News Release

FamilySearch Interactive Booth Opens During Panagbenga, Connects Families

The Baguio Philippines Stake (Diocese) of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does it again. This time, helping over 2,000 visitors about how to start their own family trees through the Panagbenga FamilySearch Interactive Booth during the Session Road in Bloom.


The FamilySearch Booth, which opened on 4 March with already more than 600 registered visitors on the first day, welcomed 14,485 people from all the world who came to Baguio City to join in the Panagbenga Festivities.

A total of 2,164 individuals registered at the booth, all interested to learn about how to build a chain that will link families to their ancestors. Moreover, almost a thousand of these individuals asked for a copy of the Book of Mormon. Additionally, almost 200 individuals expressed the desire to learn more about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ through visits with the full-time missionaries.

Session Road is one of Baguio’s thoroughfare, but for a week it transformed into a fairground of pop-up stores, restaurants, fashion boutiques, furniture shops, and many other hospitality establishments. Only the FamilySearch Interactive Booth stood out as it doesn’t offer any products to sell. Instead, what it offered was a free resource for anyone and everyone interested in family history work.

Volunteers, including full-time missionaries, from seven wards (congregations) under the Baguio Philippine Stake rendered more than 500 man-hours of service.

Under the leadership and guidance of Jaime T. Ballena, Stake President of the Baguio Philippines Stake; and the stake Family History consultants, the project proved to be a success not only in generating interest in genealogical work but also in providing Church members opportunities to give Christlike service and help other families trace their familial roots.

For example, members and friends of the Church saw 12-years-old Cael Yoshiki Hatada, the youngest volunteer, all throughout his shift talking to anyone, be it friends, classmates or strangers, who would listen to him about the joys of doing family history work and the Book of Mormon.

When asked if he was tired, he responded simply, “No, I am excited because I was able to help them trace their roots and find their family since [the] family is very important to me.”

FamilySearch is not only a free resource for individuals and families. It’s also a free program that family clans can use to digitize family records for posterities’ sake.

Al-Nasser Wacal, an introvert who rarely goes out of the house, learned of this as he wandered through the crowded stretch of Session Roam in Bloom and discovered the FamilySearch Interactive Booth.

A member of one of the biggest tribes in Abra, Wacal found a solution to his problem. Through FamilySearch, he found a way to organize their family tree, a major project his father assigned him to do for their upcoming clan reunion. “Kaya pala bigla kong naisipang lumabas, kasi magkakarooon na ng solusyon tong problema ko,” he said. [No wonder I suddenly thought about going out because I found a solution to my problem.]

Although many would attest to how family history work ignites a feeling of belongingness to individuals, genealogical work still continues to amaze people who do it. Such was the case with Perfecto Lapiguera from Calasiao, Pangasinan when he visited the booth. Despite his earlier excuse not to go inside, he stayed for almost an hour looking at his own family tree on the computer screen.

“I’m amazed at what your Church is doing. It’s very good and it's free. No money involved…,” he said before he left and not before leaving behind his contact number so he can visit the local family history center in his area.

The Panagbenga Festival reflects the history, traditions, and values of Baguio and the Cordilleras. It is the annual flower festival of the City of Pine usually celebrated in the month of February. As the Church has placed emphasis on strong family relationships, the Session Road in Bloom of the Panagbenga Festival is one avenue that Latter-day Saints can share the joy of doing family history work and teach others the means that families can reconnect with their ancestors.

Although the Panagbenga FamilySearch Interactive Booth is now closed until next year's Panagbenga Festival, those interested may still work on their family histories by visiting the Family History Center in Baguio located at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Legarda Chapel at #88 Legarda Rd, Baguio, Benguet. The FamilySearch website is also available for use.

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