Asia Society presents; 33
The series of interviews with experts on Asian affairs designed to strengthen our understanding of Asian people. Your host on this transcribed series is the noted author on the ward winning broadcaster Graham. Here now is Mrs. Graham. As many of you probably know the Philippines has been a Republican as had its political independence is 1946. What kind of independence that really is and how the people of the Philippines feel about it. Americans are some of the questions I would like to bring up on this program because our guest is the noted editor and author from that country. Mr. Fransisco C. O'Neill had traveled much work in many places is a master of words I think not only in his own language but usually in the English language. Here he says because he is essentially a lobbyist.
Now why is a lobbyist and what the problem is again will be discussed as we go along. Mr Jose. I have felt even before we began this program that there were things which were concerning him some anxiety that you have Filipino. Do they all concern your relations the relations that is between your country and the United States or are your concerns a deep about when it comes to those which are within your own country. Well we we have a lot of problems in the Philippines because of am. Basically they are the problems of modernization and the hungry of the lower classes for a better life. Somehow no matter what we do a lot of this problem. The solution to them. Lifes not only nice but all of the United States. Well what would be the connection at this point between the United States and from the
pain. Well I hope you don't mind a complicated answer. No I would appreciate it. Well first I think that you should understand that the Philippines has been a colony of the United States for more than 40 years and we've got our independence from the United States in 1946. Before that we were a Spanish colony for 300 years and a Japanese colony for about 40 years. All through the all through this years that we were under foreign domination several institutions have developed. But there is one thing that this is quite positive about the Philippines and this is that most of us Filipinos are interested in building up the democratic institutions that we have. Why do you use the Good Friday. Is it is democracy at a point it disappearing.
It might but. You see we're not even your top and you know when we talk about freedom or democracy for instance. Most of us can say that what the OP really needs is water from our you know our garbage the Because like that every other day they got neglected every day and what a genuine role of law in the country. You see we have many people who are poor who are very poor. And the disparity you know between the poor and the few what it is very very wide are the richest so few in number. Oh yes as a matter of fact that Alex Campbell of one of the New Republic rather than article I think last July he said that the Philippines is no longer an American colony it's a colony of its 50 families. But if we go back to the original question what could the United States do to be of service to the Philippines at this point. Is there
something beyond our financial aid. Or I wouldn't be so liberal to say that all that we have to have is money you know I know it doesn't seem to be the answer to anything completely anyway. In the first place the Filipinos themselves have a lot of work to do to move forward. But basic to our problem I think is the fact that wealth is held in a few hands you know and that's when the Philips You know the emancipator ones said long time ago that if well if you have and you don't have a democracy you have an oligarchy and that's what we have we have an oligarchy. Do you have a very small middle class and a very small and very niggled people middle class. You would say the structure of your company or country if we want to speak in class structure would be a large poor class. Only a small middle class and a tiny upper rich class.
All the. It's in a committee on economics came out with a study earlier this year and it said that only 1 percent of all families in the Philippines have an income of two thousand five hundred dollars. This would be the upper class up Dolly. The two thousand five hundred better income for families is not the true picture you know because the real wealth and power in the country is held by as I said by some 50 families. Now if you say that the financial aid is not the Holy Land but it's an essential part of that. And that's the way they operate and they're over with money. What else could the United States do. Is it a question of more agricultural assistance. I mean you have some good universities I think Ed Lynn the educational point of view you're a very advanced people. Yes in that sense yes I say matter of fact nickel on the plan came out with this study on
technicians in Southeast Asia sometime in 1962 64 and they come out with the findings that the Philippines has the most number of technicians all over Southeast Asia. That's why they have a lot of these Filipino scum in the United States doctors the Canadians you know because they cannot find opportunities in the Philippines. Yes that sometimes happens that there are people who are like they over educated for the economy in which they live and with their fine trained intellects they have to go elsewhere do use their education properly. That's true in so many places Pakistan India. But anyway your problem is your own country. I know when you say that you consider yourself a lobbyist why your hand United States. What I you know hoping to achieve this I would say first as I said we have many problems and a lot of these problems can be laid down you know at the doorstep of America honest I've never doubted the existence of goodwill you know of the Americans the words you Philippines and you can say
the same thing a Filipino but the United States actually in fact you know is in alliance with this oligarchy that I'm talking about it. Need obstruction to progress or that is how you know what you can release the inner gate of the middle class how you can make the wealthy be more responsible in the use of their wealth and how you can satisfied the longings of the common people for the simple things that I mention it with example of this if you got a lobby you have several international commodity agreements. If you've got a lobby in the Philippines is the most powerful political aggravation every ambassador we send to the United States tonight or later becomes a messenger boy of this you've got a lobby that Americans in ours you've got a lobby because some of the huger central for that are always on by American citizens. But it's
mostly a Philippine lobbying and the American housewife middle ground when you go to the to the grocery store and buy a pound of sugar 40 percent of that six cents and about which you pay for your pound of Sheba go through this you've got a lobby and if you're being on what is it that the Hugo lobby is trying to achieve. What is there and I mean when I make just that's just it. They found you know them sounds so dangerous and insidious. Well that's just it that we have. Powerfully. Group individuals who have no vision. Who have no national consciousness I might say and this has been proven over and over again. First Princeton's out you've got a millionaire. I was so irresponsible that they would not think twice about spending millions for
a part of being rich. They would invite units of your Mayor Daley to band the post royalty from Europe and singer from the Metropolitan Opera all to celebrate a wedding anniversary. This has happened to the being. I mean we had a poor country we cannot afford to waste that kind of money and a foreign exchange. If the Americans did this it's all right. The United States is suited you know you can afford to make mistakes. Well we have big areas of poverty. Cuba as we discover more and more. But perhaps that that's really incidental to the discussion that the fact is that there are. What there 50 or 100 families who control what much of the interest on the planet will power. Yes. If you if you went through the listing of the powerful politicians in the Philippines you will find that almost all of them are identified with your gun lobby and you cannot buy them. There are many brilliant Filipinos who cannot even run us down mayors because because these positions are close to them by the oligarchs.
Yes well now these are the people who control the sugar industry and other industries as well. What are some of your other important exports aside I'm sure that this is the whole point. You got it amounts to only about 10 percent of our foreign currency earnings we import we export more timber and minerals you know than we do with sugar but it happens that it is the most. Organized lobby that we have. And you're going to run for the presidency of the Philippines. Unless you are in open alliance with the issue about people as a matter of fact. Well when you say forgive me for interrupting you aligns with the sugar lobby and hold it in that industry. It's still not too clear what it is that the sugar lobby or industry is doing which is so harmful. Now you say they have a great deal of money and they waste it by lavish entertainment expensive clothes way of living. And many people go without. What they need don't they
employ many people in the shower and now not too many think it will how it should be an industry operated. Oh it's like like an industry. But as I said you know it is not the primary. Industry that employs people we have more people in the India of the populace. Rice sectorial what makes these people so powerful and politically the control the access to power. How do they do it since they represent the 10 percent of the angst. Because they are in alliance with politicians that they control in a sense. As I said access to real power in the Philippines you arent democracy Celcom it anyway I mean yeah you have a free election. Only I think you cant get a choice of the kind of candidates you want is that what you're saying on this one. As a matter of fact Mr. McLean this is an article that he wrote for fortune and I think it was last July. Mr McLean said that one must not expect reform from our established political bloc this nationalist party and the
Liberal Party because he said both parties are controlled by the only guards and these are the same oligarchs who collaborated with this who collaborated with the Americans and who collaborated with the Japanese. Do you know of any country if we want to be realistic and even cynical where there isn't a small oligarchical group that controls the country the wealth and the political power. The country may have a revolution and all those people thrown out but pretty soon another group arises to take its place. You think of any country which is not operating in that manner. United States is one. Well there are some people who say that if we have a certain leadership structure with a great deal of money have political power. For example you can't run for president unless you have a couple of millions to pay for your campaign. Like a good Mr. Graham but the average American gets water from his tap his garbage collector. Well that's right you can get service as you can if he's willing to work. He gets
a job is not so in the future. It depends upon then what sort of political leadership this is and I wish people can be rich and powerful but if they have a vision and I decent. Then there's no objection to them. Yes that's correct. In 1950 before I went to this you got out of areas in the Philippines to look into the working conditions and I went again in nineteen fifty eight and there was a dish with who made this old way of the working conditions in that you better she and us. Only about a few months ago the conditions haven't changed. The worst exploiters of our agricultural workers are this you got people themselves. And people have to take jobs make sure the industry because I get there not that many gardeners in other industries. If we could get to the idea of the anti-American feeling which apparently must exist to some extent in your country which can go hand in hand with Yes with good feeling towards Americans. But what causes it the
feeling that the United States is too friendly or supports too much the oligarchy is that it. That's one. This is particularly true with many young Filipinos hard now in the universities. These are the Filipinos who never. Had the kind of relationship which my parents had with Americans. You know that all of my of my mother for instance had a first teacher was a soldier an American soldier and after this bunnet American was and I was in the army myself in World War Two and I've been dealing with Americans as people for some time now. Now these young Filipinos going out of the colleges. Identify a lot of the economic problems that we have with the alliance between United States and this you've got all the gods that I've been talking about since many of us don't have these facts we don't know and we are assuming that you know about it here and we can take your word for it.
And how strong is that alliance how how powerful is this is the whole point. I mean what what is that based upon what what do you what is your knowledge base. Well this is the whole point is that all the United States has to do is to coerce the other gods at home to be more responsive to the people's needs or else you will have to blow up one of these days. Now you say. You every year American Congress grants I guess you got a quarter. Yes. And Congress can shut off the quote article and say that if the Phillipine or the guys that look here you're not even paying your employees why are 30 percent of this you got caught I should go to your workers and perhaps 10 percent will go to the lending institutions that will lend money to people who cannot borrow from your banking institutions because the truth of the matter is that our our made Europe financing institutions in the Philippines have in the past became given as high as 70 percent of
all of the government funds available to this you allow me. It was that one of the reasons then why you spend some time in this country it makes it hard to see what you can do to change the minds of some of our lawmakers in Washington are I watch in Washington. The facts are known to the people in Washington. What prevents them from taking the action which you would consider proper. It's very difficult to say anything. I would think that one is that there are so many problems that the United States has to face and Swiss law you know thousands of miles away and who cares about the Philippines unless something big happens again. Yes you did say that. Naturally to you this is very important and I'm sure to some Americans this is important as well. But you wonder too how many Americans the problem is as important as you feel it ought to be. You have a feeling of just neglect and indifference that that this is what
you get from the United States more of neglect than anything else. It's not indifference because as I said a lot of Americans have nothing but the one with the God who are my people and I've seen this you know and write about it or are there thinking about it but if they're not thinking about it it's a question of forgetting about it. As you say being neglectful but basically I think. No matter if you like us are saddled with so many global responsibilities yet you will have to learn the knowledge found. What performs in let's say what without going getting everything you would like but what reforms would you settle for. Is are your own children enough to go as I was or maybe what you know I have to have a journalist friend in Washington and he said Now here I am the president of the United States I have five minutes for you. What can I do for the Philippines right now. Let me repeat the question. Well first and foremost.
We need a lot of support for our agrarian reform program because unless you change the basic structure of land ownership in development you must remember that 70 percent of the people of rural people and of the 70 percent at least half or more than half of the farmers are tenants. They have no security of tenure but when you say agrarian reform how specific Would you be about that. Oh it's a who're. I didn't sell out land reform because that might not it down it's a whole complex of solutions that would exclude expropriation of land a subdivision of this land and for sale to the tenants the degrees of insecticides credit loans the building of corporate their irrigation systems marketing system or all that all this thing any what I would consider genuine agrarian reform is any system which will increase the productivity of the better come times of productivity is
increased. If land is handled in large tracks Yes there are all modern methods necessary and breaking it up and giving it to individuals can sometimes diminish as you know the production sell. Our central is then you subdivide and sell the line to small ownership. Incidentally you're a very sharp guy. Thank you. Yes now I have to be right I don't need to hear that. Well we have thought about this but eventually will come into that and we as is the experience in Japan and in other I won our first thought by then afterwards amalgamate the myth to make them more productive. The first thing is to give the farmer a real incentive and you can only do this by making him an owner of the land. Then afterwards you amalgamate. Yes well could he be given incentive to being paid more for his crops. Well tenancy exist in Britain with middle ground and it's working well because the tenant has in Britain have security I mean right.
If he had tenure and had had more money yeah it doesn't necessarily have to or maybe even want to own land I think. Or he may I don't know. Well these are problems that you must consider in the light of your own culture and as a matter of fact the first face of what I got in the former brother on this really not dividing the land but changing the tenant into a leaseholder. Yeah so he becomes Elysia and he asked then you are. Because as of now the tenant does not then you're going to be driven away and in time. What other major reform in the five minutes you have at home. You bring out the first would be as I said. That part of that you got caught out should be given the do farmers themselves the workers in this regard industry in terms of hospital hospitalization education operatives and part of that should be given a loan. The middle class
businessmen who are not in any way involved with the banking institutions of the only god. But Mr Jose. Since there must be protest about this you have a certain freedom of the press in broadcasting and writing the owners or the thieves. We could assure the power certainly have gotten the message by now that there's something they ought to do to be more broad minded get the more helpful just out of self interest to hold on to their own position. Is there no loosening up in their point of view. Have they made no effort to see the light. If I had seen this happen I wouldn't be here today. I think they don't you get the message you don't get. The how about the younger generation who inherit this from their families. Do you think they might. Have a better point of view. I've a feeling that most of them would be no different from the mean they would
not only inherit the land but also their attitudes and selfishness in the matter. Are there any. Are they all bad people over there. All of them a lot of good among them. No I wouldn't say that you know Ben if they're my own people that are a lot of very good elements in our own society that of trying to change things you know and some of them come from the wealthy class. It's because even among the Russian aristocrats while the thought was still there they were always those who were liberal and understanding and compassionate. So if you have another element in that part of your society I thought they might be influencing the rest of their group. You don't think that moving fast and I know and I hope that that such a movement developed soon enough before it becomes today. Well during this trip and by the time this program is here you will have left for the Philippines where you live in Manila. Did you have a feeling that you got a greater response this time in Washington or not. It's like shooting an elephant with a slingshot. Well maybe when Vietnam is properly taken care of there would be more
time you know more consideration of other problems and I think you're right. This country does feel very burdened right now. Things would seem more immediate. You say though there's still a reservoir of some goodwill left in your country so that American plenty of people you know like you heard that were like me for instance if I didn't see the bottom in your blood I would yeah. So I think that leaves at least some promise for betterment in the future. Certainly but I think anyone who. Has a feeling for other human beings I think most Americans do wish you well and I hope this can be resolved in the right way in time to come on your next visit. You get even greater response and I'll get here. Now and I know everyone listening wishes you the best. And our guest on this program is a distinguished citizen from the Philippines Jose So Jose is a writer and editor and as you can hear
very much about his country. Thank you and goodbye. That concludes tonight's edition of the prisms with Lee Graeme Le theories come to you through the cooperation of the youth of manatee. If you would like to comment on tonight's program or would like further information about the society and how you can participate in its many interesting activities please write to Mrs. Graham out w NYC New York City 100 0 7. I make a note to join us again next week at this time for another edition of The Truth o Friday cresent.
- Asia Society presents
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- Asia Society presents is a series of programs from WNYC and The Asia Society. Through interviews with experts on Asian affairs, the series attempts to strengthen listeners understanding of Asian people and ideas. Episodes focus on specific countries and political, cultural, and historical topics.
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Host: Graham, Leigh
Producing Organization: WNYC
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