Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Holdridge
HOLDRIDGE: Oh, I had something to do with the Philippines, yes. Trying to keep out of it as much as possible. It wasn't on this particular occasion but on another visit, I guess it was Al Haig in 1981. The next elections took place after Al Haig had been in Beijing in 1981, I was with him. I didn't want to hang around with George Bush (who would represent the US at the inauguration) or stick around the Philippines, so I left. George Bush was on his own. That's when he made that famous remark, “we love your democratic principles.” He was actually talking about ASEAN as a whole, but the press took the remark to mean the Philippines. By this time the Philippines had been under martial law, and the Marcoses were riding roughshod. Madame Marcos had celebrated the occasion of the inauguration by getting a chorus from the University of the Philippines that sang Handel's Messiah, the Hallelujah Chorus.(singing) For he shall reign forever and forever, hallelujah. I thought that was a little too much. That was the kind of thing a person...But anyway, getting back to the Nixon visit to the Philippines in 1969. I had tried to insulate the Nixons as much as I possibly could from Philippine politics, but Madame Marcos just took over. She dragged poor old Pat Nixon all over the place, to all of her favorite charities, this, that or the other orphanage, or God knows what else. Pat was utterly exhausted, and that evening there was a big black tie dinner at Malacanang Palace. The President got up and made his speech and thanks for all the hospitality. He said he'd learned one thing, though. With this very lovely lady, meaning Imelda, it's far better to be a friend of Imelda's than otherwise.
Q: During the time, up through '73 when you were with the NSC, was there any change in their attitude, from your perspective, towards the Philippines?
HOLDRIDGE: Yes. We decided that something had to be done and to try to encourage the Philippines toward a more democratic way of running their country. Thanks to Jack Froebe, a man on my staff who took this very seriously, I did write a memo to Kissinger talking about the errors Marcos was contemplating at this time, going into martial law. The least we could do, I thought, was talk him out of that one, which would have been a welcome sign of something, of restraint, on the side of the Philippine government. Henry would have none of it, said let them do what they want, that's okay as long as it keeps the area quiet and Marcos is working all right to keep the area quiet by his usual methods, Henry would have none of it. We did make an effort to stop martial law from coming into being. We, meaning my little corner of the NSC, recommended that we take steps to dissuade them from taking this fateful move, but to no avail.
Q: Still focusing on the Philippines, were you getting reports, consultations from the State Department on the situation?