Today, i am one of very many who are celebrating the return of the three Church bells to the church in Balangiga, Samar in the Visayas. Two hours ago, these bells landed in Manila after a short stop in Japan. For 117 years, these bells were taken as war trophies from a small town church and were among those shipped to the United States. Computing, this happened in 1901.
I am a fourth generation Lukban, one of probably hundreds of descendants of the late General Vicente Lukban y Rilles ( died in Manila at 56; 11 February 1860 – 16 November 1916 ). I come from the line of the General’s second wife, Paciana Gonzales of Samar after he became a widow at child birth to their fourth child.
There are many stories about what was to become the Balangiga Massacre which only very recently was resurrected, thanks to the Internet because growing up, this incident was virtually unknown to most Filipinos. It was during a President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address (SONA) in July 25, 2017 that a Philippine President first mentioned and talked about this massacre. This must have caused quite a stir because members of the Diplomatic Corps, including Mr Sung Kim, the current US Ambassador to the Philippines.
There is the long version, of course, it’s all in Wikipedia. But here is the short version.
The head of the American infantry stationed in Balangiga ordered the American soldiers and the local town folks to clear sections of the town planted with the primary source of food and other important plants of the Filipino soldiers and the locals. The clearing was to be used for the celebrations of a visiting American Inspector-General. The local town folks and several guerillas upon the orders of the General Lukban raised to kill all 48 American soldiers, the largest infantry at that time. In retaliation, the Americans ordered the killing of all the local town folks, men, women and children. This was to be known as the Balangiga Massacre.
President Rodrigo Duterte