Philippines celebration: National Family Week
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
The strains from the familiar Church hymn "Love at Home" were repeated in homes, town halls and schools throughout the country as Filipino Latter-day Saint families joined the nation in celebrating Philippine National Family Week Sept. 21-27.
Signed into law in 1992 by President Fidel V. Ramos, Philippine National Family Week is celebrated every year during the last week of September "in recognition of the sanctity of family life and to protect and strengthen the family as a basic autonomous social institution."The family week theme for 1997 was, "The Filipino Family in the Year 2000 and Beyond."
Congressman Erasmo B. Damasing, in an address during the opening of the Family Exhibit in Cagayan de Oro City, remarked, "If The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continues its practice of teaching good moral values and strengtheninng families - as it does today - I do not see how the Philippines can fail as a nation in the future."
This was the third year the Church has actively participated in celebrating National Family Week.
"This year, we asked all the stakes and districts to support the government in promoting family home evening as a vehicle for teaching good values," said David Fewster, Philippines/Micronesia Area director for public affairs.
Responding to the government's call to promote the teaching of family and moral values, more than 130 stakes and districts conducted family home evening demonstrations and teach-ins for government officials and employees, the media, members of the business sector and members of other faiths in their local communities nationwide.
Using Church videos, pamphlets and the family home evening resource book as their tools, selected member families demonstrated how to conduct family home evening. The demonstrations were conducted in government offices, town plazas, school auditoriums and Church meetinghouses. The member families concluded each demonstration by teaching the audience to sing "Love at Home."
Priesthood leaders participated in community-sponsored family symposia, were guests on television talk shows and gave radio interviews on the importance of families and the value of holding regular family meetings.
Each LDS family was also encouraged to invite a non-member family into their home for a special family home evening.
In addition to promoting family home evening, Church members were also involved in other family week activities.
In metro Manila, Fidel Lajom, a retired police general, worked with the municipal officials and had the mayor's office co-sponsor the Church's Health Exhibit.
Members of the Cabanatuan Stake joined provincial and city government officials in the kickoff parade while displaying streamers with Church themes and slogans like "No Other Success Can Compensate for Failure in The Home" and "Have You Hugged Your Child Today?"
Family history fairs were also held in several cities, sparking the interest of hundreds of genealogical research enthusiasts. In Mindanao, the Church Family Exhibit was displayed in malls in major cities and viewed by thousands of visitors. A significant number of Church members were invited to chair or join their local family week steering committees to help plan their communities' family week activities.
"This year's Family Week celebration was the biggest since its inception in 1992," said Sister Delpha Baird. She and her husband, Elder Steven T. Baird, are missionaries and serve on the National Family Week Steering Committee as representatives of the religious sector.
Sister Baird added, "We received more support from the government, as well as the business sector, this year than we have ever had in the past. The National Steering Committee expects that support for the program will continue to increase in the coming years."
"I am thrilled by the way the Filipino Saints have responded to the challenge of bringing the Church out of obscurity in this part of the world," said Brother Fewster. "It is equally rewarding to see the response the Church received from government officials and the business sector that have reaped the benefits of working side by side with local Church members in making their family week celebrations successful," he added.
The Church is relatively new in the Philippines and public awareness of the Church and its teachings are still developing. However, through its support of Family Week, the Church is being recognized as an authority on family and family matters.
As an example, officers of the Department of Social Welfare (DSWD) in General Santos City direct to the local stake president all visitors with inquiries about resources on teaching family values.
General Santos Philippines Stake Pres. Fabian Sinamban said, "Non-members referred to the Church by the DSWD are told, `If there's anything you need to know about families, ask the Latter-day Saints.' "
"Family Week has been, and will always be, an excellent vehicle for increasing the Filipino community's awareness of our Christ-centered beliefs and the importance we place on families," said Brother Fewster. "The Church's teachings on the family and family values hit a very harmonious chord in the Filipino people's heart strings. I have never seen a more family-centered people than the Filipino people," he said.