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Reveille

Bells of Balangiga, a reminder

/ 05:10 AM September 25, 2017

This year, Sept. 28 falls on a Thursday. But 116 years ago, Sept. 28 fell on a Sunday. According to historical reports, it was a bright sunny morning without any rain as was expected during the wet season.

The ringing of the town church bells in an unusually vigorous manner signaled the beginning of one of the bloodiest confrontations in the Philippine-American War. US press reports rated the Balangiga engagement as “one of the worst tragedies in American military annals.” The Minneapolis Journal of Sept. 30, 1901, carried a front-page story: “Butchered With Bolos. Company of US troops almost annihilated. Over forty slaughtered.” The Salt Lake Herald of the same date had “Terrible Defeat At Hands of Filipinos” as one of its headlines while the Evening World claimed: “The slaughter is the most overwhelming defeat that Americans have encountered in the Orient.”

In his second State of the Nation Address last July 24, President Duterte surprised his Batasan audience by bringing up an issue that, for almost two decades, our national leaders have avoided or neglected to pursue.

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Taking a step back in time, he declared: “In 1901, there was a place known as Balangiga in Eastern Samar. It was the time of the Philippine-American War. A combined group of Filipino villagers and guerrillas, in an effort to defend Samar island from the alien invaders, attacked and overwhelmed a US infantry garrison.

“Forty-eight American officers and men were slain in the attack. On the Filipino side, the casualty count was 28 killed and 22 wounded. In retaliation, US gunboats and patrols were sent to Balangiga with the order to make a desert of Balangiga and to reduce Samar Island into an island of howling wilderness where every male citizen from the age of 10 and above and capable of bearing arms, would be put to death.

“The church bells of Balangiga were seized by the Americans as the spoils of war. Those bells are reminders of the gallantry and heroism of our forebears who resisted the American colonizers and sacrificed their lives in the process. Krag against bolo — Krag was the standard rifle issued to American troops — and that is how the historians described the Philippine-American War.

“That is why I say today: Give us back those Balangiga bells (Applause). They are ours. They belong to the Philippines (Applause). They are part of the national heritage (Applause).

“Isauli naman ninyo. Masakit yun sa amin.”

No other Philippine president has come out in such strong and unequivocal language calling for the return of the bells of Balangiga. Until they are brought home and restored to their rightful owner, the Philippine-American War will continue to be fought in the hearts and minds of our people.

* * *

Senior citizen alert:

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First, the good news. Senior citizen Damaso Magbual, who earlier complained about being denied the senior discount by Medical Center Manila (ManilaMed) for an executive checkup done by the hospital, is pleased to inform us that ManilaMed has issued him a refund. The customer service department of the medical center also informed him that “as part of our corrective and preventive action, senior citizen discounts pertaining to packages(executive checkup included) is being reevaluated and subject to revision.”

We commend ManilaMed for its gracious acknowledgment of an error and the prompt corrective action that was taken
on the matter.

We also take note of an announcement from the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) that a senior citizen discount will now be honored for online bookings on domestic flights. It took the CAB several years to get this ruling out considering that as early as 2012, there was an existing administrative order from the then Department of Transportation and Communications and Department of Trade and Industry providing for a bill of rights for air passengers that covered online bookings.

Now, for the bad news.

Last week, a group of ladies—all senior citizens—had lunch at Salvatore Cuomo, an Italian restaurant located at Uptown Parade in Bonifacio Global City. To their surprise, the restaurant refused to honor their senior citizen privilege, claiming that the price extended to them is a “promo” and, therefore, not subject to the usual senior citizen benefit.

Strictly from a practical point of view, if a promo price covers everyone, then the senior citizen status is not being honored since he would be paying the same as everyone else. The implementing rules and regulations of the Senior Citizens Act also has a provision covering promotional discounts. Article 9, Rule IV states: “In the purchase of goods and services which are on promotional discount, the senior citizen can avail of the establishment’s offered discount or the twenty percent discount provided herein, whichever is higher and more favorable.”

Incidentally, the ladies concerned come from St. Theresa’s College, University of the Philippines, Assumption, Miriam, St. Scholastica, and the University of San Carlos, and they are quite knowledgeable on the workings of the Senior Citizens Act, hence, their protests to management. Unfortunately, all the manager could do was indicate that they were merely following instructions and would elevate the matter to the owner and
operator of the establishment.

Salvatore Cuomo should restudy its position on promos. In the meantime, I would advise my fellow senior citizens to avoid establishments that insist on their own interpretation of the law.

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TAGS: Balangiga bells, Ramon Farolan, Reveille, Senior Citizen Discount
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