The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in The Philippines

The LDS Church in the Philippines has the fourth largest church membership, the most districts, the fifth most stakes, the fourth most congregations, and the fourth most missions in the world, although the Philippines rank twelfth in the world by total population. The dedication of the Cebu City Philippines Temple reduced the number of stakes and districts originally assigned to the Manila Philippines Temple district, the district still had the most districts and the fourteenth most stakes of any temple district in the world . The Cebu City Philippines Temple district has the second most districts. In the Philippines, Latter-day Saints constitute the highest percentage of the population in Asia at one LDS member per 155 Filipinos, yet active Latter-day Saints may be as few as one in 800. The Philippines appear to have the largest full-time missionary forces outside of the United States and Latin America.

Regional Church News


The Philippines, (officially the Republic of the Philippines) is an archipelagic country in Southeast Asia. Situated in the western Pacific Ocean, it consists of about 7,641 islands[1] that are categorized broadly under three main geographical divisions from north to south: Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao. The capital city of the Philippines is Manila and the most populous city is Quezon City, both part of Metro Manila.[2] Bounded by the South China Sea on the west, the Philippine Sea on the east and the Celebes Sea on the southwest, the Philippines shares maritime borders with Taiwan to the north, Vietnam to the west, Palau to the east and Malaysia and Indonesia to the south.

The Philippines' location on the Pacific Ring of Fire and close to the equator makes the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons, but also endows it with abundant natural resources and some of the world's greatest biodiversity. The Philippines has an area of Template:Convert,[3][4] according to the Philippines Statistical Authority and the WorldBank and, as of 2015, had a population of at least 100 million.[5] Template:As of, it was the eighth-most populated country in Asia and the 12th most populated country in the world. Approximately 10 million additional Filipinos lived overseas,[6] comprising one of the world's largest diasporas. Multiple ethnicities and cultures are found throughout the islands. In prehistoric times, Negritos were some of the archipelago's earliest inhabitants. They were followed by successive waves of Austronesian peoples.[7] Exchanges with Malay, Indian, Arab and Chinese nations occurred. Then, various competing maritime states were established under the rule of datus, rajahs, sultans and lakans.

The arrival of Ferdinand Magellan, a Portuguese explorer leading a fleet for the Spanish, in Homonhon, Eastern Samar in 1521 marked the beginning of Hispanic colonization. In 1543, Spanish explorer Ruy López de Villalobos named the archipelago Template:Lang in honor of Philip II of Spain. With the arrival of Miguel López de Legazpi from Mexico City, in 1565, the first Hispanic settlement in the archipelago was established.[8] The Philippines became part of the Spanish Empire for more than 300 years. This resulted in Catholicism becoming the dominant religion. During this time, Manila became the western hub of the trans-Pacific trade connecting Asia with Acapulco in the Americas using Manila galleons.[9]

As the 19th century gave way to the 20th, the Philippine Revolution quickly followed, which then spawned the short-lived First Philippine Republic, followed by the bloody Philippine–American War.[10] The war, as well as the ensuing cholera epidemic, resulted in the deaths of thousands of combatants as well as tens of thousands of civilians.[11][12][13][14] Aside from the period of Japanese occupation, the United States retained sovereignty over the islands until after World War II, when the Philippines was recognized as an independent nation. Since then, the unitary sovereign state has often had a tumultuous experience with democracy, which included the overthrow of a dictatorship by a non-violent revolution.[15]

The Philippines is a founding member of the United Nations, World Trade Organization, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, and the East Asia Summit. It also hosts the headquarters of the Asian Development Bank.[16] The Philippines is considered to be an emerging market and a newly industrialized country,[17] which has an economy transitioning from being based on agriculture to one based more on services and manufacturing.[18] Along with East Timor, the Philippines is one of Southeast Asia's predominantly Christian nations.


Philippine culture generally consists of a blend of indigenous, Spanish, American, and Asian customs and practices. Some areas retain a greater degree of native cultural characteristics, such as the Solo Archipelago. Over three centuries of Spanish rule heavily influenced local languages, art, dance, names, and religion. American control of the islands familiarized most the population with English. Cuisine consists of pork, fruit, vegetables, rice, seafood, egg dishes (such as Balut), noodles, and many dishes and foods common in China. Cigarette consumption rates compare to the United States whereas alcohol consumption rates are lower than most nations. Prostitution is illegal but widespread. Homosexuality among males is common in many areas and is tolerated by most of the population.

Corruption, instability, and inefficient government have limited economic growth for decades, during which time nearby Asian nations have experienced rapid development and modernization. Poverty is a major issue as a third of the population lives below the poverty line. Underemployment contributes to poor standards of living. Remittances from the nearly five million Filipinos abroad constitute an important part of the economy. Services employ 51% of the work force and generate 55% of the GDP whereas industry employs 15% of the work force and generates 30% of the GDP. Electronics, clothing, pharmaceuticals, wood products, petroleum refining, and fishing are major industries. Timber, petroleum, salt, and valuable minerals/metals are abundant natural resources. Agriculture employs a third of the labor force and accounts for 15% of the GDP. Primary agricultural products include sugarcane, coconuts, rice, corn, fruit, pork, eggs, beef, and fish. Primary trade partners include the United States, Japan, China, and Singapore.

The Philippines is perceived as one of the most corrupt nations in Asia. Corruption is perceived as widespread and preset in all areas of society. Past efforts to address corruption have been unsuccessful and inconsistent. Many face significant challenges finding work and attaining suitable living standards due to corrupt practices in business and local government. Poor economic freedom and living conditions drive many Filipinos abroad in search of employment. The expatriate Filipino community may number as many as 10 million and consists primarily of migrant workers.

Catholics constitute between 80 and 85 percent of the population. Muslims are the largest minority group and are estimate to account between five and nine percent of the population. Filipino Muslims, also known as Moros, primarily populate Mindanao, the Solo Archipelago. Primary non-Catholic Christian denominations include Seventh Day Adventists, the United Church of Christ, United Methodist, the Episcopal Church in the Philippines, Assemblies of God, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Southern Baptists, Philippine Independent Church, and the Iglesia ni Cristo. Some Christians incorporate indigenous beliefs into their religious practice. Many Christian Filipino workers in the Middle East convert to Islam for economic and social benefits and return to the Philippines as Muslims known as Balik Islam (Islam returnees).[3]

The constitution protects religious freedom which is generally upheld by the government. The government requests religious groups to register with the government but does not limit the religious freedom of non-registered religious groups. Registration grants tax-exempt status to religious groups. Religious instruction occurs in public schools but students must have their parents' written consent to attend classes. The dissemination of religious literature may occur in public schools. The Government has respected religious freedom for all religious groups, but there has been ongoing religious conflict in Mindanao between Christians and Muslims. There is some persecution of the Muslim minority in Mindanao by the Christian majority, which is also fueled by socio-economic differences. There are no proselytism bans in Muslim-populated areas, but the Muslim minority has resented Christian proselytizing efforts as they are viewed as an attack on their identity and homeland. Muslim separatist groups control some areas of Mindanao.[4]

LDS History

Church President Joseph Fielding Smith dedicated the Philippines for missionary work in 1955.[5] Latter-day Saint servicemen from the United States established an informal church presence toward the end of World War II. In 1961, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley visited and initiated full-time missionary efforts, which occurred under the Southern Far East Mission headquartered in Hong Kong. At the time, there were only around 100 members.[6] Both seminary and institute were operating by 1972. Church President Spencer W. Kimball visited Philippine President Marcos in 1975 and met local members.[7] In 1981, the Church announced the first Philippine temple in Manila which was dedicated in 1984. Missionary work began on Masbate in 1987[8] and on Mindoro in 1988.[9] Tagalog became the first Philippine language with Book of Mormon translation of select passages published in 1988, followed by select passages of the Book of Mormon translated into Ilokano and Cebuano in the early 1990s.[10] In 1998, Micronesia became part of the Pacific Area and the Philippines became its own area.[11] The Philippines became one the first nations in which the Perpetual Education Fund was implemented in the early 2000s.[12]

Between 2002 and 2004, the Church assigned Elder Dallin H. Oaks to serve as president of the Philippines Area as a result of poor convert retention, low member activity, low temple attendance, and challenges training local leadership, marking the first time an apostle was assigned abroad in half a century.[13] A missionary in the Philippines Bacolod Mission died from a car accident in 2008.[14] The first temple in the southern Philippines was dedicated in 2010 in Cebu City.

The Church created its first stake in Manila in 1973. In 1975, there was one stake and four districts in the Philippines Manila Mission and four districts in the Philippines Cebu City Mission.[24] In the late 1970s, additional stakes were created in Makati and Quezon City. There were 15 stakes by 1984,[25] most of which were organized in the Manila area. During the first half of the 1980s, the first stakes were created in the Visayas and Mindanao in Cebu City, Bacolod, and Davao. There were 32 stakes and 34 districts by April 1988.[26] During the late 1980s and early 1990s, the number of districts increased rapidly as over 35 new districts were created during this period throughout the Philippines.

See Also


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  18. CIA World Factbook, Philippines Template:Webarchive, Retrieved May 15, 2009.