‘The Spirit of MacArthur’ returns Balangiga Bells to Philippines

United States Air Force C-130 The Spirit of MacArthur, named after General Douglas MacArthur, was the aircraft that transported the three Balangiga Bells from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan to Villamor Air Base.

US Embassy in Manila photo

The bells were returned 117 years after these were taken from the town of Balangiga, Eastern Samar and brought to the United States by American soldiers during the Philippine-American War in 1901.

“This solemn ceremony reminds us of the many brave Filipinos and Americans who fought for freedom. In 1901, our two countries were adversaries. That painful conflict soon ended, and our countries became partners and friends. We fought together for freedom and to protect democratic values across the Indo-Pacific region. In World War II and in Korea, our soldiers fought, bled, died, and sacrificed side by side. Together they made possible the peace and prosperity we enjoy today,” US Ambassador Sung Kim said.

“The return of the Bells of Balangiga lets us reflect on the U.S.-Philippine relationship — where we have been, where we are, where we are going. Having now served over two years as U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, I am convinced that our relationship remains ironclad, consecrated by the service and sacrifice of the Americans and Filipinos who fought side by side for freedom,” he added.