Tacloban, October 19, 2022—On October 18, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines MaryKay Carlson visited Eastern Samar to view the Balangiga Bells, whose return in 2018 marked a milestone in the U.S.-Philippine bilateral relationship.
“These bells have witnessed the entire arc of history between our countries—from the painful conflict of the early 1900s when we were adversaries to the moment four years ago when they were finally returned to the Filipino people with whom we now stand as friends, partners, and allies,” said Ambassador Carlson.
“The return of the bells reflects the strong bonds and mutual respect between our two nations and our peoples. These bells are more than just historical objects. They represent the quest for identity, sovereignty, and freedom,” she added.
During her visit, Ambassador Carlson was accompanied by U.S. Army Col. Edward Evans, the senior U.S. defense official in the Philippines. She also met with Balangiga Mayor Dana Flynch de Lira and parish priests Fr. Serafin Tybaco and Fr. Manuel Lunario.
The three bells were taken from Balangiga amid the Philippine-American War in 1901. After years of effort, the bells were returned to the Philippines in 2018. The U.S. Department of Defense flew the bells to Manila aboard the Air Force plane Spirit of MacArthur, named after Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
In Manila, former U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim participated in a ceremony formally turning over the bells to the Philippines. The Philippine Air Force airlifted the bells to the town of Guiuan and transported them by land to Balangiga.
The bells are installed in a reflection area outside the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church and are accessible to visitors. Nearby is a memorial to the heroes and Philippine martyrs of the U.S.-Philippine War.