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Panelists of the Forum on the Return of the Balangiga Bells. From left, Philippine honorary consul to Florida Dr. Henry B. Howard; Philippine 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.).


WASHINGTON — The Philippine Embassy and the US-Philippines Society co-hosted a forum on the “Return of the Balangiga Bells: A Historical Perspective and Significance” at the Philippine Chancery Annex in the afternoon of Jan. 22, 2019.

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.

They are Philippine ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel G. Romualdez; Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for South and Southeast Asia Dr. Joseph H. Felter; Philippine honorary consul to Florida Dr. Henry B. Howard; and Commanding Officer of Naval Supply Systems Command (1988-1991), Rear Admiral Daniel McKinnon, Jr. SC. USN (Ret.).

McKinnon provided the historical background of the bells, while Howard and Felter recounted the dedicated efforts exerted by Filipinos and Americans alike who worked tirelessly for the bells’ homecoming.

Rep. Donald Bacon (R-NE 2nd District), who was present during the forum, also underscored the significance of the bell’s return to PH-U.S. friendship and alliance in his brief remarks.


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Ambassador Jose Manuel G. Romualdez (left) converses with Rep. Donald Bacon prior to the start of the forum.


Romualdez again 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.

“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,” said US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson who also served as moderator.

A Q&A session followed the respective remarks of the panelists, and a simple merienda concluded the program.

The Balangiga Bells were returned to the Philippines with an arrival ceremony in Villamor Air Base on Dec. 11, 2018.

They were handed over to the San Lorenzo de Martir Parish Church in Balangiga, Eastern Samar on Dec. 15, 2018.


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A member of the audience asks a question to one of the panelists during the Q&A session of the forum.


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Group photo of the panelists with US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson after the forum entitled “Return of the Balangiga Bells: A Historical Perspective and Significance” on Jan. 22, 2019. From left, US-Philippines Society Executive Director Hank Hendrickson; Philippine honorary consul to Florida Dr. Henry B. Howard; Philippine 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.).

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