Manuel Quezon, Patron of the American-Filipino Community


Manuel Quezon, Patron of the American-Filipino Community

William Guéraiche
p. 163-172
Plan | Texte | Notes | Citation | Auteur


  • 1 For a more general depiction of Quezon, see my book: Manuel Quezon. Les Philippines de la décolonis (…)

1 American rule in the Philippines (1898-1946) is in many respects an exception in the history of modern colonization. Not long after the signing of the Treaty of Paris (December 1898), which established the transfer of sovereignty over the Philippines from Spain to the United States, president William McKinley declared that American presence in the archipelago would be temporary. In keeping with this, the United States installed a democratic framework in its territories and laid the foundation for the colony’s independence with the election of a Philippine congress in 1907. The last step before independence was the constitution of a Commonwealth (1935-1946). America promised to withdraw at the end of this period of transition, which it did, despite the Japanese invasion in 1941 and the devastation wrought by the war. From the beginning of the American presence, the idea of independence filled young politicians with ambition. The politicos consisted of the local elite from the old landed, wealthy families, as well as young men from the middle class, such as Manuel Quezon, who had been ‘promoted’ for the benefit of the colonizer. Quezon became president of the Commonwealth in 1935 and is still considered the first president of the Philippines.1

  • 2 The title of a classical book on Philippine colonisation: The American Half-Century (1898-1946), by (…)

2 As is the case with European colonies, the history of America’s half-century2 has been written almost exclusively by the ruling power. American scholars have had access to official archives such as those of the colonial office, and those of the Bureau of Insular Affairs (BIA), created in 1902. As in Europe, the vision of the colonizer has prevailed because of the available material. In the case of the Philippines, some primary source material has been preserved. Jorge Vargas, secretary to Quezon from 1918 to 1942, was educated under the Americans, and imposed on his staff the basic rules of good administration, including the conservation of documents. Before leaving the country under the pressure of Japanese invasion in March 1942, Quezon donated ‘his,’ or more accurately ‘their,’ papers to the National Library in Del Monte. The 180,000 items in the collection survived two floods and continue to be crucial for an understanding of that period. They give the reader a good representation of the daily activities of a politician whose ambition was to one day become head of state. This primary source material is still under-exploited. Its location, in the National Library in Manila, far from the universities of the capital, offers a possible explanation. In addition, the archives themselves pose a problem. Even if the manner in which the documents are classified is satisfactory, the historian must cope with administrative correspondence, as well as useless or redundant items, before reaching an understanding of the decolonization process from the Filipinos’ point of view.

3 Notwithstanding the fact that he is remembered only as a nationalist hero, Manuel Quezon was a shrewd politician. To become president of the Commonwealth in 1935, Quezon had to defeat his political rivals, Sergio Osmeña in particular. At the same time that the Filipino community in the United States was taking shape, Quezon’s relationship with his countrymen on American soil changed. If the young politician sought their support at the beginning of his career, he rapidly learned how to use it for personal, and later political, purposes. But for over three decades, Quezon’s ties to the overseas Filipino community remained strong, because the connection was not simply one between an official representative and his countrymen ‘abroad.’

Quezon Meets the American Filipinos

4 At the beginning of the twentieth century, the United States was a power that remained an attractive destination for migrants. Consequently, it absorbed—which is not to say that it welcomed—manpower from its colonies even before the First World War. In the Philippines, the establishment of the American administration coincided with the election of a Congress in 1907. Among the politicians favored by the new colonizer, two young men, Sergio Osmeña of Cebu and Manuel Quezon of Tayabas, stood out. Both were born in 1878 and both were elected to Congress. But the Americans gave Osmeña an advantage, and he was elected Speaker of the House. His rival was elected Majority Floor Leader. As Osmeña had become president of the Nacionalista Party, the main political party, in the previous year, his challenger seemed doomed to remain the eternal number two. But Quezon could not stand to take a back seat. Osmeña, the second highest-ranking official after the governor-general, strengthened his position after the appointment of Cameron Forbes in February 1909, because of their friendship and mutual respect. Aware of his situation, the challenger risked leaving the Philippines to go to the source of power and to reverse the battle of wills, by accepting the position of Resident Commissioner, representative of the Philippine people before the United States Congress, for nearly seven years.

A Special Relationship

5 We still know little on the Philippine emigration to the United States, which occurred at about the same time as Quezon’s appointment as Resident Commissioner. The Statistics Office of the Immigration Bureau in the United States Department of Labor provides reliable data on migrants to the mainland. For Hawaii, the Immigration Service and the Bureau of Insular Affairs published reports annually.

  • 3 H. Brett Melendy, Asians in America: Filipinos, Koreans and East Indians, Boston: Twayne Publisher, (…)
  • 4 Bruno Lasker, Filipino Immigration to the Continental United States and to Hawaii, Chicago: Univers (…)

6 At the turn of the century, American sovereignty over the Philippines triggered the first wave of migration. In the 1910s, H. Brett Melendy stated that 2,767 Filipinos had settled in the United States.3 Over the next decade, the BIA and the Immigration Service in Hawaii counted 113,144 departures from the Philippines.4 In the same year, the Philippine community had been estimated at just 26,634 individuals. The discrepancy can be explained by the mobility of this population. Few Filipinos intended to stay on the mainland permanently, and many of them had not been recorded on official registers of the Census of Population and Housing. The Philippine community increased to 100,000 in the 1930s and remained stable until the 1950s (108,260; 98,535 in the 1940s; and 122,707 in the 1950s). The United States had been the most important industrial power since 1896 and was in need of manpower in factories as well as in the agricultural sector. This was particularly pronounced in Hawaii because of the sugar plantations. As the Japanese government had restricted out-migration among its own workers, landowners in Hawaii hired Filipinos instead. In fact, in 1931, there were more Filipinos in Hawaii alone (about 70,000) than on the mainland (60,000). For Philippine migrants, economic reasons were nearly always the motivating factor. By and large, the desire for larger earnings was more important than the expectation of higher living standards in a ‘civilized’ country. A network of familial and regional solidarity quickly took root during the first decades of the twentieth century. The Philippine community was located in two regions: nearly half settled in California (Stockton, Los Angeles, etc.); and New York and Chicago were the two main areas of concentration outside the West Coast.

  • 5 National Library (Manila), Rare Books and Manuscripts section, Manuel L. Quezon Papers, clubs, asso (…)

7 Manuel Quezon was elected Resident Commissioner to succeed Pablo Ocampo and arrived in Washington on Christmas Eve, 1909. The 31-year-old did not lack courage: speaking only Spanish and Tagalog when he first arrived, Quezon delivered his first speech before the House of Representatives in English five months later. The relationship between the colonizer and the Islands was still unclear at the time. The United States refused to admit that the Philippines were a colony. This reluctance explained the use of the word “insular” instead “colonial” in politics. But while the United States had considered leaving the Philippines, the archipelago was too strategic in the geopolitical chessboard in the Pacific to justify a quick withdrawal. In addition, businessmen had begun to invest there. The position of Resident Commissioner turned political with Quezon. Officially his role was to defend Philippine interests before the United States Congress. Manuel Quezon never forgot that it was important that he appear as the only possible Philippine representative to the United States in the Philippines, as well as among the ‘overseas’ Filipino community. Apart from the efficient network that he built within the Democratic Party, the Bureau of Insular Affairs, and in several associations,5 the Resident Commissioner maintained close relations with the American Filipino community. It is clear from his archives that he seldom refused to attend banquets in his honor or to arbitrate balagtasan, traditional oratorical competitions. Even more than the official correspondence, personal letters reveal the difficult conditions faced by Filipinos in the United States Congress. Quezon behaved like any deputy, involved in all colonial matters. But behind the scenes, he also worked with the American administration to facilitate matters for his countrymen.

Filipinos, Second-Class Citizens

8 Quezon’s archives are exceptional in the history of modern colonization in that they present the problems encountered by Filipinos on American soil. So far, there are no similar sources from the French or the British empires. While they were not representative of all American Filipinos—those who wrote to Quezon did so under exceptional conditions—their letters nevertheless give some insights into the Filipino experience of colonization. This source allows the historian to focus on the personal situations of people who were victims of racism, and felt themselves to be second-class citizens.

  • 6 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 182. Dorothy Bint Fujita Rony draws a complete picture of the community i (…)
  • 7 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 181.
  • 8 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.
  • 9 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 183.

9 In the 1910s, relations between Americans and Filipinos appeared to be difficult. “Since the time of my arrival in the United States [Seattle] from the lovely Philippines,” wrote Pedro Del Mundo to Quezon on September 4, 1914, “I found out that the Filipinos are suffering a struggle for life which deprived them from being equal to other strangers [sic]”.6 Filipinos, whom Americans could not distinguish from other Asians, considered themselves the victims of racism, like many foreigners whose work involved difficult labor, such as the Irish or the Italians. On August 12, 1911, Filomeno de Silva was ejected from Thompson’s Café in Seattle “on the account of our skin being dark”.7 Seamen and agricultural workers had to cope with the hostility of their foremen. Three sailors employed as coal-passers and firemen aboard an American ship were insulted and finally chained, hands together, for three hours. The Resident Commissioner was powerless to sue the offenders. Still in Seattle, the situation of manual laborers was not easy. In January 1914, Manuel Quezon forwarded complaints from Filipino workers to the American administration. F. McIntyre sent a letter to the Attorney General, but without result. In January 1922, Quezon wrote to the Secretary of War: “The complaints have been sufficiently numerous and insistent to warrant my bringing them to the attention of your Department for possible investigation”.8 Filipino workers were not in a position to defend themselves because they were foreigners in the eyes of the law. Inquiries in the 1910s about U.S. citizenship were frequent. Here, a worker having been living in Alaska for six years attempted to register to vote, and there a student was denied his application for citizenship.9 The American replies to such requests referred to the Act of June 29, 1906, on the naturalization of Filipinos. Under the law, some Philippine citizens were eligible to become naturalized citizens, while others were not. The Supreme Court, via the Bureau of Naturalization, decided on all matters, which implied that a standard procedure was not followed for the naturalization process. The legislation, the purpose of which was to protect American citizens from massive immigration from the colony, made things difficult, even for those who had not asked for citizenship.

10 At the same time, events turned in Quezon’s favor. When he arrived in the United States, he was not new to politics and quickly learned the intricacies of the American system. He became the perfect lobbyist for the Philippine cause… and his own. The Democrats gained the Lower House in 1911, and the White House in 1913. Shortly after their victory in the House of Representatives, they again launched the debate about the status of the Philippines. Representative William A. Jones submitted a liberal bill, which in reality had been written by Quezon. It made provision to create a Senate and stated that independence would be granted when a “stable government” had been established. It was therefore time for Quezon to return to Manila, to head the new Senate and to appear as the only person capable of running a ‘stable government.’

A Careful Eye on the Community

11 Even from the Philippines, the president of the Senate (from 1916 to 1935) kept a close eye on the overseas community. Quezon’s continuing relationship with American Filipinos deserves attention on two points: the institution of the pensionado and the ‘exceptional’ cases that were still brought to his attention.

Students and Pensionados

  • 10 He reminded Harrison about this on April 15, 1920, Governor-General. B. 158.
  • 11 B. 176 to 178.

12 The president of the Senate had the right to nominate three pensionados every year.10 Because of the lack of sources, it is difficult to establish how Quezon used this power. In his archives, there is only general information on Filipino students in the United States.11 Quezon, however, seems to have had a personal position on this issue.

  • 12 The only exception was in 1915, when a student was expelled from Georgetown because of his lack of (…)
  • 13 This figure is confirmed by Manuel Adeva, president of the Filipino Christian Association, who stat (…)

13 Americans took to their own account the old institution of the Spanish pensionado: young Filipinos studying in the mainland on scholarships, who were to work for the colonial administration after graduating. After the First World War, the procedure for becoming a pensionado was clearly outlined. In the spring of 1919, W.W. Marquardt became the Philippine Education Agent, working for the BIA. The civil servant knew the habits of the Philippine elite well and always tried to avoid any pressure from them. In November 20, 1920, he wrote a small guide, Roster for Philippine Government StudentsSuggestions and Instructions, which outlined the basic regulations for the pensionado. In the introduction, the author emphasized that each pensionado was a representative of the Filipinos, and that Americans would judge the whole people by the way in which each pensionado behaved. Students had been sent to the United States not just to acquire a good education: “The development of your moral fiber and the maintaining of high moral standards are essential for your future usefulness in life as well as for the instilling of a high conception of Filipino character in the minds of the American people.” The Council of State, created under F.B. Harrison, the most liberal American governor-general (1913-1920), chose a limited number of students (about thirty a year, regular and part time), who received an allowance of $40 a month ($60 in 1922), plus tuition, books, clothing, travel and medical expenses. W.W. Marquardt emphasized that students whose work was unsatisfactory could be sent back to the Philippines. The selection process appears to have been efficient.12 The pensionados joined the thousand or so Filipino students in the United States. According to official records, 896 Filipinos attended American universities in 1930.13 Most of them came directly from the Philippines, and encountered different problems, including access to scholarships and funding, gaining admission into prestigious universities and simply adjusting to life in the United States.

  • 14 Students in the U.S., B. 177.

14 Officially, the Philippine Education Agent strove to recruit students on their own merits. But politicians like Quezon often received requests from the elite to try to influence his decision. In 1920, for instance, Rafael Trias, son of General Trias, won a scholarship to the University of Chicago, probably owing to his family connections with the president. He had to sign an agreement in which he committed to attend classes, to conform to all rules and to return to the Philippines at the end of his studies. Like every pensionado, he signed the contract in which he accepted to “faithfully perform the duties thereto in the office or bureau from which [he] was appointed, at a salary fixed by competent authority for a period of time at the rate of one and one-half years for every year spent abroad at the expense of the government, unless sooner separated from the service by competent authority.” But a question remains: How could Rafael Trias serve the colonial apparatus with a degree from the college of commerce and business? It was clear even before he was admitted to university that he would not be able to meet his end of the ‘bargain,’ Rafael Trias had the support of J.P. Laurel, chairman of the Committee on government pensionados, as well as that of American officials like F. McIntyre, the head of the BIA, who wrote a letter of recommendation to the Dean of the University of Chicago, a former classmate,14 and finally got the grant.

  • 15 Students in the U.S., B. 176. The basic allowance was $60 per month.

15 Emilio Aguinaldo Jr., the son of General Aguinaldo, who was for a short time president of the first Republic in 1898, provides another example. On April 5, 1922, the general sent a telegram to Quezon, in which he asked for money for his son. The government allowance of $100 was inadequate and he wanted an advance of $500.15 His son planned to study commerce and finance at Yale. A few weeks later, Aguinaldo Jr., who was already in the United States, contacted W.W. Marquardt to say that he wanted to enter West Point. The Philippine Education Agent replied that he had to get permission from the pensionado Committee beforehand and that he would in any case have to meet entrance requirements. Unaccustomed to refusal, Aguinaldo Jr. called the Department of War! As a result, wrote W.W. Marquardt to Manuel Quezon, the Secretary of War asked General Wood, governor-general of the Philippines, to designate Emilio Aguinaldo Jr. as a pensionado, but pointed out that “this goes not give him very much chance to get in.” Quezon was indignant: “There is no reason why this boy should get more than other pensionados. In a democracy, the son of no man deserves more consideration than any other citizen. Individual merits and not inheritance is what should count.” Governor-General Wood nevertheless acted as mediator and asked F. McIntyre to provide funds to Aguinaldo Jr. Apparently, the latter took the money, but did not, in the end, attend university.

  • 16 Guéraiche 2002 (see Note 5).
  • 17 Letters of recommendation, B. 207.
  • 18 Students in the U.S., B. 177.

16 Apart from the pensionados, many of the Filipino students in the United States managed to pay for their education. Some were there to finish university studies begun in Manila (the University of the Philippines was created in 1907). Manuel Quezon never refused to help a deserving student en route to the United States.16 On June 25, 1923, Arsenio Arellano received a letter of introduction and other missives to facilitate his stay in the United States. One letter of introduction was addressed to Vicente G. Bunuan, director of the Philippine Press Bureau, who was asked to do his best to give the bearer a position: “even as a messenger.” Another was addressed to F. McIntyre. A. Arellano “[…] is a poor boy, he would like to find some means to earn his livelihood while there [Washington]. If you could help him in any way, I shall immensely appreciate it.”17 The same year, the BIA eased some regulations to help students from the Philippines who were not on scholarship. It was probably the consequence of letters such as the one written by Pedro Baguio to Quezon in August 1922. Baguio suggested that the Philippine Education Agent investigate students with good records who had finished their courses. And he could “send them home with government’s aid in the same way as pensionados and give them work as soon as they arrive.”18 D. Rosales got in touch with Quezon on March 7, 1923, because he heard of a scholarship available to Filipino students “who are already in America or Europe and who are making good showing in their line of pursuit.” A few weeks later, he sent an application to the BIA.

17 Quezon certainly had ulterior motives when he attempted to help these students. Once in the United States, the brightest and poorest students could find work, but if they decided to settle there, they were a “loss” to the country. American officials were also keenly aware that the Philippines needed competent staff to join the Philippine administration. The BIA was therefore always reluctant to extend stays. But Quezon did intervene from time to time to help students stay on in the United States. In May 1921, he did not hesitate to support Ambrosio Torres, a Philippine pensionado, who asked to stay one more year to continue his studies in engineering. “If in your opinion,” he wrote the head of the BIA, “he is worthy of such privilege, I shall be pleased to suggest that his request be complied with.” One month later, Ambrosio Torres got his extension. Where these sources were concerned, Quezon ran with the hare and hunted with the hounds. On the one hand, he had to please his political and social network. Wealthy families never hesitated to ask him for favors for their sons (the records do not show any requests on behalf of daughters). But, on the other hand, Quezon never forgot that he did not come from this elite. When the former “poor boy of Tayabas” could help an underprivileged or a deserving student, he did. He realized that he would ultimately benefit from these favors, as the deserving young men would be in his debt, and that they would either send money back to their families or later work in the Philippines.

The Ultimate Appeal

  • 19 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.
  • 20 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 183.
  • 21 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

18 Even after he returned to the Philippines in 1916, Quezon appears to have remained the unofficial head of the Filipino overseas community. The letters that he received show a familial attachment to him. In some instances Quezon’s support was the last hope for Filipinos who wanted to lodge an appeal, especially when they considered themselves to have been victims of a miscarriage of American justice. In May 1919, for instance, one N.L., or certainly his lawyer, wrote to Quezon. The Filipino had been jailed for manslaughter but had received a poor defense at his trial. The president of the Senate replied that the matter had already been decided by the court and that “it will not be proper for me to intervene. I hope, however, you will obtain what you desire through good behavior while in prison.”19 In many cases, Quezon’s secretaries made no effort to reply to some letters, such as that from one L.M.G., who had been arrested in connection with smuggling opium, although he claimed to be innocent.20 But Quezon was responsive to Filipinos in real distress. His reputation as the enemy of injustice spread after his return to Manila. On August 25, 1930, Raymond L. Sloat, a lawyer, wrote on behalf of his client. V.M.L. had murdered a girl with whom he lived, “a woman of little or no moral sense who took from L. all the money that he earned.” V.M.L. himself added one week later that his brother was a mason like Quezon and asked for his help, “[…] your honor, as leader of the masses of the Filipinos […]”21 Quezon’s secretary replied on September 20 that he would forward the documents to Camilio Osias, the Resident Commissioner.

  • 22 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 185.

19 The correspondence demonstrates that Quezon acted very much like a patron, and represented the final authority among his countrymen. This peculiar relationship generated all manner of personal requests. A young Filipino who asked Quezon for an official position also dared to involve him in an offer of marriage! The bride’s father, from Boston, asked the Resident Commissioner for information on his prospective son-in-law’s “age, character, profession, ability, married or single, family connections, financial condition, standing among his people, army record and standing, position regarding government to recent elections in Philippines [sic], vote at that time, and in fact the information you would know regarding the man your daughter would care to marry”!22

20 All things considered, such cases remained exceptional but demonstrate a personal attachment to Quezon, even though the institution of the Resident Commissioner as a welfare agency, which lasted after the implementation of the Commonwealth in 1935, and the establishment of many Filipino clubs seemed to have served as channels for such personal requests.

So Close and Yet so Far

21 In spite of suffering from tuberculosis, Quezon defeated Sergio Osmeña at the beginning of the 1930s. All at once, in the context of the Great Depression, the American administration hastened the process of independence. Both parties, the Philippine elite and the United States, had an interest in coming to an agreement. The Philippines was relatively mildly affected by the Depression. In the mid-1930s, the prospect of independence increased the likelihood of finding a good job in Manila. The Archipelago therefore held some attraction for the American Filipinos. The office of the president of the Senate and of the Commonwealth received letters inquiring about the opportunities back in the Archipelago.

  • 23 At the time, flying was an expensive hobby that only the very wealthy could afford.

22 The Depression revealed different segments in the Filipino overseas community. One group consisted of those who were perfectly integrated into American society. Another consisted of marginalized workers, who spoke poor English, and were in a less stable financial position. The children of the first group behaved, for all intents and purposes, like most American children. Some of this second generation considered returning to the Philippines, but only under certain conditions. In September 1934, for example, Jose B. Fernandez, on behalf of the Aero Student Club of New York, sent a petition to Quezon. The Philippine members of the association wanted to help develop an aviation school in the colony for both commercial and military purposes. They submitted their application to become instructors for “the training and education of native Filipinos in the art of aeronautics […].” The young ‘Filipino Americans’ considered returning to the Philippines only if they could keep their privileged position23 and did not want to take any risks. Eventually it was ruled that one had to be in the Philippines to be able to apply for a position in the colonial apparatus. In April 1937, Caledonia Salvador, acting Director of Education, replied to Leon Cadaos: “I desire to advise you that no consideration to your application can be given in view of the fact that you are still in the United States.”

23 Marginalized workers wanted to go back as well. In February 1937, M.J. Arciaga affirmed that most of the 20,000 Filipinos on the Pacific Coast had expressed the desire to return to their native land and that 75 percent of this number would have liked to “have vocational training before returning.” While the president of the Salinas community applied for funds to open such a school, it is doubtful whether the Filipinos in question really expected any training. But what is almost certain is that most of them did not want to remain in the United States. The motivations of this segment of the community are difficult to understand, because even if the workers did have the means to return, they might not have returned, because it would have meant a loss of face.

  • 24 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

24 Filipino clubs also acted as intermediaries between the Filipino community in the United States and American or Philippine officials. Quezon was often requested to provide them either with funds or his moral support. The heads of the Filipino clubs were in the habit of sending him annual reports. They were well integrated ‘Americans,’ or American civil servants, former officials of the BIA, or municipal representatives. Presidents of associations always sought to increase their own stature within the Filipino community. The associations tried to provide some form of aid to the unemployed during the crisis of 1929. During the Depression, it seems that everyone, like the Filipino Community Center of Chicago (FCC), expected “the most generous gift” from other Philippine families. In October 1933, the FCC succeeded in sheltering and feeding an average of sixty men per day. This solidarity spread through the United States, but it did have its limits. Quezon’s secretaries made it known that these associations had the support of the president, although he was unable (or reluctant) to send funds… Many Americans, especially on the West coast, took advantage of the crisis to solve the problem of unemployment in the Philippine community. In January 1931, W.H. Lawrence, a San Francisco lawyer and president of the Philippine Society, sent a resolution to Quezon. His association opposed the American Congress, which wanted to eject Filipinos from the mainland. Nevertheless, the association suggested that “the repatriation of indigent Filipinos would not only reduce by so many the number of the unemployed of this country, but would have the effect of discouraging the further migrations of laborers from the Philippines to the United States […]”.24 The president of the Senate replied that the resolution was excellent and hoped that something could be done. As the economic situation in the colony was relatively healthy at the time, Quezon believed that migrants could be better used within the Archipelago, particularly in Mindanao, where large areas could be settled.


  • 25 For instance, in the complaints: N.L.-Q.P., Complaints, B. 33 and 34.

25 Before Quezon left for Washington, the Americans felt that he was a politician that they could easily manipulate. But Quezon’s strength was that he realized that his legitimacy depended not only on the official position(s) that he held within the colonial apparatus; indeed, as representative, or even president, of an institution like the Commonwealth, he remained vulnerable. In reality, he operated like a feudal patron—with no consideration for democracy, except to give the appearance of it. This was particularly obvious in his relations with the American Filipinos. Quezon behaved like a traditional patron, able to provide favors (which essentially consisted of money and jobs). In return, the community was faithful to him. The relationship was not limited to legal matters, but also included personal affairs, which were beyond—or distinct from—the power of a Western-style politician. In Manila, this relationship was not so obvious because Quezon was accessible to those who sought his assistance. He could deal with ordinary people as well as with the elite. Few in the Philippines were able to read or write. When they did, they expressed the same kind of attachment to Quezon that the American Filipinos had.25 This community was a kind of mirror to the social (and political) system that was almost impossible to observe in the Archipelago.

26 On a different level, this community was an essential component of Philippine nationalism. The experience of living ‘abroad’ enhanced the consciousness of ‘otherness.’ Alone or together, Filipinos became aware of their identity and gave their strong support to Quezon, their patron and nationalist champion.

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1 For a more general depiction of Quezon, see my book: Manuel Quezon. Les Philippines de la décolonisation à la démocratisation, Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2004, 317 p.

2 The title of a classical book on Philippine colonisation: The American Half-Century (1898-1946), by Lewis E. Gleeck, Quezon City: New Day Publishers, 1984, 496 p.

3 H. Brett Melendy, Asians in America: Filipinos, Koreans and East Indians, Boston: Twayne Publisher, 1977, 340 p.

4 Bruno Lasker, Filipino Immigration to the Continental United States and to Hawaii, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1931, p. 347 sq.

5 National Library (Manila), Rare Books and Manuscripts section, Manuel L. Quezon Papers, clubs, associations, societies, etc., Boxes (B.) 22-28 and the Anti-Imperialist League, B. For further information see my article: “Sociability and Personal Bonds in the Philippines under American Colonisation,” Asia-Pacific Social Science Review (Manila), 2002, p. 86-104.

6 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 182. Dorothy Bint Fujita Rony draws a complete picture of the community in her doctoral thesis: “You Got to Move like Hell”: Trans-Pacific Colonialism and Filipina/o Seattle, 1919-1941, Doctorate of Philosophy, Yale University, 1996, 258 p.

7 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 181.

8 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

9 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 183.

10 He reminded Harrison about this on April 15, 1920, Governor-General. B. 158.

11 B. 176 to 178.

12 The only exception was in 1915, when a student was expelled from Georgetown because of his lack of familiarity with English. Students in the U.S. B. 177.

13 This figure is confirmed by Manuel Adeva, president of the Filipino Christian Association, who stated that 905 students were enrolled in different colleges and universities in that year (Lasker 1931: 375; and Students in the U.S., B. 176).

14 Students in the U.S., B. 177.

15 Students in the U.S., B. 176. The basic allowance was $60 per month.

16 Guéraiche 2002 (see Note 5).

17 Letters of recommendation, B. 207.

18 Students in the U.S., B. 177.

19 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

20 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 183.

21 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

22 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 185.

23 At the time, flying was an expensive hobby that only the very wealthy could afford.

24 Filipinos in the U.S., B. 184.

25 For instance, in the complaints: N.L.-Q.P., Complaints, B. 33 and 34.

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William Guéraiche« Manuel Quezon, Patron of the American-Filipino Community »Moussons, 12 | 2008, 163-172.

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William Guéraiche« Manuel Quezon, Patron of the American-Filipino Community »Moussons [En ligne], 12 | 2008, mis en ligne le 12 novembre 2012, consulté le 15 mai 2023URL :

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William Guéraiche

William Guéraiche is a historian. His last book is on the first President of the Philippines (Manuel Quezon. Les Philippines de la décolonisation à la démocratisation). He currently teaches History and Politics at the American University in Dubai (UAE).

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William Guéraiche
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