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Baka pwedeng ipahiram minsan: Poe suggests tour for Balangiga bells

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Christianity or Catholicism is about sharing.

Senator Grace Poe stressed this on Friday as she echoed the appeal of Senator Migz Zubiri to the government and the Catholic Church to have one of the three historic Balangiga bells be lent to the National Museum so that more Filipinos will be able to appreciate its historical significance.

“Baka puwede nilang ipahiram on tour, katulad rin ng mga imahe ng mga deboto,” she said in a chance interview.

“Hindi ba iniikot lang ‘yan tapos ibabalik rin? Kasi ‘yan naman talaga ay isang kasaysayan doon sa lugar na ‘yun,” said Poe, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Public Services.

The Catholic Church leaders in Borongan, Eastern strongly rejected placing any of the bells to the National Museum as they argue that the bells belong to the church and the clergy of Balangiga.

Zubiri filed on December 6 Resolution No. 965 urging the government to “share with the Filipino people one of the three Balangiga bells by placing it in the National Museum for the appreciation and education of the general public.”

“Nakita ko ‘yung punto ni Senator Migz kasi hindi naman lahat makakapunta para makita doon ang Balangiga ‘di ba?” Poe said.

“Pero ang importante naman siyempre nananabik pa ang mga tao doon, siguro sila muna,” the re-electionist senator said.

Zubiri said, “Placing the bell in the National Museum will give every Filipino from Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao an opportunity to get a glimpse of an important piece of our nation’s history.”

The historic Balangiga bells are religious artifacts seized as “war trophies” by the United States Army from the town of Balangiga in Borongan, Eastern Samar following the infamous Balangiga massacre in 1901 during the Philippine-American War.

One of the historic bells had been tolled on September 28, 1901 to signal Filipino revolutionaries to attack the Company C of the 9th US Infantry Regiment stationed in Balangiga, killing 48 of the 78 American troopers.

Zubiri noted that in retaliation, the Americans “reduced Balangiga into a ‘howling wilderness,’ as ordered by Brig. Gen. Jacob Smith, burning the town into ashes and killing anyone capable of bearing arms.”

The Americans brought the controversial bell used in the ambush to the US military museum in South Korea while the two others were housed in Warren Air Force in Wyoming, United Sates.

The US government eventually returned the three bells after 117 years.