Seventh-Day Adventist Pioneers in the Philippines

Seventh-Day Adventist Pioneers in the Philippines

"We have nothing to fear for the future, except as we shall forget the way the Lord has led us, and His teaching in our past history" -White, Ellen G.

In 1905-1913, Seventh Day Adventist Established a foothold in the Philippine soil. It was through Abraham La Rue when he sent the package of literature to the Philippines through friendly ship captains. He was called "Asia's first self-supporting missionary". However, the first direct contact in the island was in 1904.

1904, G. A. Irwin, president of Australian Union Conference, decided to pass by in Manila on his way to Washington D.C. to attend the SDA General Conference in May 1905 session. He made an eight day stop over in the Philippines and Irwin saw the need to evangelize the country. He presented an appeal to the conference to send colporteurs to Manila and Caldwell who was present in the said conference responded.

Robert A. Caldwell arrived in Manila on August 24, 1905 and he began selling books on health and religion in the language that educated people understand, Spanish. People bought the books and many were interested when they heard it from their friends. He traveled from one cities to another then to towns.

April of 1906, Pastor and Mrs. James L. McElhaney arrived in Manila. Their first target were the American teachers. With this strategy, teachers shared their new faith to the students. They also distributed the Signs of the Times.

December 1908, Pastor and Mrs. L. V. Finster arrived in Manila  with an interest to learn the dialect. He hired tutors to teach him. He began to use the dialect during the cottage meetings in Sta. Ana Manila. The product of this meetings were 12 Filipino converts namely; Camilo Panis and his wife Ciriaca, their only daughter Teodora, their nephew Bibiano Panis and their nieces, Maria Panis (Sister of Bibiano Panis who later became the wife of Leon Roda), Catalina Nery, Pilar Espino, a boarder Leon Roda, Felix Manalo and his wife Tomasa, and Mrs. Morales and her daughter.  Another converts were Anteria dela Cruz, Apolonio de Jesus, Consuelo Manalo, Diego Elioterio, Jose Castro, and Marcelino Pelajo.

The first Seventh-Day Adventist Church was organized with 22 members including the four missionaries in the Philippines located in Sta. Ana Manila.

Three Filipino converts eventually became the very first Adventist Filipino ministers in the Philippines. Sometimes called “The Big Three”, Emilio Manalaysay, Bibiano Panis and Leon Roda. They were ordained in 1919.

That was the beginning of the Seventh- Day Adventist Church in the Philippines.

"Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

Matthew 28:19-20




Christian, L.H. (1947). The fruitage of spiritual gifts : the influence and guidance of Ellen G. White in the advent movement. Washington D.C.: Review and Herald.

Philippine Union College (1967). Balintawak memoirs. Caloocan City: Philippine Union College.

Jackson, C. R. (2003). The gift of choice : the lives and times of Leon Z. Roda and Alfonzo P. Roda: father and son. Brushton, NJ: Teach Services.

Rilloma, N. C., and  Sarsoza, J. F. (2005). 100 years back to the future : celebrating God’sgoodness. Manila: Philippine Publishing House.

Reyes, H. L. (2005). Dr. Man, the Man. Philippines: AUP.

Retrieved July 14, 2020 from

Retrieved July 14, 2020 from Encyclopedia of Seventh-Day Adventist.

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