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April 2024 marks 75 years of The Watchtower being published in Cebuano (left) and Pangasinan (right)

APRIL 3, 2024

Seventy-Five Years of The Watchtower in Cebuano and Pangasinan

Seventy-Five Years of The Watchtower in Cebuano and Pangasinan

April 2024 marks an important milestone in publishing Bible literature in the Philippines. Seventy-five years ago, in April 1949, The Watchtower first became available in the Cebuano and Pangasinan languages.

The Kingdom good news first reached the Philippines in the early 1900’s. Initially, our brothers and sisters used English literature in the ministry, but it became apparent that publications in indigenous languages were needed. Starting in 1947, efforts were made to begin translating The Watchtower into Tagalog, the most widely spoken indigenous language in the Philippines. Then, in late 1948, arrangements were made to translate The Watchtower into Cebuano and Pangasinan. Just a few months later, the first editions were printed.

A mimeographed copy of The Watchtower in Pangasinan from 1949

For the next two years, our brothers used a small hand-operated mimeograph machine to make copies of the magazines at the local branch office. As demand for the magazines increased, the printing of The Watchtower in Cebuano and Pangasinan was moved to the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, then located in Brooklyn, New York, U.S.A. a

Brother Juan Landicho

Several of those involved in the translation of The Watchtower into Cebuano and Pangasinan reflected on the privilege they had in sharing in the translation work. Brother Juan Landicho, who worked with the Pangasinan translation team in the 1980’s, recalled: “At first, the Pangasinan edition of The Watchtower was released six months after the English version due to delays in translation. We were so excited when, in 1986, improvements in translation methods allowed for the English and Pangasinan editions to be released simultaneously. We could truly feel Jehovah’s holy spirit guiding our efforts.”

Likewise, Sister Belen Cañete, who serves at the Philippines branch and has assisted with translating Bible literature into Cebuano for 46 years, noted: “Early on, there were very few translators available and much work to do. It was difficult at times. But now we have a well-trained team with the best technology and resources available. I have truly seen how Jehovah turns copper into gold and makes sure his servants are well cared for.”

Members of the Pangasinan (left) and Cebuano (right) translation teams

More than 26 million people in the Philippines speak Cebuano, including over 76,000 brothers and sisters who serve in 1,150 Cebuano-speaking congregations. Additionally, among the nearly 2 million people who speak Pangasinan are some 6,000 brothers and sisters in 68 Pangasinan-speaking congregations. In total, the Philippines branch presently cares for translating Bible literature into 24 languages. The Watchtower is published in ten of these languages on a monthly basis. Currently, the Japan branch cares for the printing of Bible literature in Cebuano and Pangasinan.

We thank Jehovah that he has blessed these translation efforts and made knowledge of his Word available to Cebuano- and Pangasinan-speaking people who are thirsting for the truth!—Isaiah 55:1.

a Today, the World Headquarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses is located in Warwick, New York, U.S.A.