasn’t careful. The second fault has nothing to do with Bagatsing at all: Quezon wouldn’t have been caught dead in the clothes provided by whoever was in charge of wardrobe for the production. (Then again, most of the other characters wouldn’t have dressed like that, either: you’ll find a lot of people wearing vests when in those days no one wore vests in the daytime, because who uses vests in a tropical climate?)

Rachel Alejandro as Aurora Quezon is, as always, a total pro except she is playing a character who never existed. By this I mean—and it’s no fault of hers—her portrayal of everything, from the mannerisms and behavior and even the clothing and hair, has absolutely nothing to do with the real Mrs. Quezon. It’s not as if it would have been easy to study for the role; film clips are rare, though a few exist like this view of her listening to her husband give a speech; recordings of her are even rarer, and just as it would have been tough for Bagatsing to copy Quezon’s accent, to portray Mrs. Quezon’s voice and Baler accent would have been exceedingly tough to do, and might easily slip into a caricature, too.

If this movie were a school report I think it’s clear by now I’d give it an “F.” But as a film, I’d give it far higher marks, and not merely for effort. Let me walk you through three scenes which I don’t think will spoil the movie for you, so you can see what I mean.

Rachel Alejandro as Aurora Quezon

In one scene, Quezon has a talk with his wife, who is terribly worried that the stresses of the job are killing her husband. Up to that point, the portrayal of their marriage seemed to me completely inauthentic: they are portrayed as a quarreling couple with the wife throwing jealous fits in the manner of our movies over the past 40 years. But they weren’t a modern couple and what’s more, her character wasn’t the harsh, dramatic type we see in our local films. She belonged to an era you would have seen in LVN or Sampaguita pictures: the long-suffering, patient, soft-spoken wife, quietly enduring her husband’s infidelities until her husband recognized the error of his ways and returned to the spouse who never ceased loving (and praying) for him. Not that she was simply a martyr; she was an effective partner whocould convince him where others failed, for example.

And it’s that context that was captured quite well in that scene, where Bagatsing’s MLQ walks Alejandro’s Aurora on why he needed to keep on pushing his policy on Jewish refugees against all opposition; at one point, she remarks, “I know when I married you that you are married to the country, first,” which was what she genuinely believed. She even plastered it (the Latin means “None higher than his country”) on the bookplate she placed on every book in her library.

Aurora placed this bookplate on every book in her library.

In this  single scene, the writers, director, and artists managed to get to the heart of their partnership and by so doing, finally did justice to the characters portrayed. There is another scene, which people unfamiliar with her life story may not get, but it shows the filmmakers did research. At one point she’s shown sleeping in a little nipa house: there was actually such a nipa house in Malacañan Palace. There was also a guest house across the river (today we know it’s concrete replacement as Bahay Pangarap), where she liked to stay because she frankly hated the Palace and much preferred a cottage to it.

Audie Gemora as then-Vice President Sergio Osmeña

In another scene, Sergio Osmeña, who was then Vice President, has a meeting with Quezon and frankly confronts him about the misgivings many of their fellow politicians harbor about being so welcoming to the Jews. There’s a couple of things that provide useful background to this scene. The two men, Quezon and Osmeña, were not just political allies, off-and-on political rivals, but, in a way that is now extinct, old friends dating back to the time both were poor obscure country bumpkins studying in the big city.

This meant that ambition motivated both men, and while one might be president today, and the other his veep, it didn’t always have to be that way: but still, both men understood each other, because they had spent nearly 40 years by this time, fighting for the same thing: independence. One major difference was that one was healthy (Osmeña would live on until 1961) and the other, a dying man (Quezon would be dead by 1944, about seven years after the period portrayed in this film).

Back to the scene: Osmeña lets down his guard and asks Quezon why he’s being so stubborn, and Quezon tells him why: one of them is that he wants to live long enough to see independence happen. For a public figure, a sense of looming mortality is quite a motivation to stick to a purpose. I remember my father telling me, after we watched the movie Gandhi, which featured a scene in which Gandhi was exasperated by the single-minded insistence of Mohammed Ali Jinnah on the independence of Pakistan, that few films portrayed the kind of stubborn dedication that can arise in people with TB: Jinnah, like Quezon, had Tuberculosis and died of it, too.

Along the way, they discuss Osmeña’s real purpose for their meeting, which is to receive instructions for economic negotiations he’s about to conduct in Washington (this was a true event and Osmeña did succeed in his mission). Quezon reminds him of what’s at stake, and gives him two examples of why they had to accomplish what they’d set out to do as young men, which was achieve independence. Now Audie Gemora is far too animated a personality to play the more composed, quiet, Osmeña, but there are flashes of brilliance in his portrayal. There is a moment where, talking with fellow politicians, you see the suppressed ambition suddenly spark back to life: a couple of seconds where you can see him practically salivate over the potential of regaining political supremacy. It is a truthful moment. Hopefully, you’ll spot it.

Then Bagatsing-as-Quezon tells Gemora-as-Osmeña two stories.

The first example Bagatsing-as-MLQ gives, is a story about how even when they visit the White House, they have to use the bathrooms for colored folks. The truth of the matter is even more interesting than its fictional portrayal. For generations, Filipinos worked in the White House in their capacity as Navy Stewards whooperated and served in the White House Mess (that’s kitchen, to us non-navy types). The reason Filipinos served as such was that the U.S. military’s officers felt it was improper for them to be served by African Americans when the entire U.S. Armed Forces were segregated. So, they hired Filipinos to replace the African-Americans. Which is to say that the story of the White House bathroom, while vivid, appears in the film purely for effect: Quezon and his family would, in May 1942, upon arrival to establish the government-in-exile, were overnight guests in the White House, so a color ban couldn’t have applied.

The second example, though, was absolutely true. Bagatsing-as-Quezon reminds Osmeña that even now, during the Commonwealth, Filipinos weren’t allowed in the Army Navy Club at the Luneta and that it had a sign, “No dogs and Filipinos allowed.” We know this to be true because the late Teodoro M. Locsin (Teddyboy’s father) wrote, more than once, of this sign in the prewar Manila of his youth; and in the 1990s a documentary featured an interview of former Vice President Emmanuel Pelaez recalling that as a young law student, he was bodily thrown out of the Army Navy Club after daring to enter its premises.

I once wrote an article for the Philippine Tatleron how even dance clubs were segregated until the 1920s, when Quezon and Governor-General Francis Burton Harrison invaded a dance hall to put an end to the racial line that required Filipinos and Americans to dance separate from each other. Both examples given by Quezon in this scene, while one seems fictitious and the other genuine, strike home because they were connected to an essentially true and important point: we were never considered equals in a colonial system built on racism. After all, in the 1920s even Time Magazine described us as “little brown crickets.”

James Paoleli as American High Commissioner, Paul V. McNutt

I am divided as to my choice of the third scene. Both of my choices are scenes that are pure inventions. One has Quezon dropping by the American High Commissioner, Paul V. McNutt’s (quite well played by James Paoleli) place, but their chat is interrupted by an American official (I wish I knew the name of the actor: he plays the kind of antipatiko White American colonial know-it-all to perfection: such types did exist once upon a time) barging in to lecture McNutt on the stupidity of his taking the side of the Jews when God knows what will happen if the Philippines fills up with Jews. Bagatsing fumes off to one side as the conversation takes place. The scene is an essential one in communicating to the audience the motivations (ignoble ones) of the Americans who opposed helping the Jews.

My other candidate for an informative scene is one in which Bagatsing-as-Quezon finds his options hemmed in by growing opposition from all sides, Filipino and American. He decides to circumvent the opposition by doing something he actually introduced and perfected during his political career: to appeal to public opinion. Again, the scene is entirely fictional, though some of his words are taken from an actual speech he delivered in Marikina when he donated some of his own land for a dormitory for the Jewish refugees. There is an accompanying scene of a protest rally in defense of the Jews—there was one such rally, a truly rare thing, in indignation over Kristallnacht, in which the Nazis unleashed a round of persecutions of the Jews, burning shops and synagogues and arresting Jews. It is one of the best performances of Bagatsing in the entire movie.

But, alas. Quezon’s Gamehas its fair share of howlers. The craziest one is where a fairly competently-played (by David Bianco) Dwight D. Eisenhower, who at the time was assigned to the Philippines as Douglas MacArthur’s deputy in the Military Adviser mission to the Philippine government, has a brief meeting with MacArthur. The MacArthur in the movie seems to have wandered in from his retirement community in Subic where he’d spent the decades since the closing of the U.S. bases getting high on pot when he wasn’t guzzling Pale Pilsen. This version of MacArthur even has a beachcomber’s beard to match, when MacArthur was never anything but cleanshaven. The scene is so absurd that the Eisenhower actor even has to waste a line: “Why General, I almost didn’t recognize you with that beard,” to which the potbellied retiree mumbles something like, “Yeah, go figure, I’m retired yannow,” which is only partially right: by that time, MacArthur had retired from the U.S. Army but he was still a Filipino Field Marshal, and still military adviser. This was a scene that will send the eyebrows of anyone with even the slightest bit of knowledge shooting off into permanent orbit in outer space. Why? Why? Why, God, why?

Raymond Bagatsing with Billy Ray Gallion as Alex Frieder (left) and David Bianco as Dwight Eisenhower (second from right)

Another howler of a scene was one of the most ridiculously wrong in the film if you look at it from the point of view of facts and real events. A ball is held for the sole purpose of trying to strike a deal with the “German Ambassador”—when there was no such thing, because, still not independent, all that foreign governments had in the Philippines were consuls. The whole scene is a surreal combination of Rick’s Café Americain from the movie Casablancawith extras, including a fellow in Nazi S.S. uniform, who seem to have wandered in from an Indiana Jones movie. Everything about the scene is wrong: no one would have behaved the way they do, or talked the way they do, or do any of the things they do, in the scene. At one point Bagatsing makes a proposal to a perspiring fat Nazi more suitable to a Mafia movie in New York (and a terrible one at that). At another point, the sneering S.S. officer takes turns baring his teeth at the “ambassador” and at Bagatsing. There never would have been such a party with people behaving that way but… but… there were Nazis in Manila, and while nothing happened in the way of this scene, you’d have to have half an hour of back-and-forth that might get out of hand or end up utterly boring, just to explain the dynamics involved.

Which brings us to that old observation that no one likes movies about people having conversations in rooms. But let me take a step back and walk you through what the film is supposed to be about. I’ve prepared a Timeline of the Rescue of Jewish Refugeesso you can get a sense of actual events, and how they played out, and some useful background, so we don’t have to go into it in depth, here. I hope you’ll read it, either before or after you watch the movie (or both!), but basically, it sets out to untangle how Manuel L. Quezon, then President of the Philippines, the Jewish community in Manila, which included the Frieders, Jewish-American brothers who owned a cigar factory here, and the U.S. High Commissioner, Paul V. McNutt (who, in those pre-independence days, served as a kind of U.S. ambassador), worked together to do something hardly any country was willing to do: take in refugee Jews who were racing against the clock to get out of Germany and start a new life wherever the Nazis couldn’t reach them.

Make no mistake: the Jews who couldn’t escape faced death. Here is a chilling set of statistics compiled by Ber Kotlerman: a set of 20 letters was found in the Quezon papers, all of them written by Jews in 1938-39 asking to be allowed to come to the Philippines. All except one of the letter writers died in the concentration camps. The equally chilling explanation comes from Philip Frieder in that same year: hundreds of applications for visas had been received, he said, but because of a lack of funds, none could be approved.

The unique status of the Philippines is what allowed this rescue project to happen. American immigration laws were tight, but as a Commonwealth, the Philippines had its own authority to decide who would be allowed to step foot in the Philippines. This meant that American consuls abroad, if told that the Filipinos would accept Jews, could issue visas that otherwise weren’t available if refugees wanted to go to the United States itself. Quezon decided on who could enter the country, and McNutt as the representative of the U.S. government in the Philippines could tell consuls abroad to issue visas.

As practical politicians (McNutt was a former governor of Indiana and at the time in which this movie was set, widely-discussed as a strong candidate for the presidency in the forthcoming 1940 U.S. elections), both knew there was a fine line in the laws of both their countries that they had to follow, and an even finer line in terms of what public opinion would tolerate.

This is where requirements came in. To be given a visa, a refugee would have to have skills or a background considered advantageous by the Philippines, and be assured of having a job and financial support from the Jewish community in the Philippines; so not everyone could be given a visa and even the visas issued would have to be kept to a number that eventually settled on 1,000 individuals a year, for 10 years.

This, then, was Quezon’s game. As the film tries to show, this rescue project wasn’t happening in a vacuum. Actually, Quezon’s dilemma was three-fold, in the year 1938.

First, it was the first mid-term election, ever. His administration would be judged on its performance and the results would be revealed in how his candidates fared in November.

But even if he did well, it might mark his becoming a lame duck. As it was, there were already suggestions to amend the Constitution to restore the senate and allow presidential re-election.

Second, Filipino businessmen were getting cold feet about independence and American businessmen were inclined to either sell off and pull out, or keep the Philippines in some sort of permanent relationship with America. The opinion of businessmen could not be ignored, particularly in an election year that required them to healthily donate to the administration’s campaign.

Third (and this was related to the second), the jockeying to succeed Franklin D. Roosevelt, who was already in his second term, had begun. American High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt was considered a potentially strong candidate for the presidency. But there was also the possibility that the Republicans might win: and if so, as opponents of Philippine independence they could, quite possibly, reverse the plans for independence. So Quezon’s gambit was two-fold: to propose moving the date of independence earlier, or, if the Republicans looked like they might win, to compromise with a permanent association but with independence: in other words, dominion status, like Canada.

On the while, while there are a lot of details that the film gets wrong, the basic issues are vividly exposed in this movie, as were the various motivations of the people involved: knowing what was at stake. When a humanitarian—a moral—crisis confronts the world, nations and individuals are called upon to make choices. When people in authority have to make those choices, they have to balance thinking of the next election and the next generation. What would you do, in such a situation?

The movie begins and ends with that question, actually. “Did I do enough,” Bagatsing-as-Quezon asks his wife. The story unfolds in a way that in a matter of hours, gives you a version—not the textbook version, but an imaginary version—of who did what, and how. This is a film about flawed people trying to rise above their own limitations. It’s worth your time and money, but don’t watch it to learn history. Be entertained with a story that tries its best to get to the heart of the truth by means of make-believe; because the things that matter aren’t in dry catalogs of facts but in understanding what moves and motivates people, from the famous to the obscure.

The Long View: Sa Pulong? Sa Ferdie!


Sa Pulong? Sa Ferdie!

 / 05:06 AM May 29, 2019


It was fun while it lasted. But it’s sabong time. At least, that’s what recent goings-on in the congressional Grand Cocker Speakership Derby suggests.

Her Honor, Mayor Sara Duterte, may have teamed up with The Honorable Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, the incumbent Speaker, to seize the speakership and collaborate on Hugpong ng Pagbabago, but it’s time to select a new Speaker. And so, a multiround elimination fiesta has been playing out in the press, with the two formidable ladies backing different candidates.

Her Honor waded in soon after the midterms and, in a dizzying blitzkrieg of comments, smashed the hopes and dreams of at least two speakership aspirants. Round 1 saw the (swift) elimination of Alan Peter Cayetano from the speakership qualifying round. Her Honor declared he was an extortionist, and refused to back him when he supposedly threatened to bolt the ruling coalition if she didn’t back him.

Round 2 featured a declaration of the continuing ineligibility of Pantaleon Alvarez, on the basis of his being a snake and a sneak. With Her Honor declaring him still outside the loyalist kulambo, Alvarez’s continuing ineligibility from consideration also kicked him to the curb in the qualifying round. And what’s more, she reminded the faithful, the man had been caught on video threatening to embarrass her. This was not only a throwback to his earlier boastful indiscretions—remember when he’d bragged he could impeach the President?—but proved he was on the same miserable extortionary level as Cayetano with his threats.

Round 3 was a sibling slugfest featuring Her Honor, the Mayor, daring dear old daddy to back her troublemaker of a brother, congressman-elect Pulong. It was a move increasingly showing the peck-and-slash style she first inherited from dear old daddy, but is making increasingly her own. The dare was this: Fine, we’ve already had to kick that good-for-nothing boy upstairs to the House, but will you put the piggery in the hands of this sibling of mine?

Dear old daddy, who himself once upon a time had said he found the piggery such a sty that he preferred to spend his congressional term snacking in the canteen or malling, had to fold. His finally giving in to Her Honor, by grumbling he’d rather quit if his son made a bid for the speakership, led, in turn, to his disgruntled son making passive-aggressive comments in response. Said Pulong, more or less: “I did not say I want to be Speaker… Someone whispered lies into your ear again, Mr. President.”

What Her Honor’s dare also did, by the way, was further trap the still-disgraced Alvarez, who at one point slavishly announced that, of course, if Pulong sought the speakership, he (Alvarez) would immediately and loyally withdraw his bid. But the way dear old dad got confronted by his daughter just proved to everyone watching that The Decider here would remain Her Honor the Mayor, and not His Former Excellency, the President.

Which brings us to Round 4, currently taking place: the opening of the final round between the last congressmen standing, Lord Allan Velasco in Her Honor the Mayor’s corner as Representative of The Coming Man Squad, and Ferdinand Martin Romualdez in the corner of the (current) Honorable Speaker of the House as the candidate of choice of The Thoroughbred Caucus. And it’s here where Her Honor is now publicly at odds with the Honorable incumbent Speaker over the selection of her successor.

While Inday Sara’s style is to barge in and belt out her opinions, the former president and current Speaker’s style is slicker. She let loose a serpent — Danilo Suarez of the Company Union, known as the House minority bloc — to hiss his deep thoughts to gathered reporters. Suarez first hissed honeyed words of praise: Sara is a dear friend, she’s a maverick with a terrific right hook, she’s the President’s daughter and a contender for the presidency — what she says matters. But this was preamble to what he had to say on GMA’s behalf: Romualdez, he pointed out, already enjoys the support of 126 representatives. GMA herself holds sway over a significant bloc in the House. Of course Her Honor or the President could weigh in, but, he seemed to infer, would that look nice?

Arroyo afterward snapped at reporters that she had no comment on the speakership fight — after all, Suarez had already done the talking. Inday Sara may have pinned down dear old dad, who might still personally prefer an Alvarez comeback, but he won’t run the risk of belying the hyperloyalism (publicly, at least) of his daughter, his only competent child. But he can remain silent, and see if she can tip the balance of power in the House.

Jewish Refugees and the Philippines: A Timeline

If you’ve watched the film, “Quezon’s Game” (or even if you never do), hopefully you will become interested in learning more about the rescue of Jews who found a safe haven in the Philippines.

Frieders with Jewish refugees in Manila; from the Rescue in the Philippines website.

Hopefully the extracts from academic articles and books will help provide a deeper understanding of these events. All errors and shortcomings in attribution are my responsibility alone.

Cast of Characters:


Manuel L. Quezon: “In 1935, Filipinos had elected him as the commonwealth’s first president. At the time, the Philippines were still a colonial possession of the United States. Quezon was an astute politician who used his fluency in English, political acumen, and gift of flattery to win over policymakers in Washington. Most important, Quezon was friendly and socialized with McNutt and the Frieders and visited with them at their homes. As a non-Aryan, he hated the Nazis and sympathized with the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany. He also believed the Jewish refugees would become an asset to the Philippines, especially with their expertise and knowledge of medicine and other professional fields. His endorsement proved significant because the commonwealth’s officials determined who could get off the ships and enter the territory.” According to

Goldstein/Kotlowski: the Philippine president had made good friends with its Jewish-American community in part because Jews, who were familiar with discrimination, made an effort to be friends with Filipinos at a time when other Americans would not.”


Despite the monumental tasks Quezon faced during the ten-year Commonwealth period—overhauling the Philippine economy, “Filipinizing” the government, widespread poverty, and the ever-looming threat of Japanese invasion—Quezon, with High Commissioner McNutt,  proposed a plan to settle 30,000 refugee families on Mindanao, and 40,000-50,000 refugees on Polillo.  Quezon made a ten year loan of the parcel of land he had bought for his only son, Manuel “Nonong” Quezon Jr., to Manila’s Jewish Refugee Committee for the housing of homeless refugees.  This parcel was adjacent to Quezon’s own family home in Marikina, which Quezon used as a Presidential retreat when his tuberculosis and other medical issues required short rests and recuperation.  Marikina Hall, a large group home and farm, was dedicated on April 23, 1940.  One of the inhabitants, Morris Grimm, had been released from Buchenwald concentration camp on the condition he leave Germany.

Paul V. McNutt: “a Roosevelt appointee, had been a professor of law, governor of Indiana (1935-1937), and a prominent figure in the Democratic Party. A decent and humane individual, McNutt learned about the Nazi atrocities from Jacob Weiss, a close Jewish ally in Indiana’s Democratic Party, and from reports he received from Jewish groups. McNutt had long disdained racial hatred and anti-Semitism, and respected Jews, as he said, “for their toughness, resiliency, and success.” He often spoke out and condemned the German government and Hitler, and supported the Zionist goal of a Jewish homeland in Palestine. McNutt realized that any long-term effort to permit large numbers of Jews to enter the Philippines had to be methodical, carefully planned, and in accord with United States immigration statutes.”

The Frieder Brothers

The Frieder Brothers: Alex, Phillip, Herbert, Morris, “who owned a two-for-a nickel cigar business. In 1918, the brothers decided to transfer their cigar manufacturing operation to Manila from New York City, to reduce production costs. The brothers then took two-year turns living in Manila and overseeing their plant. They also became active in Manila’s Jewish community of 150 men, women, and children.” Watch a Frieder home movie of their Brixton Hill, Santa Mesa residence.

Dwight D. Eisenhower: At the time Douglas MacArthur’s chief of staff and No. 2 man in the Military Adviser’s Mission in the Philippines.

In his memoirs, At Ease. he recalled that:

“[By 1937] President Quezon seemed to ask for my advice more and more. He invited me to his office frequently.  This was partly because of the office hours General MacArthur liked to keep.  He never reached his desk until eleven.  After a late lunch hour, he went home again.  This made it difficult for Quezon to get in touch with the General when he wanted him.  Because I was the senior active duty officer, my friendship with the President became closer.

“Our conversations became broader and deeper.They were no longer confined to the defence problem.Taxes, education, honesty in government, and other subjects entered the discussions and he seemed to enjoy them.  Certainly I did.”

1939: at a party, Mamie Eisenhower greets President Quezon as Dwight D. Eisenhower looks on.

As pointed out by Sharon Delmendo: 

As relations between MacArthur and Quezon increasingly grew strained, Quezon developed a close professional and personal relationship with Eisenhower. Quezon gave  Eisenhower an office in Malacañan, and invited Eisenhower to weekend trips aboard the presidential yacht Casiana.

A popular myth holds that Dwight Eisenhower was centrally involved in Jewish refugee rescue in the Philippines, but extant documentation does not support this legend.  Eisenhower kept a voluminous diary of his tenure in the Philippines and published several books after WWII, but never mentioned working on Jewish rescue (other than relating that he turned down a lucrative contract to head Jewish refugee efforts across the Pacific).  Eisenhower is never mentioned in hundreds of US government documents relating to Jewish immigrants to the Philippines.  Eisenhower was entirely consumed by his duties under MacArthur, building up Philippine defense in the face of increasingly certain attack by the Japanese. 



Jewish Refugee Committee in Manila: “In 1937, the Jewish Refugee Committee (JRC) was established. American Jewish organisations – the Joint Distribution Committee and Refugee Economic Corporation – funded the JRC to maximise the number of refugees that could be admitted.”

Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC): est. in 1914, to “provide relief for Jews in Palestine and eastern Europe, was the primary organization for the distribution of funds from the American Jewish community to Jews in Germany.”

Harris: “founded in 1914 to provide relief for Jews in Palestine and Eastern Europe, was the primary organization for the distribution of funds from the American Jewish community to Jews in Germany. It had a virtual monopoly on overseas aid.”

Refugee Economic Corporation: “the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). The JDC had created the Refugee Economic Corp. (REC), which helped resettle Jewish refugees. The REC worked with the Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland (Relief Association of German Jews).“ Harris: The REC was founded on November 20, 1934 and specialized in creating Jewish settlements in countries that agreed to absorb Jewish refugees.”

According to Sharon Delmendo:

The REC funded the Mindanao Exploration Commission, a panel of experts charged with evaluating Mindanao’s suitability for European (i.e., Jewish) settlement on Mindanao.

Hilfsverein der Deutschen Juden: “This German Jewish organization had been established in 1901 to engage in social welfare and educational activities among needy Jews. After Hitler came to power, the association assisted German Jews trying to emigrate everywhere but Palestine, which was handled by the Jewish Agency.

“The Hilfsverein kept lists of those German Jews who applied to emigrate. The lists included the occupation or profession of each prospective emigrant. The German government allowed the Hilfsverein to exist because it wanted all Jews out of Germany, and the Hilfsverein promoted this goal. After the war broke out, the German government shut it down and assumed its activities.”

Introduction (1917-1924):


Bonnie M. Harris in a 2016 paper provides necessary background on the whole story:

The United States’ Immigration Acts of 1917 and 1924 became the dual directives of immigration policies of the U.S. during the first half of the 20th century. However, only the Immigration Act of 1917, which outlined “qualitative” restrictions on potential immigrants, applied to the Philippines during its eras as a territory and then as a commonwealth nation of the United States. This 1917 Act imposed numerous conditions excluding individuals as acceptable immigrants to the U.S., and by extension, to the Philippines. While the U.S. State Department supposedly could not restrict the numbers of Jewish immigrants coming into the Philippines, it could, and did, demand a process that ensured adequate financial support for the refugees….

 While the opening section of the 1917 Immigration Act details that its provisions “shall be enforced in the Philippine Islands by officers of the general government,” no such directive appears in the text of the U.S. Immigration Act of 1924 that regulated immigration numerically into the United States with the imposition of immigration quotas. This is extremely important when discussing the rescue of refugee Jews in the Philippines… However, no number restrictions on immigration into the Philippines existed in U.S. Immigration Laws…. Thus… restrictive quotas did not apply. But perhaps even more importantly, neither did U.S. State Department nor consular oversight in approving the issuance of visas to refugee aliens immigrating to the Philippines.



This timeline is color-coded. Red dates are related to the Holocaust in general, and world events affecting the Philippines in particular: they provide a running reminder of what was happening to European Jews in general and the approaching global conflict. Blue dates apply to dates when news articles came out, and what those articles said: they will help provide global and local context to what was going on. Dates in black are dates more precisely related to the story of the rescue of European Jews.

The appearance of quotations is a guide as well. Information in italics is information from third-hand sources, such as the media at the time, or from people writing after the fact. They help provide background and updates to the emerging story. Material in ordinary text means it was written at the time, representing the actions and opinions of people involved in the story.



January 30: Adolf Hitler Appointed Chancellor

February 28: Reichstag Fire Decree

March 22: Establishment of Dachau Camp

March 23: Germany passes the Enabling Act, giving Hitler dictatorial powers. 

April 1: Anti-Jewish Boycott

April 7: Law for the Restoration of the Professional Civil Service

April 25: Law Limits Jews in Public Schools

May 10: Book Burning

July 14: Law for the “Prevention of Offspring with Hereditary Diseases”

September 17: Central Organization of German Jews Formed 

September 28: Philippine Magazine:

Chancellor Hitler publishes a decree prohibiting discrimination between Jewish and non-Jewish firms in Germany.


In 1933, the Nazis staged a boycott of Jewish-owned business, burned books by Jewish authors and took steps to exclude Jews from the civil service, medical profession and enrollment in universities.

October 4: Editors Law

November 24: Law against “Dangerous Habitual Criminals”

Bonnie Harris: 

Depending when in the time frame of the pre-WWII era in which refugees left, there were two different major routes that provided transport for refugee Jews from various points of departure in Europe to ports in southern and eastern Asia. From the early 1930s to the mid-1940s, the first route, by sea, carried fleeing refugees from ports mostly in Italy on to Alexandria, Egypt and then through the Suez Canal to ports-of-call in Bombay, Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, and Kobe and Yokohama, Japan. Other vessels that left from seaports in northern Europe, such as Bremen or Hamburg, usually sailed around the Cape of Good Hope, extending the already four week voyage time to east Asia by another six weeks.] Ships could be booked six months in advance and carry as many as one thousand Jewish refugees per voyage. The other major route of transportation to the Far East was the land route across Russia and Siberia via the Trans-Siberian Railway and Chinese Eastern Railroad that had once brought Russian Jews to Asia two decades earlier.

Jewish refugees escaping Nazi persecutions began arriving in Asian ports as early as 1933, following Hitler’s ascent to power. Some refugees en route to the open city of Shanghai jumped ship in Manila, seeking asylum in an American overseas colony rather than an Asian one. The number of refugees seeking asylum in Asian ports corresponded to the waves of increased antisemitic violence in the Third Reich under Nazism…

Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi Germany arrived in the Philippines as early as 1933, but they were few in numbers and their escape almost entirely undocumented. 


Most significantly, the United States Immigration Act of 1924, which established the system of annual quotas, “took no official cognizance of ‘refugees’ and thus made no provision for offering asylum to the victims of religious or political persecution” … And the “Likely to Become a Public Charge” provision of the United States Immigration Act of 1917 prohibited the issuance of visas to anyone who lacked the wherewithal to support themselves….



March 24: Enactment of the Tydings-McDuffie, or Philippine Independence, Act, by the U.S. Congress.


The Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, also called The Philippine Independence Act, outlined the terms of the Philippine Commonwealth and its ten year transition period into the fully independent Republic of the Philippines, which was predetermined for July 4, 1946. The Tydings-McDuffie Act authorized the Philippine Legislature, now one body called the National Assembly, to draft a constitution for the government of the Commonwealth 

June:  Goldstein/Kotlowski:

The first German Jewish refugees from Hitler may have been Karl Nathan and Heinz Eulau from Offenbach. They arrived in Manila in June 1934 on affidavits of support from Eulau’s cousin Dr. Kurt Eulau, who had lived in the islands since 1924.


Ernst Simke arrived in the Philippines in 1932 to take a job offer from Maxime Hermanos of Levy Hermanos, an import-export business.  Ernst decided to leave Germany because he found it almost impossible to get a job. In 1937, ES had a German passport issued to him by the Germany embassy in Manila (without the “J” for Jude), good for two years.  When it expired in 1939, Simke became a naturalized Filipino citizen.  Ernst married another Manilaner, Dr. Rita Broniatowski, who arrived in the Philippines in 1940.

June 30: Night of the Long Knives

August 2: Death of German President von Hindenburg

August 19: Hitler Abolishes the Office of President

November 20: Refugee Economic  Corporation (REC), with headquarters in New York City, established to create Jewish settlements in countries that agreed to absorb Jewish refugees.




Two years later, the so-called Nuremberg Laws defined Jews as non-Aryans, relegated them to the status of a subject class and prohibited them from marrying Aryans.


On September 15, 1935, the Nazi party publicized two laws during the annual Nuremburg party rally in Nuremburg.  Two laws were decreed: the Reichs Citizenship Law, which stripped Jews of their German citizenship and outlined the “racial” classification of Jews, and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor, which criminalized marriage or sexual relations between Aryans and Jews and prohibited Jews from employing German women under the age of 45.  These two laws were the first of many laws and policies which progressively disenfranchised and systematically impoverished Jews in Germany and Nazi-occupied territories.

March 25: Constitution of the Philippines certified as conforming to the Philippine Independence Act by the President of the United States

May 1: Nazi Ban on Jehovah’s Witness Organizations

May 14: The 1935 Constitution of the Philippines is ratified.

(See: Constitution Day, by Teodoro M. Locsin.)


The executive power of the new government centered in an elected Filipino President, as stipulated by Article VII of the Commonwealth Constitution, which was ratified on May 14, 1935. Another important provision of the Tydings-McDuffie Act was the creation of the Office of the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines. The U.S. High Commissioner had no direct administrative powers in the Philippines, but was concerned primarily with protecting American interests in the new commonwealth nation. This office superseded that of the American Governor-General. The relationship between these newly invested offices and the U.S. War Department was never really clarified until Philippine Supreme Court Justice George A. Malcolm composed an official statement to the High Commissioners Office on January 9, 1939. His official opinion clarified “the relationship of the office of the High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands and the War Department.”

Malcolm’s treatise explained that three agencies were provided to act as representatives of the President of the United States in the execution of his duties as the supreme commander over the Islands of the Philippines, as provided by the Tydings-McDuffie Act. In the Philippines proper, that representative was the U.S. High Commissioner to the Philippines. At the U.S. Capital, as pertaining to the foreign affairs of the Philippines, that agency was the Office of Philippine Affairs within the Department of State. Certain other affairs of the Philippines continued to be administered by the Secretary of War through the Bureau of Insular Affairs

June 25: Philippine Magazine:

At a meeting presided over by General Emilio Aguinaldo, the National Socialist Party is formally organized, the Sakdal Party, headed by Jose Timog, and other minority groups including the Radical Party, headed by Rep. Alfonso Mendoza, the Laborista Party, headed by Pablo Manlapit, the Pampanga Communists, headed by Abad Santos, the Philippine Fascists, headed by Miguel Cornejo, and the Civil Union, headed by Vicente Sotto, all taking part.

June 28: Revision of Paragraph 175

July 15: Philippine Magazine:

The worst anti-Jewish demonstration in two years is staged in Berlin, inspired by the Swedish anti Semitic cinematograph film, “Petterson and Binder,” at which Jews whistled and booed.

September 15: Nuremberg Race Laws


In spite of Germany’s openly anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws of 1935, the United States still resisted accepting more immigrants than the quotas for Germany allowed, even after over 500,000 German and Austrian Jews were declared stateless enemies by Hitler in 1935.

November 15: Commonwealth of the Philippines inaugurated. Philippines becomes self-governing except that foreign policy would be the responsibility of the United States. Laws passed by the legislature affecting immigration, foreign trade, and the currency system still had to be approved by the President of the United States.

Watch Frieder family home movie of Commonwealth inaugural ceremonies:

Gerald Wheeler:

[Quezon] wrote to [Frank] Murphy [the last governor-general and first high commissioner] and gave his own interpretation of the high commissioner’s powers. He believed that the Tydings-McDuffie Act gave the United States only a limited number of specified powers; in all other areas Commonwealth authority would be plenary. He recognized the American President’s right to act by proclamation in specified matters, once they had been referred to him by the high commissioner. As he saw it, the high commissioner could observe, request information, carry out specified duties, and send recommendations to Washington when he saw something he considered unwise or illegal.6 Very obviously, such an official would stand little chance of interfering meaningfully with the operations of the Commonwealth President. When Secretary [of War, George] Dern came to Manila with a large congressional delegation to participate in the inaugural ceremonies, Murphy made one more attempt to get his instructions modified. Dern was understanding but took no action. 


Beginning in 1935, Filipinos received internal autonomy and the right to elect their own president while the United States remained the sovereign power. Washington was represented in Manila by a “high commissioner” appointed by the U.S. president. The responsibilities of the high commissioner were somewhat nebulous as was the commonwealth set-up itself … Immigration policy was a case in point, for the Immigration Act of 1917, which included the “most likely to become a public charge” proviso, applied to entrants to the Philippines, while the Immigration Act of 1924, with its annual quotas, did not. Immigration to the Philippines was riddled with loopholes because immigration policies were not clearly defined. The Philippines had no immigration laws of its own and there was a history of U.S. officials in the Philippines bypassing immigration laws that applied in the continental United States. Chinese and Japanese immigrants were routinely permitted to settle in the islands, despite local Philippine opposition and at a time when these same immigrants were excluded from the American mainland. Enforcement of all types of law in the Philippines had historically been lax at best and corrupt at worst.

The complex and unresolved issue of immigration was among the problems confronting Manuel Quezon when he became president of the Philippine Commonwealth in 1935.

November 19: Philippine Magazine:

The governments of France and Germany send congratulatory messages to President Quezon through the State Department.



March 4: Diary of Francis Burton Harrison:

Talk in the office with Dr. Schay, a Jewish refugee who escaped from the Nazis; he was the editor of the second largest newspaper in Germany–was sitting with a friend playing chess in a cafe in Berlin, when he heard of the burning of the Reichstag. He telephoned at once to his wife to bring his suitcase to the station, reached Aachen, and walked across the border to Belgium. I asked him; “The Nazis burned the Reichstag, didn’t they?” “Of course,” he replied and added that there was a “will to war” among the Nazis as soon as they could arm; they were then lacking in fortresses, and in heavy artillery; their aviation was now the largest in Europe. They mean to get the Danzig corridor back; Poland was to be “compensated” by annexing the northern part of the Ukraine–war would be made by Germany and Poland on Russia in the Spring of 1937–but things could change before that. Schay means to open a school for Filipinos in Manila.

May 1: Diary of Francis Burton Harrison:

Should have gone this noon to the German Club for their National Day–and was even anxious to do so, though no doubt, some of their older members were among those whom I deported to the United States detention camps during the war–but I could not stomach the thought of drinking Hitler’s health! Believe I should have vomited! 

June 16: President Quezon’s Second State of the Nation Address, concerning policy for Mindanao:

The time has come when we should systematically proceed with and bring about the colonization and economic development of Mindanao. A vast and rich territory with its untapped natural resources is a temptation to enterprising nations that are looking for an outlet for their excess population. While no nation has the right to violate the territorial integrity of another nation, people that lack the energy, ability, or desire to make use of the resources which Divine Providence has placed in their hands, afford an excuse for a more energetic and willful people to deprive them of their lawful heritage. If, therefore, we are resolved to conserve Mindanao for ourselves and our posterity, we must bend all our efforts to occupy and develop it and guard against avarice and greed. Its colonization and development will require no little capital. But every cent spent for this purpose will mean increased national wealth and greater national security. The present income of the government is quite insufficient to even attempt to do more than carry on its present activities. Were there no other reasons for the creation of new sources of revenue, the need of developing Mindanao alone would make it an unavoidable duty for this Assembly, especially those who visited Mindanao recently with me, are conscious, I feel sure, of our grave responsibility to encourage settlement and develop Mindanao. There are provinces in Luzon and the Visayas that are already overpopulated. There are localities in some of those provinces where the people live on large estates without opportunity to earn a livelihood sufficient to meet the necessities of civilized life, much less to own the land wherein they live and which they cultivate. It is inconceivable that such a situation should exist in a country with extensive areas of fertile uncultivated lands. I invite you, therefore, to give this matter preferential consideration.

The so-called Moro problem is a thing of the past. We are giving our Mohammedan brethren the best government they have ever had and we are showing them our devoted interest in their welfare and advancement. In turn they are giving us their full cooperation. Let us reserve for them in their respective localities such land of the public domain as they may need for their well-being. Let us, at the same time, place in the unoccupied lands of that region industrious Filipinos from other provinces of the Archipelago, so that they may live together in perfect harmony and brotherhood.

November 7: Philippine Magazine:

Due to the British government’s determination not to suspend Jewish immigration into Palestine pending the findings of the Royal Commission, now on its way from London to Jerusalem, the Arabs are reported to have decided to boycott the Commission.

November 14: Inner Mongolian Army Faction Attacks Chinese Garrison at Hongort




The Tablet:

Although American immigration laws applied to the Philippines, the country had no quota system. A financial guarantee from a resident sufficed to obtain an entry visa. If the Jewish refugee who arrived in the Philippines was able to find employment, he met an important provision of U.S. immigration policy: that he not become a burden on the state. McNutt, the Frieder brothers, and Quezon became the active movers of the plan; Eisenhower played no ongoing role in the rescue but served as the group’s liaison to the U.S. Army…

February 17: Philippine Magazine:

News of the appointment by President Roosevelt of Governor Paul V. McNutt as U.S. High Commissioner in the Philippines is generally well taken in Manila although regret is expressed that the appointment did not go to Acting U.S. High Commissioner J. Weldon Jones. Mr. Jones himself expresses his satisfaction and telegraphs his congratulations.  

March 1: President Roosevelt appoints Paul V. McNutt High Commissioner to the Philippines


Early in 1937, President Roosevelt named McNutt high commissioner to the Philippines to satisfy a political need, that is, to send… a potential rival, as far from the U.S. mainland as possible.


On March 1, 1937, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt wrote McNutt a letter of instructions regarding the office of the High Commissioner.  In this letter, Roosevelt gave McNutt near broad discretionary authority:

“In the nature of things, situations will arise which will call for sound judgment and sympathetic handling on your part.  It is not my intention here to burden you with specific rules for your guidance, for in appointing you to this high office I am confident of your ability to handle the situations which may arise to the best advantage not only of the American people but also of the people of the Philippine Islands.” 

March 1: Time Magazine:

The list of candidates for Harry Woodring’s temporary job as Secretary of War was lopped from the top last week when President Roosevelt appointed Indiana’s Paul Vories McNutt to be U. S. High Commissioner to the Commonwealth of the Philippines. In Washington, the New York News’s Columnists John O’Donnell & Doris Fleeson reported the following exchange between two Indianians who had been grooming their handsome ex-Governor for the White House.

First Hoosier: “Oh. well, there isn’t much difference between an $18,000 job in Manila and a $15,000 job in the Cabinet.”

Second Hoosier: “There’s 11,000 miles difference, so far as 1940 is concerned.”

First official act of big, bronze-skinned Mr. McNutt will be to sit in on discussions of U. S.-Philippine trade relations with President Roosevelt and little, brown-skinned Commonwealth President Manuel Quezon, who last week sped across the land from Los Angeles to keep his White House engagement. Informed of Mr. McNutt’s appointment in Chicago, President Quezon tactfully observed that if President Roosevelt had chosen him he must be the best man for the job. But in Manila, the U. S.-owned-&-edited Bulletin declared: “If politics had not been considered, if special fitness had been the deciding factor, J. Weldon Jones [Commonwealth financial adviser and Acting High Commissioner] would have been appointed.”

Paul McNutt may not know much about Philippine economic problems, but in 45 years he has acquired an impressive experience in law, war and politics. Finishing Harvard Law School in 1916, he became an assistant professor at Indiana University Law School, rose to be the youngest dean it had ever had. Meantime he served as instructor in U. S. camps during the War, rising from captain to major in the Field Artillery. In 1928 he was elected national commander of the American Legion, went on from there to become Governor of Indiana in 1933. Blessed with a distinguishing shock of white hair and bold black eyebrows, a gregarious lover of golf, poker and football, he has made many a friend by his forceful, eloquent, ingratiating personality. He has also made many an enemy by his autocratic disposition, his use of militia in labor disputes. The troops, plus his use of the semi-dictatorial emergency powers he won from the Legislature few weeks after he took office, won him the title of “Hoosier Hitler.” Citizens squirmed under his stiff taxes but otherwise it was generally admitted that he did a businesslike job of running his State. He worked hard to deliver it for Franklin Roosevelt last November.

By no means a political blind alley are the Philippines, as the subsequent careers of onetime Civil Governor William Howard Taft, Governor-General Henry Lewis Stimson and High Commissioner Frank Murphy well demonstrate. Far from relinquishing his Presidential ambitions last week, Paul McNutt let slip to the press that it would probably be only a year or so before he was back on the U. S. scene.

April 27: Philippine Magazine:

U.S. High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt arrives in Manila with his wife and sixteen-year old daughter and others of his party. … He states as to his powers that the law and the instructions he has received from President Roosevelt (which were read in part by President Quezon) are clear and that he will not interfere in local affairs.

May 31: Time Magazine:

President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth, junketing in Europe, has not been in Manila since U. S. High Commissioner Paul Vories McNutt arrived there for duty last month. By last week it was already beginning to appear that the 7.091 Philippine Islands might not be big enough for the peppery mestizo politico and the cotton-topped political Adonis from Indiana.

Manuel Quezon, who was not consulted about Mr. McNutt’s appointment last February (TIME. March 1). and who has made no secret of his irritation with U. S. “interference” in the Commonwealth’s administration, has not discouraged various foreign consular officials at Manila—most of them semi-professional—from clearing diplomatic affairs through his Malancañan Palace. Last fortnight Commissioner McNutt advised these gentlemen that the U. S. was still responsible for the Philippines’ foreign relations, that all communication with the Commonwealth should be routed via his office. Particularly irked was he that The Netherlands vice consul had recently been replaced without notification to the Commissioner’s office.

While the consuls were busy cabling home for instructions, Commissioner McNutt sent another tornado of excitement blowing through the bars at the Army & Navy and Elks Clubs (Manila’s best) by transmitting a second message to the consulates. At future consular dinners let the first toast be drunk to the head of the host’s State. Let the second salute Franklin D. Roosevelt, the third his emissary in the Philippines, Paul V. McNutt. The fourth salute should honor President Quezon. The irregular practice of toasting Senor Quezon before Mr. McNutt would have to stop.

At this demotion toward the merrier but less distinguished end of the toast list, Manuel Quezon maintained a dignified silence. But the Filipino-owned Philippines Herald angrily took up his cause, snorted: ”A diplomatic crisis is brewing. Commonwealth dignitaries may decline to attend consular parties. . . . Used to high-riding the political prairies of Indiana with State troops at his beck, McNutt must feel suffocated in the close quarters the Philippine Independence Act allows him. If he conceives it his duty to enlarge American authority in the Philippines despite growing Filipino autonomy, he is certain to encounter difficulties. If his recent activities are a gauge of his attitude, we expect many lively political interludes.”

Said Assemblyman Francisco Lavides: “Frankly, McNutt is an enigma.”

Said President Quezon diplomatically when questioned by newshawks in Manhattan : “I never refuse a drink, toast or no toast.”

July 7-July 9: Marco Polo Bridge Incident (Battle of Lugou Bridge)


At the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War broke on 7 July 1937, the JRC in Manila received a telegram from the Ashkenazi Jewish community in Shanghai asking for assistance for their refugee Jews. The small Jewish community in Manila immediately raised a sum of $8,000, but before the money could be dispatched, the wealthier Sephardic Jews of Shanghai stepped up and cared for the needs of the refugees Jews on their own. The JRC, under the leadership of Philip Frieder and Morton I. Netzorg in Manila, decided to hold the funds in escrow in case a future need arose. That need came almost immediately.

July 9: New York Times:

President Manuel Quezon of the Philippines left tonight for Paris after having luncheon with Hans G. V. von Mackensen, Foreign Office UnderSecretary, and about fifty representatives of the government and the German Far Eastern trade.

German coverage of Quezon’s visit in 1937.


During a visit to Europe in 1937, Quezon, his wife, and their son were troubled by the sight of a Nazi parade in Berlin.

July 15: Buchenwald Concentration Camp Opens

July 21: The German Consul in Manila submits an intelligence report to Berlin.


The role of Jews and Masons in the Philippines was closely monitored by the German consulate in Manila. In a long report to the German foreign office in Berlin, the new German consul, Gustav Sakowsky, warned that local Jews, Masons, and the Catholic Church were stronger in the Philippines than anywhere else in Asia and that they would love to attack National Socialism just as soon as the American authorities gave the go-ahead. In his effort to inculcate the Nazi philosophy among the Germans in Manila (there were only several dozen Party members in the Philippines among nearly three hundred non-Jewish German adult males), he feared his power was faltering in the face of a growing opposition, much of which engaged in business –and often social contact—with non-German citizens. And there were several liaisons between German businessmen and Filipino women, an affront to Nazi racial laws.

July 25: Fighting Erupts at Langfang Between Chinese and Japanese Troops Despite Recent Truce

August 8: Beijing Falls to Japanese Forces 

Bonnie Harris:

However, the first significant influx of European refugee Jews to arrive in Manila did not come directly from Europe, but rather from the Jewish refugee community in Shanghai. With the renewal of hostilities between the Japanese and Chinese in 1937, which resulted in the occupation of Peking by Japanese forces, the four million inhabitants of Shanghai faced the dangers of war in an occupied territory and various civilian communities sought escape from Shanghai’s battle grounds. Germany’s shift of alliance from China to Japan at this time alarmed German Jews in Shanghai, who feared German pressure on Japan to adopt Nazi discriminatory policies against Shanghai’s German Jewish population. The Manila Jewish community shared that fear and organized the Jewish Refugee Committee of Manila (JRC) with the intention of rescuing German members of the Shanghai Jewish community.  

August 21: President Quezon issued Proclamation No. 173 on August 21, 1937

…enjoining government agencies in the City of Manila, City of Baguio, the Province of Rizal, and the Mountain Province to extend aid to refugees especially Filipino and American nationals in China who fled to the country.

August 24: Manila Tribune:

WHEN MORE REFUGEES ARRIVE–Scenes taken aboard the S.S. “President Hoover” which brought several hundred refugees yesterday morning. At extreme right, top, is shown Lt. Luis Villa Real, aide-de-camp to President Quezon, conversing with Mrs. Victor Czegka, wife of Admiral Byrd’s mechanical engineer during his polar expedition. Admiral Byrd requested President Quezon to “please arrange accommodations” for the refugees.

September 8: President Quezon authorized the admission of ethnic German and German Jews refugees:

Bonnie Harris:

… the German government sent a ship to Shanghai to evacuate all German nationals from the war zone to Manila. In the evacuation, they also took aboard about 30 German Jewish refugee families. The Jewish community in Mania took charge of the refugee Jewish families at the request of the German Consul in the Philippines. This spontaneous rescue of German refugee Jews from Shanghai became the impetus for the devised rescue plans that followed, bringing… 1,300… to a safe haven in the Pacific.

Refugee rescuers in the Philippines operated selection and sponsorship programs unlike any Jewish rescue operations executed anywhere else in the world during these years. The plans involved a collaboration of efforts from political dignitaries and businessmen in the Philippines, relief organizations in both the United States and in Germany, and even government officials in the often antisemitic-leaning U.S. State Department. 

The Tablet:

The Frieders and other Jewish leaders worried that a large influx of refugees would tax the employment market and necessitate extensive welfare services, which their tiny community was unable to provide. They also knew that the long-term success of any resettlement program required the sympathy of the Filipinos. That meant the refugees had to be integrated into the community, secure employment, and avoid becoming public charges. Consequently, they advocated a controlled-entry program.


McNutt proved responsive as well; he asked Leo Gardner, his legal adviser, to find a way to help these refugees. Gardner studied executive orders defining the office of high commissioner and found that McNutt had the power to “waive visa requirements in admitting persons to the Islands” … The high commissioner did so with the encouragement and support of Quezon and Jewish leaders in Manila, notably Philip Frieder and his brothers – Alex, Morris, and Herbert – who were cigar manufacturers from Cincinnati.

September 16: Quezon, to the Secretary of War, Harry Woodring:

I confess frankly that in Washington I made a mistake in my first impression of Commissioner McNutt. The light under which reports from Manila regarding his early acts in the Philippines made him appear, has not only misrepresented him, but has done him an injustice.

Commissioner McNutt is a man—mentally honest, direct, sincere in his dealings with people and courteously outspoken. His sense of justice and fairness is not only evident but impressive. He has tact, vision, human sympathies, high principles and a vast knowledge of public affairs. The President could not have chosen a better man for the difficult and delicate task facing the United States High Commissioner.

September 17: McNutt, to the Secretary of War, Harry Woodring:

I have found President Quezon considerate, fair, frank and cooperative. I am glad to be able to report positively that we will work together in perfect harmony, much to the disgust of those on both sides of the Pacific who sought to promote a fight between us. I have come to like, respect, and admire President Quezon, and feel that it will be possible to solve any problems which might arise in a mutually acceptable manner.

November 8: Antisemitic Exhibition Opens in Munich

December 12: The Office of Philippine Affairs is established in the U.S. State Department.


The Office of Philippine Affairs within the State Department was created on December 12, 1936, for the sole purpose of carrying out the directives of the State Department as pertaining to foreign affairs issues in the Philippines. Whenever situations demanded communication between the Philippines and the State Department concerning immigration, the practice was to transmit the message to the War Department via the Bureau of Insular Affairs, who would then forward the message to the designated agency, whether that was the High Commissioner or the Office of Philippine Affairs. In this manner, the Secretary of State advised the High Commissioner of the Philippines on issues of foreign affairs, and “the views of the Secretary of State [were] accepted as conclusive.” 

December 16: Philippine Magazine:

Acting Secretary of State Robert W. Moore announcing the creation of a new division of Philippine affairs states that neither particular political nor economic problems are responsible for the move, but solely the desire to coordinate the administration of affairs concerning the Islands. Francis B. Sayre, Assistant Secretary of State, declares that “the gradual shifting of Philippine matters from the War Department to the State Department seems inevitable as the date of independence nears” and that the Department has been increasingly involved in Philippine matters by preparations for the economic conference—which will be “a constructive and not a ‘horse-trading’ affair”. J. E. Jacobs with a background of long experience in the Orient and in the Department has been designated head of the division. The action meets with approval in Philippine government circles.

December 31:

From the Second Annual Report of the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands to the President of the United States Covering the Calendar Year 1937:

The situation with regard to immigration into the Philippine Islands was thrown into considerable confusion during the year 1937 by instructions sent out by the United States Department of State, advising United States consular officers that they have no authority to refuse to issue visas for aliens desiring to proceed to the Philippines, except for such aliens whose entry might be considered harmful to the public safety, and pointing out that the question of the admissibility of aliens is one to be determined by the immigration officers of the Philippine Islands upon arrival at Philippine ports. The immigration authorities of the Commonwealth government did not have the experience or training to cope with this situation. Owing to the large numbers of aliens from various disturbed regions of the world who desire to take up residence in the Philippines, the problem is growing more acute. The seriousness of the problem is one which is fully recognized by Commonwealth authorities. It is to be hoped that within the near future such remedial measures of an administrative nature and necessary amendments to existing laws will be undertaken as will enable the Commonwealth government to cope effectively with the situation…



The Immigration Act of 1924, setting up a system of quota control for immigration into the United States, is not applicable to the Philippine Islands. The ruling immigration law of the Philippines is the act of Congress of February 5, 1917, which contains a proviso that the law shall be enforced in the Philippines by officers of the general government thereof until it is superseded by an immigration act passed by the Philippine Legislature and approved by the President of the United States.

On November 14, 1935, just prior to the establishment of the Commonwealth government, the President of the United States issued an Executive order prescribing the documents to be required for aliens coming into the Philippine Islands. The basic provision of these requirements was that all aliens were required to present unexpired passports or official documents showing their origin and identity and valid passport visas issued by American consular officers. The Executive order was a restatement of previous Executive orders, providing necessary changes in nomenclature resulting from the establishment of the Commonwealth.

The problem of Chinese immigration into the Philippines is one of long standing controlled by laws anterior to that of 1917 and it should be understood that the comment here made does not refer to the question of Chinese immigration, but to immigration of aliens of other nationalities. Until recent years the entry of such aliens has not been a difficult problem, inasmuch as the immigration authorities in the Philippines were disposed to admit without question an alien who presented a travel document bearing the visa of an American consul. However, with the beginning of troubles in Spain, China, and other parts of the world the problem of the entry of aliens who might not be easily assimilated became more acute. Commonwealth authorities expressed a desire that American consuls should refuse visas to certain classes of applicants, but the State Department replied that under the act of 1917 consuls were without authority to refuse visas except in certain cases, as, for example, that of an alien whose entry might be contrary to the public safety. The State Department pointed out that the admissibility of an alien was a question to be determined under the act of 1917 by the authorities at the port of entry. This ruling, while undoubtedly in accordance with the law, created a degree of confusion in the Pliihppine administration of immigration laws. The confusion was heightened by the fact that, effective January 1, 1937, the administration of immigration laws was transferred from the Bureau of Customs, under the Department of Finance, to the Department of Labor. The new officials thus placed in charge were not familiar with the situation and had no experience in the enforcement of the laws.

In view of disturbed conditions in certain foreign countries and relatively prosperous conditions in the Philippines, it may be expected that large numbers of aliens will continue to seek entry into the Philippines and that a thorough reorganization of the immigration system and certain amendments to existing laws will be needed to effect an efficient and just administration. The need is recognized by President Quezon and other officials of the Commonwealth and the matter is being given careful study and attention.

In connection with the administration of immigration laws applicable to those from the excluded areas, both the British and the Chinese consulates general in Manila have frequently requested the intervention of the High Commissioner’s office to facilitate entry of their nationals. Sources of information indicate that these nationals are inclined to suspect favoritism. Complaints of long delays and inadequate provision for the detention of immigrants awaiting decision as to their right of entry are frequently received. The number of British Indians and Chinese desiring to enter the Philippines is large and the task of the Commonwealth immigration authorities is not an easy one. As such matters directly affect the foreign relations of the United States, they become a matter of very real concern to the United States High Commissioner. It is to be hoped that steps will be taken in the near future to remedy the present admittedly unsatisfactory conditions

From the Second Annual Report of the President of the Philippines to the President and Congress of the United States Covering the Period January 1 to December 31, 1937:


The administration of existing immigration laws was transferred  from the Bureau of Customs to the Department of Labor, effective  January 1, 1937, pursuant to Commonwealth Act No. 139 and  Executive Order No. 81.

During the year 1937 a greater number of persons arrived in the  Philippines than during the previous year. Excluding the enlisted  men and persons attached to the military and naval forces of the  United States, a total of 44,310 persons arrived in, and 25,331 persons  departed from, the Philippines as compared with 37,021 arrivals and  27,648 departures in 1936.

Of the 6,173 Americans, 2,921 went to the United States and other  insular possessions and 3,252 to foreign countries; of the 3,208 Filipinos, 704 went to the United States and insular possessions and 2,504  to foreign countries; of the 9,516 Cliinese departures, 2 went to the  United States and other insular possessions and 9,514 to foreign countries, of which 1,828 were emigrants and 7,686 nonemigrants ; of the 3,336 Japanese, all went to Japan and other foreign countries, of which 1,935 were emigrants and 1,401 nonemigrants.

One hundred sixteen aliens consisting of 112 Chinese, 1 East Indian, and 3 Russians were deported from the Philippines in 1937 as compared with 272 aliens, consisting of 270 Chinese, 1 East Indian, and 1 Russian in 1936.

Of the 10,620 immigrants for 1937, 5,170 were Chinese, 4,170 were Japanese, and all other nationalities totaled 1,280.

December 31: Philippine Magazine:

A number of democratic and Jewish newspapers in Roumania have been suppressed during the past few days and a decree is issued that no Jews may remain in any newspaper office. Reported that Roumania’s contracts with France and Czechoslovakia for armament supplies have been “temporarily suspended” and that Russia has notified the new government it will abrogate the 1933 non-aggression pact. Stated in Rome that the new situation in Roumania is indicative of the “profound transformation which is taking place in the whole Danube basin.”




In 1938, Hitler’s regime intensified its policy of economic strangulation by requiring the registration of Jewish-owned property. The Decree for the Elimination of Jews from German Economic Life, also issued in 1938, forbade Jews from owning enterprises engaged in the retail and export businesses. ‘By the end of 1938 the economic position of Germany’s Jews was untenable’, the historian David Wyman… has observed…150,000 Jews left Germany between 1933 and 1937. By the beginning of 1938, the international community had resettled about 100,000 of them in neighbouring European countries as well as in Palestine, the United States, South America and the Union of South Africa  

Sometime in 1938-39: Dwight D. Eisenhower, writing in his memoirs, At Ease:

“The Nazis were in the saddle and riding hard in central Europe. Among other things, they were persecuting the Jews unmercifully and many of the Jewish faith were fleeing Germany, trying to find homes elsewhere in the world…There was a considerable Jewish community in [Manila] and I had good friends among them..

“Out of the Jewish ordeal in Europe, an unusual offer was made to me. Through several friends, I was asked to take a job seeking in China, Southeast Asia, Indonesia, and every country where they might be acceptable, a haven for Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The pay would be $60,000 a year, with expenses. The first five years’ salary would be placed in escrow to be delivered to me if I should be separated from the new job for any cause whatsoever. The offer was, of course, appealing for several reasons. But … I had become so committed to my profession that I declined.”

Sharon Delmendo:

In At Ease, Eisenhower seldom gives specific dates, and that is true of the Jewish refugee contract.  But he told the same story to his personal secretary, Ann Whitman, who recorded in her own diary that Eisenhower dated the offer as 1938 or 1939.


The rescue of these German Jews from Shanghai came to the attention of the Refugee Economic Corporation (REC), headquartered in New York City and an affiliate of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee…

After hearing that German Jews had found safe haven in Manila, Liebman of the REC initiated contact with U.S. High Commissioner McNutt through mutual acquaintances with two brothers, Julius and Jacob Weiss, the former an associate with the REC and the latter an Indiana State Senator and personal friend of McNutt. Senator Weiss wrote McNutt on behalf of the REC, asking if it were possible to allow 100 Jewish German refugee families to settle in the Philippines. McNutt replied that he would talk to Weiss in a few weeks when he, McNutt, returned to the U.S. McNutt arrived in Washington DC on 23 February 1938.

January 7: Philippine Magazine:

France and Poland declared to have reached an agreement for the migration of some Polish Jews to Madagascar. Neighbors of Roumania strengthen their frontier guards against an influx of Jews it is anticipated will follow the establishment of the the fascist Goga government there.

February 19: Philippine Magazine:

High Commissioner McNutt… was tumultuously welcomed in Indianapolis before Indiana Democratic Editorial Association… Earlier, the editorial association endorsed a “McNutt for President” boom, but McNutt declined to disclose whether he would seek presidency. He emphasized he was not called to Washington but planned to discuss number of things with President Roosevelt. “I am not here on political mission and will remain in Philippines as long as I am needed there.”

February 23: McNutt arrives in Washington D.C. on official business.

February 24: McNutt has meeting with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. 

McNutt entering the White House to meet Roosevelt. Library of Congress picture.


[McNutt] remained in the U.S. for two months before returning to the Philippines. After meetings with the President [Roosevelt], the Secretary of State, and a dozen other important government officials, McNutt informed Weiss that “it’s all arranged. The visas will be okayed by me and won’t have to clear through the State Department. When I get back to Manila I’m going to arrange for the proper reception of these refugees.” Upon his return to the Philippines, McNutt “organized the Jewish community in Manila” and sent details of a selection plan in a letter to Weiss.

February 23: Philippine Magazine:

Senator Minton states that the presentation of the McNutt reception as intended to announce a bid for the presidency sprang from the fertile minds of newspaper writers. “Although a good many of us regard him as the logical choice for presidential nomination, our political efforts on his behalf will come later.” High Commissioner McNutt himself states, he is not a candidate for any public office and that he is giving his entire time, energy, and thought to American affairs in the Philippines. He stresses the absolute necessity of amending the economic provisions of the Tydings-McDuffie Act, stating that failure to do so would be “economic murder”. The Philippines should be ready to meet all “internal and external” problems before obtaining complete independence, he says. He pays tribute to the new Philippine government, saying his relations with Filipino officials have been “a real pleasure”—”just as pleasant as back in Indiana”.

March 11-13: Anschluß: German Annexation of Austria

April 2: In response to McNutt’s objection to a proposal by the German Consul in Manila, Gustav Adolf Sakowski, to conduct a plebiscite among Germans and Austrians in Manila to ratify Hitler’s annexation of Austria, the German consul defies him.


…Sakowski staged a shipboard meeting, beyond Philippine waters, during which three hundred Germans and Austrians pledged allegiance to their enlarged Fatherland.

April 18: Time Magazine:

Almost as soon as the McDuffie-Tydings Bill was passed it began to be reconsidered. Last year a joint committee of U. S. and Philippine experts examined the whole question of how independence would affect the islands. Publication of the committee’s findings is due next month, but meanwhile, Japanese doings in China have given Filipinos a new reason to wonder what may become of them without U. S. protection. Last January Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a plan whereby Philippine trade preferences would be reduced more gradually, ending in 1960 instead of 1946. Last month High Commissioner Paul Vories McNutt broadcast his view that Philippine independence be postponed indefinitely. Since independence has been Philippine President Manuel Luis Quezon’s battle cry all his life, he obviously could not applaud this proposal. He went as far as he could by indicating sympathetic indecision.

April 26: German Jews required to register their property.

April 27: U.S. officials revealed the formation of an international committee to deal with Austrian and German refugees.

April 29: McNutt sends a memorandum to Quezon on Philippine immigration suffering from:

..no regulations and the whole thing [being] handled on a purely hit-or-miss system.


McNutt’s observation of the ineptitude of the Philippine immigration officials to execute laws and procedures effectively was written …during the time when McNutt and the JRC conferred together on procedures for refugee rescue in the Philippines. McNutt’s office advised Quezon that he hire experts on immigration laws and practices in the U.S. to come and restructure immigration laws for the Philippines.

Note: See October 27 and 31, 1938 entries.

May 19: Paul V. McNutt to Weiss:

I am deeply interested in the solution of the problem of caring for political refugees and I am anxious to have any experiment in the Philippine Islands succeed [ . . .] I should be very glad to do anything in my power to assist in handling these matters…

I find that the Commonwealth officials [certainly referring to President Quezon] are quite sympathetic to the idea of receiving those who can be absorbed. With the foregoing in mind I asked a representative committee of Jewish leaders to prepare a list of those who might be absorbed at the present time.

The Tablet:

As a non-Aryan, he [Quezon] hated the Nazis and sympathized with the plight of Jews in Nazi Germany. He also believed the Jewish refugees would become an asset to the Philippines, especially with their expertise and knowledge of medicine and other professional fields.


[Quezon’s] endorsement proved significant, for although the Department of State issued visas to Jews, and the Frieders helped to ease their resettlement, it was the commonwealth officials who determined who disembarked from ships and set foot on Philippine soil. 


 Note:  It wasn’t just the Frieders who helped the Manilaners settle in.  Norbert Propper, who arrived in Manila in May 1939, recalled that Morton Netzorg, the JRC’s Secretary and #2 man, did much of the detail work getting new arrivals assimilated, getting clothes appropriate to the tropical climate, financial arrangements, getting the newly arrived their first housing and jobs—all of which Netzorg did for Propper. 

May 28: Anti-Jewish Laws in Hungary

June 1: Bruno Schachner, assistant secretary of the REC, wrote to the Hilfsverein der Juden in Deutschland (Relief Association for Jews in Germany) in Berlin asking for its help in selecting candidates in a rescue plan for refugee immigration to the Philippines: 


We are informed by the United States High Commissioner for the Philippine Islands, who is turn bases his opinion on information furnished him by leaders of the local Jewish community, that there could be absorbed in the Philippine Islands, within a relatively short time, the following persons:

20 Physicians, among whom should be one eye, ear, nose and throat specialist, one skin specialist, and one or two surgeons.

10 Chemical Engineers

25 Registered Nurses

5 Dentists, who should have their own equipment

2 Ortho-Dentists

4 Oculists

10 Auto Mechanics

5 Cigar and Tobacco Experts

5 Women Dressmakers, stylists

5 Barbers – men and women

5 Accountants

5 Film and Photograph Experts

1 Rabbi, not over forty years of age, conservative, married and able to speak English.

20 Farmers

We are trying to organize the immigration of these people, and we should be indebted to you if you could meanwhile prepare a preliminary list of people meeting the requirements outlined above. As soon as we have completed arrangements, we will proceed with a final selection. Please let us know, meanwhile, whether all the various classes of persons could be found among the people registered with you, and if not, which ones are lacking. In view of the delicacy of the negotiations involved, we expect you to keep this matter entirely confidential, and under no circumstances to give it any publicity whatsoever. In addition, we would appreciate it if you would not approach the United States High Commissioner on your own behalf, in order not to confuse him by a variety of inquiries.

The Tablet:

The Frieders submitted the list of occupations they felt the economy needed and whose practitioners could be absorbed into the Philippine community to McNutt who, as the American High Commissioner, was a key link between the Frieders and the REC. He sent the plan and the list of prospective occupations to the REC. The list contained 14 needed skills and occupations as well as the number of people to be admitted in each category. Most of the occupations were in medicine—doctors, dentists, and nurses. Other categories included chemical engineers, auto mechanics, agricultural experts, cigar and tobacco specialists, men and women barbers, women dressmakers and stylists, accountants, film and photography experts, and even one rabbi, “not over 40 years of age, Conservative, married, and able to speak English.”

The REC and JDC approved the plan and transmitted the list of immigrants to the Hilfsverein. The REC in conjunction with the JDC also advanced funds to support the immigrants. This met with McNutt’s stipulations that the immigrants not become public charges…

June 6: Philippine Magazine:

The famous Jewish psychologist, Sigmund Freud arrives in London, accompanied by American consular officials, having received permission to leave Austria last Saturday; he states he has no plans and merely desires to end the few days left to him in peace and quietness in England—he is 82.

Frank Ephraim:

On June 6, 1938, for example, the passenger liner Scharnhorst of the Norddeutscher Lloyd line brought three German Jewish refugees, bringing the total thus far to about fifty who arrived without the benefit of the McNutt-Frieder program.

June 10: Charles Liebman, president of the REC, writes to McNutt:

[The REC has] taken the liberty of transmitting the list of desirable immigrants to a social-work agency in Germany, which will, in turn, select from among the applicants for emigration those who might be welcome in the Philippine Islands.

June 17: Philippine Magazine:

A new anti-Jew drive in Berlin results in the arrest of over 1000, including men in every profession. Jews are being shoved over the border without passports, money, or clothing. Reportedly the Nazis are demanding a “ransom” of £2,000,000 from Baron Louis de Rothschild, Austrian banker, for his release from prison, the amount fixed being alleged to be the obligations of an Austrian bank of which he was president and which failed in 1933.

June 18: Philippine Magazine:

Jews in Germany are taking refuge in foreign consulates as their shops are looted and wrecked. They find it is difficult to get food because gentiles are afraid to sell to them.

June 24: McNutt to Liebman:

The local Jewish community is comparatively small and few are in a position to support the local fund. The burden actually falls on about five families. Because of the fact that the local group furnished all of the funds to care for the forty refugee families which have arrived during the past few weeks, and will be required to meet the needs of others who come on their own account, I do not feel that the local group should be asked to do more.

July 2: Philippine Magazine:

Fascist officials advise Italian booksellers not to display or promote the sale of books by Jewish authors. The officials admit an anti-Jewish movement exists in Italy.

July 5: Philippine Magazine:

Six Jews are killed in renewed Jewish-Arab riots in Palestine.

July 6:  Evian Conference. Delegates from 32 countries hold first intergovernmental meeting on the political refugee crisis in Evian [France]. The meeting ends after nine days with “little or no relief for the refugees.”


As the Jewish refugee problem grew more acute, the United States, along with nations of Europe and Latin America, met in conference at Evian, France from July 6 to 15, 1938 to decide which countries could accept more Jewish refugees.15 When Eastern European countries implied that they would like to deport their Jewish citizens as well, the manageable refugee numbers from Germany and Austria were suddenly augmented by over 3 million potential refugees from Eastern Europe. This was the kiss of death for any serious resolutions at the Evian Conference in favor of Germany’s Jewish refugees. The Depression had strained economies, and the Western world simply could not, or would not, make room for that many more victims.


Quezon had intended to send Antonio de las Alas to represent the Commonwealth and present the general outlines of his plan to assimilate and naturalize Jews refugees in large numbers, but Quezon needed to reassign de las Alas to other Commonwealth business at the last minute, and so requested the US representative to represent the Commonwealth as well.

July 7: Philippine Magazine: 

In Palestine’s bloodiest riot since the World War, 18 Arabs and 5 Jews are killed in a gun-battle at Haifa; 92 Arabs and 11 Jews are seriously wounded.

July 8: Philippine Magazine:

Erich Maria Remarque, author of “All Quiet on the Western Front”, and 68 other German writers, most of them Jews, have been deprived of their citizenship, it is disclosed.

July 12: Philippine Magazine:

The Indiana state democratic convention endorses McNutt as nominee for the presidency. “With him, our party can proceed with full consciousness that every promise will be kept, each platform declaration respected, and the best interests of the people conserved and advanced”. Differences between Sen. F. Van Nuys and the party leaders in the State, arising from his opposition to the court reorganization bill, have been patched up also, it is reported, in the interest of Indiana party unity.

July 13: U.S. State Department sends radiogram to U.S. High Commissioner Paul V. McNutt in Manila:

Have been informally advised emergency entry into the Philippines of several hundred Jewish refugees from Europe being arranged. Please radio all information available.

July 16: McNutt replies to State Department:

Approximately forty families of Jewish refugees, who came to Philippines on own initiative or because of connections here, have been absorbed. Through cooperation leaders local Jewish community and Commonwealth officials arrangements have been made to take one hundred additional families of approved professions and vocations in three groups at intervals [of] sixty days. If this experiment is successful it may be possible to absorb others. In order to prevent attempted entry of more refugees than can be cared for properly it is considered unwise to give any publicity to the movement.

July 17: Philippine Magazine:

Pope Pius deplores such “exaggerated forms of nationalism” as evidenced in the German Nazi anti-Jewish measures, the Pope’s statement being believed to have been prompted by the recent publication in Italy of an official “credo” which excludes Jews from membership in the “Italian race”.

July 24: Philippine Magazine:

A magazine article by Postmaster-General James A. Farley appears which contains critical and apparently unfriendly references to P. V. McNutt’s alleged anti-Roosevelt activities during the 1932 Democratic National Convention.

July 26: Philippine Magazine:

The Arabs declare a general strike in the Jerusalem area and in several other places in protest against the bombing incident at Haifa. Eddie Cantor, American stage, radio, and movie comedian, states in London that during his 2 weeks’ stay he has collected £100,000 for the transfer of Jewish children to Palestine from Germany, Austria, and Poland.

July 29: Bruno Schachner, Assistant Secretary of the REC to Phillip Frieder: applications from refugees in Germany had already arrived from the Hilfsverein in Berlin. 

The Tablet:

The Hilfsverein kept lists of those German Jews who applied to emigrate. The lists included the occupation or profession of each prospective emigrant..

The REC worked with the Hilfsverein to determine who among those on the list should have the first chance to leave. The Hilfsverein informed the chosen applicants, got their OK, and sent their dossiers, which included photographs, curriculum vitae, educational data, and letters of recommendation to the REC and to the Jewish Refugee Committee in Manila. Alex Frieder and other members of the committee carefully studied the applications and forwarded the names to the Philippine government for approval. Alice Weston, Alex Frieder’s daughter, remembered that “day after day” her father pored over lists of would-be refugees. She claimed it took so much of his time that he neglected his own business.

 August 17: Law on Alteration of Family and Personal Names

August 22: Philippine Magazine:

Italy orders a special census of Jews; school principals have been ordered to eliminate Jewish teachers effective October 1.

August 29: Philippine Magazine:

High Commissioner McNutt confers with German Consul Sakowsky and though no announcement is made it is believed he warned against official interference in the activities of the German Club, Inc., of Manila. A Washington dispatch yesterday said the State Department had instructed the High Commissioner to advise the Consulate in strong terms that it is displeased by the Consul’s action in ordering members of the Club to resign.

McNutt to German Consul Sakowski:

The American government guarantees religious tolerance and freedom from persecution to all persons living under its flag.

August 30: Philippine Magazine:

Washington news dispatch states that the Consul sought the removal of certain Jewish members from the German Club in Manila and that disciplinary action may be taken against him if there are any further attempts at coercion. The Consul in a press statement denies that he had demanded such an ouster and states he coerced nobody.

September 1: Philippine Magazine:

Italian government issues decree ordering all foreign Jews residing in Italy, Libya, and the Dodecanese islands to leave within 6 months, regardless of their religion, exemption being made if one parent is not Jewish; some 10,000 out of a total of 44,000 are affected.

September 2: Philippine Magazine:

The Italian government bans all Jewish teachers and students from the public schools. Some 1500 Jewish professors and 8000 university students are affected.

September 6: U.S. Secretary of State Cordell Hull receives a telegram from the American Consul in Milan, Italy:

…unless otherwise instructed visas will be granted here under the immigration laws of 1917. Please instruct.

September 6, Philippine Magazine:

Hitler in a proclamation read at Nuremberg glorifies the German Reich, rejoices in its friendship with Italy, denounces Bolshevism and the Jews, declares Germany no longer fears any foreign blockade because of the nation’s economic self-sufficiency, but does not mention the Sudeten problem. The British Ambassador to Germany is reported to have stated to the German Foreign Minister when he expressed doubt that Britain would fight to aid Czecho-slovakia: “Then you are mistaken”.

The Dominican Republic offers the International Refugee Committee to accept a substantial number of German Jewish expatriates; the Union of South Africa has indicated it will not allow an immigration of Jews.

September 7: Cordell Hull replies:

…pending the Department’s further instructions, visas should not repeat not be granted.

September 12: Secretary of State Cordell Hull asks McNutt if Philippines will take 500 Jews from Italy:

Please inform the Commonwealth Government in strict confidence that the Department of State has received a telegram from the American Consul General in Milan, Italy saying that the Jewish Central Refugee Committee for Italy proposes to have five hundred non-Italian Jews of whom one-half are merchants and one-quarter professional persons obtain visas and proceed to the Philippine Islands. It is stated that these applicants will be furnished with transportation and landing money by refugee organizations. Information from other sources indicates the possibility of a movement from Central Europe to the Philippine Islands.The Department of State has telegraphed the Consul General at Milan and certain other officers in Europe that the matter is being taken up with the appropriate authorities of the Philippine Islands and that no action in the cases of the persons in question should be taken pending the receipt of further instructions from the Department. The Department of State brings the foregoing to the attention of the Commonwealth authorities for their information and consideration and for a statement of their desires in the matter. The attention of the Commonwealth authorities should be called to the fact that aside from the question of policy involved in the admission into the Philippine Islands of these and similar groups of persons from Central Europe, there are also involved technical questions of admissibility under section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1917 which excluded among other classes of aliens, persons whose passage is paid for by any corporation, association, society, municipality, or foreign government either directly or indirectly and persons likely to become a public charge.

September 15: McNutt replies to Hull: No.

If and when local situation justifies admission of others, visas should be only given to those selected from lists submitted in advance to Commonwealth officials and committee. With such safeguards, the experiment will be successful and maximum number of refugees will be absorbed.

September 29: Munich Agreement

October 1: JDC memorandum on selection plan:

Through intervention of the United States High Commissioner for the Philippine Islands, the Hon. Paul V. McNutt, the Jewish community of the Philippine Islands found employment possibilities for one hundred persons, divided into various occupational groups. This figure is later to be increased to five hundred if initial efforts are successful.

October 5: German Jews’ Passports Declared Invalid

October 7: Philippine Magazine:

The State Department announces that a note has been sent to Italy recommending that American Jews there be left to pursue their peaceful occupations without molestation, pointing out that Italian nationals in the United States are not hampered by discriminatory laws. The Italian government is reported to be “irritated”.

October 8: State Department to McNutt:

In view of the small sums which it is stated the selected refugees will have in their possession, and in the absence of information that plans have been made for placement of refugees and for their support in the meantime, you may wish to invite the attention of the authorities to the provisions in section 3 of the Immigration Act of 1917 relating to the exclusion of aliens likely to become public charges. This act is applicable to the Philippine Islands and as the Commonwealth authorities are responsible for the enforcement of the Act in the Philippine Islands they will wish in giving tentative consideration to the cases of these refugees to go into the matter of their admissibility or inadmissibility under the provisions of the Act, including those relating to aliens likely to become public charges [. . .] To avoid exclusion under the public charge clause, aliens must establish that they have sufficient means of support or such assurances of continuing support by persons able to support them.

October 12: Philippine Magazine:

Italy forbids the further issuance of shop, cafe?, and restaurant licenses to Jews.

October 14: Philippine Magazine:

Under government pressure to avoid antagonizing the Nazis, Czechoslovakian Jewish, communistic, and masonic bodies disband and various newspapers cease publication.

October 25: McNutt to State Department:

All refugees now in [the] Islands have been placed satisfactorily. Responsible local committee has undertaken placement and support meantime of all others selected.

First Selection List authorizes visas for—


…over one hundred Germans Jews – men, women and children – along with six refugee Jews from Austria. McNutt augmented this list one month later with another forty-six names from Germany and two from Italy, totaling one hundred families in all.


The committee required each refugee to deposit, in a Manila bank, $1,200, a sum “sufficient” to support them for two years. Having proven that they were unlikely to become a public charge, the State Department then issued a visa from the appropriate consular office. The state Department forbade consular officials from granting visas to any refugee except those accepted by the Jewish Refugee Committee and the commonwealth government.

October 27: Philippine Magazine:

Reported that President Quezon has asked the United States government for an expert on immigration matters to advise him. An investigation of corruption in the Immigration Division of the Bureau of Labor is in progress.

October 31: Philip Frieder to the REC in New York:

Every steamer that is coming here from Europe is bringing refugees without visas to enter the Philippine Islands. We do everything possible so that they can stay here but all this requires money as none of them have any funds whatsoever. Last week one of the Italian steamers brought 150 enroute to Shanghai. Fourteen of these remained. About fifteen did the same thing a few days before. We now have so many here that in a short time it will be impossible for us to take care of them. We are advised that another steamer, due this week, is bringing sixteen. We are placing them as fast as possible, but they cannot be absorbed so quickly. Therefore, we must support them and our small community here cannot do this. For this reason, I telegraphed you last week asking for financial assistance. The Philippines are still open, but it won’t be long if these refugees are not taken care of without government assistance.


…one must remember that only six Jewish families, including [Phillip] Frieder and his brothers Morris and Alex, possessed the means to support refugees, that the cost of sustaining each refugee was fifty cents per day, and that the REC had allocated only $5,000 for the venture by the end of 1938.

October 31: Philippine Magazine:

President [Quezon] suspends 21 officials and employees of the Immigration Division of the Department of Labor and designates Judge Luis P. Torres, Malacañan technical adviser, as acting head.


Quezon executed a probe into the allegations of misconduct in his immigration office and as a result suspended twenty-three officers and employees of the immigration service and prosecuted four. It was during this time of upheaval and restructuring of the immigration policies and offices in the Philippines that the unusual empowerment of immigrant selection by the JRC in Manila for the issuance of visas into the Philippines came into being, a process that took the power of visa selection out of the hands of Philippine Port Authority officers, U.S. State Department officials, and American consular officers abroad and put it squarely into the hands of the JRC and Paul V. McNutt.

Rodrigo C. Lim, writing in the Philippines Free Press, August 19, 1961:

Many prewar newspaper readers will undoubtedly recall the so-called immigration scandal that resulted in the mass suspension and, later, dismissal and transfer of practically all immigration officials and employees. Convinced after a quiet protracted investigation conducted by the Division of Investigation (D-I) of the venalities in the immigration office, Quezon one afternoon ordered the suspension of all personnel, from the chief to the last messenger. The D-I was made to take over the office. The immigration chief then was the nephew of the President’s wife, but that did not save him from being suspended and transferred to another office later.

November 7: German Embassy official Ernst vom Rath is assassinated in Paris by Herschel Grynszpan, a Jewish youth.

Ben Austin, Holocaust educator:

The assassination provided Goebbels, Hitler’s Chief of Propaganda, with the excuse he needed to launch a pogrom against German Jews. Grynszpan’s attack was interpreted by Goebbels as a conspiratorial attack by “International Jewry” against the Reich and, symbolically, against the Führer himself. This pogrom has come to be called Kristallnacht, “The Night of Broken Glass.”

November 9: Kristallnacht


The centrally invoked violence left over 267 synagogues destroyed, along with an estimated 7,500 Jewish businesses burned or looted.


The idea to resettle Jews on the island emerged at the end of 1938 following Kristallnacht, or the “Night of Broken Glass”, when Nazi storm troopers attacked Jews and Jewish-owned property. That pogrom aroused sympathy for Jews in the United States and the Philippines and encouraged officials at the State Department to consider placing European Jews in underdeveloped parts of the globe. In this context, McNutt and Quezon discussed resettlement on Mindanao in December 1938.


The Nazis arrested and sent to concentration camps 30,000 Jewish men.  In the aftermath of the progrom, the Nazis levied a 1 billion reichsmarks fine on Jews to compensate for damage done during Kristallnacht—a fact published by the mainstream Philippine newspapers.

November 11: Philippines Herald:

During the past few weeks an increase in Jewish immigration into the Philippines has been manifest. As evidence of the growing number in the country of this persecuted race is the creation of a committee among the old-time Jewish residents here to take care of the new arrivals and help them establish themselves in the business houses.

Another evidence is the enlargement of the Jewish synagogue on Taft avenue…

There are approximately 350 Jews in the Philippines today… Of this number a great majority, approximately 300, are in Manila and environs.

Last month, the first batch of the refugees and victims of persecution in Germany arrived here. According to a report from a prominent members of the Jewish community here, eight were landed at Manila while a great number continued their way to China where they will be welcomed by their brethren.

The Jews who come to the Philippines from central Europe, it was explained, are just a small part of the “thousands that have been scattered like dust and leaves” by the mighty purge of the German government. Most of them have gone to the United States, Palestine, China, and England –wherever they can escape the persecution of the so-called Aryan people…

The Philippine government has not expressed itself or made a definite policy on the Jewish immigration here, but it is believed that good people, characterized by philanthropy, earnestness in work, and religious zeal, will always be welcomed.

The present immigration regulations and for that matter the exclusion laws of the United States do not consider Jews as aliens in the category that the Chinese and Malays are under, and for this reason they are on a status different from other foreigners seeking entry here.

November 12: Exclusion of Jews from German Economic Life

 November 18: McNutt send radiogram urging that U.S. consulates in Europe to expedite processing of visas approved by Philippine authorities.

November 19: Approximately 2,000 people attend an “Indignation Rally” protesting the violence of Kristallnacht is held in Manila, supported by the Archbishop of Manila, Protestant leaders, and civic associations, led by Quintin Paredes, Majority Floor Leader of the National Assembly.

Philippine Magazine:

[Manila:] At a meeting representing numerous civic and religious organizations, presided over by Assem. Quintin Paredes, some 18 speakers attack the persecution of the Jews in Germany.

That evening,  McNutt, during a speech delivered at the Masonic Temple in Manila: 

Within the past few months we have seen the reign of law replaced by sanctification of force, the threat of war adopted as an instrument of national policy, humble men and women denied the freedom to think their own thoughts and to worship God according to their own conscience and the dispersion all over the world of millions of helpless wanderers with no place to lay their heads…

Faith in the law had made the Israelites a people whom forty centuries have not been able to destroy, and forty centuries more will see a virile people.

November 21: Joaquin Elizalde, Philippine Resident Commissioner to the United States, reports to Manila on American public opinion in reaction to Kristallnacht:

There is strong pro-Jewish sentiment all over country in view of recent developments in Europe… prominent officials making public statements.

November 22: McNutt to the Secretary of War:

For the State Department: Local Jewish Refugee Committee and Commonwealth Government Officials have approved a third list of selected refugees. It is requested that instructions be given the appropriate Consular officials authorizing them to issue permanent visas for the Philippines to the following list…

November 25: U.S. Consulate in Singapore asks Washington:

Strict interpretation of the Department’s telegram dated November 22, [1938] 7 p.m., indicates that the procedure outlined may be applicable to all persons proceeding to the Philippines Islands. If not is it applicable to non-German refugees, to non-destitute German refugees, or only to German destitute refugees?

November 26: Editorial in the Philippines Free Press.

It is small wonder that the sympathies of the world have been touched, and that other countries are making unprecedented efforts to find new homes for Jews.


in a pair of editorials [the magazine] tempered its condemnation of Kristallnacht with a sober notation of the dangers of liberalized immigration to the Philippines. The newspaper also conceded the universality of mankind’s capacity for hatred, violence, and murder. With memories still fresh of Chinese immigrants who had been materially successful in the Philippines and of the Japanese who had designs of their own on the islands, the prospect of further immigration troubled many ethnic Filipinos.

November 28: Memorandum of a conversation held in New York between Joseph Hyman, director of the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), and Morris Frieder, brother of Phillip Frieder of Manila. The memo summarizes what has happened, to date, starting in 1937:

The German government sent a boat to Shanghai to remove all German nationals from the war zone. In so doing they also took aboard about 30 German Jewish families. All of these German nationals, including the refugees, were deposited in Manila and the German government signed an agreement with the [Philippine] government to the effect that these people removed from the war zone would not become public charges. At that time the German Consul in the Philippines suggested to Mr. Philip Frieder that it would be well for the Jewish community to take charge of the German Jewish refugees. This suggestion was adopted and the refugees were placed in various Jewish homes and eventually jobs were found for all of them…

Approximately 350 refugees have arrived in Manila independently. Most of these are totally without funds and are constituting a serious problem for the Jewish community there. There are, all told, about 60 Jewish families in Manila, (the American Jewish Yearbook lists the Jewish population of the Philippines as 500) of whom Mr. Frieder says there are only about 6 Jewish families who are in a position to contribute. It costs about .50 cents a day to maintain each of the 350 refugees there…

Mr. Frieder stressed the fact that the Philippines might easily become an important resettlement center for German Jewish refugees if it were handled right.

November 28: McNutt, in response to a decision by U.S. Consul in Singapore, to grant visas to 22 Manila-bound refugees who were, however, “destitute”:

…visas [must] be given only to those on approved lists… or efforts to place deserving refugees in the Philippines will fail.


The instigator behind the consul’s action may have been Frieder, for he had persuaded U.S. officials in Singapore to issue a visa to Ernest Burger, a distiller and winemaker who Frieder later found employment for with the Philippine distributor of Seven-Up.

November 30: Department of State issues “Visa Instruction” regarding “German Refugees Proceeding to the Philippine Islands” for transmission to all American Consulates and Embassies.

George Messersmith, Assistant Secretary of State, to McNutt:

The names of the refugees contained in telegrams no. 811 of October 25, and no. 883 of November 22, 1938 from the High Commissioner have been transmitted by mail to the consular officers in the respective districts of the aliens’ residences. The consular officers have been requested to inform the Department regarding the action taken in the cases of the refugees referred to and upon receipt of the reports the War Department will be informed. The procedure of having the names of the refugees for whom the Philippine authorities have granted authorization for entry into the Philippine Island communicated through the War Department to the Department of State for transmission to the appropriate consular officers is considered to be satisfactory…

[Consular officers in Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, Netherlands, East Indies, India, Egypt, and Shanghai have been notified] …that visas should not be issued to German refugees proceeding to the Philippine Islands without notice of authorization for entry into the Islands having been received from the Philippine authorities through the Department of State.

The Tablet:

Seeing that the refugees were unlikely to become a public burden, McNutt endorsed visas for the German Jews who had the desired occupations and passed the screening process and background check. He relayed this request to the State Department’s visa division, which sent instructions to the appropriate U.S. consular officers to issue the visas. The State Department forbade consular officials from granting visas to any refugee except those accepted by Manila’s Jewish Refugee Committee.


By November 30, 1938, approximately 30,000 Jews had been arrested and sent to concentration camps.

December 1: The Jewish Refugee Committee approaches President Quezon regarding a larger resettlement plan in the Philippines. From a December 8, 1938 letter of Herbert Frieder to Bruno Schachner:

[Quezon] heartily approved our plan of resettling as many of the refugees as we cared to in Mindanao. He was willing to give them all the land that they wanted, build roads for them, and do everything in his power so that they could reestablish themselves. He intimated that Mindanao is big enough to support as many people as Luzon has, but he would be happy if we could settle a million refugees in Mindanao.

…[This would be] a bigger project than Palestine. The land is more fertile than Palestine, there are more minerals, timber – as a matter of fact, it is the richest land in the Philippines – virgin soil. This is such an enormous proposition that one can hardly visualize the potentialities of same.

December 2: McNutt met with Quezon and the two worked out the refugee Mindanao settlement plan. The same day, McNutt sent a radiogram to US Secretary of State Cordell Hull heartily endorsing the Mindanao resettlement and urging Secretary Hull to support the project, which will become known as the Mindanao Plan:

President Quezon has indicated willingness to set aside virgin lands in Mindanao for larger groups of Jewish refugees who wish to engage in agricultural enterprises of related activities in the development of community life in underdeveloped and practically uninhabited areas. Soil and climate conditions in Mindanao favorable to development of agricultural industries supplemental to Philippine agricultural economy. Philippine National Economic Council about to improve Mindanao colonization plan for Filipinos. It is believed that this program would be materially aided by colonization plan for Jewish refugees through development by organization directing refugee colonization of sources of supply, medical, and hospital and other services near areas. Local Jewish Committee, in cooperation with Refugee Economic Corporation of New York, will submit plan for colonizing refugees in Mindanao for approval of Commonwealth officials. The situation is now such that the larger program for the colonization of refugees in Mindanao can be successfully inaugurated if a message of approval is received from you. President Quezon is anxious that nothing be done which is not in accord with the policies of the United States. I urge your 257 consideration of the suggestion and strongly recommend its approval if the proposal is in accord with established policies. McNutt.

December 5: In Washington:

  1. Internal draft, State Department, representing opposite view of inquiry that was sent:

…the mere suggestion of such a large number as 2,000 families in one year, and 30,000 families as an ultimate objective – almost one-fourth of all the Jews in Germany – might arouse hopes which later could not be fulfilled, and might deter the other powers, which could better absorb these refugees than the Philippines, from taking as large a quota as they otherwise would agree to take.

  1. Undersecretary Sumner Wells’ response upon being shown draft: Do not send:

Mr. Welles read only the draft of the letter to [McNutt], which contained the moderate program which we [Sayre and Jacobs] had in mind. Mr. Welles said that this draft was not satisfactory to him and that he felt that something more positive would have to be done.

  1. Actual State Department inquiry finally sent to McNutt in Manila:

At the next meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees, which is expected to be held in London in the near future, a further intensive effort will be made by the powers to find a solution of the German refuge problem. [. . .] It is believed that the question of how many such refugees the Commonwealth authorities believe could be absorbed annually in the Philippine Islands may arise. If, therefore, the Commonwealth authorities feel that they would care to participate in this effort, the Department of State would appreciate receiving at an early date an estimate of how many such refugees could, within the restrictions imposed by existing immigration laws applicable to the Philippine Islands, be absorbed annually over a period of years. The Department would also appreciate being informed as to the approximate number of German refugees who have come to the Philippines since January 1 of this year and have remained there.

December 5: In Manila:

Philippine Magazine:

In the first press conference for some months, President Quezon states… he would favor admitting selected refugees from Europe who could be accommodated here, preferably scientists and medical men who would be an asset to the country. He says he wants the Philippines to be as hospitable as a country as the Filipinos individually. He also points out that the Filipinos can not afford to entertain anti-foreign ideas both because this not right and because it is dangerous. The Filipinos can not afford to provoke anybody, for the country is not strong enough to defend itself against all comers for any length of time and safety must lie in just and fair dealing with all.

Manila Bulletin (quoting President Quezon):

“My attitude towards the German Jews is that of cooperation” [but while we refuse] “to close our doors to oppressed people” [we also reject] “the influx of large numbers of people… which will create problems.” [What he wants is for Jewish refugees] “to obstruct Japanese penetration” [of Mindanao].

December 6: Acting Secretary of State Sumner Wells to McNutt in Manila:

there is no objection on policy grounds to the Commonwealth authorities giving considerations to the matter of colonizing in Mindanao refugees from Germany or elsewhere in Europe… [however you are cautioned to avoid situations] which would result if a large number of refugees were hurriedly settled in Mindanao and the colonization plan were found to be unworkable… [Be aware of current legislation as] it may not be possible [. . .] to permit a large group of immigrants, which the plan would necessarily envisage, to enter under the conditions peculiar to their situation.

December 16: McNutt telephones Washington on Mindanao Plan:

…that President Quezon and the Commonwealth authorities are prepared to admit during 1939 some 2,000 families of Jewish refugees into the Philippines for colonization on the Island of Mindanao, and about 5,000 families annually until a total of 30,000 families has been reached.

December 17: Office of Philippine Affairs, U.S. State Department, internally expresses misgivings on Mindanao plan: 

[We] had in mind that [. . .] a reasonable number, say one or, at the most, two thousand persons, might be absorbed in the Philippines over a period of years. It [Office of Philippine Affairs] did not, however, have in mind that such a large number as 2,000 families in one year, or 30,000 over a period of about five or six years could be absorbed.

McNutt tells Washington President Quezon intends to send a Philippine representative to IGC meeting; in a few days he will send–

a tentative plan covering number of refugees to be absorbed and conditions to be imposed.

December 21: State Department follows-up details of Quezon plan. 

December 22: McNutt replies no plan details yet as Quezon has been taken ill.

December 23: President Quezon to U.S. State Department via McNutt:

…the Commonwealth Government is happy to be able to cooperate [. . .] in an effort to find a solution of the German refugee problem, which this Government realizes must be approached from broad Humanitarian grounds…

[As for] refugee settlement in Mindanao and other sparsely populated areas of the Philippines:

  1. that a responsible committee representing refugees or acting on their behalf shall submit a satisfactory plan to finance such settlement,
  2. that the settlers will agree to engage in subsistence farming and not to grow money crops that now enjoy protection in the American market,
  3. that they shall take out naturalization papers as early as possible thereby expressing their intention to become Filipino citizens,
  4. that until they become Filipino citizens they shall reside in the land reserved for them,
  5. that the number of refugees to be admitted as settlers shall be fixed for the time being by this Government acting upon the recommendation of the committee in charge of the settlement in course of preparation, having in view the committee’s ability to take care of the settlers, provided that the total number shall not exceed 10,000 persons, and
  6. that the plan contemplated and its execution shall be subject to the immigration laws now in force or which may hereafter be passed by the National Assembly.

December 27: J.C. Hyman, Executive Director of the JDC to Col. Julius Ochs Adler of the New York Times:

Dear Colonel Adler: Dr Jonah Wise mentioned to me that you wished some information concerning the settling of a German immigrant in the Philippines. [. . .] immigrants are admitted entirely on a selective individual basis in limited numbers, acceptability being dependent on background and former professional or other activities of the applicant. It virtually lies within the discretion of the High Commissioner to determine who should be admitted and who may not be [. . .] a gentleman by the name of Mr. Frieder, one of the outstanding Jewish leaders, is the chairman, and very largely on his recommendation to the Philippine Immigration Commissioner and Governor McNutt is [application] formally approved.

December 31: From the Third Annual Report of the President of the Philippines to the President and the Congress of the United States Covering the Calendar Year Ended December 31, 1938:

During the year a number of important questions required consideration. Among these were questions relating to immigration, asylum for political refugees, overseas shipping, matters affecting trade relations with the United States, assistance to Filipinos traveling or residing abroad, the repatriation of Filipinos from the United States, and from China and Spain, and the deportation of undesirable aliens from the Philippines.

The most urgent of these questions is that of political refugees seeking asylum in the Philippines from certain areas of Europe, and an increasing number of Chinese who are seeking to escape the unhappy conditions growing out of the Sino-Japanese conflict. In these matters involving the welfare of many thousands of people suffering the misfortunes imposed by political or war conditions in their homelands, the policy of the government of the Commonwealth has always been governed by generous and humane considerations, and the High Commissioner has given us his unstinted cooperation.



January 3: State Department informed Quezon’s representative would not be able to attend IGC meeting later that month; State Department uses this opportunity to submit Quezon’s December 23, 1938 proposal but amended item number 5:

  1. that the number of refugees to be admitted as settlers shall be fixed for the time being by the Commonwealth Government acting upon the recommendation of the committee in charge of the settlement in course of preparation, having in view the committee’s ability to take care of the settlers and the consequences of large-scale settlement upon the national economy of the Philippines.

State Department explains the change on the following grounds:

[to] avoid a commitment to a definite numerical figure which experience might prove to be either too high or too low. The American delegate might, however, confidentially mention the figure of ten thousand for illustrative purposes.

January 7: State Department asks McNutt, concerning Quezon’s December 23, 1938 message, what did “money crops” mean? McNutt replies:

…’not to grow money crops’ should be clarified as follows: ‘not to grow crops competing with Philippine products now sold in the American market.’ 

January 10: Oskar Hess from Hagen, Germany, writes to President Quezon. Oskar, Pauline, and Margit Hess were murdered in Auschwitz in 1943.  


A letter of January 10, 1939 (see Fig. 2) refers to an article in the Berlin Jewish newspaper Ju?disches Nachrichtenblatt about the Philippine President’s readiness to facilitate the Jewish immigration to his country. The article called “The Planned Emigration: Outlooks” lists several settlement programs: in Australia; in French and British overseas territories such as Kenya, Rhodesia or British Guiana; in the American territory of Alaska; and in the Philippine’s Mindanao province as proposed by President Quezon in December 1938.

January 18: Washington meeting in which Charles Liebman of the REC informed Philip Frieder,  Morris Frieder, and Jacobs and Achilles of the Office of Philippine Affairs that he was considering —

sending a mission of experts to Mindanao composed of: a colonizer, a public health expert, an agronomist, an animal husbandry specialist, and an hydraulic engineer.

January 21: Dr. Isaiah Bowman, then president of John Hopkins University and Director of the US Geographical Society, preliminary report at behest of Theodore Achilles in the Office of Philippine Affairs delivered to George Warren of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees:

Mindanao seems to offer sufficient possibilities to guarantee a successful future for selected groups of European settlers.

Bowman’s report leads to the President’s Advisory Committee of Political Refugees sending a scientific mission to the Philippines. Called the Mindanao Exploration Commission, it is composed of O. D. Hargis, chairman; Dr. Stanton Youngberg, Dr. Robert L. Pendleton, Dr. Howard F. Smith, and Captain Hugh J. Casey, members.

January 24: From President Quezon’s Fifth State of the Nation Address: 

I also desire to submit to your consideration the enactment of necessary legislation for the settlement of sparsely populated regions of the Philippines, especially in Mindanao. This is important not only for obvious political reasons and as a means to promote economic development, but also to relieve the acute congestion of population existing in certain agrarian areas. The National Economic Council has recommended a carefully prepared plan to carry out this objective. The plan contemplates a ten-year program aiming at the settlement in these vacant areas of about 500,000 people on selected lands adapted to subsistence farming and the production of certain money crops. This project will require an estimated total outlay of P20,000,000 which may be appropriated from the proceeds of the excise taxes. The report and recommendations of the National Economic Council on this matter will be transmitted to the National Assembly within a few days…

[The U.S. State Department] has agreed with our Government that political refugees who desire to come to the Philippines shall not be given visas by American consuls without the previous approval of our Government. We owe it largely to His Excellency, the United States High Commissioner, that the State Department was fully appraised of the situation and that this administrative policy was adopted…

To protect the interests of our people and to repair an injustice done to certain races by existing legislation, we should enact a new immigration law. Under our present immigration law passed by the Congress of the United States, Chinese, Indians, and some other Orientals may not be admitted into the Philippines. Ours is an oriental country, and we are an oriental people. We belong to the same racial stock as some of those excluded by our laws. So long as other foreigners are allowed to immigrate to the Philippines, we should admit, under the same terms and conditions, those coming from oriental countries. To avoid, however, a large influx of immigrants from any one country, we should establish a quota that will be the same for all countries.

January 30: Hitler’s Reichstag Speech

February 14: Philippine Magazine:

Announced at Malacan?an that government has informed the U. S. State Department it is ready to receive political refugees from time to time not to exceed total of 10,000, especially farm technologists, engineers, doctors, etc., for settlement in sparsely settled areas provided a responsible committee representing the refugees will submit satisfactory plan of financing such settlements and the refugees agree to become Philippine citizens.

February 15: President Quezon issues a statement on Jewish Settlement in Mindanao:

Sometime ago, the President created a committee composed of Cabinet members to study the question of political refugees seeking admission to the Philippines and to make recommendations. This Committee had Secretary [Manuel] Roxas of Finance as its Chairman, and Secretary [Rafael] Alunan of the Interior, Secretary [Jose Abad] Santos of Justice, and Secretary [Jorge] Vargas, members. In view of recent publicity given to this matter, the Committee has, by authority of the President, prepared the following statement for publication:

Recent occurrences in Europe have forced upon the world the problem of providing an asylum for political refugees. These refugees have been estimated at over 500.000, mostly Jews. Under the leadership of Great Britain and the United States, an Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees has been organized in London to formulate plans and to raise the necessary funds for the convenient settlement of these refugees in other countries. Yesterday this Committee appropriated $300,000,000 to defray the expenses of transportation of refugees and to provide them with capital to start with in productive enterprises in countries which should express a willingness to accept them.

The interest shown by many governments in the solution of the refugee problem is predicated upon broad humanitarian grounds. These political refugees, regardless of race or religious belief, allege that they have not been free to think their own thoughts, to express their own feelings, or to worship God according to the dictates of their own consciences. Democratic governments, both in Europe and in the Americas, have assured the Intergovernmental Committee of their unstinted cooperation. The Commonwealth Government, upon invitation of the United States, could not turn a deaf ear to the sufferings of these unfortunate people. The Philippine Commonwealth, founded as it is upon justice and righteousness and the preservation of essential human liberties, could not but view with sympathy the opportunity to do its share in meeting the situation.

In line with these sentiments, His Excellency, the President, with the cooperation of the State Department of the United States, authorized the admission of political refugees on a selective basis. Only those whose professional qualifications, particularly in science, could supply needed services in the Philippines, have been admitted. In his inaugural message to the National Assembly, His Excellency, the President, explained fully his action in this matter. He emphasized the fact that the present immigration laws do not inhibit the immigration of such refugees into the Philippines, irrespective of their number or personal qualifications. With the cooperation of the Department of State, however, the President has succeeded in limiting the number of immigrants only to those who would be of advantage to the Commonwealth.

Sometime ago, representations were made to the Philippine Government by authorized spokesmen of these refugees, proposing the settlement of several thousand refugees and their families in Mindanao or other sparsely populated areas in the Philippines. It was indicated that these refugees would be provided with sufficient funds to establish them in farming communities, and that they would be assisted by competent personnel to plan and direct the development of the land that may be assigned to them. It was also intimated that only experienced farmers would go to this settlement, and that they would immediately take the necessary naturalization papers to become Filipino citizens.

The Philippine Government considered this proposition in connection with the project to settle and develop Mindanao. The Government believed that here was an opportunity to cooperate with an international enterprise inspired by a most laudable purpose, and that it could be accomplished in the interest of a national program, without in any way depriving Filipino citizens of the opportunity of enjoying the benefits of that undertaking.

Moreover, the Philippines could gain positive advantages from the execution of this plan. The proposed settlement would provide Filipino settlers in neighboring areas with a practical example of modern farming methods practised in the most advanced farming sections in Europe. Also, these refugees could develop new crops familiar to them and which might be profitably produced here. These settlements would have the advice of competent technical men, agriculturists, land chemists, irrigation experts, and such other technological assistants as are needed in projects of this nature. As this settlement is to be undertaken chiefly on a cooperative basis, Filipino farmers would see a practical application of the principles of cooperative farming and marketing as well as the working of consumers’ cooperatives.

There is, of course, a limit to the number of settlers that can be admitted under this plan. Realizing this fact the Government has advised the Intergovernmental Committee on Political Refugees that it was favorably inclined to a plan for the settlement of selected refugees in Mindanao or other sparsely populated areas of the Philippines, to be determined by the Philippine Government. The number of such settlers is to be fixed from time to time by our Government, having in view the interests of our national economy and subject to the following conditions:

  1. That a responsible committee representing the refugees or acting on their behalf shall submit a satisfactory plan to finance such settlements;
  2. That the settlers shall agree to engage in subsistence farming or such other activities as may be compatible with the best interests of all the Philippines ;
  3. That they shall take out naturalization as early as possible, thereby expressing their intention to become Filipino citizens;
  4. That until they become Filipino citizens they shall reside on the land reserved for them;
  5. That the number of refugees to be admitted as settlers shall be fixed from time to time by the Commonwealth Government acting upon the recommendation of the committee in charge of settlement in course of preparation, having in view the committee’s ability to take care of the settlers and the consequences of large-scale settlement upon the national economy of the Philippines; and
  6. That the plan contemplated and its execution shall be subject to the immigration laws now in force or which may hereafter be passed by the National Assembly.

It is believed that the conditions prescribed by the Government are sufficient to safeguard the interests of the Philippines. Moreover, it is expressly stipulated that the admission of these refugees should be at all times subject to the provisions of the immigration laws now in force or which may hereafter be enacted by the National Assembly.

There is no plan to settle large numbers of immigrants in Mindanao or any other part of the Philippines. It is the policy of the Commonwealth Government to preserve the natural resources of the nation for the Filipinos and their descendants. The areas that may be allotted to the proposed settlement for political refugees wall be insignificant compared with the vast tracts of vacant lands that now exist.

February 16: Statement from President Quezon clarifying Mindanao Plan:

…the policy on the matter declared that those to be admitted not only will be selected for their fitness for agricultural life and for their knowledge of farm technology but that they will be provided with funds in order that they could finance the development of the lands to be assigned them. With the knowledge these refugees of modern agriculture gained from experience in various nations of Europe they should prove of distinct help to Philippine farmers because of the example they will set.

February 16: Philippine Magazine:

Government and local Jewish refugee committee reported to have agreed on plan to survey areas in Mindanao for Jewish settlements, the refugees agreeing not to engage in competitive agriculture such as growing sugar, hemp, and coconuts.

February 17: Refugee Economic Corporation of New York sends a telegram to President Quezon:

Your noble attitude toward unfortunate refugees publicly announced in London will have great influence throughout the world. We take this opportunity of expressing our deeply felt appreciation of your humane spirit and generous cooperation.

February 27: Time Magazine:

Many a big name has been attached to many a plan to get the harassed Jews out of Germany. Last week the big name of the man most responsible for the whole terrible business was attached to still another. His country’s economy sagging* from the serious trade losses that followed his pogroms last autumn, Führer Adolf Hitler last week proposed a truce with the Jews. In a meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees, Director George Rublee presented Führer Hitler’s refugee plan:

1) Jews could return to jobs, although not in Aryan enterprises, until a merciful emigration scheme is worked out.

2) Young Jews (said to number 150,000 of Germany’s 550,000 Jews) would be permitted to emigrate at once on condition that they later arranged to send for their parents.

3) No more anti-Jewish legislation against the older Jews would be promulgated in Germany while the emigration plan is operating, barring any “extraordinary event” (i. e., another vom Rath murder).

4) Part of Jewish property in Germany would be pooled into a trust fund from which emigrating Jews would be able to draw for passage, equipment and machinery needed in their new homelands.

To the delegates, the greatest difficulty in carrying out the plan seemed the lack of an offer by Germany to supply the departing Jews with foreign currency. Consensus, however, was that Führer Hitler had promised more than even optimistic Director Rublee had hopes of getting when he first went to Berlin last month. Having submitted Führer Hitler’s plan, Director Rublee resigned, was replaced by League of Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Sir Herbert Emerson.

The resettlement plan hinges upon the finding of homes abroad for the Jews. Last week the Committee heard the most encouraging news since its creation: 1) President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Commonwealth offered to take 1,000 refugees annually, plus an unstated number of doctors, engineers and technicians; 2) a delegate of the Dominican Republic announced that his Government could admit 100,000 refugees, provided they had funds; 3) Australia offered to admit 15,000; 4) Paraguay a “limited number,” while The Netherlands and British Governments announced investigations examining resettlement possibilities in their colonies.

*The Reich’s foreign trade dropped 12½% last month.

April 3: By this time, word has spread in Europe about the Philippines being willing to accept refugees. Martin Foerder from Breslau, Germany, writes to President Quezon. Martin, Margot, Henny, and Lilly Foerder did not make it to the Philippines and were murdered in 1941 in the Kaunas Ninth Fort. 

Martin Foerder

Breslau 13

Ortsstr. 6         Breslau, April 3, 1939


Mr Manuel L. Quezon


The Philippines


As I have learned, there is a possibility that some immigrants can still ?nd accommodation in your country. Because of that, I let myself the polite inquiry whether I can be given the possibility to immigrate to your country with my family.


I am 48 years old, married. My wife is 40 years old and my two daughters are 16 and 14. I am a trained shoemaker and I am also good at laying tiles. My wife is an excellent housewife and has also worked with cosmetics in her free time. My oldest daughter is also fully trained in housework. Actually, we are willing to do any work that is o?ered to us.


I have to leave Germany with my family as soon as possible. Please, therefore, let me know the conditions under which the entry may be granted. Please not do make me wait too long for an answer because I would like to know my departure date as soon as possible. I hope that you will assist us in this case.


Waiting for your favourable response


Sincerely yours,

Martin Foerder


I am at your disposal and can send you testimonies about my wife and me 

April 6: Alex Frieder reports to Liebman that President Quezon suggests another location for refugee settlements:

 …the whole island of Polillo which is due east of Manila. [It] has an area of four hundred square miles, inhabited by only seven thousand Filipinos… he would take great pride in seeing Polillo inhabited by our refugees and if we accepted, he would authorize the appropriation of a sufficient sum of money for the National Treasury for an adequate road system through the island. [Quezon said Polillo residents had asked him to] divert the settlement of refugees from Mindanao to Polillo as they felt they [Jews] could be immensely beneficial to their progress… [We thus have] wonderful prospects of settling both Mindanao and Polillo, which enlarges the quantity of refugees who can be settled.

April 11: Two years before his death (“Tauber, b. 1884, from Vienna, who was deported to Theresienstadt in 1942 and perished in Auschwitz in 1944”), a Viennese Jew, Siegmund (Sigmund) Tauber, writes to President Quezon:


Siegmund Tauber                                                  Vienna 11th April 1939

Wien, XX.,

Webergasse Nr. 19


To the President Mr Manuel Quezon,


Philippine Island


Dear Sir,

Undersigned, a Viennese Jew begs for himself and his family (consisting of 10 persons) for permission of entering the Philippine Island.

We are 4 men and 6 women in the age of 12–55 years, 3 of us were partaking of the Great War . We are all healthy and busy .

In Vienna we were cutters and sewers of body linen for ladies and gentlemen; yet we know to do the agricultural work too, because we had once a small farm and were breeding fowls .

I suppose, that the fate of the German Jews is not unknown to you, Excellence, (we must emigrate) and so I am convinced that you will fulfill my request.

We have no money in the foreign country , but we shall take with us so many agricultural implements as we are allowed by the office of our country. We ask for the deliverance of duty for the things and for our removal goods too.

If your generosity should go still farther and you would allow a greater number of Viennese Jewish families to immigrate and to found settlement of their own to find a new home, I should take pains to put together a society of healthy and industrious families.

Thanking you in advance


I remain yours,

Sigmund Tauber


Enclosed the dates of my family


April 15: Mindanao Exploration Commission secretary Stanton Youngberg informs Bowman of their scheduled “inspection trip to the Island of Polillo.”

April 28, 1939. Emilio Aguinaldo, to a reporter of the Manila Bulletin:

Jews are dangerous people to have around in large numbers. By natural abilities, by their temperament, and by their training in business, they have succeeded in predominating and absorbing the people of places they settled. They are by nature ambitious and selfishly materialistic and are not anxious to help the country in which they live. [. . .] If the Germans, strong, well organized, and well trained as they are in all fields of human activities, find themselves unable to cope with the Jews to such an extent as to cause Hitler to expel them from Germany, how can we Filipinos expect to compete with the Jews? If cultured highly industrialized, strongly organized Germany could not stand the Jews, how can we expect primitive Mindanao to do so?

May 11: Philippine Magazine:

High Commissioner McNutt and family leave Manila after a spectacular send-off by Commonwealth government and City of Manila and United States and Philippine Armies.


Since McNutt wanted to succeed [Franklin D. Roosevelt] as president, he had no intention of staying for an extended period in the Philippines. His campaign for the White House began to organize early in 1939, nearly two years before the election…

Richard Moe:

 In fact, during the second half of 1939 right up until the Democratic convention in July 1940 he [President Roosevelt] said nothing publicly on the matter. Whenever a reporter tried to question him on his intentions, Roosevelt told him to put on a dunce cap and stand in the corner or he found another way to laugh off or ignore the question. Journalists and cartoonists began depicting him as a “sphinx” who wouldn’t reveal his secrets. 

May 13: St. Louis Sets Sail

Quezon, writing to the American publisher, Roy Howard:

I can truthfully say that, in my opinion, he [McNutt] has been one of the best representatives of the United States in the Philippines… My association with him, both official and personal, has been in every way satisfactory. We have never had the slightest unpleasant experience and we have always been able to find a common ground for a compromise when we did not agree entirely. Poker, of course, has been helpful in making a personal association very enjoyable.

See: In like a lion, out like a lamb, Philippines Free Press, May 13, 1939

May 14: After visit to Polillo, Mindanao Exploration Commission concludes,

Polillo Island offers no possibility for the settlement of European refugees.

June: Kotlowski:

In June 1939 the Jewish Refugee Committee had applications on file for 2,500 Jewish refugee families and had forwarded, to the Department of State, lists of 313 people approved for visas. 

June 2: Philippine Magazine:

German liner St. Louis is refused permission to land 917 German Jewish refugees at Havana because Hamburg-Amerika steamship company had previously been warned refugees would not be permitted to land, and ship now cruising about looking for other place to land them.

The U.S. refuses to admit the refugees, who are forced to return to Europe.

June 4: Los Angeles Times publishes AP story from Washington DC: 

[The] settlement of tens of thousands of German Jewish refugees in the Philippines [is meant] to offset the influence of Japanese there [who already own] more than 50 per cent of the arable land, [and] 70 per cent of the abaca production. [Plus] more than 50 per cent of the lumber, copra, hemp, and fish exports, [and] 95 cent of Davao’s exports to the United States… [Since the Japanese consider Mindanao] as a vast and potential field for immigration and settlement [the advantage of Jewish settlement would be] to compete on equal terms with the Japanese and not be utilized by them.

June 9: Philippine Magazine:

German ship St. Louis still cruising in American waters. Jewish-American Committee in Washington has informed Cuban government it will put up cash guarantees for the refugees if it will admit them.

June 10: A. M. Warren, Chief of the the Visa Division to Mr. Stephen Skodak of Lorain, Ohio:

I have your letter of June 2, 1939 requesting to be advised of the procedure to be followed by two chemical engineers, subjects of Hungary, in affecting their immigration into the Philippine Islands. The Philippine authorities have requested that advance authorization for entry into the Islands be obtained from the Philippine authorities at Manila before visas may be issued. It is understood that the names of persons desiring to proceed to the Islands may be submitted to the Philippine authorities by the Jewish Refugee Committee, Post Office Box 2233, Manila, Philippine Islands.

June 19: Sigmund Tauber in Vienna sends another letter to President Quezon:

Vienna, June 19, 1939

To the President Mr. Manuel Quezon


Philippine Island


Dear Sir,

At the 15 of April a. c. I took the liberty to send you personally a petition begging you for a card of permission to enter the Philippines and to remain there with my family. I am convinced you have already decided in favour, but the discharge could not yet come to my hands in consequence of the formalities of your offices .

Sir! You certainly know perfectly well the sad situation of the German, the Vienna Jews. I appeal once more at your heart and your humanity to accelerate the permission (for me and my family) to enter your dominions.

I and my family are accustomed to work . We are well known in producing of finest Vienna body linen for ladies and gentlemen. I am sure, I can employ many native people.

Repeating once more my prayer to hasten the settlement to allow us to come.

I am, dear Sir,


Your obedient servant

Zsigmond Tauber7

Vienna XX.

Webergasse 19.




June 23: Philip Frieder to the JDC:

[JRC was] receiving hundreds of applications for visas from people who undoubtedly would be desirable persons for settlement in the Philippines, but it was unable to approve any of them in view of its present financial circumstances.

June 28: “Manuel Quezon,” in John Gunther’s Inside Asia:

 In Germany he saw Schacht, but not Hitler… About Hitler [Quezon remarked]: “That’s not my idea of a leader.” …

Quezon and Paul V. McNutt, the present high commissioner, are not intimate friends, but relations between the governments are quite correct. Quezon hoped that another man would be appointed and that in any case he should be consulted on the appointment; McNutt’s name was rushed through before Quezon got to Washington, and for several days he sulked, refusing to call on McNutt until Roy Howard smoothed the matter over. Quezon says that nowadays he likes to see McNutt in order to get away from the local politicians. He records that his friendship with him was cemented by a poker game, in which both were winners – Quezon, however, by a bigger margin.

Quezon and MacNutt, from the website of Rescue in the Philippines.

June 30:   

From the Third Annual Report of the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands to the President and Congress of the United States Covering the Calendar Year 1938 and the First Six Months of 1939:

Immigration Service. — The ruling immigration law of the Philippines is the act of Congress of February 5, 1917, which contains a provision that the law shall be enforced in the Philippines by officers of the general government thereof until it is superseded by an immigration act passed by the Philippine Legislature and approved by the President of the United States.

During the years numerous complaints against procedures in the enforcement of the immigration laws were made to this office. In many cases these complaints would not have occurred had the local government been in a position to issue regulations adapted to conditions. Enforcement had not been improved by the transfer of the immigration service from the Philippine Bureau of Customs to the Philippine Department of Labor. The situation called for investigation and reorganization which it appeared could only be advanced by bringing to the Philippines immigration experts from the United States. The subject was placed in conference with President Quezon. As a result, President Quezon requested that 2 men, 1 from the Department of Labor and the other from the Department of State, be detailed to the Commonwealth for the purpose of recommending steps for the reorganization of the service and drafting a general immigration bill. At the same time President Quezon ordered an investigation of the immigration service which resulted in the suspension of 23 officers and employees and the prosecution of 4.

Mr. Irving P. Wixon, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization, Department of Labor, and Mr. George L. Brandt, Foreign Service officer, State Department, arrived in Manila on December 12, 1938. In addition to valuable and acceptable recommendations for the reorganization of the service, these men in consultation with appropriate officers of the Commonwealth government drafted a general immigration bill designed to supersede the United States Immigration Act of 1917. The draft of the proposed bill was given to President Quezon. As of June 30, 1939, final action had not been taken…

Colonization in Mindanao by Jewish refugees. — In connection with the colonization of Mindanao which is being undertaken by the Commonwealth, some of the prominent Jewish residents of the Philippines approached President Quezon with a recommendation that a limited number of worthy and adaptable Jewish refugees be admitted to take part in the colonization. President Quezon, after a number of conferences with me, attended by Mr. Philip Frieder and others, extended an invitation for 10,000 refugees, to be selected by the organization in the United States having charge of the relief of Jewish refugees under the auspices of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees. These refugees are to be selected for their aptitude for agriculture, to take part in the colonization of Mindanao or any other suitable part of the Philippines.

The Commonwealth, among other conditions, stipulates that the refugees shall take out naturalization papers as early as possible, and that until they become Filipino citizens, they shall reside in the land reserved for them. Also, that the execution of the plan shall be subject to the immigration laws now in force, or which may hereafter be passed by the National Assembly.

A scientific mission, under the auspices of the President’s Advisory Committee on Political Refugees arrived during the first half of April 1939, to study the possibilities of refugee colonization in Mindanao and any other places in the Islands that may be suitable. I conferred with the mission on different occasions, and have endeavored to facilitate and expedite their studies. The mission completed its investigation of the Island of Polillo in the early part of May, immediately after which they proceeded to the Island of Mindanao in the hope of completing that survey by the end of June.

From the Fourth Annual Report of the President of the Philippines to the President and the Congress of the United States Covering the Period January 1 to June 30, 1939:


A stricter policy of restriction has been followed with a view to preventing the admission of aliens who are not entitled to enter and stay in the Philippines. This strict policy has contributed largely to the decrease of alien immigration into the Philippines, with new landing certificates of residence being issued to only 475 Chinese immigrants, as compared with 3,525 in 1938 and 2,024 in 1937.

Measures have also been initiated by the Commonwealth Government for the purpose of reorganizing the immigration office and amending the present immigration laws. On December 12, 1938,two immigration experts arrived from the United States to advise the Government on immigration matters. They have since made recommendations and suggestions toward the reorganization of the immigration division of the Department of Labor and the enactment of new immigration laws that will be practical and suitable in regulating the admission and exclusion of aliens.

Excluding enlisted men and persons attached to the military and naval forces of the United States, a total of 10,482 persons arrived in, and 12,076 persons departed from, the Philippines. Among the arrivals were 1,756 immigrants, consisting of 393 Chinese, 779 Japanese, 182 Jews, and 397 belonging to other nationalities; while non-immigrants numbered 4,366, consisting of 2,831 Chinese, 1,540 Japanese, and 214 subjects of other countries; departing non-emigrants totaled 3,623, of whom 1,962 were Chinese, 408 Japanese, and 1,253 of other nationalities.

During the 6-month period under review 175 aliens were deported from the Philippines, namely, 143 Chinese, 17 East Indians, 2 Japanese, 9 Russians, 1 Korean, 2 Czechoslovakians, and 1 Hebrew (German).

See also: Philippine Visas-for-Jews from the Perspective of the Unanswered Letters of 1939 to President Quezon by Ber Kotlerman:

More than twenty letters of European Jews to the President of the Philippines Manuel Quezon, sent to apply for entry visas for over four dozen people, were recently found in the Rare Books and Manuscripts Department of the National Library of the Philippines in Manila. The letters written in English, German, and Spanish are dated Spring-Summer 1939, when escape from Europe was still possible. Though several hundreds of Jewish refugees came to Manila via various ways during 1937–1941, the letters in question remained unanswered. All of them provide the exact time of the short-lived Mindanao plan, which proposed to establish an agricultural colony of European Jews in the Philippines, but got stuck in the very beginning. The databases of the Yad Vashem World Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington reveal the tragedy, which many Jews anticipated: all of the Philippine visa seekers, except for one person, found their death in various concentration camps, ghettos, and labour battalions.

July 1: Jurisdiction over the Philippines transferred to the U.S. Department of the Interior from the U.S. War Department.


Within just a few months of Malcolm’s official opinion, the functions of the Bureau of Insular Affairs were transferred to the Department of the Interior on July 1, 1939, and combined with those of the Division of Territories and Island Possessions. It was nearly 40 years after the cessation of hostilities between United States forces and revolutionaries of the Spanish-American War that the Philippines were no longer under any jurisdiction of the U.S. War Department.

July 2: Philippine Magazine:

Commission of American experts, after 6-week survey of sparsely populated areas as possible sites for Jewish colonization, returns to Manila and issues statement expressing thanks for help received from government agencies and declaring it was greatly impressed by magnificent scenery, immense virgin forests, “fertile soils, and splendid climate of Mindanao, and foresees a great future for it. Of outstanding importance is government’s road program . . .” In accordance with its instructions, commission must forward findings and recommendations to principals in United States who may release them for publication.

July 7: Confidential information in the Mindanao Exploration Commission report:

Frequent opposition has been expressed toward this settlement in the press and still more often to members of your commission in private, and no doubt more often still by influential people to various members of the President’s cabinet and quite frankly to the President himself. At least we can infer the latter from the statement that Mr. Jorge Vargas, the President’s secretary, made to Dr. Youngberg. The general sentiments expressed have been to the effect that the Philippines should be reserved for the Filipinos.

On this date, the Nacionalista Party convention approves proposing three amendments to the Constitution: changing presidential term from 6 years to 4, but allowing re-election; restoration of senate; creation of Commission on Elections.

July 11: Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

Paul V. McNutt, retiring U.S. High Commissioner for the Philippines, told a Jewish Telegraphic Agency correspondent here that 500 Jewish refugees have found a new home in the Islands and that plans for settlement of thousands more on the Island of Mindanao were progressing.

Commissioner McNutt, who on his departure from Manila was presented with a parchment by the Jewish Refugee Committee expressing its gratitude for his efforts in behalf of the refugees, was enthusiastic on the prospects of Mindanao. He said the island, whose colonization possibilities are being examined by an American experts’ commission sent by the Roosevelt Advisory Committee on Refugees, was “definitely the most fertile part of the Philippines.”

“So far,” he declared, “the Islands have taken in 500 Jewish refugees, and every one of them, through the cooperation of the fine Jewish Community of the Philippines, is at work at self-supporting jobs. As soon as room is made for more, the list of applicants is scanned for the necessary qualifications and without any visa difficulty they are speedily brought to Manila.”

Referring to Mindanao, he said the work there would have to be “from the very bottom, but the Island boasts plateaus equal in fertility and natural wealth to any other section of the world. It has vast untouched mineral wealth and definitely has the finest climate of the Philippine Islands.”

Commissioner McNutt revealed that he had convinced President Manuel Quezon that a change should be made in the Island’s laws to allow free entry of refugees without the formality of visas and passports. He also gained from President Quezon permission for refugee physicians to practice in the Philippines without examination. The president’s personal physician, he disclosed, is a refugee.

July 17: Philippine Magazine:

Columnist Walter Winchell quotes anonymous friend of President Franklin D. Roosevelt as stating President had told him positively he would run for third term and Paul V. McNutt is his choice for Vice-President. Norman Thomas, Socialist Party leader, warns Roosevelt that McNutt’s appointment as Social Security Commissioner may jeopardize whole machinery of security legislation, asserting that as Governor of Indiana he used the State’s pension legislation “entirely in interest of himself and his party”…

Army and Navy Journal mentions Maj.-Gen. Douglas MacArthur and Maj.-Gen. Malin Craig for post of High Commissioner.

July 24: President Quezon, letter to Herbert Frieder:

[Concerning our] humanitarian work…every effort will be made to accommodate a number of Jewish refugees, not exceeding 10,000 over a period of ten years, under the condition that they shall settle in such portions of Mindanao as may be agreed upon between this Government and your good selves.

August 3: Philippine Magazine: 

Fascists in former Czechoslovakia propose death penalty for marriage of “Aryan” Czecks to Jews.

August 5:

Philippine Magazine:

President Quezon states in press conference… he has offered International Jewish Refugee Committee large tract of land between Bukidnon, Cotabato, and Davao, but told committee of experts here they could not have certain site in Lanao, desirable because of its altitude of 1200 feet, as Lanao is small province and he wants to reserve this site for Moros of the region and will not even permit Christian Filipinos to settle there.

Note: Francis Burton Harrison (writing in his diary on March 12, 1943):

When Quezon, before the war, granted permission to 10,000 Jews to settle in the Philippines at the rate of 1,000 a year, the Jewish Committee picked out, as the best farming land–Lanao! Quezon says he refused this, since they wouldn’t be alive at the end of a year. Quezon tells me that Lanao has as many rich and wonderful Moro farms as has Jolo nowadays.

Contemporary Jewish Record, New York (Vol. 2, Iss. 5):

Pres. Manuel L. Quezon, of Philippine Islands, declares only Cotabato Province of Mindanao Island is suitable for refugee settlement… 

August 18: Morris Frieder recounts what his brother Alex reported to him, about Quezon’s response when he was told of growing anti-Semitism in the Philippines:

He assured us that big or little, he raised hell with every one of those persons and made them ashamed of themselves for being a victim of propaganda intended to further victimize an already persecuted people; He immediately told us in unequivocal terms that we could have all the land we needed, not only for the 10,000 persons, but for 30 or 50,000 and that he would personally see to it that thousands of hectares more of private leased lands would be surrendered to us by transfer [. . .] He again repeated that he could see in this development a distinct benefit to the country as well as a haven for the refugees [. . .] and he asked me not to be depressed by any subversive rumors.

August 19:

Gerald Wheeler:

As a birthday present for Quezon, the National Assembly on August 19, 1939 voted to change the presidential term from one of six years without immediate reelection to a four-year term with one immediate reelection allowed. Quezon strongly desired the change, and his Nacionalista Party desired it even more strongly. The first election under the amendments (and the existing law) would come in November 1941, at the close of Quezon’s initial six-year term, and if reelected he could serve until 1943, a total of eight years. The vice president would then take over for the remaining two years, until the elections of 1945. It was assumed that Quezon would run again in 1945 and thus be president in July 1946 when the Philippines became a fully sovereign republic. There were two other amendments that were less important. The National Assembly and the unicameral form of government would be replaced by a House of Representatives and a Senate. The Senators would be elected at large. Quezon fully supported this amendment, particularly the provision for electing senators at large. Finally there would be legislated a Commission on Elections to take care of this matter.

August 26: President Quezon, in his capacity as acting Secretary of Public Instruction (today known as Education) authorizes “certain Jews” to take board exams in medicine. Executive Secretary Jorge B. Vargas replies on the President’s behalf to an objection from the head of the Philippine Medical Association:

This decision was motivated by what His Excellency considered broad humanitarian grounds. Realizing, however, that the legality of his action is a matter upon which honest differences of opinion may be entertained, His Excellency would welcome any step to bring the question before the courts…

Ber Kotlerman:

Later, a judge turned down the German Jewish doctors’ request for medical practice.

September 1: German Invasion of Poland

September 3: Dwight D. Eisenhower diary:

This evening we have been listening to broadcasts of Chamberlain’s speech stating that Great Britain was at war with Germany .…  Hitler’s record with the Jews, his rape of Austria, of the Czechs, the Slovaks and now the Poles is as black as that of any barbarian of the Dark Ages….

This crisis has made me more than ever anxious to get home.

I want to be back with my own army to watch and be a part of our own development and preparations; also to keep in closer touch with the daily record of the war as it is made. We’re too far away in Manila… 

September 15: National Assembly adopts a resolution proposing amendments to the Constitution.

McNutt to Secretary of State Cordell Hull:

…commonwealth officials and local committee [the JRC] think it unwise to attempt absorption additional refugees at this time [. . .] visas should be given only to those selected from lists submitted in advance to Commonwealth officials and committee. Commonwealth officials concur in opinion that, with such safeguards, experiment will be successful and maximum number of refugees can be absorbed. 

September 18: Philippine Magazine:

President Quezon sends message to Assembly… asking authority to reorganize the immigration division of the Department of Labor.

September 30: McNutt, to State Department:

Initial request and placement of refugee families in the Philippines came from the Refugee Economic Corporation [. . .] and was submitted to Commonwealth officials and to a Committee of Representatives Jewish Citizens headed by P.S. Frieder. [. . .] All concerned agreed to absorb 100 families of approved records in designated professions and vocations in three groups at intervals of sixty days [. . .] Selections based on these records now being made by Commonwealth authorities and committee. Suggest that when lists are complete, they be forwarded to Department of State in order that appropriate consular officers be authorized to give visas. Commonwealth officials request that visas be given only to them on approved lists.

October 9: As detailed by Harris: An interesting story revealing how internal opposition to the Philippine plan manifested itself. Conversation was between Joseph E. Jacobs and Robert Pell.  Jacobs:

  • In 1938, he’d been instructed by Undersecretary Sumner Wells to ask Philippine government how many refugees they could take.
  • Reply from Philippines was 1,000 persons, which Wells found “inadequate.”
  • Wells said President Franklin D. Roosevelt had asked him “to inform President Quezon of the interest of the President and to express the hope that a better offer could be made than that of 1,000 persons.”
  • When Wells urged Quezon, via the Philippine Resident Commissioner in Washington, to increase the number of refugees to be accepted, only then did Quezon increase the number to 50,000.
  • Wells then called Jacobs into a meeting with Francis B. Sayre which became heated:

Mr. Sayre took a very strong line against the settlement project. Mr. Welles argued back heatedly and there was no definite conclusion. Mr. Jacobs then remarked that in his opinion the settlement of a large number of refugees in the Philippines could not be justified on social, economic, or political grounds. The major question of policy was whether the United States wished to remain in or leave the Philippines. Jacobs said that he believed that the United States should get out, hook, line and sinker. The settlement of these people, (italics added) who would be financed by a New York group, would mean a further call on the United States to stay in the Islands.

Harris, in her paper points out:

This was a total misstatement of the chain of events. Quezon’s offer to admit 2,000 refugee  families in 1939, and then 5,000 families annually until 30,000 or more families had been reached was deliberately squelched back in December 1938 by [Joseph E.] Jacobs and [Francis B.] Sayre. Jacobs neglected to tell Pell that it was he, Jacobs, who had suggested a far more moderate number of even 500 refugees total over many years, to which Welles then responded that it was not enough.


Sayre’s opposition proved most significant, for he was the official who replaced McNutt as high commissioner.

October 12: Jewish Telegraphic Agency:

A favorable report on prospects for settlement of refugees from Central Europe in the Philippines has been turned in by an experts’ commission sent to the islands by President Roosevelt’s Advisory Committee on Refugees, it was learned today.

The report, which was completed several days ago, will be considered by the President’s committee, which is headed by James G. MacDonald, at a meeting in New York on Friday and will be transmitted to officers of the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees when they meet at the White House on Oct. 16 and 17 on President Roosevelt’s invitation.

Manuel Quezon, president of the Philippine Commonwealth, indicated before the commission sailed from Manila last March that his Government was agreeable to accepting refugee immigration if the commission found the Commonwealth would support them. At the time, he mentioned a figure of 10,000 as the number he believed the islands could accommodate.

The experts’ commission included O.D. Hargis, chairman, agricultural expert of the Goodyear Rubber Company, who conducted experiments on the island of Mindanao; Dr. Stanton Youngberg, director of the Philippine Bureau of Agriculture; Dr. Robert L. Pendleton, for many years advisor to the Government of Siam; Captain Hugh Casey, of the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and Dr. Howard F. Smith.

October 21: Philippine Magazine:

High Commissioner Sayre arrives in Manila. In impromptu speech of welcome, President Quezon praises him for his keen mind and humanitarian heart, and for his part in securing needed help for this country from United States, and expresses hope “he may be the man to turn over to first President of Philippine Republic the authority and sovereignty of the United States over these Islands

See: Sayre arrives, Philippines Free Press, October 28, 1939

December 12, 1939: President Quezon, speech at farewell luncheon for Dwight D. Eisenhower:

Among all of Ike’s outstanding qualities… the quality I regard most highly is this:  whenever I asked Ike for an opinion I got an answer…  It may not have been what I wanted to hear, it may have displeased me, but it was always a straightforward and honest answer.

Farewell luncheon for Eisenhower. Quezon awarded the Distinguished Service Star to Eisenhower and asked Eisenhower’s wife, Mamie, to pin it on her husband. A biography of Eisenhower said it became her favorite photo of her husband. (Photo from the Eisenhower Presidential Library)

December 28: Philippine Magazine:

Dr. Stanton Youngberg arrives in Manila to supervise Jewish colonization project; reported from private sources that cattle ranch of late Dean C. Worcester in Bukindon will form nucleus of colony site.




January 18: U.S. State Department drafts a response to Sayre to suggest to the President Quezon a new immigration law may be needed by the Philippines if it wants to pursue the Mindanao Plan.

In her forthcoming book, “When the Time of Need Came”:  Manuel Quezon and the Philippine Holocaust Refuge, Filipino-American scholar Sharon Delmendo examines this and other aspects of the US government/Philippine Commonwealth negotiations over Jewish refuge in the Philippines.  The US sent immigration officials to the Philippines, ostensibly to “assist” the Commonwealth “revising” its immigration policy.  Imposing national quotas for immigration to the Philippines would impose limits on potential Jewish refugees (as did the 1924 US Immigration Act).  However, President Quezon fought for and won for Executive power which allowed the President to set aside quotas for humanitarian reasons, an Executive power which continues today and has supplied asylum for thousands of refugees over the decades. 


The first draft of the act featured a quota permitting no more than one thousand immigrants from each nation to enter the Philippines annually. Under the guise of such uniformity, it sought to restrict the influx of Chinese and Japanese immigrants, who exceeded the one thousand figure each year. The quotas did not contradict the Mindanao Plan, which permitted one thousand Jews, presumably from one nation –Germany—to enter the islands annually. The law also gave the Philippine president wide latitude to admit nonquota immigrants, such as those with needed skills or those seeking refuge for political reasons. 

January 22: From President Quezon’s Sixth State of the Nation Address:

I recommend the enactment of immigration laws that will place limitations upon foreign immigration thus protecting Filipino labor from alien competition. We should, however, do away with the existing discrimination against Orientals, it being unjust and unfair to close our door to races which are akin to ours.

In the same speech, Quezon formally endorses the holding of a plebiscite to approve three amendments to the Philippine Constitution. 

January 29: President Quezon meets personally with Judge Clyde DeWitt, senior partner of the DeWitt, Perkins and Ponce Enrile Law Firm, to inquire about legal complications regarding making land grants for Jewish refugee settlement in Mindanao.  Quezon also offered legal arguments in favor of granting land in Mindanao to Jewish refugees.

February 17: Alex Frieder to Robert Pilpel, reports four rented community houses in operation; in addition:

the fifth one in the course of building [. . .] which is situated on a conveniently located farm owned by President Quezon. [It] will house forty to fifty persons [who] will work on the farm and so provide themselves with fruits, vegetables, poultry, etc., so that their living costs will be reduced.

February 18: Item in Manila Bulletin:

The high level quotas in the immigration bill now before the assembly’s labor and immigration committee, bringing up pictures of a “flood of aliens,” is understood to have aroused opposition within the committee. Informal discussion of the present draft of the bill disclosed alarm at such a quota of 1,000 annually for nationalities affected by the measure. Some committeemen argued that it would nullify the nationalization program, add to the unemployment situation and, after five or ten years, flood the country with more foreigners than could be absorbed. [. . .] Several committeemen were reported yesterday in favor of either abolishing the quota system altogether or placing the quota at, say, 100 or 200 for each nation whose nationals would be subject to immigration rules. Another provision they propose is that if any quota is established, the immigration commissioner should be given ample power to suspend it if in his opinion further admission of the nationals of a particular country would endanger domestic security or create a problem, social or otherwise.

February 23: Dr. Stanton Youngberg, secretary of the Mindanao Exploration Committee (engaged by the REC to be the general manager of the Mindanao Resettlement Project) informed Liebman that the Philippine National Assembly drafting the Immigration Act opposed the proposed annual quota of 1,000 Jewish refugees per year. But, Youngberg points out, 

[Quezon has] acted impulsively and without sufficiently consulting other members of the government or leaders of the national assembly. [His entire cabinet is opposed to it.]


When Youngberg inquired of an “old Filipino friend,” who had been a member of the Philippine Senate, if the opposition stemmed from anti-Jewish sentiments in the Assembly, the retired Senator told him “that there is and that it is deep, quite extensive, silent but powerful.” According to this Senator, the opposition in the Assembly believed that Quezon had acted impulsively when he offered Mindanao lands for a massive Jewish resettlement plan because he had not sufficiently consulted with the leaders of the National Assembly.

March 9: Alex Frieder, President of the Jewish Refugee Committee in Manila, writes to President Quezon on various agreements concerning Mindanao Jewish agricultural colonization.

Francis B. Sayre, who succeeded Paul McNutt as US High Commission, opposed allowing large numbers of Jewish refugees to enter the Philippines, and therefore opposed Quezon’s Mindanao Plan. 


Sayre, skeptical of the venture from the outset, was loath to “create any nasty minority situation” in the islands, referring to the challenge of assimilating European Jews… Jewish refugees, he claimed, “tended to congregate in Manila” and compete with Filipinos economically.

March 24: Watch the Jewish refugees in Manila celebrate Purim at Mariquina Hall, the land donated by President Quezon for use by the refugees:


April: Editorial in Philippine Magazine, Vol. XXXVII, No. 4, April, 1940:

Anti Semitism in the Philippines

A well known Manila weekly magazine is currently publishing what appears to be a series of articles which serves to introduce the spirit of anti­Semitism in its crudest form into the Philippines. The articles are being published without explanation, and the uninformed can only speculate as to their origin and their general aim. Their content and form of presentation, however, can leave no doubt as to their foreign origin, and their falsety and malice as to their reprehensible character. The material in these articles is taken chiefly from an ill-reputed book, “ The International Jew”, and has been refuted ten thousand times. A clumsy effort to give the articles a local touch is made by referring, among other things, to the mortal dangers that would arise for the people of this country if the project of settling some thousands of Jewish refugees in Mindanao were carried out. In connection with these dangers, the articles cite a document —“ The Protocols of the Elders of Zion” — in which the alleged plans of the Jews to dominate the world are described. This document was long ago proved to be a falsification, the sources and authorship of which are known. The main source was a satire which a Paris attorney, Maurice Joly, published in 1864, accusing the French Emperor Napoleon III of aspiring to world domination through various crafty and ruthless measures. The Secret Service of old Russia later caused a booklet to be printed in which the words “the Jews” were substituted for “Napoleon” in order to deflect popular hatred of the Czarist regime to the Jews and prevent a threatened revolution. The spuriousness of the “ Protocols” has been confirmed in numerous court decisions in various countries, but reference to the document still makes good propaganda in a country like the Philippines where the subject is entirely new.

April 1: J. Weldon Jones, writing to High Commissioner Sayre:

[Quezon has] cooled off [on the Mindanao Plan]… [Quezon now thinks the Mindanao plan is] impractical… [and] a harbinger of troubles in the future…Some of Quezon’s advisers suggested that he let the scheme bog down, practice delay and obstructions… He is following this advice to a certain extent. His decision to secure legislative action on the venture was a part of this program.

Arturo Rotor:

(Manuel) Quezon had his own way of gauging public opinion, of taking a poll survey. He would say something preposterous or do the completely unexpected to find out what the people thought of a political leader, or to measure their opposition to religious instruction in schools. If the act aroused a bigger rumpus than he had calculated, he would institute an appropriate measure. Thus to the uninformed, Quezon often appeared inconsistent, mercurial, unreliable, a man whose word could not be trusted. No greater mistake can be made. When Quezon had studied a problem and made up his mind, no earthly force could stop him. 

April 12: Philippine Magazine:

Assembly passes administration immigration bill on second reading after reducing quota of 1000 for each nation to 500.

April 15: U.S. High Commissioner Francis B. Sayre writing to U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt:

[The revised law is an attempt] to limit immigration so as to prevent the creation of racial difficulties [that might arise] if unlimited numbers of immigrants should pour into the country at too rapid a rate to allow the immigrants to be digested.

April 22: Philippine Magazine:

High Commissioner Sayre states in Shanghai… As to Philippine immigration bill, he states United States policy is not to interfere in Philippine domestic concerns.


Sayre supported the change and urged Quezon to go along with it.

April 23: Inauguration of Mariquina Hall, housing forty refugee families in a farming co-op on a three-hectare farm provided by President Quezon in his own land in Marikina.  

From President Quezon’s remarks at the event: 

What a blessing to the Filipinos it should be if we learn from these few refugees who come to these Islands how to make even the rocky land of Mariquina produce enough quantities to support 40 persons. What a magnificent lesson we can get from that! That would simply mean that the Filipinos have no reason to fear; that if 40 people can raise enough to support them on four hectares, we with a population of 200 million people will be well off , if we can learn to do just that. So I think the Filipinos are going to realize that in allowing these few refugees to come to these islands, we are not only performing a humanitarian act, but we are, in the end, going to profit from this humane act as is always the case. [. . .] It is my hope, and indeed my expectation, that the people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was glad to extend to a persecuted people, a hand of welcome.

April 23, Philippine Magazine:

At dedication of small farm home built to house number of Jewish refugees on 3-hectare site in Marikina donated by him, President Quezon states that on query from State Department, Commonwealth government agreed to permit settlement here of as many as 10,000 Jewish refugees but over a period of “many years”; he states that if country can stand more than 200,000 Chinese, from 20,000 to 25,000 Japanese, and many thousands of Spaniards, Englishmen, Italians, and others, he sees “not slightest ground for concern” over admitting these refugees; fear of some that Jews will be merchants and monopolize commerce is offset by their plan to become farmers; reason why Jews have not been farmers in some countries is that they were forced to live in restricted districts; they have been very successful as farmers in Palestine and elsewhere and may be able to teach Filipinos how to make presently unproductive lands fruitful. “It is my hope and expectation that people of Philippine will have in future every reason to be glad that when time of need came, their country was glad to extend hand of welcome to a persecuted people”.

Watch footage of the event:


La Vanguardia:

Philippines Herald:

THE MARIQUINA HALL, built in a three-hectare farm in Quezon City, is occupied by 40 Jewish refugees who will cultivate the land. The building was dedicated to President Quezon yesterday. The acquisition of the land was made possible through the generosity of President Quezon. Top picture: the President delivering an extemporaneous speech before about 50 Jews. At his right is Alex Frieder, chairman of the Jewish refugee committee. The middle picture shows the crowd that attended the dedication ceremony. Below is the Mariquina Hall. 

Jewish Telegraphic Agency (May 24):

President Manuel Quezon of the Philippine Islands on April [23] dedicated Mariquina Hall, a house for Jewish refugees at Quezon City near Manila, it was announced here today. President Quezon donated the land, on which was situated a building, which the Jewish Refugee Committee enlarged.

In his dedicatory speech to the committee and about 250 refugees, the President made a plea on behalf of refugees and endorsed the proposed Mindanao colonization project. “Your experience in Palestine demonstrates what your race can do to make the most arid soil produce abundantly.” About six months ago the committee had requested 25 copies of the Palestine Economic Corporation report for 1938 for distribution among Philippine officials. 

April 24: German Consul in Manila, Dr. Hans Lautenschlager, reports to Berlin about the inauguration of Mariquina Hall:

The Jew, of American citizenship, Alex Frieder… could not resist… directing insults against the Führer and the German people.

April 30: Refugees attend dinner at Frieder’s home in Brixton Hill, Santa Mesa 

April 30: Philippine Magazine:

Domei reports High Commissioner Sayre as stating United States “had no finger in Philippine immigration bill pie; I think immigration bill is intended to prevent minority race question from arising. . . I personally believe independence will be realized in 1946 if nothing untoward happens.”

May 3: Philippine Magazine: 

Assembly passes immigration bill in third reading by vote of 67 to 1, Assem. T. Oppus being only voter against bill; Floor Leader Q. Paredes states he voted previously for quota of 1000 but that as bill contains provision authorizing President of Philippines to raise quota of any nation on justifiable grounds, he votes “yes” on amended bill. Secretary to the President, Jorge Vargas states bill would permit President only to admit, as non-immigrants, aliens not otherwise provided for in the act and for temporary period only; and also, for temporary period only; and also, for humanitarian reasons, religious and political refugees when this is not contrary to public interest.

Note: the statement of Paredes, who had led the big Manila rally against anti-Semitism in 1938, and who was Majority Floor Leader responsible for getting the law passed according to what the leadership wanted, reveals Quezon’s priority: to retain the “loophole” allowing the president to waive immigration limits for humanitarian purposes. This provision remains the basis for all subsequent actions to permit refugees to arrive in the Philippines.

May 4: Editorial Cartoon, Philippines Free Press: 

From the editorial accompanying the cartoon:

The problem is to keep immigration within bounds, to preserve the Philippines for the Filipinos. It’s simply a case of charity begins at home.

May 7: Alex Frieder to JDC giving details on the Mindanao Plan:

I am pleased to report that both the American and Philippine governments have agreed in principle to a resettlement project in Mindanao for 10,000 refugee immigrants. The Refugee Economic Corporation made possible a thorough and exhaustive survey by a highly competent committee of lands desirable for European colonization. The committee determined upon tracts located in the Province of Bukidnon, Mindanao. Negotiations with government entities necessarily involve long delays. This has been the condition which we have gone through. But I am happy to state that at a conference this week, all differences were ironed out and that contracts for all land under option to us and contracts for the utilization of these lands well be terminated within a few days. This project, when in operation, should mark one of the great milestones in the history of the resettlement of our coreligionists, necessitated by the terrible Diaspora of the Twentieth Century…

The work of our committee in selecting immigration [. . .] has been such facilitated by our cordial relations with the Office of the United States High Commissioner, as well as with many branches of the Philippine Government, not only with the Office of the President of the Commonwealth. These look to this committee as the sole source of information and advice, and recommendations for permitting any immigration of any refugee from any part of the world to this country. All such applications arriving in this office of the US High Commissioner or in any of the various branches of the Philippine Government are routed to our committee for service and action…

We are duty bound to give conscientious consideration to all cases alike, thus our “approved lists” have contained names of non-Jews. The harsh laws of the Reich were leveled against Jews on the grounds of race and not religion, hence many professed Catholics and Protestants of Jewish origin have been cast forth and we count a large number of these in our community. In addition to this should be mentioned the numerous cases of intermarriage, so that a really considerable percentage of our immigrants is non Jewish. I feel positive that I speak the complete truth in stating that we have shown absolutely no discrimination when offering assistance, although it must be admitted that most non-Jews after arriving in this country, do not look to us for aid.

May 11: Philippine Magazine:

Malacan?an announces that President Quezon has accepted invitation of Gen. Emilio Aguinaldo to address Veterans of Philippine Revolution on 42nd anniversary of Philippine Proclamation of independence on June 12; announcement hailed as indicating reconciliation.

May 20: Auschwitz Camp Established

May 28: Philippine Magazine:

President approves immigration and number of other bills.

June 10:  Italy joins WWII in partnership with Axis allies Germany and Japan.  According to Frank Ephraim, this resulted in “the closure of the Mediterranean shipping route—the main gateway for refugees to the Pacific at the time.”  

June 12: Philippine Magazine:

At 42nd anniversary of proclamation of independence of first Philippine Republic attended for first time in years by President Quezon and celebrated on Luneta instead of at Kawit, Gen E. Aguinaldo, in introducing President, states he is forgetting bitterness of past…

June 18:  A plebiscite approves three constitutional amendments: it cut the term of the president from 6 years to four, but allowed reelection for another 4; it restored the Senate; and it established the Commission on Elections.

June 30:

From the Fourth Annual Report of the United States High Commissioner to the Philippine Islands to the President and Congress of the United States Covering the Fiscal Year July 1, 1939 to June 30, 1940:

Other legislation by the Commonwealth Government included an immigration act which was designed to curtail the large flow of immigrants from neighboring countries by providing that not more than 500 quota immigrants might enter from any one country. This act, which was to become effective on January 1, 1941, was before the President of the United States for approval at the end of the fiscal year under review.

When asked whether it was likely that President Roosevelt would approve the Philippine immigration bill, the High Commissioner said that he could not predict the President’s action. He added, however, that the general policy of the United States Government is not to interfere with measures which the Filipino people, the National Assembly, and the President of the Commonwealth approve…



The immigration law of the Philippines in effect up to the end of the period iuuKm- report was the act of Congress of February 5. 1917, which contains a proviso that the law should be enforced in the Philippines by officers of the Philippine Government until superseded by an immigration act passed by the Philippine Legislature and approved by the President of the Ignited States. For the purpose of assisting in drafting such an act President Quezon arranged in 1938 for the loan to the Commonwealth of two officers of the United States Government, Messrs. Irving P. Wixon, Deputy Commissioner of Immigration and  Naturalization in the Department of Labor, and George L. Brandt, a  Foreign Service officer.

The immigration bill drafted by these two men in accordance with the desires of the Commonwealth Government was introduced as an administration measure in the regular session of the Philippine Assembly of 1940. It passed the second reading in the National Assembly on April 12, with certain alterations. The only significant change was the reduction from 1,000 to 500 of the number of quota immigrants permitted annually to enter the Philippines from any one country. The assemblymen were presumably motivated in making this reduction by apprehension of the political and social consequences of admitting into the Philippines large numbers of aliens, especially Chinese and Japanese.

Publication in the press of reports that Japanese officials and the Tokyo press would regard passage of the bill in its revised form as “an unfriendly act” discriminatory against Japan caused considerable resentment among Filipinos; nor was this resentment lessened by the report that Japan had approached Washington for the purpose of having pressure brought to bear upon the Commonwealth authorities to effect revision. Subsequent reports that the United States Government would not attempt to influence the immigration legislation were favorably received by Filipinos.

The Assembly passed the bill on May 2, with the quota at 500, by a vote of 67 to 1. It was signed by President Quezon and was before the President of the United States for final action at the close of the period covered by this report. [This act was signed by President Roosevelt on August 26, 1940, and became effective on January 1, 1941.]…

In order that the greatest possible care should be- exercised in the admission of aliens into the Philippines, the Commonwealth Government, in July 1939, expressed the desire that — pending the enactment and approval of an immigration law — all alien immigrants coming into the Philippines for the first time, whether for temporary or indefinite stay, excepting tourists or travelers for pleasure or business, transients, and bona fide employees of firms of long standing in the Philippines, should obtain from the Commonwealth authorities prior approval of their application for admission to the Philippines. It was requested that visaing of the travel documents of such applicants should be withheld until their applications had been passed upon by the Commonwealth immigration authorities. This arrangement was made the subject of an instruction by the Department of State to American consular officers, dated August 22, 1939. It is believed that this procedure was beneficial both to the prospective immigrants and to the Commonwealth Government…

The Office of the High Commissioner continued to work in harmony with the authorities of the Philippine Commonwealth Government in the matter of the entry of Jewish refugees. The practice, instituted during the incumbency of High Commissioner McNutt, of requesting the recommendations of the local Jewish Refugee Committee, was continued with satisfactory results. During the fiscal year 1939-40, permission was granted by the Commonwealth Government for the immigration of 211 Jewish refugees, and 257 actually arrived in the Philippines. Since the inception of the arrangement with the local Jewish refugee committee in August 1938, a total of 521 refugees sponsored by that organization have been admitted to the Philippines. Of these, 448 are still resident in the Islands, 29 have reemigrated to the United States, 39 to other countries, and 5 are deceased.

The mission [i.e. the Mindanao Exploration Commission] which arrived in the first half of April 1939, to study the possibilities of refugee colonization in Mindanao and other places in the Islands that may be suitable, concluded its work in July 1939. The majority of the mission returned to the United States in the early part of August and presented the mission’s report to its principal, the Refugee Economic Corporation of New York. The Refugee Economic Corporation has kindly furnished this Office with a copy of this exhaustive report. The mission found that refugee settlement would be possible in certain of the highland regions of Mindanao and that successful colonization could take place provided the project were adequately financed from the start and operated under competent technical supervision.

The local Jewish refugee committee and a representative of the Refugee Economic Corporation of New York held consultations during the year with Commonwealth officials in an effort to reach an agreement in connection with the proposed settlement of 10,000 Jewish refugees on agricultural projects in the Island of Mindanao.

From the Fifth Annual Report of the President of the Philippines to the President and Congress of the United States Covering the Period July 1, 1939 to June 30, 1940:


The enactment of the new immigration law, which was approved recently by the President of the United States, and the creation of  the Bureau of Immigration in place of the Immigration Division of  the Department of Labor, will be most valuable in regulating the admission and exclusion of aliens here.

Excluding enlisted men and persons attached to the military and naval forces of the United States, a total of 22,988 persons arrived in, and 22,358 persons departed from, the Philippines. Among the arrivals were 1,735 immigrants composed of 698 Chinese, 329 Japanese,  202 Jews (German), and 506 belonging to other nationalities. The incoming nonimmigrants numbered 10,910 consisting of 7,919 Chinese, 1,373 Japanese, and 1,618 of other nationalities. Among the departures were 5,607 emigrants of whom 1,863 were Chinese, 3,137 Japanese, 2 Jews (German), and 605 subjects of other countries.

The departing nonemigrants totaled 9,645 of whom 7,276 were Chinese, 690 Japanese, and 1,679 of other nationalities. A total of  729 aliens were deported from the Philippines; namely, 641 Chinese, 25 British Indians, 23 Russians, 15 Japanese, 3 English, 3 Jews (German), and 19 of other nationalities.

The emigration of Filipino laborers to the Territory of Hawaii has ceased to be a problem to the government. This is due to the limitation imposed by the Tydings-McDuffie Act as regards Filipino emigration to Hawaii, and the existence there of a sufficient labor supply to meet the needs of its sugar and pineapple industries. The Hawaiian Sugar Planters’ Association today has practically stopped recruiting laborers from the Philippines.

During the fiscal period under review, 456 Filipino repatriates returned from the United States.

July 1: President Quezon issues Proclamation No. 570:

Now, therefore, I, Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippines, by virtue of the powers vested in me by law, do hereby enjoin all branches, subdivisions, agencies, and instrumentalities of the Commonwealth Government and every inhabitant of the Philippines to cooperate in extending whatever aid may be necessary for the safety and care of these refugees. The owners of hostelries and houses for rent are particularly enjoined not to take undue advantage of the influx of these refugees by charging exorbitant rentals or fees.

July 1: Philippine Magazine:

President Quezon returns to Manila and issues proclamation enjoining all government entities and public to “cooperate in extending whatever aid may be necessary for safety and care of refugees”; hotel and house owners are warned not to charge unduly high rent.

July 18: Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated for an unprecedented third term as President of the United States.


McNutt’s presidential campaign was cut short by President Roosevelt’s decision to seek a third term.

August 13: Filipino officials derail sale of lands for refugee purposes in Mindanao.


An August 13, 1940 letter from Kenneth Day, co-owner of the ranches on Mindanao, to his friend Richard Ely in the Bureau of Philippine Affairs, attested to the problems arising in the acquisition of his properties. Day related how just after the papers had been signed and he was about to be paid, lawyers halted the transaction until “the question of transferring Philippine lands to foreign owners” could be settled. Important and powerful members of the National Development Company (NDC), the government corporation that served as “landlord” over large tracts of leased lands, “were not kindly disposed towards the project.” They managed to stall the transaction for the acquisition of the Day and Worcester Ranches by the REC for many months, until Quezon finally stepped in after his reelection [in November, 1941], with enough new political clout to demand the NDC finalize the contracts. But as the saying goes, it was too little too late.


The National Development [Company]… had never viewed the Jewish refugee settlement project with favor. They were able to stall almost at will, because Quezon’s eyes were on Japan… Philippine presidential elections were scheduled for a year hence –they were an important “distraction” for Quezon, who was determined to deal with what appeared to be serious opposition.

August 26: Commonwealth Act No. 613, “An Act to Control and Regulate the Immigration of Aliens into the Philippines” is approved. Quezon’s proposal for a quota of 1,000 was reduced to 500 but the President of the Philippines would be granted authority to make an exception for “humanitarian” purposes:

Sec. 47. Notwithstanding the provisions of the Act, the President is hereby authorized –

(b) For humanitarian reasons, and when not opposed to the public interest, to admit aliens who are refugees for religious, political, or racial reasons, in such classes of cases and under such conditions as he may prescribe.

September 3: Philippine Magazine:

President Quezon proclaims Immigration Act; will become effective Jan. 1, 1941.

September 4: Philippine Magazine:

President orders Immigration Bureau placed directly under his own office.

November 5: Franklin D. Roosevelt wins an unprecedented third term as President of the United States.

November 8: a memorandum points to the importance of the humanitarian exception clause in the Philippine Immigration Act:

The Commonwealth enacted a quota immigration bill which limits immigration to 500 persons per country annually. However, it empowers the President to permit extra-quota immigration for so-called social and humanitarian reasons [. . .] The bill has been approved by the President of the United States and becomes effective January 1, 1941. The Frieder Brothers are satisfied that the refugees will be permitted to come in as extra-quota immigrants, they [Frieders] having been instrumental in securing the inclusion of the provision in the law.

November 15: Warsaw Ghetto Sealed




January 1: Philippine Magazine:

New Immigration Law, restricting immigrants from each foreign country to 500 a year, goes into effect.

January 6: Philippine Magazine:

Reported that condition of President Quezon, whose illness became more serious, is now fair, but that he will require 3 months of absolute rest,

March 3: Krakow Ghetto Established

April 3: Philippine Magazine:

President Quezon appoints Serafin P. Hilado Commissioner of Immigration; was sent to United States last year to study immigration questions.

May: Ber Kotlerman: 

The last recorded escape to Manila was that of the Kaunas born Abraham and Gusta Lipetz and their three sons, who reached the Philippines in early May 1941 via Belgium, France, Algeria, Morocco, Portugal, the US and the Panama Canal. This fantastic journey became possible without any connection to the rescue plans of the Philippine government, but just because Abraham Lipetz had a brother in Manila who sent him an affidavit, and another brother in New York City who helped the family to acquire the US transit visa.

June 18: Diary of Ramon A. Alcaraz:

News we got in Manila today states that Washington (DC) orders all German Consulates in USA be closed.

June 22: Operation Barbarossa

Ber Kotlerman:

Germany invaded the Soviet Union, closing all the ways to escape Europe-in-war. After the invasion all real hopes for rescue of substantial numbers of European Jews from the hands of the Nazis collapsed. 

July 24: Ber Kotlerman:

Quezon wrote in a letter to the Jewish community leaders about the “humanitarian work” to settle Jewish refugees in Mindanao that “every effort will be made to accommodate a number of Jewish refugees, not exceeding 10,000 over the period of ten years…”  

August 24: “Euthanasia” Killings halted. 

September: Ber Kotlerman:

Morton Netzorg, secretary of the Jewish Refugee Committee of the Manila Jewish community, estimated the number of the Jewish immigrants in the Philippines in September 1941 to be about 900, but only 736 were registered: 494 from Germany, 140 from Austria, 59 from other countries and 43 held the Nansen League of Nations passports.

The Tablet:

The refugees who came to Manila had a difficult time adjusting. They did not know the language; the heat and humidity were overpowering; and the mosquitoes were gigantic. Many lived in crowded community housing, which led to tensions and fights. But the young Jews saw the Philippines as a new adventure. Children climbed mango trees, swam in the bay, and learned Filipino songs.

October 15: Deportations of German, Austrian, and Czech Jews; Operation Reinhard

November 10: Update on the “Status of the Philippine Project”:

Negotiations with the Philippine government have been going on for a long period due to the fact that the new immigration bill was pending in the Philippine legislature. With the passage of the bill, negotiations were resumed as to details, and recently President Quezon instructed the officials of the Immigration Department to follow through on the contract, and at the present time the various details are being discussed. It is expected that in a comparatively short time all outstanding questions will be resolved. However, the increasing gravity in the Far Eastern situation has naturally raised certain questions as to whether it would be desirable to undertake the settlement project at this time.

November 15: Quezon elected to a second term. After his re-election, he intervenes to reverse the August, 1940 blockage by officials of the National Development Company, of the sale of ranches in Mindanao for refugee purposes.

November 24: Theresienstadt Camp-Ghetto Established

December 8: Japan attacks the Philippines. Killing Operations Begin at Chelmno.

December 9-24, 1941: President Quezon and family stay in Marikina, adjacent to Marikina Hall in the same property. 

December 24: Commonwealth War Cabinet withdraws to Corregidor as Manila is declared an Open City two days later.

December 30: President Quezon is inaugurated for a second term in Corregidor




January 2: Japanese occupy Manila. Meron Medzini:

When the 14th Army of Japan, commanded by Lieutenant-General Homma Masaharu (1887-1946), occupied Manila on January 2, 1942, martial law was proclaimed and enemy aliens were required to register. Their future depended heavily on the passports in their possession. Enemy aliens whose countries were now at war with Japan, including the United States, Britain, Holland, and the British Commonwealth of Nations, were interned in two detention camps: one on the campus of Santo Tomas University and the other in Los Bagnos near Manila. Among the detainees were 250 Jews. Others not arrested were 1,300 German Jewish refugees (even though they lost their nationality in late 1941) and Jews who held passports belonging to Germany’s allies, such as Austria, Italy, Vichy France, Romania, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia, and Iraq. The third group of Jews living in the Philippines consisted of Russian Jews who held a variety of passports issued in the 1920’s by the Committee for International Refugees (the so-called Nansen passports) or by the Far Eastern Republic that existed briefly in Siberia and later by the Soviet Union.

Ber Kottlerman:

In the beginning of 1942, a demand to send all the Jews to Mindanao, where they should work as farmers, appeared in the local press, arguing that the Jews were admitted to the Philippines under this condition. Following this, some community leaders, such as Morton Netzorg and Stanton Youngberg, were investigated by the Japanese regarding the Mindanao question. It was probably the last mention of Mindanao in the Jewish context. Meanwhile, about one hundred of the Jews who owned the citizenship of the countries-in-war with Japan (USA, UK, Poland, etc., but, ironically, not those who held the German citizenship) were sent to internment camps, such as Santo Tomas Internment Camp on the grounds of Santo Tomas Catholic University in Manila. About six dozen Manila Jews died during the Japanese occupation or were killed in the street fighting, but the majority survived until the American liberation in February–March 1945.

January 16: Deportations from Lodz to Chelmno

January 20: Wannsee Conference 

March 1: Auschwitz-Birkenau Camp Established 

April 9: Fall of Bataan, the largest military surrender in US history.  General Edward P. King surrendered around 78,000 (approximately 66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans) USAFFE (United States Armed Forces in the Far East) to the Japanese.  This surrender led to the infamous Bataan Death March.

May 2: Philippine Commonwealth Government-in-Exile established in Washington, D.C. 

May 8: Fall of Corregidor.

July 14: Diary of Francis Burton Harrison provides additional context to mass suspension of Bureau of Immigration (see October 31, 1938):

[Quezon] Spoke of his troubles caused by the corruption by the Chinese in the Philippines. When a delegation from Chiang Kai-shek visited him he told them he sympathized with their desire of independence and hoped they would throw the Japanese out, but he did wish they would help him to curb Chinese corruption in the Philippines. The last Consul General they had in Manila was one of the “new young men” and he helped Quezon to clean up the immigration mess; and to put in jail the violators of that act. Quezon reorganized the Bureau of Immigration.

July 15: Deportation of Dutch Jews 

July 23: Gassing Operations Begin at Treblinka

August 24: Diary of Francis Burton Harrison:

[Quezon] was very much aroused because of the proposed showing of an old film depicting the Philippine Constabulary in process of being cut to pieces by Moros until rescued by an American Army officer. Protested to J. Davies who is head of one of these propaganda organizations. Davies said he would at once look into it. But Quezon sat down and wrote a hot letter to the film director. Quezon denounced this attempt to show the Filipinos as cowards, (after this war in the Philippines) and added that he understood the director is a man “of Jewish race,” and that he, Quezon, considered this a poor return for his having opened the shores of the Philippines to the Jewish refugees, and for having himself given several acres of his own land to the Jews to help them to make a living. The movie director replied saying that he had withdrawn the film. 

October 26: Roundups of Norwegian Jews

December 17: Allied Nations Issue Statement on Mass Murder




January 26: News item in Manila Tribune: “Jews Given Stern Warning.” Meron Medzini:

In 1943 a number of antisemitic articles appeared in the local press, and some antisemitic broadcasts were aired on the local radio station. Still, the Japanese authorities did not go out of their way to discriminate against the Jews, mainly because the local Jewish leadership was able to persuade them not to. While the Japanese authorities did threaten the Jews to discourage them from engaging in black market activities, no steps were taken to molest Jews as a people or to curtail the existence of the communal institutions. While some people lost their homes and businesses and a number were abused, beaten, or on occasion imprisoned, the main physical harm suffered by the Jews as a group was illness and starvation.

February 18: President Quezon issues press statement in Washington in response to a statement from the Japanese Occupation authorities in Manila saying they had issued a “stern warning” to Jews in the Philippines and would investigate them for “profiteering” and “attempted espionage.”

Manuel Quezon signing a document brought to him by Col. Romulo. (Photo by Ed Clark/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)

In his statement today, replying to the Japanese anti-Jewish allegations, President Quezon said: “Translated from the crude tongue of Nazi-Japanese propaganda, these words are a tribute, unintended, to be sure, to the Jewish citizens and residents of the Philippines. They testify to the fact that the Jews are standing loyally and firmly at the side of the other groups in the Philippine population, risking their lives and their goods in opposition to the Japanese invaders. I am proud of this evidence of the rightness of the Philippine principle of religious freedom. It proves that all the religions in my beloved country are helping each other and fighting together in the cause of freedom.

“The people of the Philippines have never been guilty of the barbarous and divisive error of religious bigotry. Ever since the commonwealth was established, the majority of the Filipinos, who are Catholics, have lived peacefully and in friendship with their non-Catholic neighbors – whether Protestant, or Jewish, or Mohammedan, or Pagan. The small number of Jews in the Philippines is a respected section of our population. After Hitler introduced official persecution into Germany, we offered our hospitality to a number of refugees, who came to the Philippines and quickly adjusted themselves to our way of life. These people were quiet, energetic and productive. They have become a welcome and loyal part of the Filipino population.

“Now the Japanese are aping Nazi Germany by manufacturing their own anti-Jewish propaganda and persecution. I am convinced that Tokyo has announced this policy as a cheap way of pleasing the fanatical Nazis who are its allies, and as a trick to destroy the unity of Philippine resistance. The Nazi propaganda machine is undoubtedly exploiting this story to justify its brutal philosophy among those of its own citizens who are beginning to doubt.

“There is a sharp contrast between the principle of equality as practiced by the Filipino people, on the one hand, and the principle of prejudice and discrimination practiced by the Nazis and Japanese, on the other. This contrast marks one more sector in the moral conflict underlying this war. We shall be victorious in this as in every other sector. I look forward to the day when all the peoples of the earth are again able to work together peacefully and fruitfully to build a better world.”

March 13: Liquidation of the Krakow Ghetto

April-May: April–May 1943, Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

October 14: Sobibor Uprising




February: Japanese military authorities announce increase in Jewish restrictions.

May 15: Deportation of Hungarian Jews; Deportation from Theresienstadt

June 4: Liberation of Rome.

June 6: D-Day 

July 20: Attempt to Assassinate Hitler

July 23: Liberation of Lublin-Majdanek

August 1: Manuel L. Quezon dies in Saranac Lake, New York. Warsaw Polish Uprising.

August 2: Liquidation of “Gypsy Family Camp” at Auschwitz-Birkenau

August 9: Destruction of the Lodz Ghetto

August 19-25: Liberation of Paris.

October 7: Prisoner Revolt at Auschwitz-Birkenau

October 20: Leyte Landing.

November 23: Liberation of Natzweiler-Struthof

November 25: Himmler Orders Demolition of Auschwitz Gas Chambers and Crematoria

December 11: Last Gassing at Hartheim




January 17: Death March from Auschwitz

January 27: Soviet Forces Liberate Auschwitz

February-March: Battle of Manila

Meron Medzini:

The main attack on Jewish property occurred during the fighting between invading American forces led by General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964) and the Japanese army at the end of 1944 and early 1945. In the battle for the liberation of Manila in February 1945, Japanese soldiers committed atrocities in which some 100,000 civilians were killed, among them seventy Jews. Some of the victims were murdered by Japanese soldiers in a massacre committed in the Red Cross hospital in Manila. But this massacre was carried out against all foreigners, not just on Jews. The local synagogue that was used as an ammunition depot by the Japanese was destroyed during the fighting. The majority of the Jews in the Philippines survived the war and reported that during the occupation they rarely encountered antisemitic expressions on the part of either the Japanese occupying forces or the local Philippine community.

The war took a toll on the community, and the majority of its members did not have the financial means and emotional stamina to remain and rebuild their community the way the Jews of Singapore, Hong Kong, and even Shanghai did. The majority opted to move to the United States, Australia, or (after 1948) to Israel, and a few even went back to Germany. By late 1948, fewer than 300 Jews remained in the Philippines.

In November 1947 the newly independent Philippines voted in the United Nations General Assembly for the partition of Palestine and the creation of a Jewish state there. It was the only Asian country to do so, and the vote was the result of American pressure and the feeling of some Philippine leaders that the Jews deserved their own state. The Philippines was among the first Asian nations to recognize Israel and establish diplomatic relations with it.


During the Battle of Manila in February and March 1945, 79 individuals, or approximately ten percent of the Jewish community, were wartime casualties, a rate similar to that of Manila’s overall population. The Japanese arrested, tortured and murdered several Jews at Fort Santiago, alleging that they collaborated with anti-Japanese resistance. Some, such as ritual slaughterer Israel Konigsberg, were indeed active participants in the anti-Japanese resistance. Several Jewish refugees were butchered in cold blood by Japanese marines during a rampage in the Manila Red Cross Hospital on February 10, 1945.

April 11: US Forces Liberate Buchenwald

April 15: Liberation of Bergen-Belsen

April 20: Evacuation of Prisoners from Sachsenhausen

April 23: US Forces Liberate Flossenbürg

April 30: Liberation of Ravensbrück; Hitler Commits Suicide 

May 5: Liberation of Mauthausen

May 7: V-E Day: Germany surrenders.

September 2: V-J Day: Japan Surrenders.




June 17: McNutt, serving for the second time as U.S. High Commissioner, writes to President Roxas asking that Jewish refugee doctors, refused licenses before the war, be given medical licenses.




Meron Medzini:

The Philippino delegate, General Carlos Romulo, was very active in the special Assembly in April and May. He was impressed with the quiet dignity and moderation of both the Jewish Agency and Higher Arab Committee representatives. He stated that although the Philippines were far away from Palestine it would not be neutral on this issue if neutrality meant indifference. He also mentioned the possibility of an eventual ultimate independence for Palestine. While being quite active in the discussion on the terms of reference for UNSCOP, he made no commitments on core issues. As the time drew near to the crucial vote, it was clear that Romulo was going to oppose partition. In early November Eban reported that the Arabs promised the Philippines their support for a seat on the Trusteeship Committee if they opposed partition. On November 24, the Zionist delegates noted there was a problem with the Philippines and pressure would have to be exerted by Washington. Two American Supreme Court Justices, Frankfurter and Murphy, wrote to the Philippine Ambassador in Washington Joaquin Elizalde to press President Rojas to support partition. They also cabled Rojas, whom they knew personally, saying that his country will lose millions of American friends if they continued their policy of opposing partition. However, on November 26, Romulo announced that it would oppose partition; by then there were fifteen states who opposed partition.  

The legal adviser of the Philippine Embassy in Washington, Oscar Cokes, told Eilat that Elizalde was furious with Romulo who failed to coordinate his Palestine policy with the Embassy fearing adverse reaction by American public opinion. Elizalde cabled Rojas warning that if Manila did not support partition it would arouse much criticism in America; he asked how a country that was occupied by Japan during the war could not support Holocaust survivors, at the time when Zionist Federations and Zionist Diplomacy in Asia 115 the Philippines were in dire need of American economic aid. The American pressure worked. A day before the final vote, Clark Clifford, Truman’s closest adviser, met with Elizalde. He advised that contact be made with McNutt, the last American High Commissioner in the Philippines. McNutt suggested that contact be made with Julius Edelstein, a close friend of Rojas. He was contacted in London and probably spoke to Rojas. Chaim Weizmann also cabled Rojas, seeking his support. At the last moment Romulo was instructed by Rojas to vote for partition. 


Emigration from the Philippines to Israel and elsewhere reduced the Manila community from an immediate post-war peak of perhaps 2,500, which included the refugees, to 1,000 in 1946, 400 in 1949, 250 in 1968, and to approximately 100 families in 2013.


Some Sources:


Messages of the President Book 3: Manuel L. Quezon (Volume 1): This volume collects President Quezon’s Month in Review, a chronicle of the Presidents’ official affairs, i.e., their principal activities and undertakings.

Sharon Delmendo, “Ike and the Jews: Was Dwight D. Eisenhower involved in Jewish refugee rescue in the Philippines during the Holocaust?”

Sharon Delmendo, When the Time of Need Came”:  Manuel Quezon and the Philippines Holocaust Refuge book-in-progress (forthcoming, De La Salle University Press)

Bonnie Mae Harris, From Zbaszyn to Manila: The Holocaust Odyssey of Joseph Cysner and the Philippine Rescue of Refugee Jews, September, 2009

Bonnie Mae Harris, Jewish Refugee Rescue in the Philippines, 1937-1941, January-December, 2016

Ber Kotlerman, Philippine Visas-for-Jews from the Perspective of the Unanswered Letters of 1939 to President Quezon, 2017

Dean J. Kotlowski, Breaching the Paper Walls: Paul V. McNutt and Jewish Refugees to the Philippines, 1938-1939, 2009

Robert Rockaway and Maya Guez, The Manila Poker Group That Rescued German Jews

Gerald E. Wheeler, Quezon and The High Commissioners, 1981

Between Mumbai and Manila Judaism in Asia since the Founding of the State of Israel (Proceedings of the International Conference, held at the Department of Comparative Religion of the University of Bonn. May 30, to June 1, 2012)

Holocaust Timeline of Events


Additional Readings:


Frank Ephraim, Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror, 2003

Bonnie Mae Harris, The Memoirs of Cantor Joseph Cysner. A rare testimonial of the Polenaktion

Dean J. Kotlowski ,Finding Havens to Save Lives: Four Case Studies from the Jewish Refugee Crisis of the 1930s, 2013

Alvin Mars, A Note on the Jewish Refugees in Shanghai

Jocelyn Martin, Manilaner’s Holocaust Meets Manileños’ Colonisation: Cross-Traumatic Affiliations and Postcolonial Considerations in Trauma Studies

Laurice Peñamante, Nine Waves of Refugees in the Philippines

Ria Sunga, The Philippines: A haven for Jewish refugees, 1937 to 1941?

TIMELINE: Philippine laws and policies on refugees

Rescue in the Philippines documentary website.




The Long View: An embarrassment of riches


An embarrassment of riches

 / 05:04 AM May 22, 2019


It took the resignation of Kiko Pangilinan as Liberal Party (LP) head (on the principle of command responsibility) for the desiccated coconut known as the presidential spokesperson to bounce with joy over the administration’s victory. Sadly, the Vice President’s refusal to accept Pangilinan’s resignation, while charitable in its intention, deprived the party and the people of what would have been a perfect teaching moment: not only about party leaders taking responsibility for the success or failure of the campaigns they lead, but also to throw the question of whether to accept or decline the resignation to the party itself, instead of it just being yet another top-heavy ritual.

But back to the real surprise: Why has it taken so long for the chest-thumping and crowing to take place in the Palace? Despite being able to prove he can hold up a newspaper long enough to have a photo taken, the prime beneficiary of the midterms, the President, has been unusually quiet, even apparently unwilling to take credit where everyone else has already given it to him as his due. Why such official modesty?

The answer may lie in the numbers when you start to dissect what we already know so far. Getting back to near-peak levels of popularity doesn’t seem to have translated into a rush to the polls to give a ringing endorsement to the administration. Overall turnout, midterm-to-midterm, was lower (77 percent in 2013 versus 75 percent in 2019; 81 percent voted in 2016 but that was a presidential election year). Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) seemed content to proclaim devotion only online; only 21,368 OFWs (20.66 percent out of 1,822,739 registered voters overseas) bothered to vote.

The Comelec said the barangay elections led to a spike in voter registrations for people below 39 years of age (30.5 million in 2016, 33 million in 2019). But did they show up? Two demographics did not get turned on enough to turn out to vote: millennials and Gen Z (Comelec says there are almost 23 million voters ages 25-39, and 10 million voters ages 18-24). Early on, the Comelec said it was the older 31-59 demographic that had the biggest turnout.

Overall, administration control of the House of Representatives is unchanged. But beneath the surface, something seems not right. At present, the handiest number-crunching is in Wikipedia stats on the midterms, which suggests that the biggest losers were: the Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), which lost 11 seats; and the National Unity Party (NUP) and the LP, which lost three seats each.

As for gainers, the Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats led with six seats gained, the Nationalist People’s Coalition gained five, the Nacionalista Party and the Federal Party gained four each, and Hugpong ng Pagbabago gained three. In other words, in a case of intra-administration cannibalism, Hugpong gained little from PDP’s losses, and it was the least loyal coalition partners that did best. While this may blunt a Pantaleon Alvarez comeback bid, it also suggests the best-positioned are less-president-dependent candidates like Martin Romualdez.

And there are symbolic defeats that should trouble the President. Close associates such as Jun Evasco lost; so did Tonyboy Floirendo and the Del Rosarios. Imagine, Hugpong was trounced in Davao del Norte where whatever Her Honor Sara Duterte wants, she should be able to get.

Still, the referendum part of a midterm is how the administration senatorial slate does. The problem was, there were so many claiming administration bonafides that when some of them lost, it was embarrassing. The first candidate to literally cry foul was Glenn Chong, beloved of the truly personally loyal to the President, followed by other candidates like Mocha Uson, who tweeted about computerized fraud. Larry Gadon, another loyalist icon, likewise bellowed fraud. Not only did they have their own constituencies, but theirs are people so loyal to the President that they mistrust the establishment figures who they strongly believe are only fair-weather allies.

Indeed, aside from Bato dela Rosa and Bong Go, of the winning administration senators, everyone else can be identified as not really the President’s loyal follower, but someone else’s. Or in it for themselves. Worse, if you look at voting results on the precinct level, enough bastions of the middle and upper classes voted strongly opposition (Magallanes, Forbes Park, San Lorenzo, Bel-Air, Greenhills, Loyola Heights, UP Village, New Alabang Village, to cite a few) to suggest: The loyalty to the President that had endured even when his ratings slid in other sectors is going, suggesting the Church’s growing criticism has had some effect.

These places do not elect presidents, but remove them, as one politician told me a long time ago. A colossal victory on a mountain of sand.


The Long View: Today began yesterday


Today began yesterday

 / 05:05 AM May 15, 2019


Where the President, his backers and the non-opposition are united, is in ensuring a permanent end to the dilemma they, as a group, have faced time and again: reform-minded interruptions to business-as-usual that run the risk of their going to jail. This has to stop permanently.

That, ultimately, is what’s at stake both in 2019 and in 2022. What’s always made it easier is what I mentioned early on — the one thing that will not change in 2019 is who controls the House of Representatives or local governments from governors to barangay chairs. In that sense, regardless of whether there’s a Senate inclined to play ball or investigate the current President, the House and local governments are thoroughly and permanently in the hands of people just like the President. And who can keep future presidents tied down in having to make deals with them.

Except for the same thing that showed the current President his limits, just as it did all his predecessors: public opinion. The 20-point drop from Kian’s killing to the opening of the campaign required a lot of movement to recover, which tired out the President and also, along the way, encouraged his allies to act more independently than in any presidency before. Example? Gloria Macapagal Arroyo being the first Speaker in our history who became such without the blessing or permission of the sitting President. And the way the House treated the President’s economic team.

Killings and inflation were a double whammy that took out steam from the administration when it was geared up to steamroll its way to a new Constitution, among other things. But the President and his people reclaimed popularity and thus clout in time for the midterms, which meant critics faced a public too frightened or, worse, that had recovered its formerly shaken blood-lust significantly enough that the President’s blasting the opposition directly had an effect despite various non-opposition slates being too in it for themselves to do it.

Still, as the President becomes a lame duck, the fear factor he relied on to keep local officials in line will start to evaporate. But there is one semipermanent legacy the President’s indifference to most of the usual requirements of his job will have. It can be seen in what replaced his formal ruling party, Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban): Hugpong ng Pagbabago, which is not a party but a coalition of provincial and urban barons united to achieve what I pointed out earlier. They’re used to carving things up between them, and not putting together something national in scope.

In fact, there was a down-and-dirty fight for what sort of political landscape would be the legacy of this President, and it was fought between Bong Go, representing the traditional provincial warlord point of view, and Leoncio Evasco Jr., who represented an equally sinister but national one.

Evasco proposed a national movement, with an ideology, structure and the use of government agencies committed to making this movement a permanent national force, with agents in all government departments. Go systematically opposed this, representing the existing local leaders.

Of course, no one paid attention to this fight because, except for occasional public showdowns like rice, it was fought through presidential issuances: the signing and revoking of executive orders, etc., representing the seesaw of influence at any given time. Evasco lost. Totally.

Which means that Go’s victory and graduation to the Senate is not just as the last “patakbuhin” of the standing President, but also the candidate of the local barons who want nothing more and nothing less than to be left to their own devices, which is the extraction of fees.

The top two vote-getters for the Senate, if the surveys are to be believed (and why not?) tells us why the President’s indifference, even hostility, to a national perspective is significant in its aftereffects. Grace Poe is a personality without a party, while the much-despised Liberal Party or PDP (which remains the ghostly survivors of when parties were primarily political vehicles), the communists and all the other major parties are actually subsidiaries of the large corporations or their owners (Ramon Ang’s Nationalist People’s Coalition, Manny Villar’s Nacionalista Party, Enrique Razon’s National Unity Party, etc.)

Arroyo found the PDP so worthless she preferred to work through and with, and be part of, Hugpong, which is setting itself up as the future: one that puts the local ahead of the national, viewing the national whole as a pie to simply subdivide among its leaders. The future!

The Long View: Response at a movie premiere


Response at a movie premiere

 / 09:04 AM May 08, 2019


Movies about politicians are tough to make and sometimes even tougher to watch. Arturo Rotor — besides being a well-known writer and botanist, he served as executive secretary in the Commonwealth government-in-exile — helps explain why in something he once wrote about the main character in tonight’s movie:

“(Manuel) Quezon had his own way of gauging public opinion, of taking a poll survey. He would say something preposterous or do the completely unexpected to find out what the people thought of a political leader, or to measure their opposition to religious instruction in schools. If the act aroused a bigger rumpus than he had calculated, he would institute an appropriate measure. Thus to the uninformed, Quezon often appeared inconsistent, mercurial, unreliable, a man whose word could not be trusted. No greater mistake can be made. When Quezon had studied a problem and made up his mind, no earthly force could stop him.”

Tonight we’re going to see one studio’s take on one such problem: the Jewish Question, as the Nazis put it. You would be a fool if you were to consider the film we’re about to see as the Gospel truth or an objective source of facts. But just as I’m sure there are plenty of details and portrayals we could debate ’til kingdom come, so am I convinced that there is an essential truth that this movie can help us comprehend and understand.

That essential truth can be found in a response Quezon gave in a gathering similar to this one.

It was 82 years ago, on Feb. 15, 1937. It was a banquet thrown in Quezon’s honor by Louis B. Mayer of MGM, attended by studio stars and the mayor of Los Angeles.

Quezon began his response, as all politicians do, with pleasantries, saying, “We who must deal with the realities of a workaday world know that reality is not always pleasant. And today I am in the land of make-believe and it is indeed an oasis in the desert of a public man’s life.”

He continued: “You and I may be working in different spheres of human life, yet you and I are working toward the same goal. A life led without achievement is worthless, and only that life is livable that is dedicated to the achievement of a noble aim. We want to die leaving something behind us so that those who may come after may think of us kindly. That life which ends with death only is a life of frustration and futility, and that is not the life of the artist nor of the public man.”

We consider politics ignoble, but grudgingly have to admit it can sometimes be used for noble aims. Take an incident 83 years ago, on June 13, 1936. Manuel Quezon and a boatload of assemblymen were sailing past Palawan on their way to Mindanao, which Quezon wanted the assemblymen to tour so they would understand why it was important to develop the Land of Promise. Along the way, they passed by a small island called Culion.

Today, we know Culion as a tourist spot, but back then, it was a forbidden place where up to 7,000 lepers were forcibly detained under a policy established by the Americans. As the ship full of congressmen prepared to dock at Culion, Quezon, looking at the island, became emotional, and quoting Dante’s famous lines about Hell, exclaimed, “Abandon all hope, all ye who enter here.”

Perhaps it was because of his own tuberculosis, but Quezon had felt strongly about imprisoning lepers on this island for more than a decade. As president, he would systematically establish a new system to bring treatment closer to where the patients were instead of tearing them apart from their families.

By 1940, there would be a leprosarium in Tala, Caloocan, one of several. Even two years later, in the damp yet dusty Malinta tunnel in January 1942, Quezon would receive a telegram with an appeal — the lepers in Culion were starving! And somehow, in the midst of the Japanese invasion, he made arrangements with the International Red Cross to try to find a way to ship food to Culion.

What do lepers — Hansenites, they are called today — have to do with tonight’s film? If he believed no one should be an exile in their own land, how much more that there should be no exiles from foreign lands?

Tonight’s film will try to tell a story of how some faced fear and bigotry and said no to it being used to justifying terror and inhumanity. The question is whether after tonight, this story will still seem so strange, because so detached from what we are as a people today, as to remain a passing moment of make-believe.

[Remarks at the premiere of Star Cinema’s “Quezon’s Game” last night. The film opens on May 29.]