BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar – The return of the historic bells to the town was also a cause for celebration among soldiers in the region.
Thus said Capt. Francis Agno, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Division whose main camp was named after General Vicente Lukban who served as the top military official of Samar Island at that time.
Samar, under Lukban’s leadership, remained one of the few areas of Filipino resistance during the American occupation.
“It was Gen. Lukban who led the attack during the Balangiga Encounter on September 28, 1901 and because of his heroism, the 8th Division headquarters was named after him,” Agno shared.
Camp Vicente Lukban is located in Barangay Maulong, Catbalogan City.
Cyril Lukban, a great-great grandson of General Lukban, also expressed pride that his ancestor was part of the Filipino guerillas responsible on the worst single defeat by the American troops during the Filipino-American War.
The 52-year old Lukban personally visited Balangiga to witness the momentous turnover of the revered bells on Saturday (December 15).
“The bells are back to unite the people in Balangiga. We are very much happy to be here,” he said.
The bells were returned to the country 117 years after these artifacts were forcibly removed by the American soldiers from the belfry of the church of the town.
The three bells were repatriated back to the country on December 11 and were formally turned over to the parish of St. Lawrence the Martyr Parish on Dec.15.
Gen. Lukban’s name is inscribed along with 113 Filipino soldiers who fought during the September 28,1901 attack against the American soldiers assigned at that time in this town at the Balangiga Incident Marker, located within the town plaza.
The Balangiga Incident Marker is the work of National Artist Napoleon Abueva which was inaugurated during the 102nd Balangiga Incident anniversary on September 28, 2003. (LIZBETH ANN A. ABELLA)