Wednesday 26 July 2017

Balangiga bells: a Symbol of Filipino heroism

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has shown time and again that he is a passionate student of Philippine history.

In his second State of the Nation Address this Monday, he just resurrected the long time eagerness of the nation to get back one of its national treasures which is now located in a foreign land. He made everybody hear him loud and clear, saying :

"Give us back those Balangiga bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage,."
More than 115 years after they were stolen as "war booty", the Balangiga bells remain in the possession of the United States.Two as shown above are displayed at the Trophy Park at  F.F. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. The other bell is in the possession of the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea. (photo credit to Salud Benedicto)

"Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit 'yun sa amin (Please give them back. It's painful for us)," the president added.

The president made the appeal while United States of America Ambasador  to the Philippines Sung Kim, is in the plenary hall of the House of Representatives in attendance as part of the Diplomatic corps.

It was on the morning of September 28, 1901 where the Filipino freedom fighters dealt the Americans their worst defeat in the Philippine-American war, a surprised attack against the American troops (Company C of the 9th U.S. Infantry Regiment) while having breakfast, killing 48 and wounding 22 of the 78 men of the unit.

In revenge, General Jacob H Smith ordered his men to turn Samar into a “howling wilderness”, and that any Filipino male above ten (10) years old capable of bearing arms be killed. The American soldiers destroyed the town of Balangiga and killed thousands of Filipino soldiers and civilians.  The American soldiers stole the three (3) church bells from the town church as “war booty”, it was believed that one of the bells was rang to signal the surprise attack.
General Jacob Smith and his primary subordinate Major Littleton Waller of the US Marine Corps were both court martialed for the illegal vengeance against the civilian population of Samar. Waller was acquitted of the charges, while Smith was found guilty, admonished and retired from service (Wikipedia) (photo credit to the owner)

“Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process. Krag against bolo. Krag was the standard rifle issued to the American troops,” Duterte said. 
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