BORONGAN CITY, Dec. 12 (PIA) -- The descendants of the Balangiga heroes are now eagerly waiting for the return of their bells.
Fe D. Campanero, great granddaughter of Casiana Nacionales, the only woman privy to the secret plans of the Balangiga attack, is excited and happy that, finally, their wish was granted.
She said she cannot explain her feelings that part of her flows the blood of the brave woman Casiana who was equally respected by her male counterparts.
"She must have been brave and daring, as during those times, women were always on the background," she has vivid memories though of the Balangiga Fire as generations immortalize the stories.
She said the return of the bells will not only bring closure to the war but will strengthen the relationship between the Philippines and the US.
As she is also the Tourism Officer of Balangiga, Campanero said that even before the news of the bells' return came out, some tourists have already expressed interest to visit the town and learn its history.
"The homecoming of the historic bells will bring a lot of opportunities to us. The influx of tourist is highly expected and we have been preparing for it," Campanero said.
Another descendant, Leon C. Duran said that his great grandfather was the one who rang the bells to signify the attack.
"I'm happy that at last, the bells will soon return to Balangiga," Duran added.
Like Campanero, Duran feels proud of his ancestry, that his great grandfather took a significant role in their historic drive to repel invaders in the small town of Balangiga.
According to the history, in the morning of September 28, 1901, hundreds of native fighters mostly armed with bolos staged a successful surprise attack on U.S. troops who were mostly eating or lining up for breakfast in their garrison in Balangiga town.
The result was the "worst single defeat" of the U.S. Army in the Philippines, an event known in U.S. official reports and publications as the "Balangiga Massacre."
The three bells played a vital role because it signified the attacks.
Although not a descendant, Rev. Fr. Serafin B. Tybaco, Parish Priest of St. Lawrence the Martyr said that he feels mixed emotions, overwhelming joy and unexplainable happiness.
Fr. Tybaco said, the bells symbolize the deep faith of Balangiganons, remembering the bravery of their ancestors.
"The bells symbolize the closure of war," Tybaco added.
He further said that Balangiganon folks are peace loving and want reconciliation, they want to forget the painful past.
While he is not a native of Balangiga, he shares the strong emotions now being felt by the locals on the return of historic bells.
"They have waited for the return of the bells for so long, for 117 years now and no living resident of the town has perhaps seen the (real bells) except in the facebook or pictures," Tybaco said, a native of Taft, E. Samar.
"So everybody is eager to see the historic bells," he said.
Meanwhile, Mayor Randy Duran Graza said that he thanked the Philippine Government for the return of Balangiga bells that will complete the history of Balangiga.
"As of now, we are busy preparing for the return of historic bells, especially that the President of the Republic of the Philippines will witness and personally deliver the bells," Graza added. (NBQ/SDC/PIA 8-E Samar)