News Release

Church Creates First Branch in the Island of Romblon

On May 1, 2022, forty latter-day saints from nearby communities gathered at the Harbour Chateux Hotel in Odiongan to witness the first branch in Romblon created. A new branch presidency was organized with Elder Dallin Christian Bacudo as president, and Elder Richard Gutierrez and Jun Cabaliza as counselors.

The branch was formally organized under the direction of President Darwin Cauilan, mission leader of the Philippines Cavite Mission and President Immanuel Asis, district president of the Mindoro Oriental Philippines District.

In February 2020, the Philippines Area Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gave permission to visit Romblon, one of six provinces in the Philippines that doesn’t have a Church unit. These include areas in Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Dinagat Islands, Batanes, and Romblon. The creation of the Odiongan Romblon Branch brings that number down to five.

Going Down to Romblon

President Darwin Cauilan, together with his wife, Sister Michelle Cauilan and four missionaries travelled from Batangas Port to Odiongan Port, Tablas Island in an 8-hour boat ride.

They met with a couple from Canada, Terry and Karen Motiuk. Terry Motiuk was a returned missionary who served in the Philippines Baguio Mission. They also met with Carlos Cabaliza, another returned missionary who served in the Philippines Bacolod Mission. Together, they went to visit Trina Alejandra Firmalo-Fabic, Mayor of Odiongan; Diven Dimaala, Vice Mayor of Odiongan; Arsenio Gadon, Mayor of San Andres; and Joel Ibanez, Vice Mayor of San Andres.

In their visit with the government leaders, they were granted permission to proselyte and create a branch in their respective municipalities.

A Legacy of Faith

Among the families who moved in the island years ago were the Salem family who joined the Church in Plaridel, Misamis Occidental in 2011. They decided to move to Romblon the following year with their five children.

Alfonso Mario and Vilma Salem recounted that their family have been praying for missionaries to come for almost a decade. They especially noted how they missed their associations with other latter-day saints.

The pandemic delayed the work in Odiongan but within two years, the Salem family attended Church, and their two youngest daughters received missionary lessons virtually.

That Sunday, about twenty-eight latter-day saints, including the Salem family, gathered in the home of the Motiuk couple in San Andres. Most who attended the meeting came from the municipality of Odiongan, an 18 kilometer ride to San Andres.

Liel Maala, Church History Manager in the Philippines said, “Looking at the handful of latter-day saints that are Romblon pioneers makes me excited for the future of the Church here. They are humble and willing to serve.”

In 2017, after the creation of the 100th stake, Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles asked why among all the nations of the earth “has the Savior set his feet so firmly here in the Philippines?”

“It is because of who you are,” he told the Filipino latter-day saints. “This is a special place. Do not underestimate who you are. The most important part of the Philippines is the people.”

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