THE three Balangiga bells, recently returned to the Philippines by the United States after more than a century, finally arrived in their hometown in Eastern Samar on Friday, December 14.
The Philippine Air Force’s C-130 that carried the bells landed at the Guiuan airport around 10:40 a.m.
The bells were taken as war trophies by American soldiers after the Balangiga encounter in September 1901 that happened after Filipinos attacked the 9th Infantry Regiment of the US for abusing Filipino women in Balangiga. At least 48 American soldiers were killed, while 12 others were hurt in the incident.
In retaliation, following the orders of their commanders, American soldiers killed all male persons in the town age 10 and above. They also burned the entire Balangiga town, including the church where they took the bells.
The bells were returned back to the Philippines on December 11 over a year after President Rodrigo Duterte urged the US government to return them, as they are part of country’s heritage.
The bells, after the turnover on December 11, were placed and made available for public viewing in a museum at the Villamor Air Base.
They are set to be handed over to the church officials of Balangiga town on Saturday, December 15. Duterte is expected to grace the event.
Earlier, the bishop and clergy of the Diocese of Borongan, which has jurisdiction over Balangiga, Eastern Samar, said the bells should be placed in their original location at the Church of the San Lorenzo de Martir in Balangiga and not in the National Museum as proposed by some senators and historians.
"The Balangiga bells are sacramentals, that is, they are also sacred artifacts that call the faithful to prayer and worship. But they especially call them to the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, the highest form of prayer and worship for Catholics," the diocese said in a statement. (SunStar Philippines)