Bauang Church’s San Pedro bell has returned home after 115 years

Detail of front inscriptions of bell

Detail of front inscriptions of bell

After two attempts of visiting Bauang as a side trip to shoot the celebrated San Pedro bell, I was finally successful for the third time, after a visit to the the Manaoag Shrine as well as its Catholic and municipal cemeteries in Pangasinan. All because I want to see the bell that was returned to the town after 115 years.

In 1901, during the Philippine-American War, the San Pedro bell of Bauang Church was carted off by the Americans as war booty and up to early this year, was at a military campus chapel. Due to efforts by a group of veterans, the bell was installed infront the church last 23 May 2016.

I just hope that the other three bells taken from Balangiga Church in Samar by the American soldiers in 1901 after their reprisal now called the Balangiga Massacre, will eventually return to their rightful place. One is in the 9th Infantry Regiment at Camp Red Cloud, in South Korea while the other two are in F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

This is the Inquirer news item.

Bell details:

Dedicated to: San Pedro
Weight: 834 libras (378.3 kg)
Inscription just above the lip:

SIENDO CURA PAROCCO EL M. R. P. F. MARIANO GARCIA AÑO DE 1883
DONACION DEL GOBERNADORCILLO D. MARIANO BALANCIO Y DEL TENIENTE (indecipherable marks) D. HILARIO CALICA A SU YGLESIA DE BAUANG

The bellcaster/foundry was not mentioned

The plaque below the bell says:

The San Pedro Bell
This bell was originally presented to Friar Mariano Garcia on behalf of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in 1883 by Governor Mariano Balancio and Hilario Calica. It remained in the church belfry until 1901 when it was removed by U.S. forces stationed in the Philippines. It was later taken to the United States by General Thomas Barry. The circumstances surrounding the removal of the bell and its journey to the U.S. remain lost in history.

General Barry later presented the bell to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York in 1915 where it remained for the next century. Over the subsequent decades, the originaltion of the bell and much of its history became obscured until 2015 when a group of American Veterans (sic) re-discoveredthe bell. Subsequent research identified that the bell belonged to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul in Bauang, La Union. The American veteran group then worked with Father Ronald R.O. Chan and Mayor Martin P. de Guzman III to formally request that the bell be returned to the church.

In 2016, Lieutenant General Robert J. Caslen, Jr., the 59th Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point honered the request and agreed to return to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul as a gesture of good will and in recognition of America’s enduring friendship with the Philippines.

Special Recognition and Thanks

The Church of Saints Peter and Paul and the People of Bauang give special thanks to the United States Military Academy at West Point and especially the following individuals for their efforts to return the bell:

Lieutenant General Robert J. Caslen, Jr., USA
Captain Dennis L. Wright, SC, USN (Retired)
Rear Admiral Daniel W. McKinnon, Jr., SC USN (Retired)
Captain John P. Gilmer, USA (USMA ’74)
Ambassador Raul R.C. Rabe

The San Pedro bell was war booty, when the Americans carted it off in 1901 during the Philippine-American war.

The San Pedro bell was war booty, when the Americans carted it off in 1901 during the Philippine-American war.

The bell was cast for the town church of Bauang

The bell was cast for the town church of Bauang

Inscriptions with the name of the parish priest and the donor of the bell

Inscriptions with the name of the parish priest and the donor of the bell

The San Pedro bell that was returned from the US

The San Pedro bell that was returned from the US

Facade of Bauang's parish church. The returned bell is located at the lower left side, just before the entrance under the belfry.

Facade of Bauang’s parish church. The returned bell is located at the lower left side, just before the entrance under the belfry.

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