Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Address Before a Joint Session of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives.

June 15, 1960

Mr. President of the Senate, Mr. Speaker of the House, Members of the Congress, distinguished guests, and my friends:

I am keenly sensible of the high honor this assembled body has paid to me and to my country by inviting me to be present here and to address this body, a body representing the political leadership of a great Republic in the Asian sector. I am indeed overwhelmed by your kindness and I can say only mabuhay.

You will understand the flood of memories that swept over me on coming back to this land, where I feel that I am revisiting an old home and old friends and renewing ties of long standing.

Here my wife and I spent four happy years, making friendships that we shall ever cherish. Here our son went to school and grew into young manhood. Here I saw the first beginnings of this Republic and worked with men whose vision of greatness for the people of the Philippines has been matched by its realization.

Through many days I could talk of life as I knew it here a quarter of a century ago. for hours on end I could make comparisons of what was in those days and what is now. But I have only minutes in which I can address myself to this subject.

Even in the short space I have been here, however, I have been struck by the vigor and progress that is evident everywhere. I see around me a city reconstructed out of the havoc and destruction of a world war. I know of the Binga Dam; the Maria Cristina Power and Industrial Complex; the Mindinao highway system; rural electrification; the disappearance of epidemic diseases; the amazing growth of Manila industry.

Everywhere is inescapable physical evidence of energy and dedication and a surging faith in the future. But of deeper significance is the creation here of a functioning democracy--a sovereign people directing their own destinies; a sovereign people concerned with their responsibilities in the community of nations. Those responsibilities you have discharged magnificently even as you toiled to rebuild and to glorify your own land.

Certainly, we Americans salute Filipino participation in the Korean war; the example set the whole free world by the Filipino nurses and doctors who went to Laos and to Viet Nam on Operation Brotherhood; your contribution to SEATO and the defense of your neighbors against aggression; your charter membership and dynamic leadership in the United Nations; your active efforts to achieve closer cultural and economic relations with other Southeast Asian countries.

The stature of the Republic of the Philippines on the world scene is the creation of its own people--of their skill; their imagination; their courage; and, above all, their commitment to freedom. But their aspirations would have gone unrealized were they not animated by a spirit of nationalism, of a patriotic love of their own land and its independence, which united and directed them in their efforts.

This spirit was described by your late great leader and my personal friend, Manuel Quezon, when he with great eloquence said: "Rightly conceived, felt and practiced, nationalism is a tremendous force for good. It strengthens and solidifies a nation. It preserves the best traditions of the past and adds zest to the ambition of enlarging the inheritance of the people. It is, therefore, a dynamic urge for continuous self-improvement. In fine, it enriches the sum total of mankind's cultural, moral, and material possessions through the individual and characteristic contribution of each people."

Significantly, President Quezon had this caution to offer, "So long as the nationalistic sentiment is not fostered to the point where a people forgets that it forms a part of the human family; that the good of mankind should be the ultimate aim of each and every nation; and that conflicting national interests are only temporary; and that there is always a just formula for adjusting them--nationalism then," he said, "is a noble, elevating and most beneficial sentiment."

In these words of clarity and timeless wisdom, President Quezon spoke a message forever applicable to human affairs, particularly fitted to the circumstances of this era.

Nationalism is a mighty and a relentless force. No conspiracy of power, no compulsion of arms can stifle it forever. The constructive nationalism defined by President Quezon is a noble, persistent, fiery inspiration; essential to the development of a young nation. Within its ideal my own country since its earliest days has striven to achieve the American dream and destiny. We respect this quality in our sister nation.

Communist leaders fear constructive nationalism as a mortal foe. This fear is evident in the continuing efforts of the Communist conspiracy to penetrate nationalist movements, to pervert them, and to pirate them for their own evil objectives.

To dominate--if they can--the eternal impulse of national patriotism, they use force and threats of force, subversion and bribery, propaganda and spurious promises. They deny the dignity of men and have subjected many millions to the execution of master plans dictated in faraway places.

Communism demands subservience to a single ideology, to a straitjacket of ideas and approaches and methods. freedom of individuals or nations, to them is intolerable. But free men, free nations, make their own rules to fit their own needs within a universally accepted frame of justice and law.

Under freedom, thriving sovereign nations of diverse political, economic and social systems are the basic healthy cells that make up a thriving world community. freedom and independence for each is in the interest of all.

For that very reason--in our own enlightened self-interest, in the interest of all our friends--the purpose of American assistance programs is to protect the right of nations to develop the political and social institutions of their choice. None, we believe should have to accept extremist solutions under the whip of hunger, or the threat of armed attack and domination.

We--free, serf-governing peoples--readily accept that there is a great variety of political, social and economic systems in the world; and we accept the further fact that there is no single, best way of life that answers the needs of everyone, everywhere.

The American way satisfies the United States. We think it is best for us.

But the United States need not believe that all should imitate us. But what all of us do have in common with the free nations in Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America are basic and weighty convictions, more important than differences of speech and color and culture.

Some of these convictions are: that man is a being capable of making his own decisions; that all people should be given a fair opportunity to use their God-given talents, to be worthy heirs of their fathers, to fulfill their destiny as children of God; that voluntary cooperation among groups and nations is vastly preferable to cooperation by force--indeed, voluntary cooperation is the only fruitful kind of effort in the long run.

True enough, in a too lengthy period of history, some European nations seemed convinced that they were assigned the mission of controlling the continents. But always powerful voices within those countries attacked the policy of their own governments. And we of the American Republics--twenty-one independent nations, once European colonies-denied in arms and in battle the validity of the assumed mission. Colonialism died there because true nationalism was a more potent force.

Since 1945, thirty-three lands that were once subject to Western control have peaceably achieved self-determination. These countries have a population of almost a billion people. During the same period, twelve countries in the Sino-Soviet sphere have been forcibly deprived of their independence. The question might be asked: Who are today the colonialists?

The basic antagonism of the Communist system to anything which it cannot control is the single, most important cause of the tension between the free nations in all their variety on the one hand, and, on the other, the rigidly controlled Communist bloc.

One purpose of the Communist system's propaganda is to obscure these true facts. Right now, the principal target is the United States of America. The United States is painted by the Communists as an imperialistic seeker of limitless power over all the peoples of the world, using them as pawns on the chessboard of war, exploiting them and their resources to enrich our own economy, degrading them to a role of beggarly dependence.

The existence, the prosperity, the prestige of the Republic of the Philippines proves the falsity of those charges. You, as a people, know that our American Republic is no empire of tyranny. Your leaders repeatedly have so testified to the world. But for a few minutes I should like to speak to you on what America stands for: what it stood for before I became President and what it will continue to stand for after I have left office.

More important than any one year, any one incident, or any one man is the role we have played through our whole history--the role we shall continue to play so long as our Republic endures.

Two hundred years, lacking sixteen, have passed since our forefathers proclaimed to the world the truths they held self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed with inalienable rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that governments are instituted among men to secure those rights, deriving their just powers only from the consent of the governed.

On the day of that proclamation, you and we and scores of other now-free nations were colonies. Mankind everywhere was engaged in a bitter struggle for bare survival. Only a few by the accident of birth enjoyed ease without back-breaking toil. Naked power, more often than not, was the decisive element in human affairs. Most men died young after an all too short life of poverty.

Since then, free men--using their rights, embracing their opportunities, daring to venture and to risk, recognizing that justice and good will fortify strength--have transformed the world.

The wilderness and jungle of nature have been conquered. The mysteries of the universe are being unlocked. The powers of the elements have been harnessed for human benefit. The ancient tyrannies of hunger and disease and ignorance have been relentlessly attacked and ceaselessly reduced in their domains.

The evil of our forebears' times were manifold and entrenched and often accepted without murmur. But to free men who saw in their fellow men the image of God, who recognized in themselves a capacity to transform their circumstances and environment--to such free men, those evils were unbearable.

Not all of these evils were vanquished at the first assault. Indeed, many still survive. Not always was success persistently prosecuted to ultimate triumph. free men, however mighty their inspiration, are humanly frail.

At times they may be fearful when they should be girding and bracing themselves for more vigorous effort; trading words when they should be working; bickering over trifles when they should be uniting on essentials; rioting when they should be calmly planning. Often they may dissipate their energies in futile and wasteful exercise. Often they are mistaken or for a while misled. Being human, these things are true about all of us. Nevertheless, the resources of free men living in free communities, cooperating with their neighbors at home and overseas, constitute the mightiest creative temporal force on earth.

In your sister Republic of the United States, the greatest achievement of our history is that our rebels against colonialism, against subjection, against tyranny, were the first in this era to raise the banner of freedom and decent nationalism, to carry it beyond our shores, and to honor it everywhere.

What we stood for in 1776, when we were fighting for our freedom, we still stand for in 1960.

To maintain our stand for peace and friendship and freedom among the nations, the United States must remain strong and always faithful to its friends, making clear that propaganda pressures, rocket rattling and even open aggression are bound to fail.

Beyond the guarantees of American strength, we seek to expand a collective security. SEATO demonstrates what can be accomplished. Since its inception not one inch of free Southeast Asia territory has been lost to an aggressor.

Collective security must be based on all fields of human endeavor, requiring cooperation and mutual exchange in the areas of politics, economics, culture and science. We believe in the expansion of relations between nations as a step toward more formal regional cooperation. In accord with this belief, we support the initiative taken by the Government of the Philippines during the past several years in establishing closer ties with its neighbors.

Patience, forbearance, integrity, an enduring trust, must between our two countries characterize our mutual relations. Never, I pray, will the United States because of its favored position in size. and numbers and wealth, attempt to dictate or to exercise any unfair pressure of any kind, or to forget or to ignore the Republic of the Philippines--its equal in sovereign dignity. And never, I pray, will the Philippines deem it advantageous either at home or abroad to make a whipping boy of the United States. Each of us proudly recognizes the other as its sovereign equal.

And my friends, at this point I just want to interpolate one simple thought on the cooperative efforts for our own security, for advancing the standards of living of peoples, for everything that we do together, there are of course differences in the ability of each nation to make contributions.

Each of us as an individual is different from every other individual. Physically, mentally, and in the possession of the world's goods, we are somewhat different. But I submit, Members of the Congress, that there is one field where no man, no woman, no nation, need take a secondary place, and that is in moral leadership.

The spirit of a people is not to be measured by its size or its riches or even its age. It is something that comes from the heart, and from the very smallest nation can come some of the great ideas--particularly those great inspirational ideas that inspire men to strive always upward and onward.

Therefore, when I say that our two nations are sovereign equals, I mean it just in that spirit, in the sense that you have just as much to contribute to the world and to yourselves and to freedom as the greatest and the most powerful nation in the world.

Now finally, in this great cause of peace and friendship and freedom, we who are joined together will succeed. The eternal aspirations, purposes, ideals of humanity inspire and hearten and urge us to success.

But we face repeated challenges; endless temptations to relax, continuous campaigns of propaganda and threat. Let us stand more firmly together against them all.

And so doing, and with God's help, we shall march ever forward toward our destiny as free nations and great and good friends.

Thank you very much.

Note: The President spoke at 4 p.m. In his opening words he referred to Eulogio Rodriguez, President of the Senate, and Daniel Z. Romualdez, Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Address Before a Joint Session of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/234675

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