Bell that ‘war could not destroy’ back in Philippines
Joseph Lariosa (The Philippine Star) - May 22, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines – The value of the shipment – the old bell at Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union – may only be $100 but this “one church bell and yoke” are priceless heirlooms. Their return to the Philippines after 115 years was an answer to the prayers of grateful parishioners.

The shipment of this historic artifact may be the last to be coursed through Art Tugade as he prepares to take over the reins of the Department of Transportation and Communication as its new secretary under the new Duterte administration.

Dennis Wright, who received the shipment, said the artifacts arrived safely in time for their rededication tomorrow at the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union.

The 1,270-pound crate contains the bell made of an alloy of gold, silver and copper. It was taken away by a United States Army officer from the Philippines during the Philippine-American War in 1901. It was later brought to the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel at the US Military Academy in West Point, New York in 1915, where it has since been stored.

Last April 29, the bell started its journey home with a send-off ceremony with a mass at the Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel.

The return of the bell was made possible through the efforts of Wright and another organizer, Dan Mckinnon, who were former US Navy shipmates. They founded the Clark Veterans Cemetery Restoration Association, a non-profit entity that lobbied US Congress to get the cemetery back under US government care and administration.

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul, established by the Augustinians in 1587, is one of the oldest in the Philippines.

Its current pastor, the Rev. Father Ronald Raymund Chan, wrote a letter on Nov. 10, 2015 to Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen Jr., superintendent of the US Military Academy, asking for the return of the bell.

Caslen agreed, generating “considerable excitement because of its comparison to the two Bells of Balangiga in a US Air Force base in Wyoming,” according to Wright and McKinnon.

On April 29, the bell was rung for the last time on American soil, then packed and set finally on its journey home.

This bell was presented to one of the predecessors of Father Chan, a Spanish friar named Mariano Garcia, who was pastor from 1877, by then province Lieutenant-Governor Mariano Balancio and Lieutenant Hilario Calica.

The bell named “San Pedro” was almost destroyed during the Philippine-American War, but the advance of American forces prevented it and other bells and metals from being melted down and made into guns.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with