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President Oaks Dedicates Urdaneta Philippines Temple

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President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, returned April 28 to the Southeast Asian nation where he once served as Area President to dedicate the Urdaneta Philippines Temple — the Church’s 190th worldwide and third in the Philippines.

“A temple dedication also reminds us to rededicate ourselves to faithfulness in the work of the Lord,” he said. “As we see you wonderful brothers and sisters and youth here in the Philippines, we are thrilled to realize that you have grown much more in faithfulness in keeping the commandments of God than when Sister (Kristen M.) Oaks and I left the Philippines 20 years ago.”

Of that time of service from 2002 to 2004, Sister Oaks said, “The Filipino people are so warm, so loyal, such good friends,” she said. “We have so many memories here. It was an incredible time.”

“I often tell people that the greatest period of my growth as an Apostle was the two years in the Philippines,” President Oaks said.

Temples Strengthen the Land and Its People

Temples strengthen the land in which they are built, and they strengthen the people who enter them to do the work of the Lord, said President Oaks. In addition to the Manila temple (dedicated in 1984) and a second temple in Cebu City (2010), the Church has announced 10 more temples for the nation in Alabang, Bacolod, Cagayan de Oro, Davao, Iloilo, Laoag, Naga, Santiago, Tacloban and Tuguegarao.

President Oaks was also accompanied at the dedication by Elder Kevin R. Duncan, General Authority Seventy and executive director of the Temple Department, and his wife, Nancy; and Elder Carlos G. Revillo, Jr., a General Authority Seventy and Second Counselor in the Philippines Area Presidency, and his wife, Marites.

“The presence of President and Sister Oaks here adds significance to the dedication,” said Elder Revillo. “We deeply love them. To hear him dedicate this House of the Lord in Urdaneta is very significant. I see it as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for me and the Filipino saints.”

63 Years of Missionary Work

The dedication of the Urdaneta temple marked the 63rd anniversary of missionary work in the Philippines. On April 28, 1961, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, offered a prayer for the country. “What we will begin here will affect the lives of thousands and thousands of people in this island republic, and its effect will go on from generation to generation for great and everlasting good,” he said.

Participating in the Urdaneta temple dedication was Elder Augusto Lim, the first Filipino stake president and the Church’s first General Authority from the Philippines. He witnessed much of the nation’s growth since two missionaries knocked on his door in 1964. Elder Lim said that what the missionaries began to teach him “was what I believed in the first place. … I just knew this was it; this was something I could understand.”

In 1973, when President Ezra Taft Benson organized the first stake in the country, Elder Lim was called to serve as its president, accomplishing most of his Church work using public transportation.


Greg Karganilla and his wife, Ana Marie, chaired the local Urdaneta temple committee. The dedication of the temple in Urdaneta and the construction and planning of an additional 10 temples are proof the Lord is hastening His work, Ana said. “This will really bless our people,” she said. The temple “is a beacon of hope, a beacon of light.”

Building on a Christian Foundation

The Philippines, is home to 118 million people, is comprised of thousands of islands. And after 400 years of teaching by Catholic missionaries, the Southeast Asia nation’s devout populace is eager to learn more about Jesus Christ, said President Oaks.

With this foundation, the Church “has grown miraculously in the Philippines” — the only Christian nation in Asia. The nation now has more than 870,000 members, 128 stakes and 23 missions. 

“They are a loyal, wonderful, obedient, faithful, Christian people,” President Oaks said.

But the nation also has its challenges. In a country of high unemployment, the educated population do what they can to meet the demands of daily living, many through self-employment. That is evident in Urdaneta’s busy city center, which houses a massive wholesale market for fruits, vegetables and other goods.

President Oaks said the Philippines is unique because almost every natural disaster that occurs on the earth “occurs in that little island.”

“They have volcanic outbreaks, they have tornadoes, they have floods — whatever you name it that has occurred any place else on earth, all of those occur in the Philippines. The Filipinos are survivors.” They know how to rebuild, he said.

Urdaneta Philippines Temple

The 32,604-square-foot Urdaneta temple is located in the southern part of Urdaneta in a site that also includes temple patron housing. Temple motifs include the sampaguita flower — which to Filipinos represents purity, simplicity, humility and strength.

President Oaks said Church leaders chose to locate a temple in Urdaneta because of its central location to the 200,000 Latter-day Saints in the temple district — who reside in 34 stakes and 13 districts. The Philippines has the fourth-largest population of Latter-day Saints of any country in the world.

Some 63,500 people from all over the Philippines to see the temple during the open house, including key government officials, local industry and community leaders, and friends from other faiths.

Aaron Delos Santos worked with ushers during the temple open house. It was most rewarding, he said, to hear the response of the visitors. “It is not just showing them inside the temple, it is like showing them our home,” he said.

As a child he watched his father work as a custodian cleaning the Church. In the process, he learned about sacred stewardships. “If we know how to take care of the things that are important to the Lord, the Lord will take care of things that are important to us,” he said.

Latter-day Saints in Urdaneta will make sure they are worthy of the blessings of the temple, he said.

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