"We are determined to prove two things. First, that we are capable of being independent of the United States. Second, that we deserve to be independent of the United States."
It was the day after the inauguration of Ferdinand E. Marcos in 1966. The new president of the Phillippines leaned forward, his arms on the black mahogany desk in his elegant office, and repeated the sentence, making sure I caught the distinction between capable and deserve .
"Some people here say we are not yet fully ready for self-government," he continued. "They underestimate America's skill as teachers and our aptitude as students. Yes, I suppose there are those who feel that the only way they can prove they can stand by themselves is by kicking papa. This has been the history of many countries coming out of colonial control. But I don't think this will happen here. The resentment against the United States as a colonial master is minor, very minor, alongside the sense of most people that we have a joint heritage--both Filipinos and American. I regard the American part of that heritage as a powerful asset and I intend to make full use of it."
I had gone to Manila as one of President Lyndon B. Johnson's ambassadors to the inauguration--with Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, Jack Valenti and others--aboard Air Force One.