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Balangiga Bells on display for public viewing at PAF museum

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MANILA — The newly-returned Balangiga Bells will be on display and public viewing at the Philippine Air Force (PAF) Aerospace Museum at Villamor Air Base, Sales Road, Pasay City until Thursday.

In a statement Wednesday, Defense spokesperson Arsenio Andolong said that entry is at Gate 4 of the military facility.

“Visitors are advised to observe the dress code, which prohibits the wearing of sandos and slippers, and to refrain from touching the displays, using flash photography, capturing videos, or bringing food and drinks, when they enter the museum. Foreigners are required to present identification cards or their passports,” he added.

The Balangiga Bells were returned by the United States to the Philippines through a handover ceremony between the US Department of Defense and the Department of National Defense (DND) held at the PAF Grandstand on Tuesday.

“Interested parties are requested to contact the Philippine Air Force Aerospace Museum to inform them of their intent to visit the Balangiga Bells as well as the Museum. The Museum can be reached through their office cellphone numbers which are 0917-680-8098 and 0939-256-1100,” Andolong added.

“After one 117 years, the bells of Balangiga are coming home and will once again take its place in the Balangiga Church,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana earlier said.

The bells were seized and declared as war trophies by US troops during the aftermath of the infamous Balangiga Massacre which took place in Sept. 28, 1901.

“There was once a time when the bells of Balangiga pealed to a different beat, encompassing a dark and painful episode in history which nonetheless teaches a lesson that nobody wins in war.”

Two of the three bells used to be enshrined at Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming while the third bell was at Camp Red Cloud in South Korea.

The Balangiga Bells were at the crux of the struggle of the people of Samar, amid a dark period in the Philippine-American relationship during the war at the turn of the twentieth century.

Lorenzana asserted that, after more than a century, the return of the bells to the Philippines from the United States now symbolizes the two countries’ “shared histories and ideals, new beginnings, renewed friendships and a stronger brotherhood.” (PNA)