Flashback 1956: Letter of James Martin Welborn

Nonfiction by | January 18, 2009

(Excerpt from a letter of James Martin Welborn, an American soldier in the Philippine-American War who turned planter in Davao in the first decade of the 1900s.)

October 14, 1956

Dear Son,

I notice in the F. P. (Philippine Free Press) that there is a lot of graft around Manila; does the same condition apply around Davao?

It seems that all the world has gone crooked. We have it in this country almost as bad as there with you. The older Philipino was trained in it by the Spaniards and many have improved on their methods.

When I was there the aim of most of the young men was to get an education so they could live without work, not for the betterment of their country or countrymen.

Is there still the feeling of dislike between the Tagalogs and the Visayans like when I was there? The Tagalogs thought they were the superior people of the islands although there were many more Visayans than Tagalogs.

I found the Visayan much more reliable than the man from Manila. If they liked you they were very loyal and would stay with you but I could trust the Tagalog farther than I could see him. I hope this is all changed and that they are united as one people by this time. It is a wonderful country and all it needs is good government and hard work to make it paradise on earth.

Best wishes, love to all.

Your father,

James Welborn

(This letter was addressed to his son, also named James, who was left behind in Magnaga, Pantukan (now in Compostela Valley) when Welborn returned to the States. Original letter in the possession of Rosendo Welborn, a grandson. Permission to use it was granted to Macario D. Tiu for his research on Davao history.)

2 thoughts on “Flashback 1956: Letter of James Martin Welborn”

  1. Thank you for sharing this letter. It is the first time I have seen it as I accidentally came across this during my down time. I am the sender of this letter’s great-grandson and am about to soon transition into the US Navy Fleet Reserve.

    It is amazing to note about how the sign of the times were back when he last saw the country (and the time when he wrote the letter in 1956) still has the same similarities of today.

  2. curious if the James Welborn here is the same JW from Mississippi who in the very early 1900s was the U.S. agricultural rep to the PI? and his brother Ira was stationed there at the same time too with the U.S. Army?

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