Sometime later, Saravia became a town and its small church was reconstructed. With much fanfare, a massive golden bell was installed in its new belfry. The renovated church offered new hopes to the townsfolk as it renewed their belief that their novenas to the Virgin Mary would keep the Moros at bay, much as Mary also protected the neighbouring town of Victorias from Moro attacks. It would seem as though deliverance was finally at hand.
After the locality was sacked once more, the priest persuaded his parishioners that God only helped those who also helped themselves. Therefore, a plan was devised. On rotation, robust young men with good eyesight served as look-out, guarding the belfry tower by day and by night. When a Moro vinta was spotted, the look-out was supposed to ring the golden bell, the vibrating sound of which would purportedly echo throughout the whole island.
A number of days passed, and soon enough, the deafening sound of the bell filled the night air. By the time the Moros landed, they found the town deserted whilst bolo-wielding young men guarded their homes. The rest of the townsfolk had fled to a pre-determined location in the nearby forest. The would-be raiders retreated back to their vintas, and the town celebrated its liberation from the Moros. It had finally found the way.
However, victory would be short-lived, and the town’s celebration was premature. The Moros as well inferred the ringing of the bell and its role as a warning device. They therefore embarked on a plan of their own. As the inhabitants of Saravia started to let off their guard in their false sense of security, the Moros executed their plan.
One sunny day just after noon when it was assumed that most would be taking their siesta, the Moros attacked. The marauders figured out that the reflection on the water of the sun overhead would partially blind the view of the belfry look-out. Moreover, instead of directly landing on the shoreline of Saravia, they used as staging point a small islet at the side of the town, with no direct view from the look-out. The townsfolk were thus caught completely unawares, and the Moros’ expedition was an unmitigated success!
On their way out, the pirates burned the belfry and removed Saravia’s warning device, carrying the golden bell with them. Too heavy to be brought to their vintas, it was said that the bell was finally dumped in a deep lake called Uyog at the back of the village’s graveyard. Numerous efforts were later made to retrieve the valuable bell from underneath the mud without any success.
The Spanish government finally gained ascendency in their some 200-year war against the Moros during the latter half of the 19th Century. This was facilitated by the arrival of steam powered ships invented by an American and used in France earlier in the century. Faster, more maneuverable, and more powerful, they bombarded Moro strongholds. From their fortified headquarters in Zamboanga, these gunboats patrolled Christian settlements in the southern and central Philippines.
By the time the Americans came at the end of the 19th Century, their task remained chiefly to maintain law and order. Moro raids in the Visayas had ceased to be a threat, and the Americans passed a policy of non-interference.