Most remarkably the person Jack should’ve mistrusted the most, Dr. Ramos, a self-styled socialist, was the person who took charge of his education. His mentor’s connection with the Huks didn’t bother the young man, but in no way was the American a revolutionary. Instead of politics, it was the professor’s intellect that attracted him. From philosophy to Catholicism, chiefly, perhaps how he connected divergent ideologies such as Christianity and Marxism, just as Jack would later struggle with his own sentiments (first his genuine love for country and second his love for action), Dr. Ramos also created his own reality.
Witness Jack’s willingness to do classified work, first in the Philippines and later in Laos and Cambodia. Having vowed to never return home except for short visits, he found himself embroiled in contradictions, such as a love/hate relationship with his country, which would demand his total commitment. Then came the marriage he couldn’t avoid; the death of his wife, and the daughter he then had to raise. Somehow he also got into hiring gangsters, rabble-rousers, demagogues, and politicians. His counter-subversive activities seemed justified in light of the fight for democracy and freedom. All of his road mending and fence-building earned him a great deal of gratitude from a succession of administrations.
His family ultimately became proud of him, though he couldn’t acknowledge what he did. They wouldn’t know for years what he did for freedom and democracy. One can’t honestly tell this story without remembering the ruthlessness of the opponent, often cruel, as class hatred spread through their ranks.
Unimpeachable patriotism wouldn’t come to Jack automatically. In 1950, such a turn around seemed unlikely. Back then his sympathies placed him somewhere politically in the middle. There wasn’t a satisfactory explanation for why he took the risks.
Jack soon became Dr. Ramos’ son-in-law. For sure he hadn’t anticipated it. He didn’t realize how quickly he could get in over his head or how much was assumed when he and Anna started touring Manila alone. Jack didn’t know anything about Filipino customs, nothing about Filipinos mores, or anything about his own puzzling feelings. Unsuspectingly he walked into a well-laid trap.
Thus Anna couldn’t resist his charms. She misinterpreted his smiles. Jack’s feelings, on the other hand, never equaled her romantic intensity. Holding hands to her meant one thing and to him something else entirely. Nor did he ever suspect that in the public eye he had her father’s permission to marry her or that they were already sleeping together. Great Scott, Jack, with his sex drive, didn’t stand a change, while she waited for him to become poetic and romantic, the accepted preliminaries of courtship. At the same time Jack congratulated himself, she interpreted his friendliness as a case of true love.
He thought she expected him to make love to her, but never thought of marriage. Instead, he took pride in his sexual prowess. Her constant attention and her response to his touching were definitely flattering. Then he and Dr. Ramos had their talk. With plenty of camaraderie, he found himself engaged; all because of Anna’s condition, which Jack admitted was entirely his fault.
A marriage hastily was arraigned. Because of his sense of integrity, and whether than shame her and her family, Jack married Anna. Anna, so beautiful and with attributes that were so fine, perished before Jack fully appreciated her.
On March 29, 1950 (their eight anniversary), the Huks created havoc by launching simultaneous raids on two towns and fifteen barrios. A hundred of them swooped down on San Pablo City, killed an army officer, looted stores, and raised the hammer and sickle. On the same day, Manila was strewn with propaganda leaflets describing the collapse of the economy. Free trade had caused a massive federal deficit; that and a lack of economic development had led to a deteriorating economic situation.
With his father-in-law’s approval, Jack went to Central Luzon, with no other credentials than his marriage to his daughter. He wanted to see first hand the situation there. Officials of the Civil Affairs Office, whom he approached, warned him that they couldn’t guarantee his safety and at first advised him not to go. F rom the beginning it was clear that he was willing to take great risks, which as far as his future was concern, was very significant.
Upon his return to Manila, Jack agreed to report back to the Civil Affairs Office. From that moment on, he was on the embassy’s payroll.
There were significant omissions on the official printed list of U.S. Government activities in the Philippines. Some things only the Ambassador and one or two officers from the Political Section knew. Jack first met an attaché in a small corner office on the second floor of the embassy. They first engaged in small talk over glasses half-filled with native rum. But to someone as anxious as Jack, the small talk seemed unnecessary.
However, the small talk was useful to the attaché, who claimed Cleveland Ohio as his home. He explained how his hometown became a great capitalist center, how it was home to a lot of working men and women, and how the Russians adored it. The Terminal Tower in Cleveland, with its spire of neo-Gothic design and fifty-two stories, reminded Russians of the skyscraper tower of Moscow University. Had the Communist party not held its convention there in 1934 Cleveland wouldn’t have attracted so much attention in Moscow. The attaché went on to explain how the overthrow of the free enterprise system by the Russians was on par with the evils ascribed to the Huks. “But look at civilized Russia, a so-called democracy represented by the dictator Stalin. Take the average worker over there. Do you honestly think they can afford a washing machine?”
In his puffed-up way, the attaché slouched in his chair. With a red face from drinking too much, he reminded Jack of a peasant, as in a Ukrainian peasant “forced to sow the fields with the aid of hoes and baskets made of bast.” He resembled one more than an attaché attached to the U.S. Embassy. He sat there rough-hewn, formidable, calculating, or the same as a member of the Moscow gorkan and obkon and enjoyed his position as much as having in his possession a winning lottery ticket.
Beating around the bush would’ve been more appropriate at some other time. They spent more time discussing the fate of the Cleveland Indians and how the Browns were going to win the NFL than talking about business. This didn’t bold well for Jack. It became pretty clear that he would have to act pretty much as a lone wolf.
Everything said then would soon be overshadowed by events. Jack was clearly culpable. He didn’t walk along the waterfront, along the boulevard passed the peddlers selling various wares, and through the huge iron gates onto the grounds of the embassy with his head down. He walked deliberately. Never brand him in the same way he branded himself. Sensitive to where he was, how did he get there? But without warning Jack might’ve jumped over to the other side. Then why did he choose to risk everything?