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Samar town still awaiting return of historic church bells

TACLOBAN CITY, Philippines — Officials and residents of Balangiga town in Eastern Samar province are still waiting for the return of century-old historic church bells taken by US soldiers during the Filipino-American War at the turn of the 20th century. Balangiga Mayor Viscuso S. de Lira told BusinessWorld they have yet to hear of updates on government efforts to recover the three bells. One of the bells is in the possession of 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud based in South Korea while two others are at a former base of the 11th Infantry Regiment at F. E. Warren air base in Cheyenne, Wyoming. President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is set to visit the town on Sept. 30, two days after the commemoration of the encounter between the villagers and the American soldiers. Balangiga villagers ambushed the 9th US Infantry Regiment on Sept. 28, 1901 where 48 US soldiers were killed and 22 others wounded. In exchange, the Americans burned the Catholic churches and took the bells as war trophies. In 2002, the Senate passed a resolution that urged the government to negotiate with the US for the return of the bells. — Sarwell Q. Meniano, BusinessWorld