A child holds a bottle of water as he walks in the rain in the typhoon-devastated city of Tacloban, Philippines. Photograph: Francis R. Malasig/EPA

10.04am GMT



 Walter Robb, Editor, Chamber of Commerce Journal, American Chamber of Commerce, Manila, P. I June, 1929.

 The monument to Arthur W. Fergusson, first American executive secretary, who was so much a part of the early civil regime; stands on Plaza Fergusson in Ermita. A plaque perpetuates the name of Taft, on Taft avenue, being erected at the junction of the avenue with calle Padre Burgos, and trees planted by Taft and Mrs. Taft are growing on the old Luneta, General Wood having caused them to be protected with iron railings. Dewey is remembered in the city’s most elegant boulevard, a thoroughfare which one day may unite the city he blockaded with the city where he raised the American flag aloft May 1, 1898-old Cavite.

One landmark in old Manila has an intimate connection with Arthur Fergusson, whose work would have been less conspicuously brilliant had he failed of learning the Spanish language. The place of his contact with Spaniards and Spanish-speaking friends, daily, year after year, is the Palma de Mallorca, a hostelry in yellow paint on calle Real, of course in old Manila. At a little round table here, among cronies of his genial kidney, Fergusson held forth daily-in an atmosphere as stimulating as that of an oldtime English coffeehouse. Among the habitués of the place, and a guest at the round table, was Fergusson’s assistant, who succeeded him as executive secretary, Frank W. Carpenter, Governor Forbes’s amanuensis, and real source of accurate information, in the preparation of his book on the Philippines.

 These reliable servants of the Philippine government owed their effectiveness to their acquisition of the language; and Carpenter did not stop with Spanish as a second mother-tongue, but mastered Tagalog too, if not several other dialects. This information is imparted for what it is worth; at least it shows that the educated American can become a versatile polyglot, when he wishes to, and make it pay. Men of the Fergusson and Carpenter type had a chivalry of their own making. All during his service in the government, Carpenter kept Box A, into which he tossed a copy of every document he handled (and they were thousands, of the most important) and notes of his own on special incidents and the character and conduct of men and officials-notes showing when they wobbled, when they failed to play the game, or maybe when they did play it magnificently the good and the bad together, all in the telltake Box A.

 This, altogether, was a priceless record, an exhaustless treasure for the historian and the novelist alike, and for the biographer. And what, in the end, did Frank Carpenter do with Box A? Upon leaving Manila, or somewhere upon his route home to Boston, he opened it up and destroyed, personally, so that he would know that it was done, every paper it contained! Some of the information was too devastating, and he concluded that the fairest way was to consign it all to limbo without discrimination. So, though there is much of history left in Manila, there is no Box A; and as a consequence, many a reputation, otherwise perilous, is secure of historical renown.

 The old-timers were about the last of the Victorians, not the early of Albert’s happy days, but the late, of the God-fearing widow-of that contemporary American period that doted upon Howells and started Teddy trust-busting. They had a certain code to which they held, a peculiar mixture of sin and saintliness that dated them with the period the internal-combustion engine put an end to. Such were the Americans who occupied Manila and stayed to found the new community. A toast to their pluck and their virtues. As to their vices, if such they had or have-for many are our neighbors still, and many seek nepenthe of Manila days in the homelandoverboard with Box A! If there are permanent American objects of history in Manila, they are mostly of their building. It is very hard to write even a little, reminiscently, without digressing to pay them deserved honor. The above was hastily prepared, hence its discursiveness, as an address to the Manila Sojourners’ Club, May 28.-Ed.



Will the US Congress vote in favor of gassing infants? (or, as Obama has written in his draft authorization to Congress, “… prevent or deter the use or proliferation, within …Syria, of any weapons of mass destruction…”

The 20th century has been called the cruelest century. Although Old Testament accounts and other sources suggest the record is concealed. The recently demised Nobel poet Seamus Heaney wrote he would visit prehistoric Aarhus in Northern Ireland,

Out there in Jutland,
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

In the French Revolution, one leader asked a distinguished chemist to look into “mines, gassings or other means to destroy, put to sleep or asphyxiate the enemy.” Remember?

The 20th century has been called the cruelest century. My Lai, Nagasaki, Armenia, Rwanda, Srebrenica, who can number the list? Hitler was gassed in the War to End All Wars, WWI. He recounted, “As early as midnight, a number of us passed out, a few of our comrades forever. Towards morning I, too, was seized with pain which grew worse with every quarter hour, and at seven in the morning I stumbled and tottered back with burning eyes…” How powerful is memory!

How many of its citizens did the Soviet regime kill? 61,9111,000? Stalin asked, “Who’s going to remember all this riff-raff in ten or twenty years’ time? No one. Who remembers now the names of the boyars Ivan the Terrible got rid of? No one?”

Over one thousand have already been gassed in Syria. How many of their names do you know, gassed in Damascus, Auschwitz? In his draft authorization letter, Obama reminds us that in 2003 in the Syrian Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act, Congress found that Syria acquisition “of weapons of mass destruction threatens the security of the Middle East and the national security of the United States.” We have skin in the game.

Six million Jews died in the Holocaust. How many gassed? Would you vote today to confront the gassing of Syrian infants today? Of Jews, then? Do you remember the 20th century?


The inauguration of the Philippine Assembly, the initial national legislative body, on October 16, 1907, was a major step forward in the American occupation’s program of education for democracy. The first American Civil Governor of the islands, William Howard Taft, traveled from Washington, DC, to Manila to participate in the event as Secretary of War. Sergio Osmeña, the Governor of the Province of Cebu, was elected Speaker of the Assembly, and President of the Commonwealth, 1944–1946.

At the Golden Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Assembly, October 16, 1957, Osmena gave the commemorative address, “THE PHILIPPINE ASSEMBLY: AN INSTRUMENT OF HUMAN LIBERATION.” Among his remarks, Osmena said “I wish to acknowledge with gratitude the splendid work of the late Frank W. Carpenter, under whose guidance many of our early technical men were trained and certainly deserves the title of ‘mentor of the Philippines’ first Filipino provincial treasurers.’”

Among the Provincial Treasurers Carpenter worked with was Lorenzo Palileo who served as Treasurer of Cotabato when Carpenter was Governor of the Dept. of Mindanao and Sulu. Carpenter said of Palileo, “The greatest thing in the world, especially in a young country such as the Philippines, is the discovery and development of men.”

Upon the reorganization of the Insular Government, Nov 1, 1905, the administrative control of provincial treasurers was transferred from the Bureau of the Insular Treasury to the Executive Secretary where Carpenter was assigned the supervisory control of provincial treasures and financial operations of provincial governments. Miguel Unson became the first Filipino Provincial Treasurer, in 1907 in Isabela, and Catalino Lavadia in Pganasinan, 1908. In his “Implementing the ‘New Order’” Michael Cullinane analyzed data for the Filipinization of Provincial Officers during the Taft era. Treasurers: 1906, 0; 1907, 1; 1908, 5; 1909, 7; 1910, 10; 1911, 11; 1912, 11; 1913, 13.

Not just provincial officials, nor indeed Filipinos turned to Carpenter’s mentoring. Arriving in 1906, American George A, Malcolm rose to play an important role in the development of the legal system of the Islands. In several works he acknowledges his gratitude to Carpenter. In his autobiography he notes Carpenter’s inclination, owing him a debt of gratitude. He was as much interested in Malcolm’s welfare as though he had important political or family influence. Carpenter took time to perform relatively inconsequential acts for the needy young man. In effect, Carpenter became the sympathetic tutor for him, Malcolm wrote, as he was for inexperienced Filipino officeholders.

Carpenter’s practice of mentoring was established from his beginning in 1902 at the Executive Bureau, and written into policy. In the Report of the Philippine Commission for 1904, Carpenter outlined the reorganization permitting financial retrenchment. He wrote of employees of the Bureau,
It is the duty of every employee having the immediate supervision and direction of subordinates to instruct and prepare each of the latter to fill the position next higher than that he holds, and any official or employee who fails to pursue conscientiously this course of imparting and receiving instructions should be required to seek employment elsewhere than in the government service. In this way only — by forming a competent personnel from the local supply — may the government hope to escape the heavy expense occasioned by reliance upon the large proportion of imported employees at present utilized for nontechnical positions

In 1937 Carpenter received an annual annuity from the US federal government. Applying to Congressman Richard B Wigglesworth, Carpenter outlined the reasons the government might consider granting an annuity. After listing several actions which might attract the interest of House and Senate, he gave what we may consider his legacy:

“From the beginning of my service in the Philippines in the expectation that the United States might withdraw from the islands, I consistently pursued the objective of developing competent, loyal native employees and officials according to American theory of good government and justice.”

Orwell – in case (like me) you forgot:

(“War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. . . . The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact”).

From Glenn Greewald’s column.


Commanger pic

REDEEMER NATION – sacred text – alternate narrative

Martin Luther King
16 April 1963

But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. I have no fear about the outcome of our struggle in Birmingham, even if our motives are at present misunderstood. We will reach the goal of freedom in Birmingham and all over the nation, because the goal of America is freedom. Abused and scorned though we may be, our destiny is tied up with America’s destiny. Before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth, we were here. Before the pen of Jefferson etched the majestic words of the Declaration of Independence across the pages of history, we were here. For more than two centuries our forebears labored in this country without wages; they made cotton king; they built the homes of their masters while suffering gross injustice and shameful humiliation -and yet out of a bottomless vitality they continued to thrive and develop. If the inexpressible cruelties of slavery could not stop us, the opposition we now face will surely fail. We will win our freedom because the sacred heritage of our nation and the eternal will of God are embodied in our echoing demands.


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