JUNE 12 being Philippine Independence Day, a certain quotation from the Commonwealth-era President Manuel L. Quezon will be making the rounds of the main stream punditry as well as the blogosphere:
“I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans..."which has been gleefully seized upon by every wag and wit throughout modern Philippine history to sagely tsk-tsk, "There you see how Quezon got his wish!" -- whenever some self-inflicted catastrophe like Con-Ass or chronic condition like graft and corruption--strikes or bedevils the country. Often it is the nationalistic wags and wits that employ this literary device to diss the aristocratic and patrician President Quezon, often without realizing they could be accused of a colonial mentality for expressing such nostalgia for a previous dispensation.
But to forearm Philippine Commentary Readers against the rhetorical pitfalls of truncated quotations, let us look at the unexpurgated version of the famous Quezon quote as explained by his descendant, our good friend Manolo Quezon:
“I prefer a government run like hell by Filipinos to a government run like heaven by Americans....Because, however bad a Filipino government might be, we can always change it.” [President Manuel Luis Quezon].
Quezon's actual point was that with Independence, we gain the freedom to choose between heaven and hell, both in our leaders and in ourselves. To which however, I must add this 1950 essay by the British-American historian Denis W. Brogan who puts an even finer point on Quezon's -- that there are no guarantees that Independence will immediately, or even ultimately, result in heaven!
Uhmm...Happy Independence Day!