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Philippines youth in elaborate gathering

SAN JOSE, Philippines — After their costumes were sewn and props assembled, young men and women of the San Jose Mindoro Philippines Occidental District journeyed to the Cavite Area Youth Conference Spectacular on May 7.

Youth from the San Jose, Rizal, Calintaan and Magsaysay branches of the widespread district on a remote island, played their roles at the two-day conference at a Boy Scout camp in Laguna, on the island of Luzon. The Mindoro district contingent was the smallest at the youth conference, and traveled the furthest.

The preparations for the conference were extensive in the Mindoro branches.

On the front porch of the home of Pacita Dela Cruz, Relief Society president of the Rizal Branch, two Relief Society sisters sat stitching at two treadle sewing machines. They, and a handful of other Relief Society sisters, were busy sewing 52 costumes of Book of Mormon characters for the event.

Sister Dela Cruz has been teaching the Relief Society sisters and the young women in her branch how to sew to help them be more self-sufficient in taking care of their families. The project was perfect practice for them.

While the Relief Society sisters in Rizal were busy sewing the costumes, the young men of the branch were working on making bows and arrows out of bamboo, string and foil for their Samuel the Lamanite part of the program.

Thirty miles away, over rough gravel roads in the larger community of San Jose, two young college students — Jenny Panagsagan, 19, and Jai Hong Tan, 18 were supervising 20 youth as they constructed a large cardboard boat for "Lehi's family" as well as spears, crowns and city gates. They also directed the 52 youth in their performance, spending hundreds of hours in practice and making scenery and props.

The Calintaan Branch group traveled the longest distance to the conference. They were en route nearly 24 hours, traveling 675 miles, first by Jeepney and then on a boat and, later, on a bus.

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