Editor’s Cut – Return of the Balangiga Bells

Under the heat of the sun or torrential rain, Balangigan-ons welcomed the arrival of the three Balangiga bells with ecstatic cheers, overjoyed by the homecoming of these national treasures which were taken from them 117 years ago.

On 15 December 2018, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, raising his clenched fist in the air, rang one of the three Balangiga bells as he served witness to the official handover of its Transfer Certificate from U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Law to Department of National Defense (DND) Secretary Delfin Lorenzana of the Philippines in a ceremony at the Balangiga Auditorium in Eastern Samar. He attributed the return of the bells to the fervent prayers of the Filipino nation.

“The homecoming of these artifacts is truly a milestone in the shared and meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines, and heralds a new and more vibrant chapter in our bilateral relations,” the President said in his speech before the Balangigan-ons, national and local government officials, clergy and parishioners, U.S. military veterans and officials, among others.

These Balangiga bells were taken by the American troops as ‘war booties’ after the encounter on September 28, 1901. For more than a century, the two bells were kept at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base at Cheyenne, Wyoming in the U.S.A., while the smallest bell was at the regimental museum of Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu, South Korea.

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