Harry Stonehill was responsible for the industrialisation of the Philippines after the 2nd world war with a business empire built around the production of low cost housing & amenities for the poor, including glass, steel, cement & cotton.
Known in the Philippines as 'the G.I. whose brass turned to gold', he defended them against the Japanese as a US soldier and stayed on for 20 years to become the most powerful man in the country, dedicated to improving the lives of millions of Filipinos, before suffering complete betrayal at the hands of the US government and was ultimately deported from his home, never permitted to return and chased around the world, prevented from establishing any further successful businesses until his death in 2002.
Why have you not already heard of him?
His REAL story has not yet been publicly released to the world. To say that it is a little controversial is an understatement.
A biography was written by Lewis E. Gleeck, a dedicated US citizen who only scratched at the surface of what I know to be the truth. But even Gleeck acknowledges that 'Harry was a wronged man' and that 'Stonehill did important and valuable things for the Philippines which deserve recognition.'
Many other historical books of the time mention him briefly, but there remains only one dedicated publication on his long and event filled life which took him from rags to riches... and back to rags.
He was born in Chicago to a Polish Jewish family who had moved to America in the wake of the growing anti-semitism in their own country.
Here you can see him standing on the right with his family in 1932.
In the picture below you can see a blonde baby me with my father in 1979.
I grew up idolising him despite the fact we never lived in the same country. He would visit us once a year and sometimes we would travel the world together on holiday. My interactions with him were always brief and consequently very special.
Here you can see me with my mother and father in 1992.
Born in London, I spent my childhood with my mother and two younger sisters while he fought a 30 year court case against the US government in the Supreme courts in Washington DC.
He was accused of tax evasion and corruption of the highest level in the US and in the Philippines the media machine took this even further by suggesting that he was involved in organised prostitution, drugs and gun running.
They ensured he could never return without fear of assassination or kidnap & ransom. This perception of our family is still held by some of the Philippine elders and my father consequently advised me to never go there.
The case continued on after his death and was only recently concluded, leaving our family nothing of the millions he earned in the Philippines, forever branding him as a criminal.
Leaving one rather important unanswered question...
WHO GOT STONEHILL'S ASSETS?
Asia style business
One only had to meet him to know that that these accusations could not possibly be true.
He was a particularly loving individual who adopted the business methods of the time and place which involved 'under the table' payments to officials, ensuring smooth and long lasting relationships.
Now that I live in Indonesia I can tell you that nothing has changed in Asia. MONEY TALKS louder than anything else here.
Why did the US blackmail the Philippine government to deport him?
To put it in one word... TOBACCO.
He was the owner of 17 corporations and tobacco turned out to be the most successful. As the first man to grow tobacco in the Philippines he cut off the supply of US tobacco to a poor country whose main agricultural product at the time was rice.
The US approached him in the early 1960s indicating that he would have to help them elect Ferdinand Marcos as president if he wished to continue doing business. He told them in no uncertain terms to 'GO TO HELL!' and this was the beginning of the end for him.
Marcos was selected by the US because he was more likely to bend to their wishes than the president at the time, Diosdado Macapagal who was firmly loyal to his country and to Stonehill.
Mainhart Spielman: undercover agent
A man of Jewish roots was employed by the US as a spy and sent to find suitable evidence with which they could blackmail Macapagal to ensure Harry's deportation. He didn't see what was happening at the time and feeling the Jewish connection, he gave Spielman a job in one of his many companies.
A chance to change everything
Upon discovering the required evidence, Spielman approached Stonehill with the truth, giving him an opportunity to buy his way out of the situation. And what he asked for was no small figure.
My father told me this part of the story very clearly and I do believe what happened next is a great reflection of who he really was. Consumed by rage he took Spielman to the top floor of one of his office buildings where he held him at the edge intending to kill him... but could not.
Instead he refused to pay the enormous bribe and let him free. Ironically, once Spielman had delivered the evidence to the US, he was killed shortly afterwards. Two local Philippine men were convicted of the crime but it was clear that Spielman was no longer needed and to safeguard their lie, the US had him murdered.
The infamous 'Blue Book'
The evidence came in the form of a small notebook which contained the names, dates and amounts paid to various high up political figures. My father described these payments as an essential process in 'greasing the wheels' of his empire but what they represented to the Western world was simple corruption and this was enough to put Macapagal under enormous pressure to do as he was told and deport Harry once and for all, confiscating all his businesses and assets.
Here you can see Justice Secretary Jose “Pepe” Diokno, making the first public announcement relating to the Stonehill controversy which rocked the country to its core.
Macapagal was forced to respond immediately before the internal investigation could be mounted, firing Diokno and deporting Stonehill.
In 1965 they were able to achieve their goal and Marcos was elected president, leading to the economic downfall of the country.
He ruled as a dictator under martial law from 1972 until 1981.
How has my father's life influenced mine?
I am very different to him but there is no question that I have been influenced by his story.
He taught me from a very young age that governments were not to be trusted.
And through my own observations of him I was able to see the poisonous effect of having lots of money.
He longed to have it all back and would constantly reminisce about the good times of old.
As a child it is hard to understand why a person cannot be happy with what they have NOW. And seeing his growing desperation I became increasingly aware that his desire for this stuff called money was slowly killing him.
I wrote my first manifesto (in the back of a maths book) at the age of 10. And in this manifesto I declared that I would be starting a new world in which money did not exist. I selected a region of the Amazon rainforest where I would begin my new world and made detailed plans for how our society would function on love, generosity and abundance.
Interestingly not much has changed! Only now I am not so stuck on the final destination.
My intention to tell his story here on Steemit
My name is Samuel Stonehill, the youngest son of Harry Stonehill and today I have a dream:
To tell his story via a medium which cannot be deleted, censored or adjusted to fit the ulterior motives of ANY government.
And here on Steemit, for the first time in history, this is possible.
I would like to extend a question to any Filipinos reading this who still remember his time there.
My family and I are intent on visiting the Philippines to witness for ourselves the legacy he left behind. I refuse to live in fear of what might happen and firmly intend to break his dying wish for me to never visit the country.
So my question to you is this: Do you believe it is safe now for us to visit?
Further to this I would be very interested to hear the opinion of any residents who experienced this most interesting period in Philippine history.
Harry Stonehill 1917 - 2002
The following words were written by Harry as the preface to his unpublished autobiography:
"Ever since my parents brain washed me into believing America was a magnificent nation, completely altruistic and sincerely devoted to helping under privileged peoples, even to its own detriment, I had believed it with all my heart until I saw what they could do to one of its citizens if that person did not bend to its powerful bureaucracy or political dictates.
In relating the sincerity of myself towards the self improvement of this impoverished, under developed Philippines and then finding I was fighting a group in Washington dedicated only to American self interests shocked me and destroyed my naive desires.
This is a story about the good guys and the bad guys. Generally the good guys win the battles against the evils of the world and the bad guys end up paying for the consequences of their actions in many different ways.
I am of the opinion a great injustice has been done and I believe in this instance, the good guys have committed continuous criminal acts in collaboration with the U.S. Federal Judiciary, the U.S. State Department, FBI, CIA and Department of Justice. And in doing so have reversed their roles with the bad guys."