• U.S.

RACES: Lovers’ Departure

5 minute read

This week a special train chartered by the Department of Labor will start from Manhattan, proceed to Cleveland, Chicago, St. Louis, on across the plains and the Rocky Mountains to San Francisco picking up passengers as it goes. Four weeks later these same passengers will all debark from the President Coolidge at Manila, having enjoyed a trip halfway around the world entirely at the expense of the U. S. Government. Anyone in the U. S. may join the party provided he is a Filipino born in the Philippines.

Last week few people east of the Continental Divide knew or cared that such a trip was about to take place, but on the Pacific Coast it was an object of interest. Reason for the free ride was that last summer Congress passed and President Roosevelt signed a bill for the Treasury to pay the transportation back to his native land of any Filipino who would accept. A backer of this law was Pacific Coast Labor, which saw in the creation of the Philippine Commonwealth a good excuse for inviting Filipino workers to go home rather than stay in the U. S. selling their services for 10¢ an hour in competition with white men.

The Pacific Coast was interested in this subsidized exodus not only from the standpoint of labor but also from the standpoint of race and sex. In many places Filipinos are “problem children” for Pacific Coast authorities. To the intense dismay of race-conscious Californians these little brown men not only have a preference for white girls, particularly blondes, but have even established to many a white cirl’s satisfaction their superior male attractions.

Last January into San Francisco Municipal Court went a white girl with the charge that a Filipino boy had held her while a rival white girl battered her nose, blacked both her eyes. Said Judge Sylvain Lazarus from the bench: “This is a deplorable situation. … It is a dreadful thing when these Filipinos, scarcely more than savages, come to San Francisco, work for practically nothing, and obtain the society of these girls. Because they work for nothing, decent white boys cannot get jobs.”

Promptly Filipinos held a mass meeting in San Francisco, passed a resolution denouncing this description of them as savages, sent a copy to Quintin Paredes, Philippine Resident Commissioner in Washington. Before the Philippine Commonwealth was set up Commissioner Paredes, short, swart, swank, suave and banjo-eyed, was Speaker of the Insular House of Representatives and one of the Islands’ leading politicians. When Manuel Quezon became the first Philippine President, he made it plain that he would brook no rivals in political power. The once-powerful Speakership was reduced to an office of no importance, and able Señor Paredes reluctantly accepted the job of Commissioner in Washington.

Statesman Paredes answered his San Franciscan countrymen with restraint : He believed the judge had not meant to call all Filipinos savages—”but there are savages everywhere.” Finally he urged his com patriots to “avoid occasions for rebuke” and sent a copy of his reply to Judge Lazarus accompanied by a note saying, “I cannot believe that you had in any way in tended to refer to my people as a whole.”

Last fortnight Señor Paredes received a reply from Judge Lazarus: “I intend to be as straightforward with you as you have been considerate with me. Basing my conclusions on years of observation. I regret to say that there is probably no group in this city, proportionate to its members, that supplies us with more criminal business than the local Filipino colony. It is no compliment to the predominant race that most crimes committed by Filipinos have as background intimate relations with white girls. Jealousy between rivals for the affections of the same girl leads to assaults, knifings, and shootings; a desire to provide gifts for the objects of their affections offers temptations for thievery. I am making allowance for the fact that there is a scarcity—I imagine almost a total absence—of Filipino girls in this country and that the kind of white girls who associate with these Filipino lads is not calculated to provide the best influences for them. However, the girls are satisfied and generally very happy in their relations with these boys. Their sweethearts are working—all of them—as waiters, elevator operators, janitors, bell boys, etc. and are able to supply them, according to their notions, with abundant attentions and diversion. . . . “

Some of these boys, with perfect candor, have told me bluntly and boastfully that they practice the art of love with more perfection than white boys, and occasionally one of the girls has supplied me with information to the same effect. In fact some of the disclosures in this regard are perfectly startling in their nature.” “Well,” said Señor Paredes urbanely, “the Judge admits that Filipinos are great lovers.”

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