News Release

68 Years Ago: When the Philippines was Dedicated for the Restored Gospel

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Sixty-eight years ago, on August 21, 1955, a momentous event occurred in the Philippines. On that day, the Southeast Asian archipelago of some 7,641 islands was dedicated for the preaching of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ by an Apostle of the Lord, Elder Joseph Fielding Smith of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Elder Smith offered the dedicatory prayer at the former Clark Air Base in Pampanga. Accompanying him were his wife, Jessie Evans Smith; President Hilton A. Robertson of the Japanese Mission and his wife; and President H. Grant Heaton of the newly created Southern Far East Mission along with his family.

Even before Elder Smith’s prayer of dedication, some Filipinos were already converted to the gospel. Aniceta Fajardo was baptized in 1946, becoming the first known Latter-day Saint in the Philippines. In 1950, Philip Corpus was baptized in Hawaii and began translating the Book of Mormon in Ilocano to introduce his extended family to the latter-day volume of scripture.

Other Filipinos also joined the Church after Elder Smith’s visit. In Ilocos Norte, Teburcia Agustin and other family members were baptized in 1957 by her brother Pedro Resurreccion, who joined the Church in Hawaii. A year later, in Pampanga, David Lagman was baptized and subsequently became the first known Filipino to hold the priesthood office of elder.

Various challenges delayed the quest for official recognition of Latter-day Saint missionaries, but government approval finally came six years later, in 1961. Today, the Philippines has over 850,000 members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the largest in Asia and the fourth largest in the world, after the United States, Mexico, and Brazil.

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