Return by Uncle Sam of Balangiga Bells probable; "burning of Samar" remembered | BICOL TODAY

Return by Uncle Sam of Balangiga Bells probable; “burning of Samar” remembered

By Joey Natividad

CITY OF NAGA, Bicol Region – Nationalist groups, which have been lobbying hard for the return of culturally valuable items looted by the American soldiers as a form of “war booties” during the Philippine-American War in 1898-1913 were elated after news about the Balangiga bells might be returned by the US Government.

The Balangiga Bells have become the focal point or main symbol of American aggression in the country, and proof of American plunder and pillaging of Filipino communities during its war against resisting Filipinos.

The bells were taken from the churches in Balangiga, Samar, after the American troops had “burned Samar into a howling wilderness” which was the symbol of the last Filipino resistance against the American forces.

In that ruthless, brutal American campaign, all Filipino youth 10 years old and above, capable of carrying firearms, were ordered shot by General Jacob Smith. This came about after Filipino fighters decimated a company of American soldiers in 1901, known later as the “Balangiga Massacre”.

The Linganay ng Kalayaan (Bells of Freedom), Kilos na Para sa Makabayang Edukasyon and Alliance of Concerned Teachers-Philippines have welcomed the news of the impending return of the bells of Balangiga as a positive step towards correcting the centuries-old historical injustice committed by the United States against the Filipino people.

“This is a victory achieved by the Filipino people that should be considered as part of the long and arduous campaign in the assertion of Philippine sovereignty and independence,” the groups said.

Dr. Francis Gealogo, head of the Balangiga Committee, informed Bicol in Naga City.

According to the nationalist group, the Balangiga bells formed part of the large number of war booties that the American occupation troops stashed away from the Philippines in the long and bloody Filipino American War of 1898–1913.

The war resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Filipinos, the large-scale burning of villages and the pillaging of communities by American troops that annexed the archipelago and robbed them of the fruits of freedom that they already had after the Philippine Revolution against Spain.

Under the pretext of “Benevolent Assimilation,” the American occupation transformed the islands into their Asian outpost as part of their colonial design to create an American Lake in the Pacific region.

“This they did by creating a submissive colonial bureaucracy and political system, institutionalizing a Western-type of American educational system, and ensuring the continuous economic, political, and military dependence of the Philippines to the United States even after the granting of ‘independence’,” the groups said.

In the half century of colonial occupation and in the ensuing long campaign to suppress Filipino resistance against American imperialism, the military campaigns of the United States in the archipelago provided the perfect opportunity for the systematic, organized, and institutional plunder and pillaging of Filipino cultural and historical artifacts and objects that were brought to the United States.

A great number of them are now deposited in museums, historical collections, archives, and government and military installations scattered in various American territories.

The Balangiga bells were the most notable of these artifacts that were symbolic of the tradition of collecting colonial war booty American aggression.

“These should be returned to the Filipino communities that legitimately owned them. The collection of war booties should also be viewed as part of the historical injustice committed by the occupation troops and should be acknowledged as such,” Dr. Gealogo said.

The United States should complete the correction of historical injustice committed against the Filipino people after the return of the bells, by ensuring that all the other war booties be properly returned to the Philippines.

“Most importantly, historical injustice resulting from the war crimes committed by the United States in the colonial occupation of the Philippines must finally be acknowledged by the American government by way of formally apologizing to the Filipino people”. said Dr. Gealogo.

The historical injustice committed by American colonial institutions continues to this day by way of the Visiting Forces Agreement, the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement, and the Mutual Defense Treaty that ensures the persistence of colonial ties between the two countries.

These provide yet another series of institutional mechanisms that make available the conditions for the continuation of plunder and pillage of local communities by foreign military troops.

“The lessons of history must provide the Filipino people the right path of asserting Filipino independence and sovereignty the way the people’s resistance in Balangiga heroically showed us. Never again should another series of colonial wars of aggression be experienced in the country,” the groups vowed. []

Posted by on August 15, 2018. Filed under Headlines,Nation. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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