Borongan church refuses to loan Balangiga bell to national museum

Balangiga Bells at Villamor Airbase. Photo: Screenshot from ABS-CBN News.
Balangiga Bells at Villamor Airbase. Photo: Screenshot from ABS-CBN News.

The Balangiga bells should stay in its church.

That’s what the Diocese of Borongan, which has jurisdiction over the bells, said today when it rejected a resolution filed by Senator Miguel Zubiri asking the government to place one of the Balangiga bells in the National Museum.

Zubiri filed Senate Resolution 965 last week which says that by bringing one of the bells to the museum, “every Filipino from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao [will have] an opportunity to get a glimpse of an important piece of our nation’s history.”

The Catholic Church, however, is having none of it.

The Diocese of Borongan said in a statement: “We, the Bishop and Clergy of the Diocese of Borongan collectively object to and collectively stand against the transfer of one or all of the Bells of Balangiga from their historical and rightful habitat, which is the Parish Church of St. Lawrence, Deacon and Martyr, in Balangiga, Eastern Samar, Diocese of Borongan.”

It added: “Senate Resolution 965 does violence to history and the sacred character and purpose of the Balangiga Bells. It must be rejected.”

Seemingly hurt, Zubiri called the church arrogant for rejecting his resolution.

“If they don’t agree, so be it. How arrogant are they to say that this (resolution) is disrespecting the history of our country, actually we are just asking to lend it with the Filipino people so that we will know the history of the country,” he said.

He also said that putting the bells at the National Museum will just be a temporary arrangement.

“They will just lend it so that more students can see the bells. Not everyone can go to Samar. I would like to visit the bells but not every family can visit. If they don’t want it, so be it. No problem. If you don’t want to lend it, then don’t,” he said.

The bells arrived on Dec. 11 at the Villamor Air Base in Pasay City aboard the United States Air Force C-130. They will be turned over to the church of Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Dec. 15, reported ABS-CBN News.

The bells were taken as war booties by American soldiers from the town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar in 1901. They stole it after Filipino troops killed 48 American soldiers as revenge for forcing the locals to work in their camps. 

Aside from stealing the bells, the Americans retaliated by killing an estimated 10,000 townspeople above the age of 10 years old upon the orders of General Jacob Smith, who told his men to turn the town into a “howling wilderness.” The incident became known as the Balangiga Massacre.

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