BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar, (PNA) — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Herminio E. Coloma Jr. will recommend for an “appropriate recognition” to the historic Balangiga encounter as it marked its 112th anniversary over the weekend.
Sec. Coloma, who was the guest of honor during the commemorative program, said that he would endorse to the National Historical Institute (NHI) to consider Balangiga town as one possible host for the Independence Day celebration before the term of President Benigno S. Aquino ends.
He pointed out the significance of the event in 1901 as he explained that the Philippines was only three years old as a Republic and Emilio Aguinaldo, its first President was also captured by the American forces.
But the Balangigan-on showed their bravery by not allowing the abusive American soldiers to exploit them.
Coloma said that indeed the Balangiga encounter is not just for the locales to celebrate nor for Eastern Samar but for the entire Filipino nation.
He added that Filipinos thought all the while that the first People Power happened only in 1986 at the Epifanio de los Santos Avenue (EDSA). Instead, he urged Balangigan-ons to declare that what transpired 112 years ago was already a strong showcase of people power.
Similar to the EDSA People Power the Balangia encounter also hold on to their faith in winning their struggles. In fact the Balangiga church bells served as signal to start the struggle.
The incident he said deserved a chapter in the country’s history books and not just few paragraphs or sentences to proclaim the heroism and bravery of the Balangigan-ons.
Further, he urged everyone to always remember the people of Balangiga each time they sing the phrase “sa manlulupig di ka pasisiil.”
Moreover, the bell that played a significant role during the encounter should be part of the design of the Philippine National Police (PNP) badge if not of the Philippine Army to also symbolize the heroism of the Balangigan-on.
The Balangiga encounter that happened in the morning of Sept. 28, 1901 was dubbed as the “worst single defeat” by the United States military in the Philippines, according to an article written by Prof. Rolando O. Borrinaga of the School of Health Sciences, of the University of the Philippines in Eastern Visayas.
It was a fruit of the struggle of the natives to break free from the abuses of the US troops that belonged to the company “C” of the 9th US Infantry Regiment stationed at the Balangiga to prevent the entry of supplies that will sustain the Filipino revolutionaries.
Ruben B. Matias, trustee of the Balangiga Historical and Cultural Foundation, Inc, wrote that the encounter resulted in the death of 48 American soldiers and 28 on the part of Filipino forces. Meanwhile, 21 US troops and 22 Filipinos were wounded.
The US forces upon the order allegedly of B/Gen. Jacob H. Smith retaliated by killing all natives capable of bearing arms, specifically all 10 years old and above.
Days later, the three church bells used by the natives to signal the previous encounter were taken by the 11th US Infantry and dubbed them as “war trophies.”
The smallest bell is now on display at the travelling museum of the 9th US Infantry in Korea while the two others are now at the F. E. Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Coloma said that a diplomatic effort to retrieve these bells continues.
“We are not giving up on those efforts,” he affirmed.