HOMECOMING

U.S. Hands Three Bells Seized as War Trophies in 1901 Back to Philippines

Three church bells have returned to the Philippines more than a century after they were taken by American troops as war trophies following a massacre. Occupying troops took the bells from a Catholic church in 1901 after an attack by Filipino villagers who killed 48 U.S. soldiers in the town of Balangiga on central Samar island. The Americans then killed thousands of villagers above the age of 10 and seized the bells. U.S. defense officials and the American ambassador handed them back to the defense chief in a solemn ceremony at an air force base Tuesday. “It is my great honor to be here at this closing of a painful chapter in our history,” U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim said. “Our relationship has withstood the tests of history and flourishes today.” Some U.S. veterans had opposed the return of the bells, saying they were memorials to American war dead.