News Release

Philippine Navy, LDS Charities Sign MOA for Multi-Purpose Buildings in Mindanao

Vice Admiral Luis M. Alano, Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy and Benson Misalucha, Area Welfare Manager for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on April 2 for the construction of three multi-purpose buildings in Cateel, Boston and Bagangga, all in Davao Oriental, that were destroyed by Tyhoon Pablo in 2012.

According to Alano, the construction of these barangay multipurpose centers would help restore hope to people.  Seeing a visible structure where local government could conduct routine transactions would give survivors the assurance that everything would soon be alright, he further added.  The multi-purpose building would also serve as a temporary shelter while permanent housing is being constructed which could take time to accomplish.  As soon as people would be properly settled into their new homes, the building would then be converted into a transportation hub which is also a present need in these communities.

The survivors are participating in the construction process as they begin to reconstruct their lives. The Church is contributing construction materials and supplies as well as providing Mormon Helping Hands volunteers from outlying communities to help on Saturdays. The Marines and Sailors from the 7th Battalion Naval Construction Brigade (SEABEES) prepared the plans and design, and are tasked to provide transportation and security of materials to the sites, as well as supervision and manpower for the construction of these community shelters.

During the welcoming program, Benson Misalucha gave a power point presentation on the  LDS Charities humanitarian projects in the Philippines for 2012 and the beginning of 2013 (Link to Humanitarian Summary 2012 in Newsroom).  He also acknowledged the close relationship the Church has had with the Navy, especially the 7th Marine Brigade and Col Rodylyn T Manzano PN(M)(MNSA)(RES), Deputy Commander, 7th MBde.  

“We look forward to continuing the relationship that began years ago as we work to bring relief following the natural and man-made disasters that regularly affect the Philippines,” Benson stated. “We are followers of Christ, taught to seek out those in need, and we are grateful to have friends like you. These shelters will be symbols of hope for the survivors of Pablo. And we salute these Marines who are willing to give their lives to protect or rescue our Filipino brothers. We appreciate your help with our disaster relief efforts as well as with the other projects where we partner with you to help those in need in this country. We look forward to many more years of working together.”

Col Benjamin I Espiritu PN(M)(MNSA)(RES), Commander, 7th MBde, added that the Marines had also partnered with LDS Charities and TV5 Alagang Kapatid  during 2012 to bring book bags with school supplies to children in many areas of Mindanao, even to the last community on the southern tip of the island.

At the end of the power point presentation, Vice Admiral Jose Luis M Alano AFP, Flag Officer-in-Command of the Philippine Navy made his remarks. He began by reminding those in attendance that the Navy Marines are the “servants of the poor. We consider this not just a partnership but we are all part of a family.” VADM Alano went on to explain that the Navy is committed to both assistance and service, not just protection. With so many yearly calamities, they began to look at how they could both mediate and help. Entering into this project, they are highly appreciative of LDS Charities and of what they can accomplish together.

The Navy’s four R’s are: Rescue, Relief, Recovery and Reconstruction. As first responders, they provide security and assessment of capabilities. They saw the presentations of destruction following Pablo. “Typhoons usually don’t pass over Mindanao but go north. Here towns were isolated, roads cut off so relief could only be brought through the coastal towns. Our Sailors and Marines were the only ones who could reach them with tents and temporary shelter,” VADM Alano continued. “People were leaving their towns but we needed them to remain and rebuild. Local government leaders assured the Navy that people in their communities would help them. Engineers were called on to design structures that would survive future storms.”  With the help of LDS Charities, the plan became a reality instead of a concept. “You are really Saints,” he emphasized.

Following the signing, media who covered the event which included TV5 News, Solar News and PTV4 asked questions relating to the project.  They inquired about the nature of the multi-purpose buildings and their cost. The Church will provide the materials and supplies at a cost of Php 2 million each. Misalucha also informed media that the contributed money comes from donations of average members of the Church who give up two meals a month to donate that cost to the Church for humanitarian efforts.  In addition, Mormon Helping Hands volunteers will work with the communities on Saturdays during construction. The Philippine Navy is furnishing the plans and supervision and assisting in construction. These multi-purpose buildings are more sturdy and long lasting. They look like a covered court with restroom facilities for men and women. The target date for finishing the Cateel structure is the end of April; each shelter takes about two months to construct. They can hold up to 60 families each.

The MOA signing was followed with a tour of Church facilities. Guests were able to visit the Missionary Training Center for the 21 missions, the Area Administrative office, the Family History Center, and the Manila Philippines Temple.  

In the Missionary Training Center (MTC), the group was greeted by President and Sister Beck. Beck, a retired Captain in the US Coast Guard prior to his call as an MTC President, greeted the Navy officers warmly.  Many of the group commented on the beautiful spirit they felt as they toured the areas where the young missionaries were preparing for their service.

The comment, “What a beautiful place to attend church on Sunday,” brought further explanation as to the sacredness of the Manila Temple and that it is open the whole week except for Sundays.  Sunday worship is done in the 888 chapels or meetinghouses all over the country.  The temple as a house of learning is where special ordinances are performed therein, including that of marriages where couples are married for eternity and that families can be sealed together and live forever after this life.

This strong partnership between the Philippine Navy and LDS Charities will be of benefit to those in need in the Philippines for years to come. VADM Alano’s final comment was very appropriate, “By nature we are kindhearted.”


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