English text of the extemporaneous speech in Tagalog of His Excellency. Jose P. Laurel, President of the Republic of the Philippines, at a public meeting in the City of Davao. 5:30 p. m., March 19, 1944:
I am profoundly grateful to you for gathering here, despite the heat of the day, and giving me this chance to talk to you; for I have many vital things to tell you. There are many things I want you fully to understand. Thus alone can you and all the other Filipinos help me in the task of building up our young Republic.
This is not the first time that I have appeared before you. Nine or ten months ago, I came to the City of Davao with Speaker [Benigno] Aquino and other officials of the Government from Manila. I stood in this very place and called your attention to the desire of the entire Filipino people to establish a government of Filipinos, by Filipinos, and for Filipinos. I wanted to call your attention to our hope as a people to realize the dream of Rizal and our other heroes and martyrs of 1896 and 1898, which is also the dream of the 50,000 martyrs who have just laid down their lives, not for America nor against Nippon, but for an independent Philippines.
I was then Commissioner of the Interior, and the Philippines had not yet attained its independence. At that time, we were trying hard to cooperate fully with Japan, in order that she might fulfill her promise to give us our independence in the shortest possible time and to expel every vestige of Americanism in the Philippines.
Japan has fulfilled that promise. We are now a Republic, and I have been chosen to head the Government of that Republic. I need not tell what I feel about this new responsibility. For my life has been an open book; and, whatever I may have accomplished, I have had only one motive—namely, to serve the interests and the well-being of the Philippines and of the Filipinos. Conscious of this, I am not ashamed of whatever I have done; and I am not afraid of anyone.
I have heard many of our countrymen say that this is not the Republic of our dreams—that this cannot be a real Republic, because the Japanese are still here. But, my countrymen, our Republic is still young. It is only five months old. It is only a baby, and you cannot expect a baby five months old to walk fast and to be as strong as a full-grown boy.
It is in taking care of this baby that I need your help and the help of every other Filipino. We have to nourish that baby, until it grows to be a strong and healthy man. It is only when this Republic of ours has reached its maturity that we shall be able to tell whether or not we have realized our dream of freedom.
Real freedom has to be striven for. It is not something that can be given to us on a silver platter by an outsider. We have to fashion it slowly, carefully, patiently, with our own hands. And this will take time. When we plant a seed, we do not expect to harvest the fruit the very next day. The same may be said of our Republic.
The Japanese forces are still in our midst, it is true; but it is only because Japan is still at war with America and Britain. Japan wants to be sure that this country remain independent of any Occidental power. And it is fighting for the independence of China, Burma, India, and Manchoukuo, as well as the Philippines.
Because the war makes it necessary for the Japanese to stay in this country, it has been thought imperative that there should be a Japanese representative in Davao who is intelligent, sympathetic, and heartily in favor of the Filipino cause. Such an ideal representative is General Nagasaki, who brought peace to Baguio within a short time, and who became so like a father to the people of that city that they cried when he left them to come to Davao. I am confident that, with the help of General Nagasaki, nothing which will in any way affect the people adversely will happen here.
There will, I am sure, be perfect harmony between General Nagasaki and General Paulino Santos, the Commissioner of Mindanao and Sulu. General Nagasaki is a Japanese, and General Santos is a Filipino; but both of them love freedom, and both of them have the best interests of Mindanao at heart. General Nagasaki and General Santos, therefore, should form a perfect combination. They ought to be able to bring about mutual understanding between the Japanese and the Filipinos.
General Paulino Santos has been appointed Commissioner of Mindanao and Sulu, not so much because he is a Filipino and has the same complexion as the inhabitants of this region but mostly because the Government recognizes his ability as an administrator, his intelligence, and his patriotism. He is familiar with conditions here; and he knows the people not only of Davao, but also of entire Mindanao and Sulu. It is my hope that General Santos will make rapid progress in restoring conditions to normal.
This tremendous responsibility has been entrusted to General Santos, because transportation and communication difficulties have made it practically impossible for us in Manila to know just what is going on here. In a way, therefore, he will be the eyes and the ears of the Republic. And I call upon you to pool your efforts with his and help him make our misled brothers see the light of truth and realize that this is our own government, not a government imposed upon us by another power. I want you particularly to cooperate with General Santos in food production. Nobody will feed us except ourselves. Nobody will put us back on our feet except ourselves. If we do not cultivate our own lands, who will go hungry? The Americans? No, because they are not here. The Japanese? No, because their ships can bring in foodstuffs to meet their needs. Then, who will get hungry? The Filipinos, for sure!
But we cannot cultivate our lands, we cannot plant our crops, unless there is peace and order. By all means, therefore, let us have peace and order. It is senseless to hate one another, fight one another, and kill one another. For we are not strangers to one another. We are not enemies, but we are friends. We are brothers in blood and ideals.
And the greatest of these ideals is, or should be, the establishment of a free Republic—strong and stable and enduring. If, in this enterprise, it be necessary to shed, not only sweat, but blood, then let us pay the supreme sacrifice with a smile on our lips and a song in our hearts. And, when that awesome moment comes for us to face our Creator, we can say, “My Lord, loving freedom and justice, loving my native land second only to You, I laid my body, my heart, my soul—everything that I was and everything that was sacred to me—at the foot of the Altar; and may I find favor in Your eyes!”
Source: Office of the Solicitor General Library