News Release

Generations Connect Through Family History

An Unexpected Family Reunion in Siquijor

“In all of us,” wrote Alex Haley, author of the popular novel Roots (based on his own family history), “there is a hunger, marrow-deep, to know our heritage — to know who we are and where we have come from.”

That “hunger” is growing throughout the world. People are discovering that to understand better who they are, they must know the stories of family members who went before them. Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those who have a desire to connect in a personal way across generations by researching their family history, gathering written personal histories, preserving oral histories and recording interviews of the life experiences of elderly family members for the benefit of posterity.

Mormons believe the family is ordained of God. They also believe the family is the fundamental unit of society and central to God’s eternal plan for His children. This belief impels older members of the Church to share the important, life-changing moments of their lives with children and grandchildren who, upon hearing and preserving these experiences, develop a stronger sense of family and belonging. With the knowledge of their forbearers’ accounts of strength over adversity, children and grandchildren become better equipped to overcome difficult challenges in their own lives.

In Summer of 2013, the Farley family being unaware of the existence of living relatives in the Philippines ended their trip surrounded by them!  What Matt and Tia Farley hoped to find was census or baptismal records of people related to Tia’s grandfather, but to their shock and amazement, they actually located his descendants!


Background: Tia’s grandfather, Martiniano Pogot Limatoc was born 1905 in Siquijor.  He moved to Hawaii in his early twenties. As part of the move he changed his last name to something more “American” Limary, and went by the nickname Manny.  Not long after arriving in Hawaii, he married a lady named Ida who already had at least one child (and they then had more together). At some point down the road, Ida passed away, and then he married Edith. Martiniano and Edith had more children; one of them named Jeff, is Tia’s father.

In addition to the friends, beaches, and basketball — Matt and Tia liked the idea of visiting the places her grandparents were from to see if they could find more information about her family. Off they went to Siquijor.  They were passing through the small town of Maria on their way to Cambugahay Falls when they pulled over on the side of the road and pointed to the town hall and said that if everyone was serious about finding information, they needed to stop at every town hall and ask for information. With that, they parked and entered the town hall of Maria.

After explaining their mission and flipping through a few pages of an old records book, the lady behind the desk said that she did remember going to a school with someone of the last name Limatoc, but that her records only went back to 1945. She suggested Matt should try baptismal records at the Catholic Church across the street, as they went back to the early 1800′s.  Across the street to the Church they sifted through some very old hand-written records in search of Martiniano Limatoc. While a few Limatoc baptisms were found, there was nothing for Martiniano specifically. The records administrator at town hall believed the Limatocs she went to school with were from the village of Bogo.

Matt and Tia eventually arrived in Bogo and then started asking for information from random people at the barangay (village) hall. After several referrals, they were told to go  to “the house two doors down." The group finally located a Limantoc from Bogo. The person who greeted them at the door appeared confused by their visit, but after he understood what they were asking of him he seemed quite pleased to offer his assistance. As he began to explain that indeed there were people in his village who he believed were related to Limatocs, one of them rode by on his bike right in front the house. The village councilor waved him down and asked him to guide the Farleys to his Aunt’s house. Luckily the man on the bike directed them to the proper house. (They were right in front of it and didn’t know it as they were going around).

As usual they were greeted with very confused looks and Tia broke right in: “Do you know a man named [showing a piece of paper with the name written down] ‘Martiniano Pogot Limatoc’?” To everyone’s surprise, the response was “Yes, he is my grandfather…. [still looking confused]” To which Tia replied in delight “He is my grandfather too!”

At first Matt was a bit skeptical as to whether or not they were truly referring to the same person, but the lady, Anita, continued to tell the story of how her grandfather left for Hawaii as a young man and eventually married a woman named Edith (she didn’t know much more than that). Again, Tia was able to confirm “Edith is my grandmother!”

As several more relatives joined the reunion, hearts grew heavy, throats choked up, and a few in the room shed a tear or two. At one point Anita’s daughter, Judith, and Matt both had their camera phones out videotaping as Tia was grilling everyone in the room about their respective families (number of kids, names, ages, etc). Judith also showed Matt a portrait in their kitchen that clearly showed the same Martiniano they had seen in photos back home.


Latter-day Saints focus on their family history for another reason — their belief that families can be together after this life. They research names and other information so sacred ceremonies and rites can be performed in behalf of their ancestors in Latter-day Saint temples, thereby exercising faith that they will be linked to loved ones as an eternal family.

Mormon youth worldwide are becoming more involved in seeking out personal histories and stories of their family members.

“It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies,” said Elder David A. Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, one of the senior governing bodies of the Church.

Examples of such tools are the Family Tree and Memories features recently launched by FamilySearch. The new Memories feature allows users to easily upload and manage family photos online and to tell their favorite ancestor stories. With photos, faces can be identified and linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree, ensuring they will be accessible for future generations. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.


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