Over 100 years have passed since they lost their church bells, but residents of a small town on the central Philippine island of Samar have never given up hope that one day they will get them back, reports Ucanews.
Every year, on September 28, the townsfolk of Balangiga mark the day in 1901 when American troops turned their town, and the whole of Samar into what was later called a 'howling wilderness' and carried off three church bells as war booty.
Dr Rolando Borrinaga, a professor at the School of Health Sciences at the University of the Philippines, said it is time to forget the past and return the bells. '[There is] no apology needed for what happened. That was war,’ he said. He expressed dismay over the repeated failure by the Philippine government and the Church to reclaim the bells.
'All of our big time institutions and personalities have tried and failed,’ Borrinaga said, adding that the issue is now beyond the government.'
'This is something that [should be] sorted out of political circles," Borrinaga said, adding that the call for the return of the bells should be something that is "educational and based on consensus, not open media war.'
The taking of the bells and the American sacking of Samar came one month after Filipino freedom fighters ambushed and killed at least 40 American soldiers sitting down to breakfast. They were part of a 75-man American garrison stationed in town. It is said the church bells were used to signal the attack. Rebels disguised as women had smuggled weapons in small coffins into the church to attack Americans.
At least 28 Filipinos were also killed in what historians say was the 'single worst defeat' of American forces during 1899-1902 Philippine-American War.
Photo: A memorial marking the Balangiga massacre 112 years ago