Remembering the Centennial of the Jones Law that Paved the Way for Philippine Independence
WASHINGTON, DC – On August 30, 2016, the US-Philippines Society in cooperation with the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, DC, recreated a special evening from a hundred years ago that celebrated the passage of the Philippine Autonomy Act of 1916. The Act, commonly referred to as the “Jones Law” after Congressman William A. Jones of Virginia who authored it, provided the framework for an autonomous Philippines in preparation for a grant of independence by the United States.
In his remarks at the centennial dinner, Hon. Patrick A. Chuasoto, Chargé d’Affaires, a.i. of the Philippine Embassy, said that “many of the institutions and democratic processes and exercises of the present day Philippines can be traced back and reckoned from the milestone that was the Jones Law. Adapted to suit Philippine culture, temperaments and even sometimes specific personalities, these modern day institutions, processes and exercises nonetheless remain faithful to the enduring tenets and principles of the Jones Law.”
Professor Erwin R. Tiongson of Georgetown University and Teresa G. Carandang-Tiongson, founders of Philippines on the Potomac, came up with the idea of recreating the dinner that celebrated the passage of this law. They first learned of it from Felice Sta. Maria’s book, “The Governor-General’s Kitchen.” Their research led to many interesting discoveries of the people behind it and the times, including insight to the work of Congressman Jones, who devoted the last 20 years of his life in pursuit of securing independence for the Philippines, as well as the banquet itself, which also served as a farewell for Manuel L. Quezon, then Resident Commissioner, who worked tirelessly to secure this historic legislation. Luis Florendo recreated the dinner inspired by the dishes in the original menu served at what was then the New Willard Hotel.
Ms. Elizabeth Hart Jones, great-granddaughter of Congressman Jones attended the dinner with family members and expressed her heartfelt thanks for the honor bestowed to Congressman Jones. “He believed passionately in the right of a people to self-govern, and felt it was our duty as Americans to exercise our principles and strengthen our own democratic republic by fanning the flames of freedom wherever a spark was ignited,” Ms. Jones said in her remarks.
Deputy Assistant Secretary W. Patrick Murphy of the State Department praised Congressman Jones’ efforts to fight for securing independence for Philippines, a radical idea and a noble deed at a time when other countries were set in holding on to their colonies. As for the dinner, he lightheartedly noted that female guests are now included in the table rather than in an “upper gallery” as it was a hundred years ago.
Ambassador Maisto, President of the US-Philippines Society, expressed his gratitude for a wonderful evening celebrating the friendship between the United States and the Philippines. He remarked, “we have come a long way, and the Society continues to support efforts to strengthen this longstanding and mature relationship between our two countries.”
1916 photos of banquet and original menu courtesy of Philippines on the Potomac
Anniversary Dinner photos courtesy of the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington, D.C.