Bells of Balangiga return to the Philippines

Filipinos at home and abroad have been waiting for developments on the church bells taken as war trophies by U.S. forces more than a century ago in the Philippines.

After lobbying for their return for decades, the Bells of Balangiga are finally back home in the Philippines.

The Bells of Balangiga landed in a military cargo plane at a Manila Airbase ahead of their return to a church in Samar — where US forces in 1901 massacred hundred, possibly thousands of Filipinos to avenge an ambush that killed 48 of their comrades.

The US ambassador to the Philippines led the turnover as the symbolic gesture finally closes a chapter in history.

“May they ring in peace and bear testament to the ties and values which bind our two great nations for generations to come,” said Ambassador Sung Kim.

“These bells came to symbolize something precious and important for both sides. They symbolize the courage and patriotism of the soldiers, whose acts we would like to perpetuate with these bells. And now they are home. They’re going back to where they belong. It’s time for healing. It is time for closure. It is time to look ahead as two nations should with shared histories as allies,” said Delfin Lorenzana.

Two of the bells had been on display at the Warren air force base in Wyoming and the other at a US Army Museum in South Korea.

The return of the bells to the Philippines would not be possible without the tireless lobbying of former presidents, priests and historians, and Filipino-American groups who challenged Wyoming veterans and lawmakers who wanted the bells to stay as US property.

One of the overseas Filipino groups that actively lobbied for the bells’ return in the One World Institute.

The institute’s President Yolanda Stern joins BA in studio.

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