John McCaslin

How did the pair of bells wind up in Wyoming?

"It was a result of a conflict, between Filipino and American soldiers in 1901 in the town of Balangiga on the island of Samar, Philippines, that the bells in the Balangiga church were taken to the United States as war trophies," Mr. Filner explained.

However, he pointed out that Balangiga's residents later erected a memorial of Philippine and American war dead from the 1901 incident, all of whom are honored by the town every Sept. 28. "Filipino people have requested the return of the bells to the original setting in the Balangiga parish where they could ring again, after 106 years of muteness, as a symbol of this bond," Mr. Filner noted at the time.

In recent days, Mr. Sampayan-Sampayan, supported by the Holy See, suggested in a letter to the White House: "The return of our church bells will leave a lasting legacy for President Bush and Pope Benedict XVI and cement the friendship of America's oldest ally in the Pacific."

There are 80 million Roman Catholics in the Philippines.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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