Lyndon B. Johnson photo

Toasts of the President and President Marcos of the Philippines

September 14, 1966

Mr. President, Mrs. Marcos, ladies and gentlemen, and Mr. Valenti:

I have a confession to make tonight, Mr. President. I invited you here because I wanted to get to know you and to talk over with you many problems of interest to our two countries.

But there is also another reason for the invitation. It has been, until tonight, classified as top secret, known only to a handful of the highest American officials. It has been known to the Vice President, to the Secretary of State, to Senator Muskie, and to a former member of my staff, lack Valenti.

Mr. President, each of them, you may recall, has visited your country. Each of them met Mrs. Marcos. And each of them came back with a report that, as I remember was something like this: The Philippines are on the march. The Philippines have a great future. The Philippines have a great leader-and he has a beautiful wife.

And then they went on to say, each of them: We believe, Mr. President, that you should invite President Marcos to the United States. And each of them always added a postscript: Be sure to include Mrs. Marcos.

We are very fortunate, Mr. President, in the choice of our wives. There has been a lot of talk in my country recently about elections. When someone asked me my reaction to this talk, I pointed out that actually, after all, I am a very fortunate man. So far, the Republicans haven't nominated Lady Bird.

You and I, Mr. President, may win elections, but our wives win hearts.

We have much more in common, however, than just these wonderful helpmates.

Both of us served in the Pacific during the war. Both of us later served in the Congress-and both of us later had our difficulties with the Congress.

That may have sounded like a past tense. Both of us have had, and are having, difficulties with the Congress.

Both of us became the Senate leader of our parties. And both of us sometimes wish we were still there.

I hope you have an opportunity, Mr. President, to gain an appreciation of American politics while you visit us for the next few days. Let me assure you now that we are never as mad as we actually sound.

You are fortunate to be here before an election. You will probably understand very quickly what one of our philosophers once said about politics in our country. He said, "The Republicans have their splits after an election, and the Democrats have their splits just before an election."

I am sure you never have any problems like that in the Philippines. You are a most welcome guest in this house, Mr. President and Mrs. Marcos. To us, you are the symbol of an undaunted spirit in Asia that is enlarging liberty and enhancing the lives of human beings.

Our talks this afternoon were delightful. They were productive; they were good for both of our countries. We looked honestly and thoroughly at the problems that face our peoples and the world.

We both, I think, understand that if free nations that are small are to be the architects and guardians of their own destiny, they must be willing--and able--to discourage intruders.

As friends of your country, we are quite proud of the progress that you are making toward a free Pacific and toward a dynamic Asia.

As old comrades in arms, we have made plans to join in a new alliance. This time, the alliance is to fight the enemy which is hunger; the enemy which is disease; the enemy which is ignorance.

Already our work is underway. The new billion-dollar Asian Development Bank, which has its headquarters in Manila, offers the nations of Asia a cooperative pool of resources for the giant tasks ahead.

The dramatic work of the International Rice Research Institute, which is also located in your country, is proving that our capacity for discovery is really unbounded.

And these are but two of the specific steps of cooperation that we are taking together as willing partners in the future of the Pacific.

I hope, Mr. President, that you will be able to amend your itinerary, in the light of our discussions this afternoon, to visit other parts of this great land of ours.

We hope that you can visit some of our space installations. I think that our conversations this afternoon in that regard were quite fruitful. I look forward to the day when the Philippines and the United States can explore the stars together.

I look forward to the day when we can establish economic planning institutes in which we can work together in the field of oceanography and to the day when we can spend some time together attempting to determine what brings about the typhoons that cost the people of Asia $500 million a year.

Our thoughts were of the future. Our thoughts were of tomorrow. Our thoughts of what we could, what we should, and what we must do to meet these problems. But our thoughts were always together, as brothers in arms.

Mr. President, we recognize you as a man of courage and as a man of faith. Tonight we have assembled from all parts of this Nation our leading and most respected citizens. They have come here to honor you and your lady, Mr. President.

They have come to salute a hero in war who was on the Bataan Death March, who was wounded five times, who wears two Silver Stars and the Distinguished Service Cross--and who is a new voice of Asia and a leader for peace in the world.

So I should like to ask those of you, my friends, who have come here to meet with me tonight, to join in a toast to the President of the Republic of the Philippines.

Note: The President spoke at 9:55 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House, at a dinner honoring President Marcos. In his opening words he referred to President Marcos, Mrs. Marcos, and Jack Valenti, former Special Assistant to the President.

President Marcos responded as follows:

President and Mrs. Johnson, Members of the Cabinet and Congress of the United States, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

When I spoke this morning in response to the welcome of President Johnson, I spoke of the President as a man known to Asia as the man who has guaranteed security for that part of the world.

Now there is a new dimension. There is compassion and at the same time mixed with a sense of humor which strikes me as overwhelming under the circumstances.

As I was passing through Honolulu, Governor Burns told me this story. "The ladies of this country," he said, "actually follow the men. Although they make the decisions as to where the children should go to school, where the family should reside, where the marketing should be done, how the family budget should be maintained, the men make the big decisions like whether NATO should continue in Europe or not, or whether there should be a counterinsurgency center in Manila."

I answered Governor Burns that "in the Philippines we have simplified all of this. We surrendered to the women a long, long time ago. We set them up on a pedestal so high they can't intervene in manly affairs."

I say this, because I understand that the occasion of our visit here has somehow resolved a continuing rivalry between the ladies and the men of the fourth estate. I am happy to know, however, that it has been resolved to the satisfaction of everybody and that day after tomorrow I will be able to meet with all of the members of the fourth estate peaceably gathered, like the United Nations, in fragments.

We have the saying in our country that a man who does not look back to his origins can never reach his destination.

This is true of nations and this is true of peoples. As I look back at the origins of our people, I see a country, my country, 7,770 islands, as of the last count, whose shores have been washed by the tidal ebb and flow of empire.

I see a people with its neighbors who, according to the latest diggings of Dr. Fox in Palawan Island, were established in these islands 3000 B.C.

But I also see an association between the Philippines and the United States that dates back more than a half a century, an association that resulted in a partnership conceived in peace, tested in war, and now meeting the challenges of this trying age with resolution and determination.

We have separated, and freedom was granted us in 1946. You have grown up into the most powerful democracy ever known to man.

While the Philippines has become an experiment in democracy in our part of the world, it is my feeling that as I look back and see all the trials and tribulations that we have gone through, I am certain that such a partnership will outlast all the difficulties of the long and tedious road that we must travel together.

As I look back, I see the United States establishing the conditions for freedom and emancipation not only of the nation but also of the individual.

But now I see, too, the compassion of America. What is the image of America to the Asian? The image of America to the Asian is, first, that of freedom; of liberty. But, as I said, there is a new dimension and there is compassion.

All over the world one hears of the agitation of all the nations as the issue of a third world war or peace hangs in perilous balance. This issue of freedom is disputed not only in the battlefields, but in the hearts and minds of men.

And I am, therefore, most thankful that in our conversations, Mr. President, this afternoon, you permitted your vision of the image that should be America to contaminate my mind.

I look up into the heavens and hope that this modest and small country, the Philippines, may participate in the great and joyful dreams of utilizing the secrets of space for peaceful means, that the talents of the United States may help develop a poor and undernourished country.

Underdevelopment is a term perhaps hazy to the many, To some it may mean just another television set or automobile. But to us who plan for the underdeveloped countries, a slight mistake means pain, bitterness, despair, hunger, and even death.

And, thus, your graceful offer that the minds and talents and genius that is American can be offered for the planning of the development of the small and poor countries is, indeed, something that inspires me and, I know, as I shall transmit this message to all the Asian leaders and the Asian peoples, will inspire them.

For, Mr. President, they realize and they will realize that in this kindly land that is America there was, indeed, not only freedom, but humanity and a sensitiveness to the needs of all mankind.

I would also like to note the fact that in this country I have learned as I watched the tolerance by a great leader of dissent. I have watched you explain to the less perceptive without irritation. And certainly we are happy that this is so.

For we look to this leader who can make decisions without impatience with difficult allies, notwithstanding the increasing fatigue from unending responsibility and in spite of what is apparently divided counsel.

Mr. President, I carry back to my country a clearer image of America as I carry back to my people, also, a clearer message that comes from you. It is not only a message of resolution, it is not only a message of strength, it is also a message of humaneness.

It is a message of your belonging to the great majority that is mankind. It is a message of your broad perspective and vision.

As I bear this message back to Asia, I know that Asia will understand and listen. And to the challenge that you have raised, Asia will respond.

I look forward, therefore, to the day when all of Asia, notwithstanding its diversity, shall stand up in partnership with a great country, the United States of America. And, under the leadership of a man like you, rise up to the dreams of our nobler selves and attain this vision that has all but been erased by these terrible problems that confront us today.

Mr. President, it is hard to concentrate on questions of state in such happy, congenial, and lovely company. So, may I now ask each and every one of you to stand up and join me in a toast to the President and Mrs. Johnson.

May they achieve all their dreams and may they lead the American people to the fulfillment of the noble objectives that they have set for their country and for their people.

The President and Mrs. Johnson.

[As printed above, this item follows the text released by the White House Press Office.]

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

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