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Toasts of the President and President Marcos at a State Dinner in Manila

July 26, 1969

President Marcos, Mrs. Marcos, all the distinguished guests at this very distinguished dinner tonight:

I first wish to express, on behalf of all of us who are here as your guests, our appreciation for this dinner, and for the opportunity to be with you on such an historic occasion.

You have spoken most eloquently, Mr. President, about the accomplishment of the moon landing. I would only want to be sure that we all recognize that what happened there belongs not just to the three men who were in the vehicle and the two who set foot on the moon, or even to those who had preceded them in the Apollo missions, nor did it belong alone to the American people, because nations around the world participated.

I know, too, that the hopes and the prayers of the people in nations all over the world went with those first men from earth to land on the moon.

I know that as we drove through the streets of Manila today, the first capital we have visited since that landing occurred, that the unprecedented size of that welcome and the wonderful warmth that we felt in that crowd was in great part due to the fact that the people of the Philippines, too, shared in that moon venture, and their prayers and their hopes went with our astronauts. We are most grateful for those hopes and those prayers as they were rendered.

As I met those--at least some of those-who are here at this head table tonight, I realized how many years my own experience in the Philippines covered, because of those who have served as President of this country, several are here, and I have had the opportunity to think back to the other visits that we have had.

The first was in 1953, the next in 1956-when we were present with President Magsaysay1 at the 10th anniversary of the independence for the Philippines, and a crowd of three-quarters of a million people were gathered in what is now Rizal Park, and then as a private citizen in 1964, and then in 1966 and 1967 and, finally, today, I return again.

This is the first time I have been here as President of the United States, but to give you an indication of what I feel about this country, what I remember is-whether I came as Vice President or as private citizen--the welcome was just as warm as it was when I was President of the United States. For that I am grateful.

I suppose that tells us something about the relations between our two countries, relations of which you have spoken so warmly.

We do have ties that go back over many years. We have fought together in war; we have worked together in peace. Today we look to the future realizing that what we do together will have a great effect not only on our two nations, but on the future of peace and freedom in Asia and in the world.

In that respect, I would like to refer just briefly to the time which your career, Mr. President, has spanned, and my own as well, although I am a bit older than you.

You served in World War II, as I did. Since that time we have seen in one generation World War II and two smaller wars, one in Korea and now one in Vietnam--all of them affecting Asia. We trust that the war in Vietnam can be brought to a successful conclusion. When that time comes, it will then be our opportunity to see what statesmanship can produce for the next quarter of a century.

Now I happen to be an optimist, an optimist in one sense, indicated by this moon landing. When I planned this trip, I planned it on the basis that we would take off immediately after the splashdown for a trip around the world. I was asked by some friends if we had any contingency plans in the event that the landing failed. I want you to know we had no contingency plans. We had faith that it would succeed.

But looking to the future, and what it means to all of us, I realize, as all of us in this room realize, that if war is to come, it is most likely to come again from the Pacific and from Asia in the last third of this century. But the other side of that rather pessimistic outlook is that if peace is to come, it must come primarily from the initiatives of those who live in Asia and from the United States, because we who live on the rim of the Pacific have within our hands the power to avoid another war in Asia, to bring peace, and, if we have that peace, then we can see the exciting possibilities for progress in this last third of a century.

Population will double. But, more than that, the development of the resources that we will see in a time of peace can mean progress such as men have never dreamed of before.

It is this dream--this dream of what peace in the Pacific, peace in Asia, can really be--it is this dream for which we are all living today.

When we think of the Philippines and the United States, of the wars through which we have lived, of the trials that we have had, of the progress that we have made, I think we all realize in this room that we stand now at the beginning of what could be a new era, a new era in which peace will come, as it will come, to Asia and the Pacific, and, therefore, to the world. And then we shall be able to keep that peace and have the progress that we all want, not only for ourselves but for our children in this very exciting period, a period in which we explore not just the earth, but the heavens-and by exploring the heavens we learn better how to develop the resources on earth--a period in which we learn to live together in progress and live together in peace as you have already described.

I would not want this evening to end without also paying tribute to one other at this table who has indicated the great power in this country of what we have learned in the United States: the power of the wife of a political man in the field of politics.

I can only say that Mrs. Nixon spent the afternoon with Mrs. Marcos. She had read, as I have, about her various achievements--the volunteer activities in which she has worked. And without becoming involved in what I know is an upcoming political campaign, all that I can say is this: After having spoken to Mrs. Marcos tonight, knowing of how she has campaigned with her husband, if I am ever in a campaign, I don't want her on the other side. [Laughter]

And if I may be permitted a self-serving statement, I never want my wife on the other side in a campaign either. [Laughter]

Here I pay tribute to all the women in this room--all who have worked with their husbands in helping them in their careers. Too often the men make the speeches and take the bows where the women should have the credit.

Tonight, let us be sure that we all recognize how important in our lives those who are 'the women in this room have been in helping us to whatever successes we have had.

One final point: When Mrs. Marcos visited the United States in May of 1968, in her party was a young Filipino who indicated a great interest in our space program and a great knowledge of it. As a result, the Protocol Department of the State Department sent him with an escort down to Cape Kennedy to evaluate the space program and have an opportunity to see how it was working.

After he looked it over, he said that he would like to put in a request to be the first Filipino to go to the moon.

I, tonight, have an announcement to make. That announcement is that on the first vehicle that carries passengers that goes to the moon, Bong Bong will be on that space vehicle. [Laughter and applause]

This is just to make it official: Here he is.

If, because of age, he will not be able to go to the moon, maybe we can have him go on the first vehicle to Mars.

Tonight, my friends, in the spirit of all that has been said tonight, let me ask you to join me in raising your glasses to the friendship of our two countries, the Philippine and the American people, and to the parents of Bong Bong--President and Mrs. Marcos.

1 Ramon Magsaysay, President of the Republic of the Philippines 1953-1957.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10:30 p.m. in Malacanang Palace in Manila in response to a toast proposed by President Ferdinand E. Marcos. "Bong Bong" was Ferdinand E. Marcos, Jr., 13-year old son of President and Mrs. Marcos.

President Marcos spoke as follows:

President and Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests, Your Excellencies of the diplomatic corps, ladies and gentlemen:

Seldom has it been given in the history of man for one to be allowed the privilege of participating in the celebration of one of the most outstanding achievements of mankind, especially one who represents a small and humble nation like the Philippines, in an achievement like the exploration of the moon attained by the great American Nation under the leadership of our guest tonight.

This is my privilege, in representation of the Filipinos and the Republic of the Philippines, as we have as our guests some of those who were principally responsible for this achievement of American courage and American genius.

If we turn back the pages of history, nay even that of unrecorded history, artifact, and legend, which show and document the aspiration and ascension of man to his rightful heritage as the prime creature on earth, thus, the neolithic scientist who discovered the fashioning of the wheel, and recently the man who discovered the internal combustion engines, and the voyages of discovery--including that of our forebears, the Polynesians--the radio, the airplane, the field of relativity, and closer to the ultimate secret of life, the theory of DNA--all these tend to show the dominance of man over his environment and over the universe.

And, as I have said, we participate in the celebration of this achievement as man aspires for the stars, the stars outside of this world and the stars within himself and within his spirit.

It is the hope of humanity, as it is the hope of the Philippines, that this vision and this genius, this courage and this ingenuity shall be utilized for the solution of man's problems.

For while man claims the dominance of the universe, still he must grovel at the feet of his ancient enemies in some places of our own earth. The enemies: disease, ignorance, and war. We trust that our guest, the leader of the great American Nation, will know how to meet these dreaded enemies.

We, in the Philippines, have reason to appreciate the generosity and the courage of the American Nation, and it is, perhaps, fitting and proper that the President and Mrs. Nixon have seen fit to make the Philippines their first stop and visit after their first success in the exploration of space, because, indeed, the Philippines was created after the great American Republic, and here in the Philippines is a test of the success of a democracy in a small developing nation.

Our observers say if democracy cannot succeed in the Philippines, perhaps it cannot succeed anywhere else in Asia.

So, as we play host to President and Mrs. Nixon, we remember our past. We remember that because of the ties that bind us, we stand firm on the side of freedom and resolute against anyone who should threaten to subvert our free institutions; and that we have demonstrated this capability to stand for our freedoms and for our institutions as in the past.

We are a small country but when our Republic was thought to be subverted by a Communist rebellion, our people stood as one and overwhelmed and overcame such a rebellion without the aid of any alien soldier.

The Philippine troops met the enemy, fought them in every battlefield, and won. Today, the threat that seeks to destroy our Republic has dwindled, and it is my privilege, however, to acknowledge publicly that while the Philippine soldier accomplished this, he did so with the aid and support of armaments, equipment, and supplies coming from our great ally, the United States of America.

Today, small Asian nations like the Philippines again are met by similar dangers, for it is not external aggression that we fear, but internal subversion. It is our resolution and belief that if there ever should be any attempt again to subvert our free institutions and our Republic, that our country, this small Asian country, the Philippines, can stand alone, can fight alone, and win alone, and sustain our freedoms and our liberties.

But it is our hope that the great American Nation, in accordance with its solemn treaties between our two countries, will extend its aid and support, not in the form of ground troops and soldiers, but with equipment and supplies in accordance with the solemn agreements between our two countries.

We have, as our guest, my friends, the leader of a nation that may also be in crisis. He has met with problems graver than we have ever come to know and as he meets these problems, this Nation, the Nation--the United States of America--compassionate as it is, still bears upon its shoulders the burden of the whole world, and there is not anything, perhaps, that the leader of America, President Nixon, does or does not do which does not affect the life of any man on earth. This is the cross that he must bear.

And so, Mr. President comes to us, not merely as the President of the United States of America, representing America's national interest, but more than this, he comes to us symbolizing all the longings, the dreams, and hopes of all of mankind. He comes to us perhaps as a trustee of all of mankind. And he comes to us seeking to solve not only the problems of other countries and other nations, but to solve perhaps even the greater problems of the equality of races, and of justice within his own country and, therefore, he embodies all the noblest aspirations of humanity.

Therefore, it is my privilege and honor, my friends, to request you to stand up with me and join me in a toast to felicitate President and Mrs. Nixon for the success of the moon exploration and for the continued health and prosperity of the great American Nation.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and President Marcos at a State Dinner in Manila Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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