SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and government officials in the Philippines are joining together to provide resources to help strengthen families and communities.

The mayor of the city of Marikina, Marides Fernando, recently visited the Philippines headquarters of the Church in Manila to discuss ways that her government could implement family-friendly initiatives.

Marides Fernando, the mayor of Marikina, Philippines, explains to city council members how the family festival will be organized. © 2008 Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

“I believe that in order for a person to be a good citizen, one should learn good values at home,” Mayor Fernando said. “That is why the city invests in programs to strengthen the family.”

This month Marikina is hosting a festival to honor its founding families, which thousands of current and former locals are expected to attend. With the Church’s assistance, the festival includes booths that provide experts and resources to help people preserve their personal histories and research their family trees. 

As an incentive, Fernando says, “this year the city will give an award to the family that can turn in the most researched names.”

“Even though we are delighted when a government decides to adopt one of our ideas to help strengthen families,” says Leni Pilobello, Church director of public affairs in the Philippines, “we always maintain strict political neutrality and do not get involved in partisan discussions at all.”

In the past two years, the Church has also partnered with governments in Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok and Hong Kong to host events aimed at educating the public in the fields of strengthening marriage, addiction recovery and family history research.

For example, on its Web site the Taipei city government features resources provided by the Church designed to encourage parents to hold a weekly family night with their children. Suggestions include having a short lesson about moral values, singing, eating snacks and playing games together. 

Because of the Church’s emphasis on religious freedom, several governments have invited Latter-day Saint experts to sit on drafting committees as constitutions are written. The Guatemalan government has sought suggestions from Church representatives while forming a Ministry of the Family.

The Church’s emphasis on the family is outlined in the Proclamation on the Family, which was issued in 1995.  It invited people of influence to support initiatives that will enhance familial relationships and fortify homes.

It reads in part, “We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society.”

This article was prepared by the LDS Newsroom at lds.org.