News Release

Temporal and Spiritual Triumph: Lessons from Cebu’s Inspiring Gulayan Family

Reaching our goals in this competitive world is already challenging. Balancing secular achievements with spiritual dedication is even harder.

The Gulayan family exemplifies the harmonious blend of secular achievements and spiritual dedication. Residing in Cebu and actively participating in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Brother Joseph V. Gulayan, a licensed civil engineer and Regional Facilities Manager for the Church, and his wife, Sister Divine B. Gulayan, a dedicated researcher and data analyst, have created an environment where academic excellence and spiritual growth flourish side by side as they nurture their four children.

A Symphony of Success

The eldest, Danielle Abish (Dani), at 18, exemplifies grace and excellence. Graduating with honors from Sacred Heart School-Ateneo de Cebu, Dani's accolades include the Homeroom Service Award, Performing Arts Award in Dance, and the prestigious title of Ms. Magis 2023 (School Intramurals). Her artistic talents extend to ballet, hip-hop (she is part of the school group that won championships in back-to-back years in 2023 and 2024), piano, violin, and singing, making her a multifaceted performer. Dani's dedication to the church and her faith is equally impressive. Apart from dedicatedly serving as Young Women class president since 2019, she also actively participates in church activities, including performing violin preludes and special numbers at ward and stake conferences.

The second child, Joshua Caleb, mirrors his sister's academic and artistic brilliance. He recently completed junior high-school with high distinction and received numerous awards in math and science competitions. Notably, he clinched gold in the International Kangaroo Math Competition (participated by over 11,000 students) and the Philippine International Mathematical Olympiad. He is part of the reigning championship team in Cebu City who are champions in both Math and Science contests. He was also awarded the silver medal for the Vanda Science International Competition in two consecutive years (2023 and 2024), a science competition attended by top Southeast Asian schools. Josh’s talents span multiple disciplines and interests. He also plays varsity football and is a key member of the school orchestra. But even after a busy schedule all week long, he still happily serves as his Ward’s pianist and joins his siblings to share their musical talents in church activities.

Josiah Moroni, the third child, shines with his achievements in robotics and math competitions. Completing Grade 8 with high distinction, Josiah's talents in music and theater are unique for his age. His role in the school musical "Kilat" has received rave reviews within the school community as it went viral online. Despite all this, Josiah and his fellow young men and women are regular visitors to the Cebu Philippines Temple, helping with proxy baptisms and confirmation of their ancestors.

The youngest, Daphne Hannah, at 12, is already a consistent honors student with a bronze award in the SIMSO Science International Competition. Her involvement in the badminton club and her musical talents in piano and violin reflect her well-rounded development. Despite the pressures of the world to be equal to or surpass her siblings, Daphne has chosen to shine in her own way. As an active young woman of the Church, she and her friends also regularly attend temple trips and participate in proxy baptisms and confirmations.

Nurturing Talents from a Young Age

Brother and Sister Gulayan recognized their children's talents early on. Dani's love for dancing emerged as a toddler, while Joshua's prodigious reading and math skills became evident at a very young age. Josiah's and Daphne's academic and artistic talents were similarly nurtured from an early age. The parents' encouragement and support have been pivotal in their children's successes, both in academics and church activities.

"We discovered [Dani’s] love for dancing, singing, and acting at an early age (about 4-5 years old)," Sister Divine recalled. “Josh started speaking at eight months old and was already interested in attending international math competitions as early as first grade. All four of our children showed early interest in music, especially the piano and violin," she added.

Over time, the Gulayan children developed healthy goals that seek balance in all that they do. Now, all four children have similar goals, such as being more in tune with the Spirit by setting personal time for gospel study. They also want to develop their social skills by being more active in both church and school activities, playing more sports, and joining dance groups. Despite having already very good grades in school, all four of the Gulayan children have set a goal to read more books.

Family Activities: The Cornerstone of Success

The Gulayan family's success can be attributed to their regular family meetings and counsels, where schedules are coordinated and everyone's opinions are valued. These meetings, combined with regular family prayer, temple attendance, and seminary classes, have cultivated a close-knit, spiritually grounded family environment.

"We regularly hold family counsel or meetings to coordinate all our schedules," Sister Divine explained. "During these meetings, we listen to the children to help them feel that their opinions matter. Brother Gulayan and I believe that these regular meetings are one of the activities that draw us close to each other and to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ."

Attending early morning seminary classes as a family has been particularly impactful. Sister Divine's role as a seminary teacher required early wake-up calls for all children, teaching discipline and spiritual dedication early on. The family also emphasizes the importance of "Come, Follow Me" readings and family scripture study, even though they sometimes struggle with consistency. Their willingness to try again and improve upon these important family moments demonstrates their love for God, for each other, and for continuous spiritual growth.


"Attending seminary class has become a family activity. Since I teach early morning seminary classes, I have to wake up not only the first two kids who attend seminary but also the last two kids before five in the morning, which was really difficult at first," Sister Divine shared. "I believe that attending these classes greatly helped maintain the children’s spirituality and the peace in the family."

The family’s practice of scrimping and saving for regular trips has also enriched their children's understanding of different cultures and taught the family empathy and compassion. These values are evident in their children's interactions with friends and classmates, where they often extend help and share their talents.

Sacrifices and Goals

The Gulayan family makes numerous sacrifices to support each other's goals. Dani's late dance practices, the siblings' shared responsibilities, and the parents' financial and time investments highlight their collective commitment to success. Brother Joseph often uses his work leaves to attend his children's important events, while Sister Divine's multiple online jobs contribute significantly to the family’s finances.

"Our goal is to be better each year, to be kinder, more compassionate, and to serve more through music," Sister Divine expressed. "We plan on visiting the elderly in homes for the aged and playing music for them regularly in the next months until December this year."

How about chores? Despite the hustle and bustle of family life, dotted with numerous activities and events, the Gulayans mainly strive to do housework together. “Although we have a stay-out helper who comes twice a week, the kids are not exempted from chores. We believe that chores teach children to be responsible and to be better siblings and family members,” Sister Divine said. “When one of the siblings has too much schoolwork or examinations to study, another steps up to do the chore and vice versa. This setup is not perfect, and we have to train them to do these chores until we don’t have to remind them anymore.”

Balancing Temporal and Spiritual Growth

For the Gulayan family, prioritizing spiritual activities ensures success in temporal pursuits. Their commitment to church attendance, seminary classes, and temple activities lays a strong foundation for their academic and personal achievements. The teachings of Jesus Christ provide them with resilience in the face of failure and humility in times of success.

"Everything else will fall in place if they place spiritual activities first," Brother Joseph emphasized. "Through these activities and daily habits, they learn how to place their faith and trust in Heavenly Father and the Savior for help in their temporal activities."

Brother Joseph and Sister Divine emphasize that true spiritual success is evident when their children make righteous choices independently, such as attending church despite other commitments or helping friends in need. Supporting their children’s passions requires significant sacrifices, but they believe it is all worthwhile for their children’s holistic development.

"We may define success by the number of medals, awards, or honors that the children receive," Sister Divine noted. "However, true spiritual success is when the children choose to attend church when they should be attending outside activities."

The Gulayan family's ongoing journey is a testament to the power of faith, dedication, and family unity. By balancing secular success with spiritual growth, they have created a nurturing environment that fosters excellence in all aspects of life. Their story exemplifies how placing Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ at the center of family life can lead to remarkable achievements and enduring happiness.

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