A Temple in Cebu City
Four years after learning that a second temple was to be built in the Philippines, Church members in the Cebu City Philippines Temple district are elated that their temple is dedicated and open for attendance. Local members and missionaries share their experiences with the open house, the dedication, and the temple.
What experiences did you have during the open house?
Elder Chariston Buque (Mindanao, Philippines): “Most people who talked to us wanted to enter the temple, including our investigators. We had many investigators who went through the temple during the open house. They were happy to see inside the temple.”
Elder Penisimani Kitekeiaho (New Zealand): “People had lots of questions when they came to the hosting area. Visitors would smile and say they hadn’t been to a building like this in their whole lives. Some people came to the hosting area and just said, ‘Baptize me.’ They asked us how to join the Church. There were so many referrals that our missionaries in Cebu City can’t contact all of them, so the members are helping.”
A. John Balledos (stake president, Cebu, Philippines): “My children were assigned to put on the booties and to be umbrella boys. They did that every single day during the media tour, the VIP tours, and during the two-week open house for the general public. It was really hot. At the end of the day, when we got home, my children said, ‘Dad, we’re all tired.’ But the next day they said, ‘Let’s go early to the temple again to assist those that need help.’ They learned how to do service and felt the joy of being of service to others.
“On the last day, before the open house closed, I took my children and their cousins and gave them a tour of the temple. I explained to them the importance of the temple. I took them through the baptistry—they’d done baptisms for the dead before—and through the ordinance rooms, the sealing rooms, and the celestial room. They were all in tears when we were seated as a family in the celestial room.”
What does the temple mean to you and your family?
Elder Daniel Velasco (Mindanao, Philippines): “When my grandfather and my mom became members of the Church, right from when they received testimonies of the temple, they sacrificed everything to go to the temple. They were very poor, so my grandpa sold everything that they had to go to the temple. My mom told me that the Lord provided for them and blessed them greatly. The greatest heritage we got from my grandpa was his testimony and love for the temple and the ordinances there.”
Elder Buque: “The temple is very important for my family. We’re happy because the temple is here in Cebu, where we can easily go, and it’s important for us to be sealed in the temple. My family has not been sealed yet. After my mission, we plan for our family to be sealed here in Cebu.”
Carolyn R. Balledos (stake president’s wife, Cebu, Philippines): “Our children were so excited to have a temple here. They felt so wonderful going inside the temple. They realize how blessed we are to be members of the true Church and to have the gospel in our lives. They see how wonderful the blessings of our Savior, Jesus Christ, are in our lives.”
Ritche Bumanglag (bishopric member, Mindanao, Philippines): “I have seen the effect to my family of having a temple close to us. My mom suddenly cared about our family diagram, which was still on paper. She pushed me to code our family diagram online. I was amazed by the change in my mom. I also saw the eagerness of the members of my ward to prepare for their own endowments, family sealings, temple marriages, and baptisms for their dead. Even our new members went to the open house. They felt the Spirit in the temple. They want to go back to receive their temple ordinances.”
What were your experiences at the temple dedication?
Sister Lynette Ramos (Mindanao, Philippines): “I feel that I am so privileged. Even though I wasn’t in the celestial room with President Monson during the dedication, I was able to witness the dedicatory prayer and the cornerstone ceremony. I am grateful for that. That is one of the highlights of my mission.”
Elder Jedd Powell (Utah, United States): “I had never been to a temple dedication before, so I really didn’t know what to expect. As soon as I entered the chapel at the stake center, I had a different spiritual feeling, one that I had never felt before. It was kind of like exploring a new part of the Church that I had never experienced. It’s hard to explain the kind of feeling. You could definitely feel the Spirit of the Lord.”
Carolyn R. Balledos: “While sitting in the celestial room, I was in a silent mood, waiting for everyone to be seated and for our dear prophet to enter. As I was sitting there, I felt a marvelous joy in my heart witnessing of that special event, the dedication. I had tears in my eyes that I could not control. I felt the Spirit of the Lord, and it was a joyous feeling.”
A. John Balledos: “Before this temple, when we were still residing in Mindanao, our stake decided to conduct our annual temple trip. We took two busloads of youth and leaders. It took us two and a half days to travel by land—one way. My foremost feeling at the dedication was gratitude that we have a temple that is closer to us. Now we just have to travel 15 minutes. How grateful we are.”
Ritche Bumanglag: “After hearing about the new temple, I prepared myself financially, spiritually, and emotionally to go to Cebu. I’ve really missed the temple. The last time I was able to go to the temple was about six years ago when my family and I were sealed. It was a blessing for me to be able to attend the dedication inside the temple. When I went inside the temple I felt like I was in heaven. I felt like I didn't have any problems; I felt secure. I know that the Lord is always mindful of us and that He wants His children to come closer to Him. By this temple the people will know that He is there waiting for them to come closer to Him. I know He loves us; I feel His undying love when I am in the temple.”
D. Parke Hansen (Philippines Cebu mission president, United States): “As I sat in the celestial room awaiting the arrival of President Monson, I sensed my own testimony of the reality of eternal life and rejoiced that my wife was by my side—a prelude of eternity. An overwhelming spirit of the Holy Ghost flooded the celestial room prior to the prophet’s arrival. I began to feel tears welling up in my eyes as we sat in silent meditation. When President Monson, President Eyring, Elder Oaks, and Bishop Burton entered, it was like putting the finishing touches on an already beautiful painting.
“I felt satisfied that the Lord accepted this unique and elegant temple as I participated in the Hosanna Shout. Never before have I been so close to the living prophet and felt the power of his priesthood keys. I will always treasure these moments of spiritual renewal as I was given the privilege to witness this heavenly dedication.”
Barbara Hansen (Philippines Cebu mission president’s wife, United States): “In the celestial room, my grateful heart overflowed as the Lord accepted the offerings of the Saints in this exquisitely bright and beautiful building. For me, the dedication was so special because of the joy radiating from all the Saints and the love that filled the air. The sweetest and most satisfying aspect of all was to sit in the presence of the prophets, literally at their feet, and not to be overwhelmed or shy but to bask in the light of charity emanating from them. The feeling I received when President Monson spoke was a reconfirmation that he is indeed the Lord's prophet. I could feel the Spirit of the Lord permeating the house as President Monson prayed and blessed all aspects of the temple, the presidency, the workers, the Saints, and the people of the Philippines.”
Sister Ann Reed (United States): “Powerful spiritual experiences continue to bring tears to our eyes far beyond the actual moment. I am still weeping for the joy at the glimpse of heaven I experienced at the Cebu City Temple dedication. Sitting quietly in that beautiful, serene setting prior to the start of the third dedication session primed my heart for the counsel given and wisdom shared by the speakers. The prophet was relaxed and unhurried in his remarks. We feasted as he spoke, and our feast of the Spirit was made complete by the music of the session.”