Information about Balangiga Bells
Photo by East Visayan Tour & Events
The Balangiga bells are three large bells that were taken by American soldiers as war booty during the American occupation in 1901. After 117 years in the possesion of the USA, the Philippine government was finally able to retrieve them and return them to their place of origin in the San Lorenzo de Martir Church in Eastern Samar.
Surprisingly, the Balangiga bells were not bought all at once. The acquisition of the first bell took the whole town 4 years to raise enough funds to buy it. It bears the Franciscan coat of arms and the inscription R. San Francisco Año El 1853 (R. San Francisco the year 1853), which could refer to the parish priest at the time or to the Franciscan order, Religioso de San Francisco.
The second bell was acquired through the initiative of Fr. Agustin Delgado, whose name was inscribed on the bell, Se Refundio Siendo Cura Parroco El M.R.P.F. Agustin Delgado Año 1889. This type of bell is often referred to as campanes colgantes, hanging bells, as it hung from a wooden beam and rung using a rope attached to its clapper.
The third and smallest bell was acquired 6 years later, through the initiative of Fr. Bernardo Aparicio. It also bears the Franciscan emblem and has the inscription Se Refundio Siendo Parocco P. Aparicio Año 1905, after its initiator. This other type of bell is called esquilla (small bell) or campano de vuelo (flight bell), as it served as a signal warning in times of emergency.
Best time to visit
The San Lorenzo de Martir Church is open to visitors all year round. It is best to visit before the sun sets, so you can get a better look at these historic bells and the inscriptions on each one.