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The story of the Balangiga bells

Philippine government officials inspect three church bells seized by American troops as war trophies more than a century ago, as they were returned to the Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

On Dec. 11, at 10:30 a.m, the three Balangiga Bells arrived at Villamor Airbase. These were the bells that US troops took as war trophies in Samar more than a century ago.

In a prepared statement released by cheap steroids the US Embassy in Manila for the occasion, US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim said: “The history of these bells spans the entire relationship between the United States and the Philippines. In the process, they have touched many lives.’

The return of the bells, the US diplomat added, underscored “the enduring friendship, partnership and alliance” between the United States and the Philippines.

The author, Graphic associate editor Fil V. Elefante with the Balangiga bells.

The return of the bells to the Philippines was first announced by U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis on Nov. 14 during a ceremony at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel Romualdez attended the ceremony which marked the beginning of the process to return the three bells to Balangiga Church in Samar.

According to the US Embassy, Mattis had informed the U.S. Congress of the Department of Defense’s intention to return the bells to the Philippines on Aug. 9.

“The decision followed a year-long consultative process associated with veterans’ organizations and government officials to ensure appropriate steps are taken to preserve the history associated with the bells,” the US Embassy said.

The two Balangiga Bells were removed from Wyoming and prepared for transport to the Philippines on Nov. 15. The third bell was moved from South Korea and brought to Okinawa in Japan where it waited for the other two bells from Wyoming.

The three bells were finally reunited after more than a century when they were put on a USAF C-130 Hercules. This aircraft brought the historic bells from the US base in Japan to Villamor Airbase.

After the formal turnover ceremony at Villamor Airbase, the three Balangiga Bells were put on temporary display at the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum on Dec. 12 and Dec. 13. The three bells will be formally reinstalled at their original church in Samar on Dec. 15.

HISTORY

According to historian Xiao Chua, US soldiers took the bells as war loot in 1901.

Two of the bells were brought to a US base in Wyoming and the third ended up in a US base in South Korea.

The three bells were taken during a US reprisal campaign for the deaths of 48 American soldiers belonging to Company C. of the 9th US Infantry Regiment.

These soldiers were killed when an estimated 500 Filipino guerrillas conducted a daring attack on Company C’s encampment on Oct. 27, 1901.

“Of the 74 US soldiers there, only four were left unscathed,” historian John Ray Ramos told the Philippines Graphic. “The rest were either dead or badly wounded.”

An enraged American general, Jacob Smith, then ordered: generic viagra “I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn; the more you kill and burn, the better it will please me. The interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness.” (see sidebar)

At least 2,500 Filipinos were killed in the reprisal campaign.

The Balangiga Bells were not the only war trophies from the Philippine-American War that the United States had agreed to return.

One bell taken from a church in Bauang, La Union was returned to the Philippines in 2016.

According to an article written by Wyatt Olson on April 29, 2016 for Stars and Stripes, the bell was taken by Lt. Col. Thomas Barry and brought to West Point in 1915 when Barry became the Academy’s 27th superintendent.

The bell from La Union was brought back to the Philippines through the efforts of two US Navy veterans, Dan McKinnon and Dennis Wright. G

 

What happened to General Jacob “Howling Mad” Smith?

 This May 1, 2001 file photo shows two of the Bells of Balangiga at F.E. Warren Air Force Base outside Cheyenne, Wyoming. U.S.  (AP Photo/Neal Ulevich, File)

Gen. Jacob Smith was the American general infamously linked by history to what is now known as “The Balangiga Massacre.

He was ranking officer who ordered US troops to burn down Samar and kill Filipinos capable of bearing arms against the United States.

With the return of the Balangiga Bells to Samar, Filipinos should also know what happened to the disgraced American general.

According to a New York Times article published on June 17, 1902, a military court admonished Smith after finding him guilty of “conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline”.

He was found guilty because the court found that Smith had given Major Littleton Waller, the commander of the Sixth Separate Brigade in Samar the following instructions:

“I want no prisoners. I wish you to kill and burn. The more you kill and burn, the better you will please me.”

Additionally, Smith also wanted “all persons killed who were capable of bearing arms and in actual hostilities against the United States.”

When Waller asked Smith to designate an age limit for the kill order, Smith said: “Ten years old.”

U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, upon learning of the court martial’s decision, ordered that Smith be retired immediately.

US military authorities was forced to act against Smith because US soldiers in the Philippines thought Smith’s orders to massacre Filipinos as “flagrant.”

The US War Department said that Smith’s orders “were never executed in such a sense, notwithstanding that a desperate struggle was being conducted with a cruel and savage foe.”

“Gen. Smith, in his conversation with Major Waller, was guilty of intemperate, inconsiderate and violate expressions, which if accepted literally, would grossly violate humane rules governing American armies in the field, and if followed would have brought lasting disgrace upon the military service of the United States,” the War Department said. “Fortunately, they were not taken literally and were not followed. No women and children or helpless persons or non-combatants or prisoners were put to death in pursuance of them.”

Waller was also court martialed. However, the records showed that Waller saved himself by blaming Smith.

Waller was tried for “causing certain natives, who had acted as bearers or guides of one of his expeditions, to be put to death for treachery without proper trial.”

The US War Department report on Smith’s court martial said that Smith, being an experienced general officer, should have known better not to incite his subordinates to “acts of lawless violence.”

“In this, Gen. Smith has signally failed, and for this, he has been justly convicted,” the US War Department report said.

 

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