The historic Bells of Balangiga are returning after more than a century to their home in a church in the province of Eastern Samar, Philippines.
Two of the three bells taken by U.S. troops in 1901 had been displayed at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and the third at a U.S. base in South Korea. Roman Catholic prelates and Philippine government officials had pressed for their return.
A crowd of over 700 cheered as the bells were unloaded from a military aircraft, uncrated, and presented to the Government of the Philippines at a ceremony on December 11. A second ceremony will be held on December 15 at the Parish of Balangiga.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in a November 14 ceremony at F.E. Warren AFB, said to Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez: “Bear these bells home, back to their Catholic Church, confident that America’s ironclad alliance with the Philippines is stronger than ever.”
About the Cultural Antiquities Task Force
The Department of Defense is a member of the Cultural Antiquities Task Force (CATF). Created by the State Department in 2004 at the direction of Congress, the CATF comprises federal agencies that share a common mission to combat antiquities trafficking in the United States and abroad. Since its creation, the CATF has supported more than 95 domestic and international cultural property training programs. CATF is managed by the State Department’s Cultural Heritage Center.