Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and President Macapagal

October 05, 1964

Mr. President, Mrs. Macapagal, distinguished guests:

This house of the American people is honored tonight by the presence of the President and the First Lady of a land that Americans love--the Republic of the Philippines.

Ten months ago, Mr. President, you came on a mission of sorrow to the funeral of our beloved President John F. Kennedy. All Americans are grateful to you for that moving gesture.

We are proud that you have returned tonight under happier circumstances on a mission of friendship.

When we first met in Manila, our guest and I were both Vice Presidents. He has since succeeded in being elected President and, needless to say, I find that example commendable tonight.

As we all know, our guest's election to his nation's highest office has opened a new era in the Philippines. To his people's courage and devotion to freedom, the President is adding a new dimension of responsible statesmanship. He has been unremitting in his efforts to bring about Asian solutions to problems that threaten conflict among Asian nations.

In your land and in mine, Mr. President, new generations are at the helm. In all free nations, new generations are on the threshold of leadership. These new generations must test the ties among free allies and must judge for themselves their value and their strength, but I have no doubt what that decision will be.

Those ideals which inspired so many people to reach for independence are not Western values or Asian values. They are abiding human values.

The worth of those values is eternal.

Our mutual devotion to them will be everlasting.

If freedom is to stand strong, free men must be devoted to strength, must be devoted to social justice, to the dignity of the individual, and to the love of peace.

On these principles the Philippines have risen from the ruins of war to build an economy offering the people one of the highest standards of living in all Asia. That economy is built on the foundation of free enterprise and on the foundation of private initiative.

The example of the Philippines shines to all nations seeking economic and social progress with freedom for the individual.

Mr. President, the Philippines have also been in the forefront of the fight against external challenge to the freedom that we so cherish.

You have met and you have defeated Communist subversion in the Philippines itself.

You were founder members of the SEATO alliance. You have extended a helping hand to Laos and Viet-Nam as they resist the common peril.

Tonight, the independence of free men is nowhere more threatened than in southeast Asia. So, I was greatly heartened when you told me personally this afternoon of your purpose to do all that you can to help meet this challenge.

In turn, I pledge again the full and continuing support of the United States to the Philippine Republic and to other like-minded and true friends.

None can know just how long the fight for freedom in southeast Asia will take, but we of the United States are resolved not to falter or to grow weary in the struggle.

Our constant and continuing hope is that around the realm of the great ocean named for peace there will grow a great community of peace. Our effort is directed toward building such a community where free men can trade together, where free men can work together and prosper together in freedom, in peace, without war.

In the creation of such a community, the Philippines serve as a valuable bridge of understanding between the East and the West.

We are so happy to have the distinguished Ambassador from your country in our house tonight. We honor him and have deep affection for him.

We are also delighted to have our own Ambassador, Ambassador Blair, return here with you. We think highly of him, and we hope that he enjoys his visit in your country.

So, Mr. President, we receive you in this country as the representative of an old and very valued ally.

But we welcome you even more as the leader of the new Philippines and as a new leader for freedom's cause everywhere.

So, I ask all of you here tonight to join me in a toast to His Excellency, the President of the Republic of the Philippines, to the continued friendship between the peoples of his Republic and ours and to the success throughout the world of freedom's cause.

Note: The President proposed the toast at a dinner in the State Dining Room and the Blue Room at the White House. President Macapagal responded as follows:

"Mr. President, Mrs. Johnson:

"Mr. President, you and I are in a very peculiar situation at this moment. We are separated by a room and walls but still we can hear each other, and we are friends.

"Our two countries are just like we are at this moment. They are in different places, separated by the vast Pacific Ocean, but they can hear each other's voice, and they are friends.

"There is really some similarity between the career of President Johnson and myself. Both of us were, first, Vice Presidents and then we became President. Now he is running for President. Next year, I am running also for President, so I am very anxious about this election here because I confess I am very superstitious about similarities.

"It is a great honor for my people and myself that you, Mr. President, have invited me to make this state visit to the United States.

"We regard this visit as a kind of family reunion. We share to the full the feeling of indestructible friendship and the sense of common purpose between our two peoples which this reunion serves to confirm.

"We are deeply moved by the kind words which you, Mr. President, have uttered. Permit me to say that your generous references to me and my people are warmly reciprocated. They have struck in our hearts the deepest chords of respect, admiration, and affection.

"The ties that bind the American people and the Filipino people are the ties and ideas and ideals-democracy, freedom, love for peace, and the rule of law--long shared in common. The strength of these bonds has in the past been subjected to the terrible ordeal of battle, and their durability to the strenuous task of peace.

"Let my presence here attest to the resolve of the Filipino people that these bonds of mutual dedication shall withstand any trials which the future may bring.

"It should be of interest to you and to the whole American people what the attitude of the Filipino people is towards the United States and the American people and how the Philippines has been faring 18 years after the severance of our political ties.

"The Philippine attitude toward the United States during the last decade is premised on the basic heritage that you bequeathed to us.

"From Spain, which ruled over the Philippines for 377 years, we inherited, firstly, the Christian religion so that 95 percent of our people are Christians, and, secondly, a true appreciation of Western culture.

"From the United States, which ruled over us for 48 years, we in turn inherited the processes of democracy and a system of mass public education which is unparalleled in colonial history. These are legacies which have become the cornerstone of our vigor and future as a nation considering that the success of democracy depends upon the level of enlightenment and education of the people.

"To carry out its unprecedented policy of mass education, America sent hundreds of American schoolteachers to the remotest hinterlands and to the hills to educate our children, with the result that the Philippines today enjoys the second highest level of literacy in Asia and the desire for education has become a passion among our people.

"I myself am a product of the American public school system in the Philippines. Coming from one of the humblest families, my only opportunity to acquire an education was the American-established public schools.

"I have had the privilege and distinction of having been tutored by many American teachers during my school days. The fact that one who comes from among the poorest families could go through the public school system established in the Philippines to become President of the Philippine Republic by virtue of a free and democratic election, is concrete proof that democracy, based on a system of mass education implanted by the United States in the Philippines, possesses the efficacy to improve the lot of the common man in freedom. Thus, to us Filipinos, democracy and not communism is the system that can elevate the masses of Asia from poverty to a better life.

"Because of this basic American heritage of the processes of democracy and mass public education, the attachment and affection of the Filipino people today for the American people are as strong as ever, and, I dare say, these will continue to be as strong in the future.

"Our affinity and common ideals of democracy, freedom, love of peace, and the rule of law should render it relatively easier to thresh out problems pending between our two countries in a just and honorable manner and on the basis of sovereign equality and mutual respect.

"Indeed, we appreciate the blessings of democracy so deeply that we are prepared to share in the responsibility of upholding, defending, and preserving freedom in our part of the world. This is the basis of the active participation of the Philippines in Afro-Asian affairs, particularly our endeavor to bring about a peaceful settlement of the Malaysian-Indonesian dispute. This is the basis of the Philippine support for American policy in southeast Asia, particularly in Viet-Nam.

"The retaliatory action ordered by you, Mr. President, in the Tonkin incident heartened the free nations of Asia because the struggle of the people of South Viet-Nam is essentially one that involves the right to govern themselves.

"The fall of Viet-Nam to communism would endanger the security of its southeast Asian neighbors, and your endeavor for freedom in that part of the world merits the support of the other free nations of Asia. We believe that these nations should be disposed under proper legal framework and within their capabilities to participate in the struggle to sustain the democratic cause in Viet-Nam.

"As to how the Philippines has been faring since its independence, I must say in all humility that in our administration we have arrested and greatly reduced the rampant graft and corruption that have plagued our government since the end of the war.

"We have successfully restored free enterprise after 12 years of economic controls. We have finally succeeded in initiating a land reform program which abolishes the centuries old tenancy system which enslaved our farmers in poverty and prevented our agro-industrial progress.

"To fight poverty, we have launched a long-range 5-year socio-economic program calculated to offer greater opportunities to our people for an improvement in their lives.

"We have done all these and we are ready to do more to prove the vitality of democracy as a way of life. We believe that should democracy fall in the Philippines--the only Asian country which was formerly a colony of the United States--American leadership in Asia and elsewhere in the world for the cause of democracy and freedom will be less convincing and be weakened. On the other hand, the success of our efforts to improve the livelihood of our masses under freedom will enhance the cause of freedom and help lighten the enormous load of the United States in leading the free world.

"In your hands, Mr. President, as head of the American Nation and leader of the free world, rests a heavy responsibility. That responsibility is to insure the survival of man in a world of freedom. In your hands, too, lies the power, moral as well as material, to discharge this responsibility with patience and wisdom where required, with strength and resolution when necessary.

"We who love freedom stand beside you. We who long for security pray for you. May the Almighty steady your hand and steer your heart as you guide America and lead the legions of free men everywhere.

"In this spirit, may I ask all to join with me in a toast to the health and success of the President of the United States, His Excellency Lyndon B. Johnson, and to the enduring partnership for freedom of our two peoples."

During President Johnson's remarks he referred to the Philippine Ambassador Oscar Ledesma and the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines William McC. Blair.

Lyndon B. Johnson, Toasts of the President and President Macapagal Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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