EVER since the United States surprised the world, and itself, by taking possession of the Philippines in 1898, the Islands have (among greater accomplishments) provided writers and orators with an essential article of their trade -- a dramatic symbol. Or rather, they have provided two symbols, of vice or of virtue, according to the particular angle of vision: a new empire practising enslavement, or a free nation bestowing freedom. It appeared that the latter figure of speech squared with the fact when, in December 1941, the Filipinos, in heroic friendship, fought as free men in the cause of America's freedom and their own.
The Philippine Republic, an independent nation, is truly a portent in the east, and there is no doubt that it is recognized as such. But for the purposes of appraising the concrete problems the Filipinos face today, and the relationship that exists between ourselves and our former wards, a symbolical picture must perhaps be drawn too inevitably in black and white to be useful. The problems of the new Republic are complex. Unfortunately they have, in some respects, been made sharper by ungenerous or at least ill-considered actions of our own on the eve of the formal assumption of independence. The United States may be proud of its record in the Philippines; but there are items of unfinished business we must not overlook.
Perhaps the best evidence that the job has been well done is the fact that we did not exploit the Islands for our own selfish national advantage, or permit United States citizens or capital to exploit them during almost half a century of control. William Howard Taft, the first in the line of United States Governors, coined the phrase "The Philippines for the Filipinos," and in varying degrees this has been the motto of each of our representatives. Francis Burton Harrison, appointed by President Wilson, a strong exponent of a free Philippines, probably went too far and too fast in turning out experienced American administrators and replacing
Loading, please wait...