News Release

FamilySearch Turns Over 4 Centuries’ Worth of Historical Records to CBCP

The Philippines has a long history, and FamilySearch has proof of that when they turned over four hundred years’ worth of historical records from Roman Catholic parishes dating back from 1614 to 2014.


The significant turnover ceremony took place at the Office of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) on 18 September 2019. Elder Aretemio Maligon, Area Seventy of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, turned over the digital records which contain around 14 million images. CBCP President Archbishop Romulo Valles graciously accepted the records.

Archbishop Valles expressed happiness and gratitude to FamilySearch and to the Church for providing copies to CBCP.

“I’m sure this would be a great help for us and also for the coming years. Thank you so much,” he said.

Felvir Ordinario, FamilySearch Area Manager, explained that FamilySearch is not only into record acquisition and records preservation but also digitization of microfilmed images. This makes it easier for parishes and dioceses to request for copies of historical records for their use.

Other individuals present during the turnover ceremony were Atty. Jo Aurea Imbong, Executive Secretary of the Legal Office of CBCP; Sister Arlene Maligon, wife of Elder Maligon; Professor Regalado Trota Jose, Archivist of the Archives of the University of Santo Tomas (AUST); and the members of the Permanent Council of CBCP.

Relationship Between FamilySearch and CBCP

Several years ago, the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints entered into an agreement with the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) through its Administrative Council. The agreement was for CBCP to allow FamilySearch and the Church to microfilm Roman Catholic parish records from all over the country.

During the tenure of Archbishop Socrates Villegas as President of CBCP, FamilySearch undertook to provide CBCP with digital copies of all parish records that they had gathered from all over the country four decades ago.

Record Preservation Through AUST

Because calamities can easily destroy records, Archbishop Villegas thought it best to lodge the digital records at the Archives of the University of Santo Tomas (AUST). However, due to the organizational changes within FamilySearch, the formal turnover was put on hold.

Now that copies of historical records are with CBCP, they can relegate the records to AUST for safekeeping. When asked what they will do with the records, Prof. Jose explained that they will follow proper protocols to make sure that they comply with Data Privacy laws while still make the records available to those who would like to access them.

As the records span over 400 years of history, the collection is not just of priceless value to the Church but also to researchers, historians, family history enthusiasts and the Filipinos at large.

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