News Release

General Officers Meet with Vice President of the Philippines

Presidents Johnson and Porter share the Church’s efforts to strengthen families

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson and Primary General President Susan H. Porter met with Sara Zimmerman Duterte, vice president of the Philippines, in her office in Mandaluyong on Saturday, November 11, 2023, to discuss the efforts of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to strengthen families.

“She was very gracious and warm, and we were delighted to have the opportunity to tell her about the Church and the efforts that we’re making here in the Philippines to bless our brothers and sisters,” said President Johnson, who as an attorney shares the same professional background as Vice President Duterte.

The leaders discussed the Church’s contributions to education, the Light the World Giving Machines, the construction of a new temple in Davao City, the upcoming world tour concert of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square in Manila and the growth of the Church’s childhood and maternal nutrition program.

Vice President Duterte, who also serves as the secretary of education in the Philippines, took an interest in learning about the purposes of the Church’s women’s Relief Society and the children’s Primary organizations in furthering education and family values.

“I was happy to tell her that we started the program (for) screening children for malnutrition here in the Philippines,” said President Johnson. “She's very invested as the secretary of education in the education of children starting at age five. But she recognized that if children don't receive appropriate nutrition in those first five years, [they] can’t catch up. Their brain development doesn't catch up.”

“We talked about how we spend time teaching our children about Jesus and what He did, which is to love and serve others,” said President Porter. “Her follow-up comment was, ‘I bet the children from your Church are a great blessing in the schools they attend,’ which was very gratifying to hear.”

Vice President Duterte is a mother of three children. In July 2022, she became the youngest vice president in Philippine history when she took the oath of office at the age of 44. As the concurrent education secretary, she presented the MATATAG education agenda, a comprehensive initiative aimed at improving the quality of education in the Philippines.

“To meet a world leader who is so interested in education and the rising generation, in blessing those in need, it was a meeting filled with hope,” said President Porter, whose professional background is in the science field. President Porter worked as a lab assistant for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and as a math teacher.

The General Officers were accompanied in the meeting by Elder Yoon H. Choi, First Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency, and his wife Bon Kyung Koo, and Elder G. Kenneth Lee, an Area Seventy, and his wife Angie.

The vice president was appreciative of the Church’s long-standing support of scholastic initiatives through the Department of Education to provide learning materials and technology, repair school buildings, bring running water to schools, enhance libraries, increase literacy and augment technical and vocational education, among others.

Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson (middle) and Primary General President Susan H. Porter (left) speak with Sara Zimmerman Duterte (right), vice president of the Philippines in Mandaluyong on Saturday, November 11, 2023.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Since 1997, the Church has assisted more than 18 million Filipinos through collaborations and contributions to over 900 charitable and government organizations operating in the country, including the Departments of Education, Health, and Agriculture, as well as municipal and provincial governments. The Church has also been involved in food and health initiatives and emergency response and disaster preparedness efforts.

Light the World

The Philippines is home to a robust and extensive Christmas season, which starts in September. Presidents Johnson and Porter also shared with Vice President Duterte some of the Church’s Light the World Christmas events, including holiday celebrations at the Manila Philippines Temple grounds and the opening of Giving Machines in Manila and Cebu.

“The Giving Machines offer opportunities to donate to local charities,” said President Porter. “We talked about how a little child with a few pesos or someone with a lot more money can contribute in such a way to buy a chicken or clean water for someone in their community.”

The group further discussed the Church’s efforts to strengthen families through the blessings of houses of the Lord. The vice president was invited to visit and tour the new temple in her hometown of Davao City, where she also served as mayor, upon its completion.

Vice President Duterte also had a special request for the upcoming concert of The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.

“She was thrilled to hear that the Tabernacle Choir is coming here and asked if we might arrange for some of those children who are especially interested in music to have the chance to come to the concert,” said President Johnson. “We'll look forward to having those children there. It will be great.”

The Choir’s next stop on its Hope world tour will bring more than 400 singers and musicians to Manila in February for a free concert.

“I was seeing light everywhere in this conversation,” expressed President Porter. “From the Light the World Giving Machines to the Manila temple grounds, which will be lit for this beautiful time of year, and finally with our service to one another.”

“There is so much light to rejoice about in this time when we think of the Savior’s birth,” said President Porter.

Ministering in the Philippines

The General Officers are in the Philippines for a 10-day visit that includes ministering to Latter-day Saints throughout the country and humanitarian outreach.

Primary General President Susan H. Porter (right) and Relief Society General President Camille N. Johnson (middle) greet journalist Samira Gutoc (left) in Manila, Philippines, on Saturday, November 13, 2023, for an interview with the Manila Times.2023 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

On Monday, November 13, they met with journalist Samira Gutoc of The Manila Times to discuss the Relief Society and Primary organizations as well as the Church’s interfaith and humanitarian efforts.

They are also participating in the Light the World Giving Machines launch in Cebu and screenings for childhood malnutrition sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ.

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