The Bells of Balangiga Revisited

his editorial revisits the issue of the bells of Balangiga. At present, the United States has in its possession three bells that belonged to the parish church of Balangiga. Balangiga Bell in Warren Air Force Base, Cheyenne, WyomingSince mid 90's, when President Ramos sought their return from the Clinton Administration, various veteran and historical associations have lobbied for and against their return.

The Balangiga "incident" as some prefer to call it, happened over a hundred years ago on the Visayan island of Samar. In the early morning hours of September 28, 1901, as a company of American soldiers prepared for breakfast, bolo-wielding townsmen launched a surprise attack on them. By the end of that day 48 Americans were dead, 22 were wounded, and only four escaped unharmed.

Balangiga Church, Eastern SamarAmerican forces quickly launched a brutal counter-offensive that destroyed the town and killed scores of Filipinos. Balangiga was left in ruins. The American soldiers then took with them three bells from the parish church. 

Today, Filipinos want those bells back and while some Americans favor the return of at least one bell, others refuse to consider even that.

To better understand this issue Philippine NewsLink turned to Bob Couttie, author of the book Hang the Dogs, The True and Tragic History of the Balangiga Massacre, published late last year in the Philippines.

Click here for the Philnews interview with Bob Couttie

Click here to read the comments of Bishop Medroso