Historian confirms: Franciscans made Balangiga bells

Historian confirms: Franciscans made Balangiga bells

American soldiers who survived the 1901 attack on Balangiga by locals pose with one of the historic bells. 

By Carl Jaime Bordeos

Dec. 12, 2018

Samar

Dr. Rolando O. Borrinaga, a member of the Balangiga research group, confirmed in an exclusive interview with CBCP News that three of the bells returning to the historic town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar are of Franciscan origin.

“The 1853, 1889, and 1895 bells have the Franciscan coat of arms,” said Borrinaga, author of the book The Balangiga Conflict Revisited published in 2003.

Origins of the bells

Borrinaga, who is also a full professor at UP Manila School of Health Sciences, said: “The town probably took years to raise funds to acquire its first church bell. This might have been the large 1853 bell.”

Information coming from the Samar Archaeological Museum and the Cantius Kobak Research Center located at Christ the King College in Calbayog City, Samar, said it was in 1854 when the church in Balangiga was dedicated to San Lorenzo de Martir, with a Franciscan, Fr. Manuel Valverde, as the first priest to be assigned there.

According to Borrinaga, the town acquired its second bell, a medium-sized one, in 1889, through the initiative of Fr. Agustin Delgado, whose name is inscribed on the relic.

250 years of Franciscan mission

In 1895, Balangiga acquired its third and smallest bell through the initiative of Fr. Bernardo Aparicio. This 1895 bell was initially believed to be the lone bell that was rung during the attack on Company C, 9th US Infantry Regiment, in Balangiga on Sept. 28, 1901.

“R. Francisco,” the phrase inscribed on the bell, probably stands for “Religioso de San Francisco,” the name of a religious order and or the foundry that cast the bell.

The first batch of thirteen Franciscans arrived in Samar island in 1768, or exactly 250 years ago. During their mission, the Franciscans eventually founded parishes in Samar, and one of these was the historic town of Balangiga in Eastern Samar.