United States decides to return 'Balangiga Bells' to PH

United States decides to return 'Balangiga Bells' to PH

Almost a year has passed when President Rodrigo Roa Duterte made the call during his second State of the Nation Address for the return of the ‘Balangiga Bells’ back to the Philippines.


"Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage."


"Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit 'yun sa amin (Please give them back. It's painful for us)," the President Duterte added.

More than 116 years aftere they were taken the Balangiga Bells is finally going home in the Philippines (Photo credit to owner)

“Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process. Krag against bolo. Krag was the standard rifle issued to the American troops,” Duterte said. 


And the prayers of the president has been answered.


Over the weekend the United States Embassy here in Manila announced that the US Department of Defense Secretary James Mattis already decided the transfer of the Balangiga Bells back to the Philippines.


"Secretary of Defense (James) Mattis has notified Congress that the Department intends to return the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines," Trude Raizen, deputy press attache of the embassy, told the Philippine News Agency.


The authority of the Defense Secretary to decide on the bell’s transfer comes from the US National Defense Authorization Act of 2018.


No specific date is set, but the US will assure that the bells return will now be processed.


"We've received assurances that the Bells will be returned to the Catholic Church and treated with the respect and honor they deserve," Raizen said.


"We are aware that the Bells of Balangiga have deep significance for a number of people, both in the United States and in the Philippines," she added.


Americans worst defeat against the Filipinos


History tells us that it was on the morning of September 28, 1901 where the Filipino freedom fighters dealt the Americans their worst defeat in the Philippine-American war, a surprised attack against the American troops (Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment) while having breakfast, killing 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit.


In retaliation, General Jacob H Smith ordered his men to turn Samar into a “howling wilderness”, that any Filipino male above ten (10) years old capable of bearing arms will be killed. The American  destroyed the town of Balangiga and killed thousands of Filipino soldiers and civilians.  The soldiers stole the three (3) church bells from the town church as “war booty”, it was believed that one of the bells was rang to signal the surprise attack against them.


One of the three bells has been displayed at the 9th Infantry Regiment in Camp Cloud in South Korea, while the other two have been at the former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at the FE Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.



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