BALANGIGA, Eastern Samar – President Rodrigo Duterte kissed one of the three Balangiga bells and rang it four times before a cheering crowd during the ceremonial handover of the bells to the local government and the local parish on Saturday afternoon..
For Nestor Campanero, 48, seeing the bells unveiled by the President is comparable to his feeling when he graduated with an Accountancy degree in 1995.
“It’s overwhelming to see that finally the bells are back to our place. I never expected that I would be able to see the bells in my lifetime,” said Campanero, an instructor of the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority in this town.
Campanero is a descendant of Custudio Salazar, the gobernadorcillo of Eastern Samar during the Balangiga Encounter in 1901.
For Chine Elairon, 68, her joy is immeasurable now that the bells are back.
“Many past officials promised us of the bells’ return, but they all failed us,” she said.
“I am excited to attend the Simbang Gabi starting tomorrow since we have the original bells now,” Elairon added.
Jennifer Camenforte, 45, who has been working in a BPO company in Manila for five years, went home to witness the handover of the long-awaited bells.
“I am very happy since this is not expected to happen within my lifetime. This would be a different Christmas celebration in our town,” Camenforte told the Philippine News Agency.