News Release

Church, Interfaith Partners, NCFF Host 4th Interfaith Family Forum Online

The Church partners with UPP, NCFF, Religions for Peace Philippines, and Pasig City LGU to host the 4th interfaith family forum virtually

In celebration of the Filipino family, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted the 4th Interfaith Family Forum (IFF) on September 22, 2021. This event was done in partnership with the National Committee on the Filipino Family (NCFF), Uniharmony Partners Philippines (UPP), and Religions for Peace Philippines with Pasig City as this year’s host city. 

The IFF’s theme for 2021 is: “Tungo sa Maginhawa, Matatag, at Panatag na Pamilyang Pilipino (To a Homely, Strong, and Peaceful Filipino Family)”. In light of the ongoing pandemic, NCFF added the subtheme: "Pamilya at Teknolohiya: Magkabalikat Mapagtagumpayan ang Hamon ng Pandemya (Family and Technology: Partners in Overcoming the Challenges of the Pandemic)". This is the second year the event is done virtually. 

“The advent of modern technologies has affected the way we interact with people especially during this pandemic as our physical interactions are limited. …I hope that we will find the talks useful in furthering each of our efforts to strengthen family ties amidst this pandemic,” said Pasig City Mayor Vicco Sotto during his opening remarks. 

Mental Health Challenges Faced by Filipino Families 

Dr. Renz Christian Argao, the coordinator of the Religions for Peace International Youth Committee, taught that Filipino families are facing more mental health issues due to the pandemic. He shared that a survey revealed that two out of 10 young Filipinos have thought about suicide. 

Dr. Renz Christian Argao presents the mental health challenges that Filipino families are confronted with this pandemic.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“More often than not, a family’s problem becomes the reason members start having mental health challenges. We all need to remember that we are still in a crisis, and it is important to build on our resilience and to adapt to this new normal,” said Dr. Argao.  

Some of the things family members can do to help each other are to avoid pathologizing (treating normal behavior as unhealthy), becoming more understanding towards one another, listening, offer support and check in on each member; and, seeking professional help as necessary. 

“The young generation has grown up with digital technology and without knowledge about the values that the older generation has. …Parents should start making goals in teaching their children these core values," emphasized Dr. Argao.

Strengthening the Family’s Spirituality through New Technology 

Elder Aretemio Maligon, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke about the effect of new technology on the Filipino family. He said, “This pandemic is almost synonymous with the terms ‘technology,’ ‘the internet,’ and ‘mobile gadgets’. It is essential that we learn to use these tools according to the purpose for which they were created—to further God's work in strengthening families.” 

Elder Aretemio Maligon shares ways on how the family can use technology to strengthen their faith.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

He drew on the principles taught in The Family: A Proclamation to the World, a document issued by the Church articulating the divine purpose of families in God’s plan of happiness. Elder Maligon shared ways on the wise use of technology such as establishing family rules on its use, avoiding mindless gaming and scrolling, and spending more time together through in-person activities.

“Making our homes a haven from the world requires effort and vigilance, especially with so many digital distractions all around us. For the sake of our family relationships and health, every effort is worth it,” concluded Elder Maligon.  

Value of New Technology in the Family 

During her talk, Attorney Jo. Aurea Imbong, a practicing lawyer specializing in Cyber Law, invited families to consider psychosocial interventions in the home. She taught, “The reality is that there are challenges in the home, especially during this lockdown. On the other hand, there is also the advantage of closeness and more together time.” 

Attorney Jo. Aurea Imbong shares three psychosocial interventions that Filipino families can try at home: prayer, time at the kitchen, and music.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Atty. Imbong suggested three ways to create positive family experiences namely: prayer, time in the kitchen, and music. She also emphasized the need to focus on building virtues in the family. Despite all the advancements of technology, Atty. Imbong also warned of the dangers of the internet including online predators and other harmful influences on the family. She advised families to be educated in the online community guidelines of social media platforms and to exercise caution in their interactions with people over the internet. 

“Leverage the internet in the best manner, or in other words, use it for good things. ... Each person is unique so [parents should guide their kids] on the proper use of the internet,” said Atty. Imbong. 

© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Responsibility of the State 

Undersecretary Luzviminda C. Ilagan, Chair of the NCFF Department of Social Welfare and Development, concluded the forum with a call for the country’s leaders: 

“In the midst of the pandemic, it is necessary that we address not only the medical needs of a person but also assess his mental, psychological, as well as spiritual situation. ...As we celebrate National Family Week, we must always bear in mind that we should strengthen our faith. Our leaders should be aware that to address this pandemic, we should have a comprehensive plan on how to address the holistic needs of individuals as discussed today and respond to it accordingly.” 

Over 100 participants from the partner agencies of the National Committee on the Filipino Family, Uniharmony Partners Philippines, and Religions for Peace Philippines attended the forum.

About the Interfaith Family Forum

As part of the National Family Week celebration, the International Family Forum is organized through partnerships with the interfaith community and other NCFF agencies. It highlights various speakers who are experts in addressing issues that affect the modern family, such as mental health, spirituality, health and wellness, and many others. The goal is to raise awareness on such issues and to educate families on the ways they overcome factors that impact their family dynamics.

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