DECEMBER 11-15, 2018
Balangiga Bells
Balangiga Town Welcomed the Church Bells, December 15, 2018.
Photo credit: RTVM, Presidential Communications Operations Office.
The Return of the Balangiga Bells

On December 11, 2018, at the direction of Secretary James Mattis, the U.S. Department of Defense turned over the three Balangiga bells to the Department of National Defense (DND) of the Philippines at Villamor Air Base, Manila. O n Saturday, December 15, the DND turned over the bells to San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church, Samar, 117 years after these were removed from the church belfry in 1901 during the Philippine-American War. 

The return followed years of effort by both Americans and Filipinos to repatriate the bells. The work of US-Philippines Society founding directors Ambassador Frank Wisner, Honorary Consul Henry B. Howard, Dennis Wright, Executive Director Hank Hendrickson, and Society members, Adm Daniel McKinnon and Brian Buzzell, among others, was instrumental as part of a team effort to pave the way for the successful and historic bells' return to their church in Balangiga.

We are delighted to share select press coverage and photos of the historic event: the Bells' handover at Villamor Air Base, Manila and the Ceremonial Turnover to the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church  Eastern Samar.
In This Issue
President Duterte Thanks American People for Returning the Bells

President Duterte attended the ceremonial handover of the Certificate of Acknowledgement from U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Law to Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on December 15, 2018 in the Balangiga Auditorium, Samar. 

The certificate states " The Republic of the Philippines, represented by the Secretary of National Defense, conveys its appreciation to the United States of America for the return of the Balangiga Bells as a symbol of the long-standing relations between the two countries, one that is based on acknowledgement of our shared histories and our work as close allies to safeguard common interests and democratic values."

Following the handover, President Duterte addressed the Balangiga town and stakeholders present, noting the " long and tedious process to the point that the outcome has been disappointing sometimes." 

"The long wait is over...The bells are returned. The credit goes to the American people and to the Filipino people. On behalf of a grateful nation, I thank all the stakeholders who contributed to ensure the return of the Balangiga Bells to the country." 

"The homecoming of these artifacts is truly a milestone in the shared and meaningful history of the United States and the Philippines, and heralds a new and more vibrant chapter in our bilateral relations,"  the President added.

Balangiga Bells
U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Law hands over Certificate of Acknowledgement to Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana, witnessed by President Rodrigo Duterte, December 15, 2018, Samar, Philippines. Photo credit: ABS-CBN

San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church

After the official handover of the Transfer Certificate of the Balangiga bells to the Philippines, the Parish Church of San Lorenzo de Martir holds a mass for the Balangiga residents on December 15, 2018. Most Reverend Leonardo Medroso D.D. Bishop Emeritus of Tagbilaran officiates the mass.

St Lawrence Parish Church

Handover Ceremony of Bells at the Villamor Air Base and Public Exhibit of Bells

Balangiga Bells
US Defense Officials led by Ambassador Sung Kim and Philippine Government Officials led by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Ambassador Babe Romualdez, along with US-Philippines Society Directors Henry B. Howard and Dennis Wright at Villamor Air Base Turnover Ceremony.

The Balangiga Bells arrived on December 11 at Villamor Air Base, Manila, Philippines on a U.S. Air Force aircraft C-130 named "The Spirit of MacArthur" a fitting recognition of General Douglas MacArthur's return 74 years Ago.

In a poignant ceremony, U.S. Admiral Philip Davidson, Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Dr. Joseph H. Felter, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Southeast Asia, and U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim turned over three church bells 117 years after they were taken. A military brass band played the Philippine national anthem, "Lupang Hinirang," followed by "The Star Spangled Banner."

"Their safe return is thanks to the efforts of US Secretary of Defense James Mattis, supported by US President Donald Trump, and is driven by respect for the Philippines, our friend, partner and ally," Ambassador Sung Kim acknowledged in a statement on December 12, 2018.

Balangiga Bells
The Balangiga Bells Public Exhibit at Villamor Air Base Museum in Manila on December 12-13 before the Bells were flown to Balangiga Church. 
Balangiga Bells
On behalf of US-Philippines Society co-chairs Amb John D. Negroponte and Manuel V. Pangilinan, Society Director Henry B. Howard greets President Duterte during the return ceremony. 

Adm Dan McKinnon provides a historical account of the many attempts to return the Bells including the Society's work with Congress, veterans groups and the USG, and restoring the Bells for the journey home in his Essay on the Balangiga Bells

The Philippine Presidential Communications Office produced and recently released a 30-minute Documentary on Balangiga Bells, RTVM including perspectives from US-Philippines Society directors Dennis Wright, Henry B. Howard, Executive Director Hank Hendrickson and Society member Adm Dan McKinnon.