By Marie Tonette Marticio
BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar –Borongan Bishop Crispin Varquez confirmed that the Balangiga bells will be used for the symbolic ringing during the first misa de gallo here on Sunday morning.
The bells turned over by the United States government to the San Lorenzo de Martir Church on Saturday symbolize reconciliation, peace and moving on to Balangigan-ons, said Bishop Varquez.
“We are so happy and excited that they can be used in the church for liturgical activities. It matters a lot to the faith of the people because the bells are used in the church calling people to come for celebration especially in the celebration of the holy sacrifice of the mass,” he shared.
Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles also expressed happiness for the people of Balangiga that at long last, the bells are returned to their rightful historical place.
“This is an event that promotes friendship and respect to people so it is a most welcome joyful event,” Valles noted.
He added that it will strengthen the faith of the people in Balangiga because it is part of their heritage and their treasure.
“This is the home of the bells. The event underlines a deeper appreciation of friendship and respect,” Valles said.
Dr. Rolando O. Borrinaga, secretary of the national committee on historical research of the National Commission on Culture and the Arts and a prominent Eastern Visayas historian said the bells can only be used on special occasions because they are no longer sturdy.
He shared that after the bells were dismantled in Wyoming, they were brought to a foundry in Philadelphia for repairs.
The bells were said to have played a crucial role in the US military’s so-called worst single defeat in the Philippines. They supposedly were used as a signal for Filipino revolutionaries when they attacked a US garrison in the town on September 28, 1901. The Filipinos killed 48 out of 74 American soldiers.
They were taken by the American reinforcement soldiers back in 1901 as war booty after they killed the town’s people. Two of the bells were brought to F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, while one was found in a US military base in South Korea.