January 30, 1956: President Ramon Magsaysay gestures at a nineteenth century painting by Félix Resurrección Hidalgo, while Cambodian Prime Minister Norodom Sihanouk looks on. Though we can only surmise how their conversation might have played out, perhaps the clue lies in the art.
This painting, known as Governor Dasmariñas, was the favorite of President Manuel L. Quezon. It once hung prominently at the back of the grand staircase of the Palace such that if you were to descend them, this would be the last image you would see. Below is an excerpt of the diary of Francis Burton Harrison, recalling a conversation that he and President Quezon had shared over lunch:
January 16, 1936: His favourite is the picture of Dasmariñas (the Governor General in 1592) when being persuaded by the head of the Dominican Order to lead Filipino troops to assist the King of Cambodia (an expedition in which Dasmariñas lost his life). This was painted by the Filipino artist Hidalgo (in Paris?).
It’s entirely possible Magsaysay and Sihanouk discussed how the friars convinced Dasmarinas to launch expeditions against Cambodia.