PHOTO CREDIT: Philippine Embassy in Washington Facebook Page

The historical impact of the return of Balangiga Bells to the Philippines in December 2018 was in the spotlight at a forum in Washington.

The Forum on the Return of the Balangiga Bells held on January 22 highlighted the historical background of the bells, and recounted the dedicated efforts exerted by Filipinos and Americans alike who worked tirelessly for the bells’ homecoming.

Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez expressed the Philippine Government’s gratitude to the United States for “doing what is right,” and further underscored the strong people-to-people ties between the two countries.

“We never forget friends. Once you are a friend of ours, you are a friend forever. The latest survey indicates that 85 percent of Filipinos trust the United States as an ally. We trust that this country will do what is right,” the Ambassador remarked.

“The return of these bells will never be forgotten by the people of the Philippines,” he further emphasized.

U.S.-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson who moderated the forum said,

“The forum provided an unusually comprehensive and insightful happy-ending account of a successful effort by a committed team of players both inside and outside of government working for years against the odds with many dramatic near-misses along the way.

Presentations underscored the significance of the Bells return in addressing a historical grievance, promoting reconciliation, strengthening people-to-people ties and fostering strategic cooperation. The US-Philippines Society and its members were privileged to have played a role in supporting this remarkable initiative.”

The Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. and the US-Philippines Society co-hosted the Washington forum attended by Philippine Honorary Consul to Florida Dr. Henry B. Howard, Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Dr. Joseph H. Felter, and Commanding Officer of Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) (1988-1991), Rear Admiral Daniel McKinnon, Jr. SC, USN (Ret.).

The forum brought together a set of renowned speakers who significantly contributed to the effort of ensuring the successful return of the bells to the Philippines in December 2018.

The Balangiga Bells were returned to the Philippines with an arrival ceremony in Villamor Air Base on 11 December 2018. They were handed over to the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on 15 December 2018.

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