CEBU, Philippines — "The significance of what is done here is to dedicate the land to the Lord and to pray ... that we may prepare ourselves for the blessings of the temple," said Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Cebu Philippines Temple complex in Lahug, Cebu City, on Wednesday, Nov. 14.
In the dedicatory prayer, Elder Oaks invoked a blessing for the Filipino people to live in peace, harmony, and prosperity; for the building to be built without flaw; and that the people who will come to it "will feel the holiness of the building as it is intended to be."
Accompanying Elder Oaks were Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve, Philippines Area President Keith R. Edwards and his counselors, Elder Won Yong Ko and Elder Michael John U. Teh — both of the Seventy.
Also among the approximately 400 members in attendance were presidencies of seven stakes and districts, presidents of the six missions in the temple district, bishops, branch presidents, stake auxiliary presidencies and community leaders.
Guest dignitary Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmena remarked: "It is with great honor that I am here to witness the groundbreaking of what is to be the place for a beautiful temple." He said that the property where the temple will be built was used to defend freedom and that stories were circulating that treasures are buried there.
Elder Oaks in his talk responded: "I am glad that freedom fighters were located in this place. This temple will give freedom to the children of God and will be a means for them to return to their Father in Heaven. ... The temple itself is a treasure."
Twenty-three years after the first temple in the Philippines was built, Cebu City Philippines Stake President Anthony John Balledos expressed in his prayer how grateful the Filipino saints are for having the nation's second temple built in this city to serve members in the central and southern parts of the Philippines.
In the evening after the groundbreaking, Elder Oaks had a special devotional attended by more than 3,000 saints and counseled them to prepare for the temple by developing "holy habits." He said holy habits will help us "be ready to answer the questions the Lord will ask us" in the final judgment. This includes having personal and family prayer, reading the scriptures, and partaking of the sacrament every Sunday, he said.
The Cebu Philippines Temple complex will include on its 4.7 hectares (11.6 acres) patron housing, a meetinghouse, a temple president's residence, a mission president's residence and a mission office. The temple itself will have an area of 2,746 square meters or 29,556 square feet.
The Cebu Philippines Temple is the 132nd temple of the Church announced, operating, or under construction.