News Release

Panagbenga FamilySearch Booth Opens, Church Leaders Guest at Kapihan sa Baguio

Session Road in Baguio City is in full bloom as colorful shops and bazaar stalls line the sloping 450-meter two-way road at one of the city’s busiest thoroughfare. Now transformed into a week-long fairground that will satisfy every shopper’s palette, the FamilySearch Exhibit Booth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints stands out.


It’s the second time for the Church in Baguio City to join in the Panagbenga festivities with a bigger booth this year to accommodate hundreds of visitors expected to flock into the booth daily to learn how to trace their family roots and start their own family trees.

The exhibit booth opened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony led by Elder Michael John U. Teh of the Philippines Area Presidency, Sister Grace Teh, Congressman Mark Go of the lone district of Baguio City, Vice Mayor Edison Bilog of Baguio City, Director Helen Tibaldo of the Philippine Information Agency-CAR, President Jaime Ballena of the Baguio Philippines Stake (Diocese), Baguio City Councilor Lilia Farinas of the Committee on the Family, and former city councilor Atty. Lourdes Tabanda.

Elder Teh and Stake President Ballena welcomed the guests into the booth, taking the lead in the tour as they explained the purposes of family history, the importance of tracing family roots and the basics of how to start their own family history work.

Unlike last year, the FamilySearch Exhibit Booth has expanded to five working stations so visitors can visit, create an account and start their family tree right on the spot.

Following the ribbon-cutting ceremony, Church leaders and family history consultants joined the Kapihan sa Baguio as guests to talk more about family history and FamilySearch.

Felvir Ordinario, FamilySearch Area Manager; Florciele Cabrito, Family History Director of the Baguio Philippines Stake; Stake President Ballena; Elder Michael John U. Teh; Mike Umaming, Division Chief of the National Commission on Indigenous People Regional Office; and Atty. Lourdes Tabanda, joined in the panel discussion with Jong Munar, reporter of DQ Radyo Pilipinas Baguio, and Ms. Tibaldo as hosts.

Held at the Hill Station, one of the city's many heritage sites, the presscon began with Elder Teh giving a brief introduction about the Church in the Philippines coupled with one aspect the Church is known for which is the emphasis on families. “One of the things that we believe is that families can be together forever,” he said.

When asked about what the FamilySearch is and why the Church invests so much on the program, Ordinario explained that one of the core beliefs of the Church is the importance of families. He further said that the Church has been collecting records since 1894 to help people connect with their family members, not just ancestors but also living individuals. He then pointed out that the Church has been collecting records all over the Philippines, including Benguet, since the early 1970s.

Currently, there are 180 family history centers across the country. In Baguio City, there will be two family history centers soon to serve the public better.

“FamilySearch is a network of resources. It’s a network of people, and it’s a network of facilities that the public, and not just members of the Church, can use to gather family records, research family lines and, pretty much, talk about family,” he said.

Cabrito, whose church assignment is mainly to assist individuals and families to create their own FamilySearch accounts and build their family trees, further explained the FamilySearch website. She explained that there’s a new feature on the website called Memories that allows users to preserve photos from Facebook and Instagram directly into their FamilySearch account.

As the panel continued, representatives from different media groups raised questions to the panelists. One of the concerns that a reporter asked was what can the Church do about lost records of the indigenous people. Ordinario responded that FamilySearch doesn’t only preserve government records, like birth or death, but also family records. Due to the extensive efforts of FamilySearch to collect and preserve data, Ordinario said that it also has the technology to digitize family records, even oral histories, from the clans of Benguet provided that they are willing to make the records available to the public through the website.

Following the panel discussions, Ordinario demonstrated how to use the FamilySearch web app as well as displayed a family tree that Atty. Tabanda has started in 2014. The former city councilor was surprised to learn that she has an unknown relative who connected to her family tree, expanding the line up to the fourth generation. This surprised Atty. Tabanda and renewed her desire to strengthen families through family history.

When asked about what the Church hopes to gain by doing family history work and offering FamilySearch as a free genealogical resource, Elder Teh explained that it [family history] is part of the doctrine of the Church. He explained further that members of the Church believe in connecting families. Second, Elder Teh explained that it is for the preservation of records as the country is prone to natural calamities that destroy important family records.

To watch the full scope of the Kapihan sa Baguio discussion on family history, visit the PIA Cordillera Facebook page.

The FamilySearch Exhibit Booth aims to encourage individuals and families in the Cordillera region to learn more about how to trace their family roots through the use of free resources being offered.

The booth is open from 4 to 10 March 2019 from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm and is located in the upper part of Session Road near the post office.

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