Back to Results


Collection of the U.S. House of Representatives
About this object


The longest serving Resident Commissioner from the Philippines and a protégé of Manuel L. Quezon, Pedro Guevara waged a difficult battle promoting Philippine independence while fighting congressional measures to curb territorial sovereignty and economic progress. Guevara acted for much of his career as the voice of the Philippine legislature in Congress in a low-key style of delivery that relied on prepared statements rather than fiery, impromptu speeches. Guevara began his career a stalwart proponent of independence, saying, “For 25 years I and my people have lived under the American flag. Yet wherever I go Americans take me for … some other Oriental. Americans know very little about us or our country, and they care even less than they know. To continue American control, under such conditions, is an injustice to the Filipinos.”1 But his perspective shifted in his final years as Resident Commissioner, and disagreements with his patron Quezon over the best path to independence led to his quiet retirement from politics.

Pedro Guevara was born on February 23, 1879, in Santa Cruz, Laguna Province, Luzon, Philippines. The son of Miguel Guevara and Maria G. Valenzuela, he attended local schools some 60 miles to the south of Manila. Guevara’s family sent him north to the capital to attend a finishing school, Ateneo Municipal de Manila, and then Colegio de San Juan de Letran. Guevara earned a liberal arts degree at the latter school in 1896, finishing at the head of his class. When the 1896 revolution broke out, Guevara fought the Spanish and earned the rank of lieutenant colonel for his service, including helping to lead Filipino forces in the Battle of Mabitac. In the Philippine-American War, he joined the insurrectionaries who opposed U.S. occupation forces, serving as aide and private secretary to General Juan Cailles, commander of Philippine rebels in Laguna Province. After the war ended, Guevara joined the Philippine constabulary, a paramilitary unit that maintained peace. After five years of service, Guevara returned to civilian life and, in a pattern reminiscent of others who later became Resident Commissioners, worked as a journalist. He became chief editor of Soberanía Nacional (National Sovereignty), a newspaper that championed Philippine independence, and also served as city editor for four other newspapers. During this time, Guevara studied at La Jurisprudencia, a Manila law school, and passed the bar in 1909. He married Isidra Baldomero, and the couple had one son, Pedro Jr.2

As with many other contemporary politicos—Isauro Gabaldon, Jaime de Veyra, and Sergio Osmeña among them—Guevara easily transitioned from being an editorialist to an elected public servant. His political career began in 1907, when he was elected as municipal councillor in San Felipe Neri, Rizal Province. Two years later he won election to the Philippine assembly, representing Laguna Province, and he was re-elected in 1912 to a second term. In 1916, under the provisions of the Jones Act, he was elected to the first of two terms in the Philippine senate, representing a district that included Manila and the provinces of Rizal, Laguna, and Bataan. He served in the senate until his election as Resident Commissioner. A well-respected jurist, Guevara chaired the Philippine delegation to the Far Eastern Bar Conference in Beijing, China, in 1921. A year later he joined a group of prominent Filipinos who traveled to Washington, DC, as part of the second Philippine independence mission.3

Upon Guevara’s return to the Philippines, senate president and Nacionalista Party powerbroker Manuel Quezon tapped his fellow senator to succeed Jaime de Veyra as Resident Commissioner. Domestic political jockeying momentarily complicated his nomination, however, when the insular government set a special election to fill the impending senate vacancy. Democrats put forward a nominee, but the Nacionalistas failed to produce a consensus candidate. Desperate to retain the seat, Quezon stalled by encouraging Guevara to remain in the senate until a suitable candidate could be found. The U.S. House of Representatives threatened not to seat the new Resident Commissioner so long as he held his Manila seat, forcing Guevara to resign and leaving Quezon to bargain with Governor General Leonard Wood on the timing of a special election. Nevertheless, the Filipino legislature elected Guevara as Resident Commissioner on February 17, 1923.4 He won re-election in 1925, 1929, 1932, and 1934 and served continuously until the position was reorganized under the Commonwealth of the Philippines in 1935.

When Guevara set off on the long voyage to Washington, DC, in August 1923, a “monster parade” accompanied him to his ship, the Associated Press reported. A marching band and military cadets joined the throng, with Guevara at its head wearing a barong, a long embroidered shirt that symbolized Filipinos’ wish for independence.5 Guevara arrived in the U.S. capital in mid-September, months before the 68th Congress (1923–1925) was set to convene in early December. Like his predecessors, he played the part of diplomat rather than legislator, in some measure because House Rules prevented him from holding a committee assignment or voting on final legislation on the floor. But he also seemed quite comfortable working the press and serving as a public advocate. In that aspect, he went to work immediately. Even before he claimed his seat, he weighed in on independence and growing tensions with the controversial Governor General Wood.

From the start, Guevara’s independence pitch was more nuanced than that of his colleague, Isauro Gabaldon, who demanded nothing short of immediate and unfettered self-rule. Guevara, the Los Angeles Times noted, “was the opposite of the agitator type,” and while journeying to Washington, he told Filipinos who met him during a brief layover in Honolulu that the key to eventual independence hinged on their ability to demonstrate “self-control” in overseeing their affairs. While he demanded a “final solution” to the Philippines’ status, he envisioned it ideally as a kind of protectorate system “with a localized responsibility, capable of bringing about the necessary harmony and co-ordination of the different departments of Government, for its efficient operations.”6 He admitted that Japanese and European encroachments might be a concern with full independence and, to that end, preferred “a protectorate from the United States.” But, given a choice between complete independence with no special grant of U.S. military protection or the ambiguous governance reasserted by U.S. officials after President Woodrow Wilson left office, Guevara had a clear choice: “We unquestionably stand for the former.”7

Guevara’s unhappiness with the current structure, like that of so many Filipinos, derived from the ambiguities of the Jones Act. On the one hand, the act granted the islands a greater role in self-rule, including a popularly elected senate. After several years, Manila officials believed that they had fulfilled the spirit and the letter of that legislation by creating a stable government. But, on the other hand, the governor general still was empowered to override the government and Filipino legislative initiatives “may be disregarded any time.” While Filipinos were blamed “for any inefficiency or failure” of governance, the governor general seemed to accrue all credit for what went right.8

The newest occupant of the governor general’s post, Leonard Wood, irritated matters by trying to reassert control over the islands. In July 1923, his actions provoked a mass resignation of Filipino politicos, including Quezon, from the governor general’s cabinet. Later that fall, when Secretary of War John Weeks sent a memorandum of endorsement to Governor General Wood, Quezon and Philippine house speaker Manuel Roxas ordered Guevara to visit Secretary Weeks to express their displeasure with Wood’s executive encroachments. Impatient for action, the territorial legislature then dispatched a special mission to Washington to request Wood’s recall and lobby for immediate independence.9 “We do not object to General Wood personally,” Guevara noted, trying to frame the issue as something larger than a personal spat, “but to the office which he occupies and the method of his appointment.”10 In Boston for a speech at the Harvard Union, Guevara told the Christian Science Monitor, “The struggle with General Wood is merely a small incident in the bigger fight for full self-government.”11

President Calvin Coolidge defended Wood and used subsequent annual messages to request that Congress grant the governor general more resources at the expense of the insular government.12 Despite the Coolidge administration’s clear efforts to reassert control over the islands, independence efforts percolated in Congress in 1924. In February, the special mission, accompanied by Guevara, testified before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions to support S. 912, a bill authored by Chairman William King of Utah that authorized Filipinos to convene a constitutional convention. Once ratified and approved, U.S. military forces would withdraw within six months. Predictably, administration officials lined up against the bill. Secretary of War Weeks argued independence would precipitate a political collapse while the Navy’s Admiral Hilary P. Jones testified about the need to retain the Philippines to ensure U.S. strategic interests in East Asia. Governor General Wood echoed these sentiments in a telegram to the committee that Guevara and Gabaldon roundly condemned.13 War Department staff later asked the House Insular Affairs Committee to stall on its review of S. 912, effectively killing it.14

Insular Affairs Committee Chairman Louis Fairfield of Indiana submitted H.R. 8856 just as momentum on S. 912 waned. The House bill granted commonwealth status to the islands, allowed for a Filipino to be elected as governor general, continued a bicameral legislature, and also set out a judicial system. Controversially, however, it created a presidentially appointed post of U.S. commissioner empowered to veto legislation, contracts and the governor general’s executive actions, and to muster the armed forces of the Philippines. The commonwealth period would last for 30 years, after which Filipinos would vote in a plebiscite to maintain commonwealth status or to declare independence. Delegates from the independence mission supported the broad outlines of the Fairfield bill but balked at the 30-year commonwealth period and the notion of a commissioner with unchecked power. Though Fairfield was amenable to changing the bill, little support existed in Manila, and the chairman sidelined the entire effort.15 Later that Congress, Guevara attempted to revive interest in H.R. 8856. “The structure of our political institutions,” Guevara said, was built on a “weak base” of limited sovereignty. Emphasizing that Congress “has never been reluctant … in the prompt solution of those problems affecting the life, happiness, and prosperity” of its citizens, he asked the Rules Committee to send the bill to the House Floor, but it never resurfaced.16 Soon all momentum stalled as Congress adjourned for the presidential nominating conventions and the fall elections.17

A wave of negative propaganda designed to curb Philippine autonomy broke across the U.S. press in late 1924. From November 1924 to January 1925, the Washington Post published “Isles of Fear,” authored by Katherine Mayo, who trafficked in racist stereotypes and belittled the Philippines’ push for independence. Retentionists, including the Post editorial board, seized on the series and praised it for confirming their views.18 Guevara was one of a number of Filipino officials who refuted Mayo, publishing a response with Isauro Gabaldon in the Post. In a New York City speech, Guevara alleged Mayo’s work as one component of a “campaign of misrepresentation waged by the irreconcilable opponents of Philippine independence … for their own benefits or that of the interests they represent.” He stressed that Mayo’s portrayals failed to convey the true “life, culture, and spirit of a people or race.”19

Guevara also fought against attempts to separate parts of the Philippines from the insular government. In May 1926, Robert Bacon of New York submitted H.R. 12772 to create a separate province intended to resolve the “fundamental antipathy” between the Christian Filipinos in the Luzon and Visayan Islands and Muslim Filipinos, or Moros, in the Mindanao, Basilan, Palawan, and Sulu Archipelago. According to Bacon, the Moros were “an altogether distinct people from the Christian Filipinos … not only in language and religion but in physical type and mental outlook.”20 The first Philippine commission established a single province for Moro territory under the control of a military governor.21 Bacon’s bill enabled the governor general to make these appointments without the consent of the Philippine senate. He argued that the Moros were essentially a distinct people and that the insular government had made no real attempt to integrate them. Bacon’s underlying goal, however, seemed to be securing key natural resources in Moro lands—namely, rubber.22

Guevara responded to Bacon on the House Floor one month later. He dismissed the racial distinctions between Christian and Muslim Filipinos, saying that “differences in religion and civilization are the natural result of the political situation which the Filipino people have been forced to endure for the last 300 years” under foreign rule. Guevara admitted that the Moros had no representatives in the Philippine legislature, but under the Jones Act, only the U.S. Congress could grant that right. To resolve the issue, Guevara suggested an “amendment to the present organic law … which would enfranchise the Moros and permit them to elect their own legislators and governors with … the same freedom of choice as that now enjoyed by Christian Filipinos.” Guevara concluded, “Disintegration of … the Philippine Islands can serve no useful purpose.” Members of the Committee on Insular Affairs agreed, and Bacon’s bill never left committee.23

After four years of stalwart opposition to Wood and his policies, Guevara was presented with an opportunity to reset relations when the governor general died unexpectedly in August 1927. Guevara informed Manila that the Coolidge administration wanted suggestions about selecting a new governor general. The primary candidate was Henry L. Stimson, the former Secretary of War in the William H. Taft administration. President Coolidge asked Stimson to visit the Philippines to assess the effectiveness of the insular government. A retentionist himself, Stimson nevertheless proved amenable to all sides. Unlike Wood, Stimson honored Philippine sovereignty where it existed and treated Filipino colleagues with respect. With widespread support in Manila and Washington, President Coolidge nominated Stimson on December 13, 1927. When the Senate confirmed him four days later, Guevara praised the appointment, calling it “a new era for the islands [sic] government and people.”24

Despite this attempt to moderate relations with the insular government, President Coolidge continued to request more resources for the governor general’s office in his annual messages. In January 1928, Frank Willis, chairman of the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions, submitted S. 2292. That bill proposed an increase in the salaries of 13 presidential appointees and directed $125,000 from Philippine internal revenue taxes toward hiring additional assistants and technical advisers. A companion bill (H.R. 8567) was submitted by House Insular Affairs Committee Chairman Edgar Kiess of Pennsylvania. These measures placed the appointments of technical advisers solely in the governor general’s hands. Another Willis bill, S. 2787, and its companion, H.R. 10074, proposed the appointment of governors for the Muslim and non-Christian provinces of the islands without the Philippine senate’s consent. Secretary of War Dwight F. Davis and Governor General Stimson testified in support of each of these bills to the dismay of Quezon, who coordinated with Senate allies to block their passage and asked other members to submit independence bills as substitutes. Guevara prepared for battle in the committee rooms.25

Guevara sparred with Chairman Kiess while testifying against H.R. 8567. Among his eight points of disagreement with the legislation, he argued that the Kiess bill would weaken the Jones Act by curtailing the Philippine legislature’s power to appropriate funds by eliminating the “functions of the departments and bureaus of the Philippine government.” Such an action would reinforce “the colonial nature of the system of government implanted in the Philippine Islands.” Frustrated by Guevara’s stonewalling, Kiess demanded to know why the Philippine legislature seemingly opposed any congressional action. Guevara answered, “We are opposed to any amendment to the Jones Act which will mean a backward step” in achieving Philippine sovereignty. After testifying for two hours, Guevara suffered a heart attack and was taken to a local hospital. He was scheduled to testify against S. 2292 before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Affairs the next day, but Gabaldon took his place.26 Although S. 2292 and S. 2787 passed the respective committees of jurisdiction in both chambers, neither came to the House nor Senate Floors for a vote, and the House versions languished in committee.27

Guevara balanced expanding Philippine sovereignty with preserving its economy, particularly the sugar industry. In March 1928, beet sugar proponent Charles Timberlake of Colorado submitted H.J. Res. 214, a bill to reduce the duty-free importation of Philippine sugar from an unlimited number to 500,000 tons. Timberlake noted precedent for his legislation and argued that U.S. authorities “never contemplated forcing the American farmer into competition with tropical labor 7,000 miles across the Pacific.” Timberlake partially framed his legislation as preventing the Philippines from becoming “dependent on a single competitive export crop” in accordance with “the universally accepted principle of crop diversification.” Guevara asked Timberlake if it was fair for the United States “to send any of its products to the Philippine Islands without any limitations … while the Philippine Islands are … limited in the sending of their products” to the United States, but Timberlake dodged the question. Guevara countered with his standard proposal for independence, “May I suggest that the best remedy is to get rid of the Philippine Islands, and we are now ready to be gotten rid of by the United States.”28 The bill died when Governor General Stimson blasted it in the press.29

When the House adjourned in May 1928, Guevara remained in the United States. In June he joined Quezon at the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions to promote Philippine independence. At the Republican convention in Kansas City, Missouri, the pair successfully lobbied against the inclusion of a platform that called for limiting Philippine rights. In Houston, Texas, Guevara and Quezon, with an assist from Senator King, convinced Democrats to retain a platform calling for independence that echoed the 1924 platform.30 Isauro Gabaldon resigned in July 1928, leaving Guevara the sole Filipino Resident Commissioner for nine months just as the battle over sugar tariffs was heating up. In December 1928, the House Ways and Means Committee convened hearings on tariff readjustments in anticipation of President-elect Herbert Hoover’s request to revise the Tariff Act of 1922. A worldwide depression in sugar prices and the rise of an aggressive sugar lobby threatened the free trade privileges enjoyed by the Philippines since the enactment of that legislation.

Testifying before the committee in early 1929, Guevara started with a simple question that echoed his perpetual message: “[W]hile the Philippine Islands are under the American flag, will the United States be justified in imposing limitation on our present free trade?” Guevara reminded members that imposing trade restrictions was tantamount to “economic slavery, because while the United States is free to send to the Philippine Islands all her products and merchandise, we will not be free to export” the same products. When committee members asked Guevara repeatedly what the Philippines did to cultivate trade with neighboring countries, Guevara reiterated that U.S. tariff restrictions compelled nations to restrict trade against the Philippines as a territory of the United States.31

On March 7, 1929, President Hoover called an extraordinary session of Congress to consider proposals for agriculture relief and tariff revisions. In light of these initiatives, the Philippine legislature sent a special mission to Washington to negotiate tariff revisions. Arriving in April 1929, the mission was led by Philippine house speaker Manuel Roxas and senator Sergio Osmeña and joined by newly elected Resident Commissioner Camilo Osias.32

The next hurdle Guevara and the mission faced came in the form of H.R. 2667, submitted by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Willis Hawley of Oregon. It called for a revision of the tariff schedules. The bill passed the House without many changes that affected the Philippines. But led by beet supporter Chairman Reed Smoot of Utah, the Senate Committee on Finance offered amendments sharply increasing the duty on sugar and other products from the Philippines. In contrast to Osias’s fiery testimony, Guevara submitted a prepared statement to the committee in June 1929, again requesting equal treatment between the United States and Philippines. He once more leveraged the economic conflict to request independence. Retained as a territory, Guevara noted, the matter amounted to interstate commerce. Passing the amendments, however, “would place the United States in the same position of Great Britain in her dealings with the thirteen American Colonies which brought about their separation from the mother country.”33 Smoot’s amendments gained little traction before the committee reported the bill in September 1929.

When the bill reached the Senate Floor, fresh amendments spurred a renewed campaign for independence. Louisiana Senator Edwin Broussard again sought to increase the sugar duty, but also offered a path to independence. Some Senators balked when the independence issue crept into the tariff debate. Both amendments failed, but this opened the door for Guevara and Osias to once again campaign for the release of the Philippines. Guevara addressed the House on December 7 and again on December 13, each time stressing the economic argument for an independent Philippines. Despite rising sentiment and support from Democratic Members, Republicans in both chambers stood firm against independence.34 The final act, popularly known as the Smoot–Hawley Tariff, became law in June 1930. It did not significantly affect Philippine exports, but neither did it feature the independence provisions Guevara and his colleagues had encouraged.35

Guevara carried forward his comparison of the islands to the American colonies as he continued his pleas for independence across the United States.36 In the summer of 1931, Quezon published a report postulating a 10-year trial period of autonomous government ending in a plebiscite. The report muddled the insular government’s official stance on independence. Quezon seemed to favor an American protectorate with only limited independence. The legislature instructed Guevara to continue to press for full independence and urged him weeks later to correct a Washington Post editorial which had presumed Moro opposition to independence.37 Guevara struggled to respond to this misinformation as Congress prepared to convene the 72nd Congress (1931–1933) in December 1931, and government leaders Osmeña and Roxas themselves traveled to Washington to make their case.

Despite the efforts of retentionists to portray the Philippines as deeply riven over the question of independence, supporters in Congress had grown plentiful enough by 1932 to advance a new bill for Philippine independence. Named for the chairman of the House Insular Affairs Committee, Butler Hare of South Carolina, the proposal, once approved by the insular legislature, would provide for an immediate constitutional convention followed by an eight-year schedule for independence. Speaker John Nance Garner of Texas rallied Democratic support and brought the bill to the floor under a suspension of the rules, limiting debate to 40 minutes.

During debate, Guevara proclaimed that this bill would “decide the fate of 13,000,000 people.” Describing prior legislative efforts as temporary fixes, Guevara deemed that the Hare measure embodied the “redemption of American pledges … and the fruition of our hopes for separate nationhood.” At the conclusion of Guevara’s unusually impassioned rhetoric, many Members rose in applause. With Guevara watching, the House approved the bill by a large majority, 306 to 47.38 The Hawes–Cutting bill, a competing Senate version of the Hare bill, led a conference committee to increase the window to independence to 10 years, but the final legislation was completed before the year was out.

Congress had passed the legislation over the stern objections of the Hoover administration, however, and President Hoover vetoed the bill on January 13, 1933. Wasting no time, the House overrode the veto that same day 274 to 94. After the vote, Guevara expressed “the gratitude of the Filipino people, which I say to both Republicans and Democrats for their altruistic stand on the … independence question.”39 The Senate followed suit on January 17 by a vote of 66 to 24, and the combined Hare–Hawes–Cutting Act became law.40

However, the Philippine legislature still had to approve the measure, and infighting there scuttled the bill. Guevara sided with his mentor Quezon, who feared a loss of influence, had the bill succeeded. After Quezon rallied the votes to reject the independence bill in the Philippine senate, Guevara accompanied him back to Washington to produce another independence bill.41

Throughout early 1934, Guevara and Osias occupied opposite sides of the Hare–Hawes–Cutting law debate. Whereas Osias publicly split from Quezon over rejecting the law in December 1933, Guevara lobbied for passage of another bill. In January 1934, Guevara submitted a concurrent resolution from the Philippine legislature rejecting the Hare–Hawes–Cutting Act. He expressed his “profound gratitude” for Congress’s actions, but his “patriotic duty” compelled Guevara to take another course. Acknowledging that “many of the Members of this House voted … in the belief that my stand was an expression of the will of the Filipino people whom I represent,” Guevara subordinated his preference for the Hare–Hawes–Cutting bill to “the majority of the Philippine Legislature,” who rejected it.42

Quezon found a favorable climate for a new independence bill in Washington, where the new Franklin D. Roosevelt administration was eager to be done with the issue. Negotiations resulted in the Tydings–McDuffie Act (H.R. 8573, S. 3055), which granted independence and removed military bases from the Philippines while providing authorization to negotiate for a future U.S. naval presence. Guevara endorsed the bill as “the epitome and synthesis of America’s aim and purpose in the Philippines” and further ensured that this attempt at independence would meet approval in the Philippine legislature.43 The bill quickly passed both the House and Senate, and President Roosevelt signed it into law on March 24, 1934.44

Guevara involved himself little in negotiations over Tydings–McDuffie, focusing instead on the preservation of the Philippine economy. Days after passage of Tydings–McDuffie, Guevara protested a clause in H.R. 9790 that raised the price of coconut oil to 3 cents per pound. He cautioned that the price increase could “dynamite” approval of the new independence bill because the tax would exacerbate the “economic sacrifices of the Filipino people, which are already … unbearable” and cripple the nation’s prominent coconut industry. Guevara pointed out the “inconsistency” of Congress to pass “a new organic law and, before the President’s signature to it is dry, penalize the recipient with additional burdens and oppressive inflictions.” Guevara sent letters to President Roosevelt as well as six prominent Senators and submitted a public statement voicing his objections. Representative John McDuffie of Alabama echoed Guevara’s concerns and suggested that the tax violated the spirit of the independence measure that bore his name. Under this onslaught, the tax bill wallowed in committee, and the Philippine legislature approved Tydings–McDuffie in May 1934.45

Guevara’s next economic hurdle was a direct consequence of the national bank emergency and the devaluation of the dollar. Representative McDuffie introduced H.R. 9459 and Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland introduced S. 3530 to settle the resultant devaluation profit in the Philippine currency reserves, enabling the U.S. Treasury to transfer the balance to the Philippine insular government. While advocating for the bill, Guevara noted how the devaluation hurt the Philippines’ ability to collect duty rates and obtain full returns on railroad bonds. In two cases, Guevara estimated the Philippines lost about $13 million. Guevara appealed to his colleagues’ sense of fair play in restoring the funds. In a practical sense, the restoration of the funds would “forestall economic complications and … prevent financial debilitation” in a nation on the verge of independence. The Tydings bill passed the Senate easily and, after a vigorous debate in the House, passed on a 188 to 147 vote. President Roosevelt signed it into law on June 19, 1934.46

As early as June 1934, Guevara showed signs that he had wearied of Filipino politics, feeling that he had been buffeted by insular divisions one time too many. Reports emerged about Guevara advocating for a protectorate for the Philippines, claiming that full independence would lead to disaster. His political patron Quezon dismissed the claims. Guevara had also applied to be a delegate at the 1934 Philippine constitutional convention. In light of the rumored statements, Quezon threatened to pull his support for Guevara’s candidacy.47 However, the threat did not hurt Guevara’s prospects, as he was selected to the constitutional convention in July 1934 and was re-elected as Resident Commissioner one month later.48 The constitutional convention worked from July 1934 to February 1935 on a draft which President Roosevelt approved in March. Following a plebiscite, the Philippines was established as a commonwealth in May 1935.49

During his last term in the 74th Congress (1935–1937), Guevara continued to focus on preserving the economy and the security of the Philippines. He lobbied the House to relax tariffs in the Jones–Costigan and Revenue Acts of 1934. Guevara also began openly advocating for a protectorate system rather than complete independence, fearing that Japan was a “real menace to Philippine independence.” He relayed open threats made by a Japanese diplomat in Manila before asking the House to consider amending H.R. 3482, a bill pledging the commitment of U.S. military forces to Latin American countries, to include the Philippines. Richard Welch of California reminded the House that Guevara “was in favor of absolute independence” during debate over the Tydings–McDuffie Act. “I have not changed my mind,” Guevara replied, but he stated that he wished for “independence for the Filipino people, but not for the benefit of some other nation” to swallow it up. Guevara held no faith in the ability of a neutralization treaty to protect his nation after Japan’s decision to ignore the Kellogg–Briand Pact and leave the League of Nations. When Welch continued to needle Guevara, the Resident Commissioner countered, “[I]f reversing my opinion … will mean security for the Philippine Islands I will not hesitate to reverse my stand or my opinion.” H.R. 3482 did not pass, but a companion Senate bill (S. 707) added the Philippines to the protection list and it became law.50

In August 1935, Guevara returned to Manila to vote in the presidential elections, and he brought his protectorate proposal with him. In accordance with these views, he rescinded his support of the Tydings–McDuffie Act. Nevertheless, he endorsed Manuel Quezon’s campaign for president of the Philippine Commonwealth. In a newspaper interview at his home, Guevara stated his preference for a protectorate in the presence of Quezon and two other public figures, General Emilio Aguinaldo and Bishop Gregorio Aglipay, who were running against Quezon. Guevara claimed to have spoken with a number of Members of Congress “and it is my opinion that a … majority would favor the extension of American protection to the islands.” The reporter noted that in private Quezon reacted with “tacit approval.”51 Soon afterward, though, he blasted Guevara’s proposal in a public statement.52

One week after Quezon won the presidency in a landslide, Guevara announced his retirement from politics effective on October 1, 1935, even though his term as Resident Commissioner did not officially expire until February 14, 1936.53 After leaving office, he started a private law practice in Manila. The Philippines Free Press complimented his “long and distinguished career in government, culminating in his many years as Resident Commissioner in Washington.”54 Besides law, Guevara pursued a number of business interests and continued to advocate for a Philippine protectorate as a private citizen.55

On January 19, 1938, Guevara suffered a fatal stroke while arguing a case before the Philippine supreme court and died in Manila. Calling him “one of the dearest friends I have ever had,” President Quezon credited Guevara as a “devoted and very able public servant” who “stood his ground regardless of whether or not it affected him adversely politically.” Guevara was interred in the Cementerio del Norte in Manila.56


1Guevara quotation from “Filipinos Hoping For Protectorate,” 8 November 1923, Christian Science Monitor: 2.

2Congressional Directory, 74th Cong., 1st sess., 2nd ed. (Washington, DC; Government Printing Office, 1935): 129; “Death Strikes Guevara in Act of Pleading Case Before Supreme Court,” 20 January 1938, Manila Tribune: 1; “Pedro Guevara, Jr,” 22 November 1947, Washington Post: B2. Pedro Guevara Jr., was born circa 1903. “Filipinos Elect an ‘Independent,’ ” 7 March 1923, Christian Science Monitor: 1.

3Congressional Directory, 74th Cong.: 129 ; “Death Strikes Guevara In Act of Pleading Case Before Supreme Court”; Bernardita Reyes Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934 (Manila, PI: National Historical Institute, 1983): 37–38, 428.

4Frank H. Golay, Face of Empire: United States-Philippine Relations, 1898–1946 (Quezon City, PI : Ateneo de Manila University Press, 1997): 242–244; Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 67; Pedro Guevara certificate of election, (endorsed 24 February), Committee on Elections (HR68-AJ2), 68th Congress, Records of the U.S. House of Representatives, Record Group 233, National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, DC; “Gabaldon, Guevara Re-elected,” 10 November 1925, Manila Times: 1; “Philippine Legislature Elects Commissioners,” 8 February 1929, Washington Post: 9; “To Represent Philippines Here,” 23 August 1934, Wall Street Journal: 5.

5Associated Press, “Manila Holds Huge Parade in Honor of New Agent to U.S.,” 12 August 1923, Chicago Tribune: 13.

6“Independence Haste Decried,” 12 September 1923, Los Angeles Times: 17; “Philippine Envoy Seeks Settlement,” 17 September 1923, New York Times: 19.

7“Filipinos Hoping for Protectorate,” 8 November 1923, Christian Science Monitor: 2.

8“Philippine Envoy Seeks Settlement.”

9Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 70–74.

10“Hart Defends Leonard Wood,” 9 November 1923, Boston Daily Globe: 24. See also “First Philippine Plea Is Given to President,” 16 December 1923, Washington Post: 14; Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 77.

11“Philippine Envoy Seeks Settlement.”

12Coolidge commented on the Philippines in his third, fourth, fifth, and sixth annual messages. See Gerhard Peters, “State of the Union Addresses and Messages,” in American Presidency Project, ed. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters,

13Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 91–92.

14Hearing before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possession, Philippine Independence, 68th Cong., 1st sess. (11, 16 February and 1, 3 March 1924); Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 89–90.

15Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 101–102. The amended bill removed the independence plebiscite and reduced the probationary period to 20 years. Commonwealth officials would support the Philippine constitution instead of the U.S. Constitution and no one with military experience would serve as U.S. commissioner. Regarding executive and legislative branch powers, the power to muster the armed forces would remain with the U.S. President; the U.S. Supreme Court also would have jurisdiction over the Philippines.

16Congressional Record, House, 68th Cong., 2nd sess. (16 December 1924): 698.

17Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 99–105.

18Ibid., 122–124; “ ‘Isles of Fear’ to Present Truth About Philippines,” 28 November 1924, Washington Post: 10. The articles were compiled into a single volume, Katherine Mayo, The Isles of Fear: The Truth About the Philippines (New York : Harcourt, Brace, and Company: 1925). For biographical information about Mayo, see “Katherine Mayo, Writer, Is Dead,” 10 October 1940, New York Times: 25. For the Post’s supportive editorials, see “Conditions in the Philippines,” 7 December 1924, Washington Post: EF1; “Vetoing Seditious Propaganda,” 11 December 1924, Washington Post: 6; and “The Philippines As They Are,” 24 January 1925, Washington Post: 6.

19Congressional Record, House, 68th Cong., 2nd sess. (3 March 1925): 5348–5350, quotation on p. 5349. Gabaldon’s remarks about the Mayo articles are in Congressional Record, House, 68th Cong., 2nd sess. (3 January 1925): 1167–1173.

20Congressional Record, House, 69th Cong., 1st sess. (6 May 1926): 8831.

21Bonifacio S. Salamanca, The Filipino Reaction to American Rule, 1901–1913 (Hamden, CT: Shoe String Press, 1968): 113–117, 256n107.

22Golay, Face of Empire: 266–267.

23Congressional Record, House, 69th Cong., 1st sess. (26 June 1926): 12063–12066; Congressional Record, Index, 69th Cong., 1st sess.: 810.

24Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 181, 184–185; “Coolidge to Receive Filipino Legislators,” 22 September 1927, Washington Post: 1; “Stimson Named for Governor of Philippines,” 13 December 1927, Christian Science Monitor: 1; “Senate Confirms Morrow as Envoy,” 18 December 1927, New York Times: 23; Larry G. Gerber, “Stimson, Henry Lewis,” American National Biography 20 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1999): 787–790; Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (21 December 1927): 916–917.

25Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 185–187.

26Hearing before the House Committee on Insular Affairs, Employment of Certain Civilian Assistants in the Office of the Governor General of the Philippine Islands, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (31 January 1928): 7, 19–20. Gabaldon described Guevara’s condition in Hearing before the Senate Committee on Territories and Insular Possessions, Appointment of Governors of the Non-Christian Provinces in the Philippine Islands, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (1 February 1928): 2; Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 187.

27Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 185–189; Congressional Record, Index, 70th Cong., 1st sess.: 531, 539, 706, 731.

28Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (22 March 1928): 5212.

29Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 188–189; Congressional Record, Index, 70th Cong., 1st sess.: 736.

30Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 189–190; “To Work For Philippines,” 6 April 1928, New York Times: 4. The 1924 and 1928 platforms are similar. See George Thomas Kurian, ed., The Encyclopedia of the Democratic Party, vol. 3 (Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, Inc., 1997): 520–521, 531.

31Hearings before the House Committee on Ways and Means, Tariff Readjustment–1929: Vol. V, Schedule 5, Sugar, Molasses, and Manufactures of, 70th Cong., 2nd sess. (21–22 January 1929): 3288–3292. Guinn Williams of Texas made a similar statement on Guevara’s behalf, see Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 2nd sess. (24 January 1929): 2194–2197.

32Herbert Hoover, “Proclamation 1870—Requesting an Extra Session of Congress on Agricultural Relief and Tariff Changes,” 7 March 1929, in American Presidency Project, ed. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters, (accessed 12 February 2016); Churchill, The Philippine Independence Missions to the United States, 1919–1934: 198–201, 204–206.

33“Urges Wide Powers in Flexible Tariff,” 17 July 1929, New York Times: 11.

34“Haitian Policy of U.S. Praised and Condemned,” 14 December 1929, Chicago Daily Tribune: 10; Congressional Record, House, 70th Cong., 1st sess. (7, 13 December 1929): 261–262, 618–630; Golay, Face of Empire: 281–282.

35Hearings before the Senate Committee on Finance, Tariff Act of 1929 : Vol. XVII, Special and Administrative Provisions, 71st Cong., 1st sess. (12–13 June and 15–18 July, 1929): 260–262; Golay, Face of Empire: 278–282. Smoot–Hawley became law as Public Law 71-361, 46 Stat. 590 (1930).

36“Filipino Pleads for Freedom at Politics Parley,” 1 July 1930, Christian Science Monitor: 5; “Guevara Makes Plea for Filipino Freedom,” 28 October 1930, New York Times: 52; “Reasserts Filipino Stand,” 23 May 1931, New York Times: 8.

37Golay, Face of Empire: 296–298; Pedro Guevara, “Moros Declared to Favor Philippine Independence,” 20 September 1931, Washington Post: M7.

38“House Votes to Free Philippines in 1940; Stimson Is Opposed,” 5 April 1932, New York Times: 1; Congressional Record, House, 72nd Cong., 1st sess. (4 April 1932): 7401–7412, Guevara quotation on p. 7410.

39Congressional Record, House, 72nd Cong., 2nd sess. (13 January 1933): 1769.

40Theodore Friend, Between Two Empires: The Ordeal of the Philippines, 1929–1946 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1965): 106–108; “Hail Defeat of Veto: Filipino Commissioners Call Independence Grant Unprecedented,” 18 January 1933, New York Times: 2.

41Friend, Between Two Empires: 129–130.

42Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (4 January 1934): 128–129.

43Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (19 March 1934): 4836.

44President Roosevelt’s special message was reprinted in Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (2 March 1934): 3580–3581; Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (19 March 1934): 4225, 4831, 4842; Congressional Record, Senate, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (20 March 1934): 4921, 5164; Public Law 73-127, 48 Stat. 456 (1934); Golay, Face of Empire: 320–327.

45“Calls Oil Tax Move Blow at Philippines,” 3 April 1934, New York Times: 2; “Filipino Says Tax on Oil Is Ruinous,” 2 May 1934, New York Times: 8; Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (29 May 1934): 9864–9868; Congressional Record, Index, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess.: 613; Golay, Face of Empire: 327–328. Guevara also testified against the passage of H.R. 7835. See Hearings before the Senate Finance Committee, Revenue Act of 1934, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (12–15 March 1934): 389–394.

46Guevara’s appeal is in Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (11 June 1934): 11079–11080; Congressional Record, Senate, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (13 June 1934): 11273; Congressional Record, House, 73rd Cong., 2nd sess. (14 June 1934): 11351–11546; Golay, Face of Empire: 329–330; Philippine Currency Act, Public Law 73-419, 48 Stat. 1115 (1934). Per Golay, the devaluation profit is the dollar value increase of gold equivalent to the currency reserves on deposit in the U.S. when the convertibility of the dollar was suspended.

47“Guevara Statement Stirs Manila Storm,” 19 June 1934, New York Times: 8; James G. Wingo, “Guevara Still in the Fight,” 7 July 1934, Philippines Free Press: 9.

48“Philippine Elections,” 12 July 1934, Wall Street Journal: 4 ; “Solons Select New P.I. Envoys to Washington,” 21 August 1934, Philippines Herald: 1, 2.

49H. W. Brands, Bound to Empire: The United States and the Philippines (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992): 160–161.

50Congressional Record, House, 74th Cong., 1st sess. (21 January 1935): 716–717; Congressional Record, Index, 74th Cong., 1st sess.: 633, 770. The bill became law as Public Law 74-56, 49 Stat. 218 (1935).

51Vicente Albano Pacis, “A Philippine Protectorate?,” 1 October 1935, Washington Post: 9.

52“Quezon is Opposed to U.S. Protectorate,” 24 August 1935, New York Times: 7.

53Guevara did not submit a formal letter of resignation. The terms of the Tydings–McDuffie Act limited the Philippines to one Resident Commissioner with the inauguration of the Commonwealth. With Quezon elected and prepared to appoint a new commissioner, and with the House of Representatives on recess until January 1936, Guevara saw no official reason to return to the United States.

54“Guevara Will Retire From Political Life,” 25 September 1935, Philippines Herald: 1; “Guevara is Opening Manila Law Office,” 26 September 1935, Philippines Herald: 1; “Guevara’s Protectorate Stand,” 5 October 1935, Philippines Free Press: 28. President Quezon appointed Quintin Paredes to serve as Resident Commissioner on February 14, 1936. See also “Quintin Paredes,” Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-Present,

55Vicente Albano Pacis, “The New Philippines,” 14 December 1935, Washington Post: 9; “Filipino Urges U.S. Pact,” 16 February 1936, New York Times: 26; “Guevara Heads Mining Firm,” 24 January 1937, Tribune (Manila, PI): 10.

56“Death Strikes Guevara in Act of Pleading Case Before Supreme Court.”

View Record in the Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

[ Top ]

Bibliography / Further Reading

"Pedro Guevara" in Asian and Pacific Islander Americans in Congress, 1900-2017. Prepared under the direction of the Committee on House Administration by the Office of the Historian and the Office of the Clerk, U.S. House of Representatives. Washington: Government Publishing Office, 2018.

[ Top ]