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US returns Bells of Balangiga taken from Philippines in 1901

US returns Bells of Balangiga taken from Philippines in 1901
December 11, 2018

For over a century, the Bells of Balangiga have not rung in the Philippines, a silence that the president last year called “painful.” Now, the revered bells will once again be heard in the country.

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The Balangiga bells are revered by Filipinos as symbols of national pride, and their arrival on a U.S. Air Force C-130 plane and the ceremony were shown live on national TV. Two of the bells had been displayed for decades at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the third was with the U.S. Army in South Korea.

After being colonized by Spain for more than three centuries, the Philippines became a U.S. possession in 1898 in a new colonial era that began with the outbreak of the Philippine-American War.

American occupation troops seized the bells from a Catholic church following an attack by machete-wielding Filipino villagers, who killed 48 U.S. soldiers in Balangiga, on central Samar island off Leyte Gulf, according to Filipino historian Rolando Borrinaga.

The Americans retaliated, with a general, Jacob Smith, ordering troops to shoot villagers older than 10 and turn the island into a “howling wilderness,” Borrinaga said. Thousands of villagers were reported to have been killed.

Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said at last Tuesday’s ceremony that with the resolution of the issue, “It’s time for healing, it is time for closure, it is time to look ahead as two nations should with a shared history as allies.”

Ages Aviation Center, Inc. is humbled to be part of this historical moment when 2 allies learn from the past to better the future. Ages provides full ground handling service to the U.S. Air Force C-130 plane at the Villamor Air Force Base.