US to return century-old bell taken from La Union church
MANILA, Philippines – A century-old bell taken by the Americans in 1901 has been readied for its return to a church in Bauang, La Union.
“After a ceremony and Mass at West Point’s Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel, attended by the Philippine consulate general, the bell was crated up and readied for return to Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union, Philippines,” read the report in Stars and Stripes, an American newspaper operated by the US Department of Defense.
The bell was taken by American soldier Thomas Barry from the northern Philippine province back in 1901, during the Philippine-American war. He gave it to the US Military Academy at West Point, which hung it outside the academy's chapel. An accompanying placard read: "Symbol of peace that even the ravages of war could not destroy."
The return was facilitated by two US Navy veterans who are also working to return the Balangiga bells of Eastern Samar, according to the report.
The Balangiga bells are historic symbols of US military's so-called worst single defeat in the Philippines – the Balangiga Massacre, where locals outsmarted and killed 48 out of 74 US troops in 1901.
The bells were tolled to signal the attack. They were later taken by the US as spoils of war.
Two of the 3 Balangiga bells remain on display at the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the Philippine Information Agency said. The third bell, the smallest, is in Korea.
In 1994, then Philippine president Fidel V Ramos himself requested Bill Clinton, then the US president, to return the Balangiga bells “in the spirit of fair play,” according to a paper presented by James Helzer and published on Newsbreak in 2002.
Ramos' request, however, “fell on deaf ears” even as Clinton again received this plea in 1996, Helzer said.
A petition calling for the return of the bells was also circulated prior to the 2014 Manila visit of US President Barack Obama. – Rappler.com
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