Joining the ranks of approximately two dozen entities, the Republic of the Philippines has released a postal commemoration of the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 100 years in the country.
The stamp depicts “God watches over Manila,” a painting rendered by O.T. Navarra in 1967 that was displayed at the Manila Adventist Medical Center. It also includes the Seventh-day Adventist logo that reflects the core values the church is committed to, and a new Adventist Church in the Northern Philippines.
Alfonso Divina, a longtime post office employee and an Adventist church member, worked on the design and layout of the stamp. Leomer Batulayan, former director of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency in the Philippines, coordinated the process of seeking approval for this commemorative postal stamp.
“This is a very thrilling but humbling experience to be part of the celebration through the talent God has given me,” Divina said. “Now I am happy to retire from government service because I have already rendered something memorable for my church!”
The 6-peso stamp (approx. U.S. $0.11), issued Feb. 16, covers the basic domestic letter rate in each of the country’s main regions. The full-color stamp issue marked the church’s centennial, celebrated March 2 to 5 by the more than 1.3 million Adventists in the 7,100-island republic.
During his recent visit to the country, Pastor Jan Paulsen, president of the Adventist world church, was presented with a framed sheet of the stamps, according to Jonathan C. Catolico, communication director for the church’s Southern Asia Pacific region.
In its 100 years of work in the Philippines, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has established 4,190 churches, seven hospitals, hundreds of schools, including a university, making it the largest Protestant educational system in the Philippines. One of its leading medical institutions is the 75-year old Manila Adventist Medical Center, formerly the Manila Sanitarium and Hospital, in Pasay City, which is in the forefront of preventive and alternative medicine.
Although adhesive postage stamps have been around for 165 years, it’s only within the past 38 years that stamps have depicted Adventist themes. The first, from Madagascar in 1967, depicted a the mission headquarters and church building in Tamatave, an East coast city. Uruguay, Western Samoa, Russia, Norfolk Islands and Tonga have also issued postage stamps depicting Adventist activity.
A milestone in Adventist philately came in 2000 when the Canada Post released a 46-cent commemorative stamp marking the church’s world convocation in Toronto that year. President and CEO of Canada Post, Andre Ouellette, presented the stamp to Pastor Paulsen at the event.
The greatest number of Adventist-related stamps has originated from a small Pacific island. Pitcairn Island, whose population responded to the Bible message brought in 1886 by missionary John L. Tay, has released commemoratives showing Tay, the island church, a local baptism, the missionary schooner “Pitcairn,” and the church school on the island.