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The Destiny Thief

Commissioner Quezon must have immediately realized his mistake, for during Governor Harrison's administration, he was instrumental in encroaching upon the prero- gatives of the chief executive. Eighteen years later, during the discussion over the Hawes-Cutting law, he admitted the oversight he committed in drafting the Jones law. If Filipino constitutional experts had only helped draft the Jones law, the painful episode with Governor General Wood half a dozen years later would not have taken place.

In the autumn of that year, Manuel Quezon returned to his native land with the Jones bill in his pocket as a gift to his country- men. By a series of fortuitous circumstances, he was coming back after having secured a larger measure of political rights for his people.

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The local boy had made good. He was feted and praised everywhere he went. A new gate in the historic Walled City of Manila was named after him. His popularity, with the masses as well as with the ladies, knew no bounds.

Keeping in step with prevailing modes, Quezon had shaved oS his mustache while in the United States. When he came back to Manila, his cronies kidded him about his facial change.


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Quezon wittily replied: "The ladies said it tickled them — so I shaved it off! Once, after the passage of the Jones bill; and the second time, a few months after he had been elected President of the newly-created Philippine Senate. Perhaps these resignations were merely noble gestures on his part; perhaps he really felt that his work was done; perhaps he had no ambitions whatsoever at the time of challenging the established leadership of the man who had been his bosom friend since their student days at the university — at any rate, he was prevailed upon by Speaker Osmefia not to do so.

In spite of the danger he must have foreseen in Quezon as a rival, Osmefia knew that the aggressive, fighting qualities of his lieutenant were indispensable in their seem- ingly endless struggle for greater autonomy. The Jones Bill abolished the Philippine Commission, and separated the executive from the legislative branch of the govern- ment. Executive authority was vested in the American governor general, who was appointed by the president of the United States.

Veto of legislative bills remained with the governor, though the legislature by a two-thirds majority could override the veto, and the matter would then be for the President of the United States to decide. Up to this time Quezon had no desire to supplant Osttfefia in his rdle as national leader. Quezon believed that in the long run, the Senate would be the more influential body because of its power to confirm appointments.

But Osmena believed that the House was nearer to the people, as the representatives were elected every three years, and so for senti- mental reasons he decided to remain speaker of the lower house. By temperament, Quezon was fitted for the lower house and Osmena for the more august branch of the legislature.

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Continuing as the absolute head of the majority party, Osmena probably felt that it did not matter much if he remained in the lower house — he still would have control of affairs. But that decision was a tactical mistake, as events proved within the next five years.

The senators, who believed themselves superior to the more numerous representatives of the lower house, began to get jealous of having to submit to the discipline of Speaker Osmeiia. Accord- ing to party discipline, all matters had to be referred to the speaker for approval; the senators felt slighted. Dissatisfaction began to grow, slowly but surely, against the political dictatorship of Speaker Osmena.

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An interlude — a romantic one — occurred at this period of President Quezon's life. He had seen his cousin Aurora, who was nearly 11 years his junior, grow up in Baler and had always treated her with great affection.

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In fact, it was he who had paid for her expenses at the Philippine Normal School in Manila. Petersburg, Russia, and kept in touch with her through the succeeding years by letter whenever circumstances forced him to be away from her side, ivirs. Quezon i-eligiously keeps these letters, and perhaps some day in the future they will be pub- lished and we will learn of Manuel Quezon as companion, lover, husband and father. Sefiorita Aurora often came to Manila at the invitation of her cider cousin, accompanied either by.

San Agustin or Mrs. Rodriguez as chapcrone. Fond of practical jokes, Assemblyman Quezon once, caused his beautiful cousin to shed bitter tears. Returning one evening from a formal dinner, he dropped in at her home. She was at that time enter- taining two suitors, but upon his entrance she immediately noticed the orange blossoms. Don Manuel was nonchalant as he airily replied: "Oh, I've just been married I" She suddenly burst into tears in front of everybody. Many years later, when she remembered the incident, she revealed: "I could not explain why I cried so bitterly in front of my visitors — but I could not help it.

It was not because he was going to get married that hurt me most; no, I was hurt because he did not tell us he was going to marry.


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Dona Aurora left Manila that December of without know- ing that she was going to be married in Hongkong. Some months prior to their departure, Don Manuel had whispered to a few inti- mate friends that he was going to get married before long. She tried to imagine who the ,i;irl could he, but failed to do so as Don Manuel was a gallant and rather hcklc young man. She was in poor health at that time. When she was asked by her cousin to join the mission in order to recover her lost health, she readily accepted.

She sailed witli the party, accom- panied by her maid. Senate-President Quezon was then on his way to the United States as head of an independence mission, the first of the string of missions sent to wage the unrelenting campaign for independence. On that first night outward bound for Hongkong, Don Manuel proposed to her. The night was chilly, the decks were deserted, and so the two lovers were alone underneath the o]- en sky. He proposed to her, but she did not answer; her heart of a maiden was overflowing with love and joy which expressed itself in tears that silently coursed down her face.

Don Manuel took her silence for consent, and nothing more was said about the matter. Upon their arrival in Hongkong, Don Manuel said nothing to Dona Aurora about the wedding plans, as he wanted to surprise her. In the meantime he had told the rest of the party about his coming marriage to Dona Aurora.

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He casually told her that they were going to visit the American legation, but would go shopping before the visit. The party headed downtown, but Doiia Aurora's rickshaw man started for the opposite direction. When she realized the mistake made by her coolie, she shouted "Stop — stop! The coolie thought that she meant "shop — shop" and so started running faster.

The civil marriage took place at the American legation where the matter had been arranged beforehand, on the fourteenth. Their wedding was a decided surprise to Philippine residents. When President Quezon cabled Governor Harrison, "Got married today," the chief executive cabled back: "What's her name? President Quezon made plans to abandon politics. He felt that, as a married man, it was high time for him to make some money — twenty times more than what he could make as president of the senate. He had always been a spendthrift, and it did not matter much, as he was a bachelor and fond of good time.

But now he was a family man. Pressure was again brought on him not to give up politics, and Quezon asked to be released from his bond with Messrs. DeWitt and Paredes, a permission which they readily gave. President Quezon now occupied such an important position in Philippine politics that circumstances forced him to remain active, whether he wanted to or not. Again and again, years later, he tried to quit the strenuous political life; but even poor health was not accepted by his followers as a reason for his retirement. He was destined to serve his people and his country.

By , the friction between Quezon and Osmena gi-ew to more tangible proportions. Towards the end of the administration of Harrison, Quezon began to consolidate his followers. The first open clash took place over the reorganization of the juJici-ary, but these differences were ironed out after a compromise. The Wood-Forbcs report, which condemned the administration of the Islands during the past half dozen years, furnished Quezon with material for dissension within the ranks of the Nationalist party.

He began to blame the bad state of affairs on Osmeaa, titular head of the party. In the meantime, General Leonard Wood had been sent out to Manila as governor general, following the disastrous defeat of the Democrats in the elections. Both Quezon and Osmena shovved a desire to co-operate with the new chief executive, probably with different motives: Osmena thought it was good for Wood to leave after a year with warm feeh'ngs in his heart towards the Filipinos; Quezon was preparing to challenge Osmena's leadership and felt possibly that one war at a time was all he could conveniently carry.

Wood had decided to come to the Islands for about a year before as- suming the presidency of an American university, but. At the party convention in , Osmena seemed willing to have a platform couched in general terms. Quezon, however, wanted a more specific one; he wanted a more vigorous and exact demand for independence from the United States. President Quezon even intimated that he would not care if the Nationalist party was divided, if the division would come not on personalities but on issues. Quezon apparently did not want to force the separation on this occasion, probably believing that the time was not yet ripe.

Not being sure of victory, he allowed the convention to end in an apparent victory for Osmena.