Gatchalian extols return of Balangiga bells as ‘symbol of Filipino bravery’
MANILA, Philippines — “Simbolo ito ng katapangan ng mga Pilipino (This is a symbol of the Filipino bravery).”
So said Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Tuesday on the return of the historic bells of Balangiga in the Philippines after 117 years.
Earlier, the U.S. C-130 plane that carried the bells landed at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City. In 1901, the bells were taken by American troops as war booty during the Philippine-American war.
Gatchalian also said the bells were a reminder of the Filipinos who sacrificed their lives for freedom.
“The Balangiga bells are a remembrance of the brave sacrifice of the men, women, and children of Balangiga who died in our struggle for freedom,” he said in a statement.
The senator said the Filipinos’ efforts were the reason for fighting over the return of the bells.
“Marahil ito rin ang dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo tumigil sa paghikayat at pagkumbinse sa Estados Unidos na ibalik ang mga kampanang ito, kahit pa inabot na ng dekada bago nakamit ang pakay na ito,” he said.
Gatchalian also lauded the people who campaigned for the bells’ return, noting that the bells will be used during the traditional Simbang Gabi in the Balangiga Church.
“I congratulate the men and women who worked tirelessly to make this happen. I also congratulate the people of Balangiga on the return of a precious piece of your town’s history,” he said. “After more than a century, the bells again ring, this time for the traditional Simbang Gabi.”
The bells are expected to arrive in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Saturday.
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