News Release

Church Celebrates Women, Hosts Interfaith Luncheon

Women in the interfaith community took time out from work on 8 March 2019 but for a wise purpose. In celebration of the International Women’s Day and the National Women’s Month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hosted a Time Out for Women Luncheon to inspire, edify and share talents with one another.

Persian calligraphy, watercolor works of art, digital artwork, and different arts and crafts made by women lined the sides of the Cultural Hall of the Aurora Chapel of the Church. The 30 women leaders and influencers from the interfaith, government, business, and academic communities, however, seated together while enjoying and learning from each other’s company was a spectacle to behold.


The activity, geared towards strengthening and empowering women, began with a short presentation on Persian Calligraphy by Dr. Tandis Taghavi Jafarimalak of the Cultural Section of the Islamic Republic of Iran Manila.

Dr. Tandis, a renowned Persian Calligraphy artist, shared an inspiring message about women. While she mentioned that most women experience unequal treatment, especially in terms of wages and employment, she pointed out that women have a powerful influence for growth and development. “… [Women] have a high potential for increasing the productivity of society,” she said. “Women are more successful managers and leaders and have more sympathy and compassion.”

Following her speech, Dr. Tandis proceeded to explain that basic of Persian calligraphy and showed the different calligraphy materials she regularly uses for her artwork.

At the end of her speech and as a treat for everyone, Dr. Tandis and another talented calligraphy artist, Maz Elix-Antolin, a member of the Church, shared their talents by writing guests’ names on bookmarks. The guests, in awe of the many pieces of artwork exhibited at the venue, were thrilled to receive a small treat from the calligraphy artists.

The next highlight of the activity was a forum of women leaders with different religious backgrounds to share insights on the topic of Dating, Courtship, and Marriage and how they have evolved through the years.

Arlyn Revillo, a member of the Church, moderated the forum along with guests Dr. Genevieve B. Kupang, a Roman Catholic; Dr. Sharon Vaswani, a Hindu; Vivian Lacanilao, an Evangelical; Nurkisah Baddai, a Muslim; and Vivian Reamon, a Latter-day Saint Christian to share their opinions based on their faith beliefs.

When asked about how the culture of courtship and marriage evolved through the years, Dr. Vaswani shared that arranged marriages in India in the early days were for the protection of the tribe and the family. She pointed out, however, that with Western culture being incorporated in their own culture men and women now have opportunities to date and choose their own partners.

Additionally, Vivian Reamon shared that she dated a lot after she served her full-time mission for the Church in search of a companion in life despite the discouragement of her mother. She later expressed that it’s never wrong to date many people in search of the right person as she did when she met her husband.

In relation to the topic of marriage, Nurkisah Baddai also shared about the Islam culture on marriage. She corrected the false notion of forced marriages among Muslims as many believed. “In Islam, marriage is a sacred thing. In fact, before going into this, they have to make a promise to God,” she said. She further explained that before Muslim couples marry, they have to meet with parents. She pointed out that perhaps in some cultures, there may be arranged marriages but not in Islam generally. She also explained that the giving of a dowry is just a cultural practice in some Muslim ethnic groups as dowry in Islam is a bridal gift that doesn’t always translate to money.

As a follow-up question, Revillo asked the guests about the pivotal role women, especially mothers, play in courtship and marriage.

In response, Vivian Lacanilao said, “It is very important for us, women, even if we are single and we are mentoring a child [or] a daughter, to make them be aware, to empower them. Give them authority over themselves… Let them stand for what is right. Empower them to protect themselves.” A counselor by profession, Lacanilao also emphasized the importance of communication. “Communication between adults, between parents, mothers, other women to younger kids is very important. Don't impose but invite them to be friends. Not to be the mother who is overpowering but a friend who would support them,” she said.

As the forum continued, the discussions progressed toward the preservation of the culture and tradition of dating and marriage, and the impact of social media in the preservation of values and traditions.

Reamon shared that the best way to preserve is to share the values of family and marriage to children so they can learn and pass them on to their posterity.

Dr. Kupang added, "It's important that we witness to our children that faithfulness and keeping the unity in the family is important. If we adults are not role models or witnesses, so to speak, then it's difficult to teach the children."

She then explained that what happens at the home affects the children. “It very much affects their performance in academics and also the way they relate to other people,” she said.

Additionally, Lacalinao shared that love is not a feeling. It’s a commitment to helps the person, to be giving to that person.

To conclude the forum, Revillo shared a quote from President Russell M. Nelson from the October 2018 General Conference Women’s Session saying, “’No one can duplicate the influence of women,’” she said.

The Time Out for Women Luncheon concluded with Rev. Fr. Carlos Reyes, Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs of the Archdiocese of Manila, and Elder Michael John U. Teh, member of the Philippines Area Presidency, giving a short remark.

Rev. Fr. Reyes' message centered on the gifts women have. He began by sharing how he learned to love. "It is from her [his mother] that I was first loved. I was loved first before I love... For me, women, actually mothers, would be like the sacrament of the love of God has for His children [sic]," he said. 

The Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima Parish then went on to share that women are different from men and shared points as to why. "I also believe that they [women] are more spiritual, more religious than men. Women are naturally courageous. I see that even in the church," he said. Rev. Fr. Reyes congratulated the women participants for the special event.

Following Rev. Fr. Reyes's remark, a special turnover of a calligraphy art piece took place. Dr. Tandis collaborated with a Filipino artist to create an artwork with the word 'Charity' on the canvas using Persian script and Baybayin, an ancient Filipino script. 

Elder and Sister Teh, together with Sister Schmutz, accepted the art piece. In his speech, Elder Teh explained why they chose the word 'Charity' for the artwork. "Charity also happens to be the clarion call of the world's largest women's organization, which happens to be the Church's Relief Society Organization [sic]," he said. "We know that charity is the pure love of Christ and how fitting that this word is here because that really pertains to a lot of women and the nature of women."

He then recounted the kind of influence that his mother, sisters, and wife have made in his life. "Women are unique, as Father Caloy has said, and I believe that with the experience that I have. I can't help but be biased towards women because I truly recognize the role that you play and the influence that you have in society, particularly in families," Elder Teh said. 

The luncheon served as a concurrent event as it was also a turnover ceremony of three pieces of calligraphy artwork that Dr. Tandis made as a donation for the Church. Sister Cindy Schmutz and Sister Grace Teh accepted the first two pieces, which Dr. Tandis made in collaboration with Atty. Jo Aurelia Imbong. 

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