BALANGIGA, E. Samar, Dec 18 (PIA)-- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte not only rang the bell but spoke for at least six minutes to the huge crowd that gathered at the Balangiga town auditorium to meet the President on Saturday
He also kissed one of the bells and indulged the crowd by greeting them in their native dialect, the audience cheered.
Clearly, the President has charmed his country once more, Apoy Antonio Elacion shared as he listened attentively to whom he called, "the only President that successfully brought the bells back to us."
The President said kalipay (happiness) must now be reigning in every Balangigan-on heart because of the homecoming of the bells.
"It has been 117 years since the bells were taken away, yet we never lose hope that someday these bells will be returned," he said.
He cited that several efforts by both Americans and the Filipinos were done, and that the road to its return was long and tedious process to the point that the outcome was sometimes disappointing.
"But the long wait is over, the rest of the Filipinos join the Diocese of Borongan in celebrating the historic event," he added.
He reiterated that the return of the bells was because of the" fervent prayers of the entire Phil nation," this received a resounding applause from the enthusiastic crowd.
He told the crowd that no one can claim a singular credit for the generous act of the Americans.
"Homecoming of the artifacts is truly milestone and a shared meaningful history of the US and the Philippines," the President said.
He added that the bells are more than just a part of the Balangiga church, as the bells are significant elements of the country's religious and historical narrative.
"They are enduring symbols of our history."
He urged his kababayans in Balangiga, to ensure protection of the gems.
"Our ancestors are celebrating with us, on this remarkable victory and this does not only brings back the glory of the town of Balangiga but also contributes in the full restoration of our dignity as Filipinos."
The crowd as it applauded and cheered was visibly pleased as the President joined them in celebrating victory as the bells have once more occupied the empty place in their Balangigan-on heart. (NBQ/PIA 8-E Samar)