Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with John H. Holdridge
HOLDRIDGE: No, we were informed very definitely. I was informed, one of my jobs was to keep these guys from making nuisances out of themselves by trying to get the ambassadors in. Unfortunately, being a Foreign Service Officer I sympathized with the idea of the ambassador being present. I damn near killed myself, as a matter of fact, when we got to the Philippines. Marcos and Nixon were going to have a talk at Malacanang at two in the afternoon. So we on the airplane went through all the ceremonies, the guard of honor and all the rest. Then there was a motorcade, in which the NSC staff rode in a small bus and not in limousines. The NSC was always treated as a step-child by the rest of the White House staff. We were always sneered at as “the intellectuals” and seated below the salt if at all possible.
Q: This is Ehrlichman and Haldeman.
HOLDRIDGE: That's right. The famous group, all of whom ended up in the jug some years later. Anyway, the NSC staff ended up in a tour bus at the tail end of the procession. And as the procession went off the Philippine people were just overwhelmed by this. The place was just swarming with ordinary citizens. I don't know if this was spontaneous or generated or what. But somewhere along the boulevard, Roxas Boulevard, we were pinched off. Tony Lake and I had the bags, all these damn things to carry, and we couldn't move an inch. The Filipinos had a very short attention span, and they cleared the traffic enough for the cars and the limousines, but when this bus came along, forget it. So we had to hop out, grabbing our official bags, try to get a cab. We found one cab that got us fairly close to Malacanang. Then we ran into a place we couldn't cross. We had to take these bags and walk over a footbridge to the other side and catch another cab, perspiration dripping down our faces, and came galloping up to the entrance to the office wing of Malacanang about two minutes before two. I went charging with these doggone bags, only to be told that the President didn't want any notetaker present. I was supposed to be the notetaker. So we just sat there and cooled our heels. I sat talking to President Marcos's NSC guy, by the name of Menzi, who was a naturalized Filipino, (Menzies was originally his name), who was a colonel in the Philippine Air Force without any wings. So we just sat there in the anteroom and chatted while the Presidents were inside. This was a very dangerous precedent that Nixon kept setting, because we never knew what went on between these respective top people. Of course, Marcos could have said anything that had been decided or accepted by Nixon, and we would have no means of refuting it.
Q: In a way, looking at this, you could see it's a dangerous form of government because at a certain point when principals meet it's not just they meet and make decisions. Things have to come out or it occurs in a absolute vacuum.