My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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JAKARTA, Indonesia—We got off from Hong Kong Thursday afternoon feeling that we had had a most delightful visit and regretting that we had to leave so many kind people. I was particularly sorry to say goodbye to Mr. and Mrs. Aylward. I watched Mrs. Aylward grow up as a child and it is interesting to see how someone you once knew handles her own children in very different circumstances from the surroundings in which she herself grew up.

The foreign service is a test which every mother whose family is involved in one way or another must meet with some trepidation. On the whole, however, all these young women manage their rather difficult tasks remarkably well and the children grow up strong and healthy in spite of diverse conditions.

On the favorable side, they have an opportunity to see the world and understand it and to learn languages in the easiest possible way—by ear. There are drawbacks, of course, to constantly moving around the world. But if there can be some one spot which they can call home and which they feel gives them roots, I think the opportunity to know the world is invaluable in the present-day situation.

We arrived in Manila Thursday evening and were met by Ambassador and Mrs. Homer Ferguson.

I had a little difficulty at first stopping myself from calling him Senator Ferguson, and he has certainly been working hard as an ambassador and familiarizing himself with the problems of the Philippines. I am sure he has a broader understanding of the foreign service of which he is now a part than he had when he was looking at it as an outsider.

Both the Ambassador and Mrs. Ferguson were most kind to me and I was very grateful to the president of the Philippines, Mr. Ramon Magsaysay, for inviting me to an informal dinner that night. There were five Americans present and four Filipinos and I only wish I could have had the opportunity to talk longer with the Filipinos. The secretary for health and welfare there is a woman and I am told she does a wonderful job, but I would have liked to hear more about it.

President Magsaysay seems to me a forceful person and deeply interested in finding ways to defeat Communism and to give his people a better standard of living. He used a good simile when he told me that with the Huks, who are the Communist element in the country but actually just farmers who have never before tried to kill other people, he had decided the problem should be studied as a doctor would study a problem of disease in a laboratory.

He told his intelligence officers to bring in the prisoners and find out what made them revolutionaries. Almost invariably the story was the same—poverty, high taxes, no chance to make a decent living. When the Huk surrenders today he finds a piece of land allotted to him, irrigation on the land and a house to live in and his family is brought immediately to join him.

This seems to be a very sensible approach to the problem of correcting a bad situation and possibly the most rapid way of persuading them to be loyal to their own democratic form of government.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 4 September 1955