US to return Balangiga Bells to the Philippines after a century


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MANILA, Philippines – The historic bells of Balangiga are now set to return to its rightful home in Samar as confirmed by US embassy in Manila on Saturday.
US confirms return of Balangiga Bells to PH after a century

US confirms return of Balangiga Bells to PH after a century
The two Balangiga Bells | Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia/Public Domain

The three bells were taken as war trophies by the US soldiers back in 1901. When President Rodrigo Duterte took to office, one of the administration's constant demands to United States was the return of the Balangiga Bells.

Trude Raizen, the US embassy’s deputy press attaché, confirmed that Defense Secretary James Mattis already notified the US Congress of their intention to return the historic bells. In a statement, Raizen said, “We’ve received assurances that the bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honor they deserve.”

The possible return of the Balangiga Bells is seen as a historic “healing” for the wounds made during the Philippine-American war.

Father Serafin Tybaco Jr., parish priest of Balangiga Church was overwhelmed with the good news and admitted that he had shared the update to his parishioners already. Fr. Tybaco said, “We are hoping that sooner or later we can discuss the preparations so that the parish can participate. I am very happy and I shared the news right away with our parishioners.”

Up to this day, the church's bell towers are still kept empty to symbolize the city's longing for the Balangiga Bells’ return. Balangiga Mayor Randy Graza is also excited for the Bells’ return. He said, “The return of the bells is very important to us. I am very sure that this will be a big celebration if this happens.”

The Balangiga Massacre

US confirms return of Balangiga Bells to PH after a century
Survivors of the Balangiga Massacre posed next to the Bells which they considered as a war trophy | Photo Courtesy: Wikipedia/Public Domain

Back in September 1901, while some US military men were having breakfast, the bells of a village in Balangiga rung. It was a signal of an attack by a group of Filipino militants to Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment. The ambush resulted to the death of 48 US soldiers, including their commander.

In retaliation, General Jacob H. Smith ordered, “any Filipino male above ten years of age capable of bearing arms be shot.” They then burned down the Catholic town church and looted the three bells which they took back to the US.

— Sally, The Summit Express


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