Balangiga records over 100k tourist arrivals 6 months after bells’ return

Balangiga records over 100k tourist arrivals 6 months after bells’ return

People rush to touch the bells after the thanksgiving Mass that celebrated their arrival at the St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish Church in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Dec. 15, 2018. ROY LAGARDE

By CBCP News

July 13, 2019

Manila, Philippines

The historic bells of Balangiga have propelled the small coastal town of Eastern Samar into a tourist hub.

This emerged from the data of the Balangiga Parish Pastoral Council, reported Este News, the news service of the Diocese of Borongan.

The data showed more than a hundred thousand domestic and foreign tourists visited the parish to get a glimpse of the three bells.

To date, the parish keeps at least six record books containing names of guests who visited the church where the bells are displayed since December.

After 117 years, the US government has returned the church bells taken by American forces as war booty from the Balangiga church.

For more than a century, two of the bells have been displayed in Francis E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming, U.S.A., and another in Camp Red Cloud in South Korea.

The church bells arrived in Manila last Dec. 11, and were brought to Balangiga four days later.

Speaking at the turnover ceremony last Dec. 15, Bishop Crispin Varquez of Borongan thanked all those who lobbied and prayed for their return.

He assured that the public that the church “will care and cherish them as a precious legacy of the profound faith, heroism and courage of our forebears”.

Bishop Varquez also wished that the bells’ return would encourage and strengthen the faith of the people and unity.

“We owe it to our forebears that we must continue to work together more strongly and more committedly that these bells will help bolster our faith, our history, our dignity and our socio-economic development,” he said.