CHEYENNE, Wyo. — For more than a century, the “Bells of Balangiga” have hung at F.E. Warren Air Force Base after being taken by American soldiers during the Philippine-American War in 1901.
Soon, however, as announced by U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, they’ll make their way back to the Philippines.
“It means a lot for many Filipinos,” Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez said. “Filipinos are the type of people that when somebody does something for you, they never forget it.”
Romualdez said before the bells are shipped to the Philippines, they’ll be refurbished at a facility in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“And then they will be shipped to Korea,” he said, “where the other bell is right now, in an air base in Korea, a U.S. air base.”
From there, the three bells will be shipped together to the Philippines.
“Hopefully, before the end of the year, maybe early December, we’ll have all those three bells back in the Philippines,” Romualdez said.
According to the ambassador, there’s still no word as to whether subsequent ceremonies will ring in the bells’ arrival.
“It’s just a simple arrival,” he said. “I think our secretary of national defense will receive the bells officially in the Philippines, and then they will bring this, hopefully, as soon as possible, to Samar in Balangiga, where the people of Balangiga are actually waiting for these bells.”
Romualdez anticipates that the bells will bring tourists to Eastern Samar.
“One of the things that will happen is it will be a tourist attraction because of so much publicity that came out of these bells,” he said.
But for now, the bells will continue to hang in their brick memorial, waiting for a homecoming more than 100 years in the making.