Dwight D. Eisenhower photo

Exchange of Toasts Between the President and the President of the Philippines.

June 17, 1958

Mr. President, Mrs. Garcia, our Philippine visitors, My friends:

It would indeed be difficult for any American to try to express the sentiments he feels toward the Filipino people, toward the Filipino nation, when you come here, Mr. President, the first time since you have entered on your high office.

The history of our association as nations is more than intensely interesting. It is almost unique. That association began in the aftermath of a war. The Philippines were an innocent bystander. But because we had won the war, and in the fashion of the leisurely days of the nineteenth century, we found ourselves in possession of a new property in the far Pacific, we thought we should do something about it.

Now the inhabitants were not particularly happy with their new landlords, and we soon learned about Filipino courage. Aguinaldo led some very ragged, badly armed bands with no weapons and less food. He gave the American Army a very bad time, until he was captured--even then, let me add, by trickery.

Then the Moros were not highly contented, and some of the most lurid tales in American Army fighting history are the tales of the opposition of the Moros in Mindanao and in the Tawitawi to this new landlord that they had never heard about until that moment.

But by this time the Americans were growing up. They saw on all sides the need for schools, for better communications, for roads and for health facilities that had been neglected so long by the prior landlord. They were very apt pupils in the Philippines. Almost before we knew it, we saw that the Philippine people were ready to take their first definite experiments into self-government. And indeed, it was only a matter of a very few years until there was a law passed by our Congress in 1935 which gave them Commonwealth status, with independence promised definitely at the end of ten years.

By this time there was a great Philippine university, great hospitals, schools, cities--a civilization that was developing in these Islands with the American authorities and the Philippine authorities working cooperatively side by side.

Then came again the tragedy of war. Again Filipino faithfulness to their own ideals, the same ideals that we today so cherish--love of freedom, of justice, of independence--led them onto the battlefield. Although their Army was not yet prepared, the Filipino people resisted the conqueror with every means at hand.

At that moment, our President, lately a Governor, was elected to the high office of Philippines Senator. The conqueror found out that he was a very important man and called on him to surrender. He postponed the evil day for some months. When he could no longer postpone it, he took to the mountains as a guerrilla. The story of his courageous resistance--his unending resistance till victory was attained is in itself almost an historical novel.

So Americans, going to the Philippines, in many millions, in war and in peace, came to learn, to respect, to admire the Filipino people and to have for them a very deep affection.

Now, in the aftermath of this second war, the Philippines achieved true, full independence. They had the task again of lifting themselves out of the ruins of war. Again America and the Philippines were loyal allies in rebuilding roads, the buildings and the bridges, and restoring so far as possible the destruction wreaked upon them by their conquerors.

Now we see a flourishing civilization, an ally of whom we are indeed proud. More than that, one on whom we depend to stand with us as they have over these past decades, in defense of freedom, human liberty, dignity, justice and the right.

So in this brief sketch of history we come to the final statement of the evening. History has rolled on and you are here. You have come to visit us--a people that hold for your people a very tremendous affection and admiration.

To them, we here--this company--and all the people of the United States would like to extend warm greetings and best wishes for their success in all the years ahead.

So, as a token of that affection for them, we drink a Toast to you, President Garcia.

Note: The President proposed this toast at a state dinner at the White House, at 9:55 p.m. President Garcia responded as follows:
President and Mrs. Eisenhower, Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am surprised to find that at least part of the year Washington is much like Manila, and one instantly feels he is at home.

Mr. President, you have sat at many dinners in Malacanang during your tour of duty there, and perhaps you will remember the verdant grass and the giant acacia trees on the lawn, and the gumamela and hibiscus almost in full bloom throughout the year, and just outside the door the Pasig River rushing to its rendezvous with the sea.

That is what is recalled here in this banquet which you have tendered so kindly to my humble person--and in a sense to my people. I am sure that on this occasion, while you have dined at many famous palaces and castles in the world, memory must have taken you back to the Malacanang-by-the-Pasig River. And I have no doubt that you miss two things up in Manila, the mysterious fragrances of the night flower which we call the dama de noche--the night flower. I am sure Mrs. Eisenhower remembers that because she is a lady of very fine taste. And by day, of course, the nine-hole golf course at the Malacanang Park.

I confess, my friends, that I have not had occasion to use the golf course because I am an indoor man and I find more relaxation in playing a game of chess.

But, my friends, it certainly touches my heart to have so many friends around this table. I feel here something more than the ordinary or the customary formalities that are afforded by dinners. I feel a sense of kinship between our two peoples which must have relationship through the awareness of the same experiences and sacrifices and ideals for which we have stood together.

And in that awareness, Mr. President, I would like to thank you--and Mrs. Garcia joins me in this and the members of my party--for this very splendid dinner that you have tendered in our honor and also for the very kind remarks that you have said about my little participation in the fight for freedom. And I wish to thank you from the bottom of my heart for all this.

And, my friends, in token of the Filipino appreciation, affection and gratitude for the great services that President Eisenhower has given us during the formative years of our Philippine Republic, may I ask you to join me in offering him a Toast.

Dwight D. Eisenhower, Exchange of Toasts Between the President and the President of the Philippines. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/233595

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