The Good Fight, by Manuel L. Quezon
IN THE last months of the year 1899, the division under the command of General Arthur MacArthur, the father of General Douglas MacArthur, made an attack against the bulk of the Filipino Army and practically destroyed it. This compelled the President of the short-lived Philippine Republic, General Emilio Aguinaldo, to seek refuge in the mountains of northern Luzon and drove my chief, General Tomas Mascardo, up into the hills of western Pampanga. From there General Mascardo transferred his headquarters to the forests of Bataan, on the China Sea coast between Bagac and Morong. A council of war, held by the Filipino generals under the presidency of Aguinaldo, himself, had decided that, at the proper time, guerrilla warfare would be resorted to by the Filipino forces. When it became evident that organized resistance to the American Army was no longer possible, it fell to my lot to command the guerrillas that operated on the tip of the Bataan Peninsula. This spot, forty years later, was destined to be the last stronghold of the combined American-Filipino forces against Japanese invasion under the gallant and superb leadership of General Douglas MacArthur.
In the spring of 1901, General Mascardo ordered me to surrender to Lieutenant Miller, the officer in command of the American garrison in Mariveles, among other reasons for the purpose of ascertaining if it was true that General Aguinaldo has already been captured by General Frederick Funston in Palanan.
On January 18, 1936, two months after my inauguration as the first President of the Philippine Commonwealth, I visited the fortress of Corregidor, which lies just off the tip of Bataan, upon the invitation of the then Commanding General of the Philippine Department, Major General Kilbourne, who accompanied me on the trip.
While the presidential yacht, S.S. Arayat, which took us to Corregidor, was struggling against strong winds and big waves to dock at the pier, I heard the firing of the salute due my rank. The scene before my eyes suddenly took me back to by-gone years. The contrast between the memories of the past and the realities of that day filled my heart with an over-powering emotion. Thirty-five years before, I had walked down the slopes of Mariveles Mountain, a defeated soldier, emaciated from hunger and lingering illness, to place myself at the mercy of the American Army. Thirty- five years later, there stood at the pier of Corregidor, facing that majestic mountain, the American General in command of the fortress, with a full American regiment at attention, waiting to render me honors second only to those paid the President of the United States. What a contrast! What an indescribable history of generous conduct on the part of the victor towards the vanquished! In the short span of a generation, America, the conqueror, through a policy unprecedented in colonialism, had permitted that I, one of the conquered, be raised from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest seat of authority in the gift of my people!
What had happened to me vividly illustrates the great human experiment which the United States had successfully carried out in dealing with the Filipino people.
Is it any wonder that, when the American flag was attacked by Japan, the people of the Philippines stood by the United States to the bitter end?
The following pages – showing my life as a rebel against, and as a supporter of, the United States –are more than mere accounts of my personal experiences. They in effect, portray the struggle of the Filipino people in their quest for freedom, first against and then in support of the great republic of North America.
My aims in writing this book are: first, to keep alive in the memory of the American people the service rendered by the Philippine Army in the heroic defense of Bataan and Corregidor, –second, to throw into bold relief the fruit of America’s policy in the Philippines, namely, the voluntary sacrifice made by the Filipino people of their lives and their fortunes, fighting side by side with the United States against a common foe,- and third, to offer, inferentially, a pattern which may be followed if the redemption of the teeming millions of subjugated peoples is ever to be attempted.