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Govt, Interfaith Leaders Join in Manila Philippines Virtual Temple Lighting Ceremony

"Every year thousands of lights, as well as hundreds of smiles, illuminate the Manila Philippines Temple grounds to usher in the Christmas season," said Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, President of the Philippines Area Presidency, during the Manila Philippines Virtual Temple Lighting ceremony held on November 27, 2021. This is the second year The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has hosted its annual temple lighting virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Friends and honored guests graced the event. Among those in attendance were Senator Grace Poe; Ms. Heather Variava, Chargé d'Affaires, US Embassy Manila; Reverend Father Carlos Reyes, Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs; Reverend Father Richard James Babao, Assistant Minister for Ecumenical and Interfaith Affairs; Atty. Tommy de Castro, action officer of the 3rd district of QC attending on behalf of Mayor Joy Belmonte; Ms. Stephanie Ching, BusinessMirror; Dr. Pablito Baybado, Secretary-General, Religions for Peace Philippines, accompanied by his wife, Emmie Baybado; and, Ms. Nita Cortez and Sister Melleniza of the Office of the Papal Nuncio.

Senator Grace Poe, accompanied by her two daughters, attends the Manila Philippines Virtual Temple Lighting event of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last November 27, 2021.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Senator Grace Poe, who was accompanied by her two daughters, shared how she was delighted to witness the temple lighting ceremony:

Whenever we see the lit landscape of this temple, it signals to us one of the best reminders that we are approaching Christmas. ...Tonight, even though there is darkness and hopelessness, these can be dispelled by the true light and love which emanate from our Savior Jesus Christ.

Elder Steven R. Bangerter of the Philippines Area Presidency talks with Reverend Father Carlos Reyes and Dr. Pablito Baybado during the Manila Philippines Virtual Temple Lighting event of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints last November 27, 2021.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

On behalf of Cardinal Jose Advincula, Archbishop of the Manila Archdiocese, Rev. Fr. Carlos Reyes delivered the Cardinal's inspiring message to the audience. He shared:

We truly need to light the world with love during this time of the pandemic. In the northern hemisphere, we celebrate Christmas during the winter solstice when the night is longest. Perhaps it is provident that we celebrate the first coming of the Savior during the longest and darkest night of the year. It sends a message that Jesus Christ, the Light of the world, comes into the darkest of our long night to be our comfort and our light.

Ms. Heather Variava, Chargé d'Affaires of the US Embassy Manila, expresses her admiration and appreciation for the Church's efforts to encourage people to serve others with its "Light the World with Love" Christmas campaign.© 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

Speaking about the Church's 'Light the World' campaign, Ms. Heather Variava expressed her admiration for the Church's efforts to encourage people to serve others. She said:

It is easy for people to get tired, to get worn down, and to wonder why we need to be strong [especially during this global pandemic]. But with service campaigns such as the 'Light the World with Love', [we are reminded] that we do need to be a light to other people and to our communities.

In lieu of the annual countdown with interfaith friends and government leaders, the Philippines Area Presidency and their wives held a countdown on the temple grounds together with hundreds of individuals and families on Facebook and YouTube. The lighting of the traditional capiz parol was also featured during the temple lighting ceremony.

Speaking on behalf of the Church, Elder Steven R. Bangerter, First Counselor of the Philippines Area Presidency, expressed his appreciation for all those who participated in the event. He said, "We hope you feel our love and our prayers for you. And especially, we hope that you feel the love of our Savior within your hearts and within your lives."

Elder Yoon Hwan Choi, Second Counselor of the Philippines Area Presidency, extended an invitation for everyone: "This Christmas, let us be thankful and forgiving. Let us think about the words, life, and the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and what it means to each of us personally."

Prerecorded messages and musical numbers were also featured during the program including Mikee Misalucha's "Light of the World" and special messages from government officials and interfaith representatives all over the country.

Among those who gave their messages were Senator Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa; Archbishop Socrates Villegas, Archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan in Pangasinan; Congressman Rufino Biazon, District Representative of Muntinlupa City; Governor Ramil Hernandez, Provincial Governor of Laguna; Governor Daniel Fernando, Provincial Governor of Bulacan; Mayor Imelda Aguilar, Las Piñas City; Vice Mayor Marion Andres, Marikina City; Sir Michael Brian Perez, Urdaneta City ABC President; Barangay Captain Richard Ambita, Barangay Bagbag of Quezon City; Plt. Col. Atty. Verna Limbo-Cabuhat, Panabo Police Station Officer-In-Charge; Major Norberto Orpilla, The Salvation Army - Urdaneta Corps; Ms. Kara David, Broadcast Journalist; Ms. Lyn Resurreccion, BusinessMirror; Father Angel Marcelo Pastor of the Basilica Immaculada Conception in Batangas City; Sir Gregorio Mueco, Assistant Division Superintendent of the Schools Division in Quezon.

The Manila Philippines Virtual Temple Lighting event was broadcast live on the official Facebook page and YouTube channel of the Church in the Philippines. 

Temple Lighting 

For more than 30 years, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been lighting the Manila Philippines temple grounds as a Christmas tradition. Lights are turned on from dusk until 10:00 pm daily, including Sundays and Mondays, until the end of December. The Manila Temple is located on Temple Drive, Green Meadows Quezon City. 

The LED lights that are used to dot the green landscape of the temple grounds are energy- and cost-efficient. Additionally, the lights are cooler in temperature, which protects trees and plants from excess heat. 

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