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The Philippines Cebu Mission is made up of the central Philippine islands. The LDS church is a strong presence in these islands and continues to grow steadily. The Church’s emphasis on family especially resonates with the Filipino people. Philippine culture is influenced by Malay, Spanish, and American cultures, which are uniquely reflected in their way of life.
English and Tagalog (also known as Filipino) are the two official languages of the Philippines, though there are several other major regional languages, most notably Cebuano (spoken in the Central Visayas region), Ilokano (spoken in northern Luzon), and Hiligaynon (spoken in the western Visayas and Mindanao). About 90% of the population in the Philippines is Christian, with the vast majority belonging to the Roman Catholic Church. However, a few southern areas, including the Sulu Archipelago, have a primarily Muslim population. Philippine culture is influenced by Malay, Spanish, and American cultures. Events such as barrio fiestas (neighborhood festivals) are common events featuring music, food, and dancing. The use of English as an official language has helped make many American trends popular in the Philippines as well, such as fast food, rock and hip hop music, and films. Basketball is the most popular sport in the Philippines, though boxing, soccer, and volleyball are also popular. The Philippine martial art style Arnis is considered the national martial art. Eating out and regular snacks between main meals are popular in the Philippines. Rice is one of the staple foods in the Philippine. Corn, adobo (meat stew using pork or chicken), meat and vegetable rolls, seafood, empanadas, and several varieties of fruit and vegetable are also commonly eaten. Roasted pig is often served as the main course for festivals and special occasions.
The Cebu Mission is one of 17 missions in the Philippines and is blessed to have the Cebu Temple in its boundaries. This provides a significant goal and motivation for members and converts alike to stay strong in the gospel.
The missionary work is very member oriented. Elders and sisters spend less time knocking doors and more time working alongside the Filipino members. Teaching part-member families and assisting in reactivation efforts are important for missionaries to assist in the strengthening and building up of the church in the Cebu region.
Rice is a staple in the Filipino diet. Expect a lot of it. Vegetables, fish, and chicken are also common along with a variety of delicious tropical fruits. Some less common foods you might encounter are bault, a duck egg that has been incubated 15-20 days and then boiled, and bulad, a kind of fish jerky.
Missionaries get around the same way the locals do, mostly through public transportation. Jeepneys and buses are most popular. Missionaries do not use bicycles in this mission, but expect a lot of walking.
Missionaries, especially Americans, are well-liked in the Philippines and are not considered targets for crime. The more you accept local customs and culture, the more respect you will gain.
Be sure to wear mosquito repellent. Mosquitoes can carry dengue fever, an infectious tropical disease that can progress into a life-threatening condition.
Respect of elders is culturally important. It is also a sign of respect to take someone’s hand and touch the back of it to your forehead. It is considered rude or impolite to point with your finger. Instead, pucker up and point with your lips.
“Kuan” is a great filler word for just about anything.
Most equipment can be found cheaper and more fitting to your needs in the Philippines. Filipino dress pants are much more suited to the climate than American slacks. There’s no need to bring a fanny pack, there are custom bags available that work better for missionaries.
LDS Cebu Temple, Gorordo Ave
Lahug, Cebu City
*What items were hard to get or not available?
“Mexican food and peaches.”
*What did you eat the most of?
“Rice, fish, chicken, and tropical fruits.”
*What is the craziest thing you ate?
“It was a pork soup, but the pork still had hair on it.”
“Balut. It was boiled egg with a fetal duck inside.”
*What was most surprising about the culture?
“I was surprised at how different it was. Some areas were so poor and then right next door you would see a really nice clean place.”
*What advice would you give to someone going to the Philippines Cebu Mission?
“I would say to expect the unexpected. Trust in The Lord and enjoy his work. Pray always. Be happy.”
“Be a Filipino. Adopt their culture and the more you become like them, the more they will respect and connect with you as a missionary. They recognize it and know you love and care for them through absorbing their culture.”
*What do you wish you had known before you served?
“I wish I would have know how hot it was going to be.”
“Missions are wonderful blessings. Prepare and be blessed.”
**Did you serve in the Philippines Cebu Mission? If so we would love to hear your advice and your stories! Please contact us at email@example.com**