MANILA, May 2, 2016 – After a farewell ceremony and Mass on April 29 at New York’s West Point’s Most Holy Trinity Catholic Chapel, a bell, which had been in the U.S. for decades, was finally sent back home: the Saints Peter and Paul Church in Bauang, La Union, Philippines.
Rung one last time on Friday, before being sent back, the said bell was removed from the 16th-century old church in 1901 during the Philippine-American War that lasted from 1899 to 1902. U.S. soliders routinely took bells home as souvenirs, but at times they were removed for a military purpose – to prevent them from being melted to make weapons.
The said bell has been kept for several years on a stand and was hung outside the chapel, with a placard that read in part: “Symbol of peace that even the ravages of war could not destroy.”
According to reports, at some point, the bell fell into the hands of Lt. Col. Thomas Barry, who had been deployed to the Philippines in 1900-01. The West Point class of 1877 graduate, who eventually became its 27th superintendent, gave the bell to his alma mater in 1915. It was brought to the Catholic Church at West Point for storage in 1937.
Dr. Rolando O. Borrimaga, Professor at U.P. School of Health Sciences in Palo, Leyte, researched and established the Bauang, La Union origin of the bell which was corroborated by an University of Santo Tomas (UST) archivist. The return of the bell is expected to generate considerable excitement in the Philippines because of its comparison to the two bells from Balangiga, Eastern Samar, kept in a U.S. Air Force base in Wyoming.
Representatives from the United States Military Academy, the Philippine Embassy, and the US/Philippine Society attended the valediction ceremony. (Carl Jamie Simple S. Bordeos / CBCP News)