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HomeEntertainmentThe Tabernacle Choir’s Visit to the Philippines Spreads the Hope of Jesus Christ

The Tabernacle Choir’s Visit to the Philippines Spreads the Hope of Jesus Christ

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The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s nine-day, four-concert stop in the Philippines did exactly what it set out to do: spread the hope made possible by Savior of the world.

“This is a worldwide tour, and a primary objective of ours is to carry a message of hope in Jesus Christ,” said Choir President Michael O. Leavitt. “I don’t know many countries around the world where that is a more important — or may I add, more welcomed message — than the Philippines. This is a country that’s 97% Christian, and they’re willing to talk about it — and they want to talk about it.”

 

The visit to the Philippines was the second on the Choir’s “Hope” World Tour, which kicked of in June 2023 in Mexico.

President Leavitt said the concerts in the Philippines were a success on several fronts. Relationships were strengthened with government and interfaith leaders. One concert was for business leaders, another focused on sacred music with interfaith leaders, and the final two were for a general audience — one of which was streamed throughout the country to help reach every island.

“We had a very wide conversation with essentially the whole country,” President Leavitt said. Members of the Choir presidency met with Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. and members of his cabinet as well as the Philippine Ambassador to the U.S. Jose Manuel G. Romualdez. “We developed very important relationships going forward. They were honored by the Philippine Senate — the first choir outside of Asia ever for that to occur. So, we’ve been embraced and we have communicated and had a dialog that will be ongoing,” Leavitt said.

The Choir also sought to reach the rising generation in the Philippines. Some 50 youth performed with popular singer-songwriter Ysabelle Cuevas, singing “If You Believe,” a song about belief in Jesus Christ.

“Singing with The Tabernacle Choir has always been a dream of mine, so everything last night was just perfect,” Cuevas said. “I just imagined Heavenly Father talking to me as I’m practicing the songs and as I’m trying to figure out how to let the Spirit take over or take myself and my ego out of the performances. Every time I sing the song, it just always feels like He’s talking to me, [saying] that if I believe I can do it for you.”

L. Whitney Clayton, a former General Authority Seventy who serves as First Counselor in The Tabernacle Choir presidency, said the Choir’s leadership knows that youth are the future of the faith.

“We recognize everywhere we go, whether we’re in Salt Lake or in Manila, that the youth of the Church are the future of the Church,” Clayton said. “We’ve had representatives over here, representatives over here talking to them, visiting with them, working with them, planning how to reach them during the concerts. And that early collaboration has paid a huge dividend. It has made it possible for the Choir leadership and particularly artistic leadership to have a feeling about what would reach their hearts. The concert has done a wonderful job of breaching a generational gap — in many ways better than we’ve done in the past.”

The faith of Filipinos makes that much easier, Clayton added. From the 1960s to today, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints went from one native member of the Church to more than 853,000 in 2024.

“The young people here are growing with testimony,” Clayton said. “Good things are happening in their homes. And over time, as we’ve seen this week, the influence of these young people will continue to grow. What’s happened in 60 years here in the Philippines is miraculous. What will happen in the next 60 years will be unbelievable.”

The Choir also sought to speak to Filipinos in their language — and the people appreciated it. The Choir sang several songs in Tagalog.

“How many years did they practice that?” mused television personality Paolo Abrera, who, along with his wife, Suzi, helped host the concerts. “The diction was on point. It was like it was a Filipino choir behind us. It was incredible. It really did touch the hearts of the audience. I think we all felt it. For a group like this who is not from the Philippines to sing in our native tongue in a way that, if you closed your eyes, you would swear Filipinos were there. For that moment, they were Filipino at heart.”

Ambassador Romualdez agreed.

“[Singing in Tagalog] touches the heart of the Filipino,” Ambassador Romualdez said. “We’re a people that love music. The music The Tabernacle Choir gave out today was just absolutely fantastic. … [The Tabernacle Choir] are ambassadors of goodwill for the Church.”

The Choir’s next stop on its “Hope” world tour will be in the United States’ Florida and Georgia for concerts September 5–12, 2024.

“I think that same sense of cultural unity and unity in our message will come out again,” President Leavitt said. “The people of that region will be greatly blessed by our visit.”

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