Return of the 400-Year Old Church Bell
WEST POINT CEREMONY MARKS RETURN OF HISTORIC CHURCH BELL TO THE PHILIPPINES
The massive bell was a gift to Father Mariano Garcia, an assistant priest of Bauang, La Union, by the Province Lieutenant-Governor D. Mariano Balancio and Lieutenant Hilario Calica in 1883. It was removed from the Church in 1901 to prevent fighters in the Philippine-American War from melting it to make weapons. The USMA’s 21st Superintendent Thomas H. Barry transferred the bell to West Point in 1915 where it was later displayed with the inscription “Symbol of peace that even the ravages of war could not destroy.”
US-Philippines Society Director Dennis Wright and Society member Dan McKinnon facilitated the agreement between Fr. Ronald Chan, parish priest of Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, and the USMA’s current Superintendent Lt. Gen Robert L. Caslen, Jr. for the bell’s return to Bauang. Transportation is being arranged by US authorities.
Representing Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose L. Cuisia, Consul General Mario L. De Leon, Jr., remarked that the handover is a fitting gesture to commemorate the 70th anniversary of US-Philippines diplomatic relations. Consul General De Leon was joined by members of the Filipino American community, U.S. officials, cadets, military officers and guests.
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Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, Bauang, La Union. Photo credit: Dennis Wright