Balangiga Bells
Balangiga Town Welcomed the Church Bells, December 15, 2018.
Photo credit: RTVM, Presidential Communications Operations Office.
Resolution 653: PH Senate Thanks U.S. Government For Bells Return

On June 1, 2021, the Philippine Senate adopted RESOLUTION 653 "Expressing the Profound Gratitude of the Senate of the Philippines for the Return by the United States Government of the Balangiga Bells and Recognizing the Efforts of those who facilitated its return." 

The resolution was sponsored by Senator Richard J. Gordon; co-authored by Senators Cynthia A. Villar, Ramon A. Revilla Jr., and Juan Miguel Zubiri, and co-sponsored by Senator Joel Villanueva. Senators Risa Hontiveros and Imee R. Marcos manifested their support for the resolution.

In his sponsorship speech, Senator Gordon stated that "it is time to honor the people who were behind the return of the Bells...Americans who were unceasing and relentless in trying to get the Bells out in Wyoming and in South Korea."

"For what is important is the lingering friendship and continuous training ...based on a relationship among equals," Senator Gordon added.

Following is a copy of the resolution as filed and previous selected press releases leading to the the December 2018 Bells' handover at Villamor Air Base, Manila and the Ceremonial Turnover to the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church  Eastern Samar.
In This Issue

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. On 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 Honorary Consul Henry B. Howard, Dennis Wright, Ambassador Frank Wisner, and the pro-bono work of Squire Patton Boggs, 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.
Recognizing USPHS Director Henry B. Howard

US-Philippines Society Director Henry B. Howard, as cited in the Philippine Senate Resolution, made a pivotal contribution to the return of the Bells of Balangiga. He built on decades of activism and the historical research of Amb Raul Rabe, Adm Dan McKinnon, Captain Dennis Wright and Captain Brian Buzzell. Mr. Howard developed and coordinated strategies enabling the Secretary of Defense to authorize the bells return under the 2018 Defense Authorization Act. 

Mr. Howard's personal initiative and generosity reflected his commitment to ensure that the Bells would finally return to their home in Balangiga. He arranged for the refurbishing of the original bells and for the forging of replicas as an important gesture to replace those repatriated to the Philippines from Wyoming and South Korea. He personally covered refurbishing, shipping, and transportation costs, including flights for key supporters to the bells return ceremony in Wyoming with Secretary Jim Mattis. Mr. Howard took the initiative to provide plaques memorializing Sec Mattis' speech in Wyoming to F.E. Warren AFB and the Philippine Embassy to enshrine the bells return in history. 

For his crucial role and extremely generous personal financial support for the bells return, directors of the US-Philippines Society recognized Mr. Howard at their 2019 Board Meeting in Manila, where he was presented with the annual Carlos P. Romulo Award by the Society board for his Balangiga Bells work.

Manchu bell
Dedication ceremony of the replica of the "Manchu" Bell attended by General (ret) Vincent K. Brooks (left), US-Philippines Society director Henry B. Howard (right) and Fort Carson army personnel in Fort Carson, Colorado, November 20, 2019. Presentation of the replica bell was meant as a gesture of enduring friendship and alliance between the United States and the Philippines.
President Duterte Thanks American People for Returning the Bells

Philippine leaders have long sought a return of the Bells. President Duterte raised the issue publicly and officially in his 2018 State of the Nation address with Ambassador Sung Y. Kim in attendance. Following the Bells return on December 15, 2018, 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 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 held a mass for the Balangiga residents on December 15, 2018. Most Reverend Leonardo Medroso D.D. Bishop Emeritus of Tagbilaran officiated 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
President Duterte thanks Mr. Howard for "pulling this off."  

The Philippine Presidential Communications Office produced 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.