Construction is set to begin on the Davao Philippines Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, following a Saturday, Nov. 14, groundbreaking ceremony held in Davao City.
Elder Taniela B. Wakolo, a General Authority Seventy and president of the Philippines Area, presided at the Davao groundbreaking event and offered the dedicatory prayer.
“We pray that this temple, even while being constructed, will bless the lives of all who live in the vicinity and those who pass by, by increasing their hope and peace through Christ,” Elder Wakolo prayed.
Missionaries first arrived in 1961 to the archipelagic country of more than 7,000 islands in the western Pacific Ocean in the Southeast Asia region. The Republic of the Philippines now is home to 805,000 Latter-day Saints in 115 stakes and 1,239 congregations — and seven temples that are either operating, under construction or announced.
“It never ceases to amaze me how the hand of the Lord has been over this nation — how He has prepared its people and its land to receive the gospel and the blessings of the temples of the Lord,” Elder Wakolo said.
Joining Elder Wakolo in the invitation-only event in Davoa City — located on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, in the shadow of Mount Apo, the country’s tallest peak — were his wife, Sister Anita Wakolo, and his two presidency counselors, Elder Yoon Hwan Choi and Elder Steven R. Bangerter.
Also attending were local Latter-day Saint leaders and members and other local interfaith leaders, according to Newsroom’s report. The gathering was kept to just a handful of individuals because of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions and precautions, and part of the event was held indoors at an adjacent meetinghouse and part on the temple site itself.
“This Davao Philippines Temple will be known as a House of God. Above its entry will be engraved the salutation ‘Holiness to the Lord,’ which calls our minds to recognize the Lord’s house as a sanctuary, set apart from the cares and concerns of the world” said Elder Bangerter.
“Today we rejoice in the blessings of God, and we give thanks for the kindness of our friends and neighbors who have so graciously helped us prepare for the construction of this beautiful temple.”
Plans are for a two-story, 18,450-square-foot temple on the 2.7-acre site at Ma-a Road and Anahaw Road, Bgy. Ma-a, Davao City 8000 in the Philippines. An existing meetinghouse on site will be removed and replaced with patron and temple presidency housing and a new meetinghouse.
President Russell M. Nelson announced the temple during the October 2018 general conference, the sixth temple for the Philippines. It came just a half-year after the announcement of the Cagayan de Oro Philippines Temple in the April 2018 general conference.
The country has two operating temples — in Manila and Cebu City — and two others under construction in Alabang of the greater Manila area and Urdaneta. A seventh temple for the Philippines was later announced for Bacolod, which like the temple in Cagayan de Oro, is without a site and exterior rendering.
Said Elder Wakolo: “My prayer is that we visit the temple as often as we can. Let us experience heaven here on earth through the temple. Heaven becomes closer when we go to the temple.”