Church History in the Philippines
By Church Almanac
Year-end 1996: Est. population, 77,726,000; Members,
389,000; Stakes, 56; Wards, 336; Branches, 665; Missions, 13; Districts, 85; Temples, 1;
Percent LDS, 0.5, or one LDS in 199.
An archipelago off the southeast coast of Asia, the
Republic of the Philippines has a population that speaks Tagalog and English. They are
Roman Catholic, 83 percent; Protestant, 9 percent; and Muslim, 5 percent.
The Church was introduced in the Philippines during
the Spanish-American War in 1898. Two artillery batteries from Utah were sent to the
Philippines, and Willard Call and George Seaman were set apart as missionaries, making
them the first Mormon elders to preach the gospel among the people of the Philippine
There was no missionary activity in the Philippines
until the end of World War II, when Maxine Grimm, wife of a U.S. Army colonel, serving in
the American Red Cross in the Philippines, introduced the gospel to Aniceta Pabilona
Fajardo, the first Filipino to join the Church in the islands. Sister Fajardo was baptized
in 1945. Dean Franklin Clair, a U.S. Army medic, was another LDS pioneer in the
Philippines when he married Filipina Leona H. Seno.
The Church experienced a growth spurt in the area in
1953 during the Korean War when the Luzon Servicemen's District was organized.
On April 28, 1961, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then
Assistant to the Twelve, met with a small group of local servicemen, American residents,
Filipino members and their families at the American War Memorial Cemetery to offer a
prayer for the islands and open the islands for missionary work. The first missionaries,
Elders Ray Goodson, Harry Murray, Kent Lowe and Nestor Ledesma, arrived in Manila on June
The first two to be baptized by the missionaries
were Jose Gutierez Sr. and Lino Brocka. By the end of 1961, there had been eight baptisms.
In 1967, the Philippine Mission was organized with
Paul S. Rose as president. Two years later the Church had spread to eight major islands of
the country and the mission had the highest number of baptisms in the Church.
The Philippines Mission was divided into two
missions in 1974, creating the Philippines Manila Mission, under the leadership of Pres.
Raymond L. Goodson, and the Philippines Cebu City Mission, under the direction of Pres.
Carl D. Jones. In the next 12 years, seven more missions were created.
The Manila Missionary Training Center was
established in 1983 to train missionaries, and in September 1984 the Manila Philippines
Temple was dedicated. At that time, membership was 76,000.
In 1987, the Philippines/Micronesia Area was created
with headquarters in Manila. Nine new missions were created in the Philippines between
During 1990-91, members experienced volcanic
eruptions, earthquakes, flooding and conflicts between insurgent and government forces.
Church relief efforts were sent to help in the recovery of the natural disasters.
Membership continued to grow, reaching 237,000 in 1990.
The first Filipino General Authority, Elder Augusto
A. Lim, was called to the Second Quorum of the Seventy June 6, 1992. The Church became
more prominent as Christmas lights on the temple grounds attracted more people, and its
youth became involved in more service projects.
President Gordon B. Hinckley returned to this land
on May 30-June 1, 1996, where he had first visited 36 years ago. The trip was part of an
eight-nation tour that included the dedication of the Hong Kong Temple. His visit to the
Philippines served to renew long-time acquaintances. Many traveled great distances to hear
the prophet. Members continued to be involved with National Family Week, gaining a high
profile as they did so. Members of the Bacolod Philippines North Stake joined others to
celebrate the Philippines centennial in 1998, and presented a musical with historical
highlights and various songs and dances that was well-attended.
Sources: "The Philippines," The Improvement Era, March 1964; History of the
Church in the Philippines, compiled by the Luzon District, 1965; "Philippines: the
Land of Joyous Service," Ensign, August 1975; "Missionaries in Khaki," by
Carol Cornwall Madsen, Church News, June 23, 1979; "Gospel flourishes in soil of
Filipino faith," by Francis M. Orquiola, Ensign, Sept. 1984; "Dateline
Philippines," Tambuli, April 1991; Church News, Dec. 25, 1993, Oct. 4, 1997, Aug. 1,
1998. Copyright Deseret