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                                    -- SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS


(© 2018 Journal GlobaLinks)


CHICAGO (JGL) — “We do not forget the Filipino soldiers, and Filipino people, the Philippine Scouts who fought with us, bled with us and died with us in

the dark days of World War II in the green hell of Bataan and the Rock we call Corregidor, an island and landings in Leyte to Luzon.

We do not forget our shared sacrifice in Korea where in 1951 at Yultong, the Philippines’ 10th Battalion Combat team though surrounded held their position against Communist Chinese onslaught, allowing our U.S. Army Third Infantry to escape from harm.

We do not forget how Filipino people organized doctors and nurses on Operation Brotherhood in Vietnam to support us. We recognize how the Philippines stands with us today in fight versus ISIS, vs. terrorism, a scourge to destruct them as well as our own country.”



With these words, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis made a case for the return of Balangiga Bells to Eastern Samar in the Philippines despite the opposition of Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, who said, “I have been clear I have been against it (the return of the bells). I have been because I listened to our veterans.”

Secretary Mattis also ended one of the most bitter irritants that roiled the relationships between the U.S. and the Philippines. It's an end of one of the chapters of the whole gamut of U.S. and Philippine American relationships for more than a century.




BALANGIGA BELLS are finally safely back home in the Philippines, according to this photo grab from the footage of ABS-CBN. Photo shows Rep. Ben Evardone of Eastern Samar which has jurisdiction over Balangiga thanks a U.S. military officer for bringing home the three bells of Balangiga, two of which are shown in the photo. Others in photo from right are Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, Executive Sec. Salvador Medialdea, a priest and Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo.

At the announcement of the return of the iconic bells days after the U.S. Veterans Day on Nov. 14 at F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Secretary Mattis said, “Building nation is hard, noble work, never finished. Nations with allies thrive,” perhaps, referring to France, which helped the United States in its Independence War against mother Great Britain.

History reminds us that all wars end. In returning the bells of Balangiga to our ally and our friend, the Philippines, we pick up our generation’s responsibility to deepen the respect between our peoples.

Linking the western people of the great state of Wyoming, and people in Eastern Philippines. By the way, Balangiga is only 40 kilometers as the crow flies from a town named Gen. McArthur (in Leyte) across the hills there. It reminds us, too, that it does not start with us here nor end with us here in terms of our friendship and respect. (There is also a barangay (village) in Balangiga named MacArthur).

We return these bells with consideration of our present but also with the utmost respect of our past. One of shared sacrifices as co-equal brothers in arms. For we, in U.S. military do not forget those who stood by our side when the chips were down.”


SECRETARY JAMES MATTIS explains to a group of Wyoming government officials and veterans on Nov. 14, 2018 inside the F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he announced the return of the Balangiga Bells in the Philippines. (JGL Photograb from DOD videoclip)

In agreeing to the return of the bells, Governor Mead said, “But I do know this and listening to your words today, Mr. Secretary, you have a perspective that is broader than mine. You have a history that is broader than mine. 


And I greatly respect both of your service and your history and I know also this that while I may have a view and so many veterans have, we also, I think, commonly share this view. We understand where the judgment lies in this Mr. Secretary. We know you and the President have looked at this in highest priority of military forces and national security.

You spoke about the friendship that we have, we want to have and build upon. And I greatly respect that because I, too, think, in this world post-9/11, where we lost so much, 3,000 lives, and many structures. And any naive knows in this country, knows is somehow is immune from terrorist attacks to those attacks, we absolutely need to build those friendships.

While the bells may be moved, what shall never be moved from the state of Wyoming is our patriotism. What shall never be removed is the memory of 48 servicemen who died and their memory will always be with us. And as your words pointed out, Mr. Secretary, what is important for us to remember is the sacrifice of those who served and have paid the ultimate sacrifice.



GOVERNOR MATT MEAD is against the return of the Balangiga Bells to the Philippines but he finally acceded to the decision of Secretary James Mattis to return the bells last Nov. 14 inside the F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming, saying, “While the bells may be moved, what shall never be moved from the state of Wyoming is our patriotism. What shall never be removed is the memory of 48 servicemen who died and their memory will always be with us.” (JGL Photograb from DOD videoclip)

Wherever the bells may be, Wyoming will hopefully always stand as a state, which symbolizes great respect for our military members, veterans, and always patriotic state that is here to do its role.

With the agreement of Wyoming officials and veterans for the return of the bells, it complied with the requirements of U.S. Congress for the return of the iconic bells to the Philippines. The law  (1,333-page H.R. 2810 National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2018) says, “The President may transfer the veterans memorial object known as the “Bells of Balangiga” to the Republic of the Philippines if the Secretary of Defense certifies to Congress that (A) the transfer of the object is in the national security interests of the United States; and (B) appropriate steps have been taken to preserve the history of the veterans associated with the object, including consultation with associated veterans organizations and government officials in the State of Wyoming, as appropriate.”


The improbable return of the Balangiga Bells was boosted with the loss during the last November elections of Illinois Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren, co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives. Mr. Hultgren along with his co-chair Democratic Rep. James P. McGovern (D-2-MA) wrote a letter to Secretary Mattis, “not to transfer the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines due to ongoing human rights violations by the government of Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.”

Mr. McGovern did not respond to email request by PM (philamessenger.com) for his comment on the return of Balangiga Bells. 


It was Mr. Duterte who set the tone for the return of the bells in 2017 in his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), calling out the U.S. Government and the U.S. Congress, “[T]o give us back those Balangiga Bells. They are ours. They belong to the Philippines. They are part of our national heritage. Isauli naman ninyo. masakit yon sa amin. (Give them back to us. It’s painful for us.)” Please see story: GETTING BALANGIGA BELLS BACK TO PH WILL BE TRICKY!



THE THIRD BELL OF Balangiga, the only bell rang to announce the attack on Company C, 9th US Infantry, in Balangiga on Sept. 28, 1901. Photo courtesy of Jean Wall, daughter of Pvt. Adolf Gamlin, one of the survivors of the Balangiga Massacre, a member of Balangiga Research Group with Mr. Bob Coutie and Prof. Rolando Borinaga) 

But a little-known law passed during the Gilded Age in the United States in the late 19th century continues to shadow the futility of having back those bells after the 54th Congress during its first Session adopted on May 22, 1896 a law, Chapter 231, “An Act To authorize the Secretary of War and the Secretary of the Navy to make certain disposition of condemned ordnance, guns, and cannon balls in their respective Departments.”

Ever since the U.S. Army Infantry brought the Balangiga Bells to the United States after natives used them as signals to attack and kill more than 48 U.S. officers and enlisted men on the early morning hours of September 28, 1901 inside the garrison of the U.S. Army 9th Infantry Regiment Company C, these bells were taken as war trophies. Two of these bells were later entombed inside the F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming while the third was kept at a U.S. Army Camp in South Korea.

There have been numerous attempts to have their return but they were unsuccessful during the last 117 years.

According to an article in Philippine Panorama magazine (Aug. 28, 1994), the weekly supplement of Manila Bulletin, written by its editor, Randy V. Urlanda, Company C was composed of 74 veterans, most of whom had seen service not only in China during the Boxer Rebellion but also in Cuba and northern Luzon. It was led by Capt. Thomas O’Connell, a West Pointer, his adjutant, First Lt. Edward A. Bumpus and Major Richard S. Griswold, the company surgeon. 


Company C had only set up camp in Balangiga for six weeks during the waning days of the Philippine American War also described in U.S. history books as Philippine Insurrection. The difficult language barrier, the low deportment of women-hungry troops and the natives’ distrust of the white colonizers have combined for an unfriendly atmosphere.


THE BALANGIGA BELLS are heavily guarded while in transit to the Philippines. (U.S. Embassy Handout)

Soon, rumors of rape and molestation of women circulated around every village of Balangiga. The American arrogance, the confiscation of foodstuffs and the detested forced labor aggravated further the ire of the natives.

Mayor Pedro Abayan, together with other town leaders, held a secret meeting in his residence,” according to Dominator V. Amano. “They decided to stage a surprise attack against the Americans at breakfast time at seven o’clock, the only time they leave their rifles in the barracks.

The attacking force would be composed of 500 men, divided into seven groups, comprising 70 men per group,” Amano added.

They would be armed with bolos, spears, lances, clubs, bow and arrows, daggers, and every conceivable indigenous weapon.”

The officers and soldiers were reading the mails that just arrived in the early morning of September 28 when the town’s police chief, Valeriano Abanador, grabbed the rifle of sentry, Private Adolph Gamlin, and smashed him to his knees with its butt. As if on cue, church bells began to peal, while honking of conch shells reverberated in the surrounding hills. Suddenly, almost 200 armed townsmen descended on the startled unarmed soldiers.




MS. JEAN WALL, daughter of one of the survivors of the Balangiga Massacre/Encounter, poses with journalist Joseph G. Lariosa when Mr. Lariosa received a journalism award hosted by Dean Reyes, son of Filipino American activist Bobby M. Reyes of mabuhayradio.com on Dec. 1, 2001 in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Wall is the daughter of Pvt. Adolph Gamlin, a sentry in the Balangiga garrison, who was grabbed from behind by Balangiga Chief of Police Valeriano Abanador and was hit unconscious prior to the massacre. Ms. Wall is suggesting the order of General Jake Smith responding U.S. Army soldiers following the massacre/encounter to “kill and burn” was never carried out. (JGL Photo) (JGL Photo)

Roused from sleep, O’Connell, still in pajamas, leaped from the second-story window of his quarters and ran towards the barracks. But he was cut down by bolomen before he could arm himself. Griswold was stabbed to death in his room. A boloman lopped of the front of his face, from the bridge of the nose down to his throat. The mortally wounded officer was then shoved out of the window, into the square below.

Of the 74 officers and men, only two survived the onslaught. Seven soldiers attempted to escape in a banca (wooden fishing boat) but were intercepted and killed. Only two Americans, both severely wounded, managed to paddle their way to safety in nearby Leyte.

Balangiga natives suffered 28 deaths and 22 wounded. The townsfolk buried both the Americans and Filipino town mates in graves dug within the church compound.

In retaliation, U.S. Army Gen. Jake Smith was tasked to pacify Samar, ordered his men, “I wish you to kill and burn; the more you burn and kill, it will please me.” He directed to turn Samar into “a howling wilderness. All persons who had not surrendered and were capable of bearing arms were to be shot, including over ten years old, whom Smith said, were just as dangerous as the elders.” Smith was tried by court martial at nearby Catbalogan, Samar and forced to retire.

Ms. Jean Wall, daughter of one of the survivors of the Massacre/Encounter, when asked for comment over the return of the Balangiga Bells was speechless. She simply email this reporter with a composite photo of Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez and Secretary Mattis shaking hands in front of the iconic Balangiga Bells in F.E. Warren AFB and a photo of the shattered concrete display of the bells with a brief note: "Before and after from Warren AFB in Cheyenne, Wyo.  A picture is worth a 1000 words." (See photo above.)

In 2011, Ms. Wall, who expressed doubts of the return of the bells to the Philippines, told this reporter that in "My last comment to Sonny (Sampayan) was the US has far to many troubles in DC to want to make this any kind of an issue. If for any reason our current President would want to use this issue or any part therof, to promote one of his agendas, by that I mean would be able to use the PI (Philippine Islands now Republic of the Philippines) to gain some sort of advantage for him than there would be a chance but right now I can't see it.  Have you been in touch with Sonny? Let me know where you might want to go with this and if I can assist in any way let me know.

Ms. Wall has also clarified that the “kill and burn” policy was ever carried out. (Contact reporter: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)  


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