The Awana Philippines Journey

Birth of Awana Philippines


The distinct honor of being the first officially chartered club in the Philippines belongs to Manila Baptist Church, which opened in 1984. But Awana was first introduced in Mindanao in 1983. The first Awana clubbers and Awana leaders were from Tagum, Davao del Norte. It was an ABWE (Association of Baptist fro World Evangelism) missionary named Raydene Taylor who got things started. She also helped other churches in Davao get their Awana clubs started -- Maco, Pantukan, New Corella, Banuturan and in Davao City as well. With the help of Pastor Jolly Furio, other Awana Clubs were started in Bukidnon -- in Manolo Fortich, Diclum, Phillips, Mandaing, Kalasungay, and Kabanglasan.

The first Awana missionary was Jess Curabo who was personally invited by Awana Founder Art Rorheim to join Awana. The first National Board was chaired by Dr. Kenneth Cole.

Awana Philippines had its first office in a small room at the Heritage Baptist Church facility in Scout Borromeo, Quezon City. The only furniture was a table and some chairs. Its initial inventory consisted of club supplies donated by churches in the USA. There were no shelves or storage cabinets -- just boxes. There were no office equipment -- not even a copier, fax machine, or a desktop computer.

Growth and Development

1985 - 1999

As word spread about this new and exciting ministry for children and youth, new clubs were started in Metro Manila and in Southern Tagalog -- in Rizal, Laguna, and Batangas. More Awana Clubs were started in Pampanga, Pangasinan, Baguio, and Ilocos Norte.

Awana added Summer Camps, Bible Quizzing, and Awana Olympics as outreach ministry programs. With just one full time missionary, much of the work was accomplished by dedicated volunteers who were all passionate about evangelizing and discipling children.

Government Recognition

1999 - 2000

Awana Philippines was legally registered as a non-stock, non-profit organization in 1999. It started renting a small office at the Culmat Building in Quezon City where it would stay for many years. Rodney Ledesma briefly served as a ministry assistant as more and more churches decided to start Awana cubs in the Visayas.

Churches in Cebu started Awana and Leyte followed soon after. More clubs were opened in Tacloban and Ormoc, and all the way to Hilongos, Maasin, Baybay, and even Limasawa Island.


2000 - 2004

Awana clubs were organized into clusters to allow for better coordination and follow-up. Most of the communication was via snail mail, as there were yet no telephone lines in many places. Transportation then was a real challenge because only a few provinces could be accessed by air. Air travel was expensive and limited to major islands. Some places could only be reached by inter-island shipping. More clubs were added in Southern Mindanao -- in General Santos, Marbel, Isulan, and as far away as Sultan Kudarat. A few clubs were also started in Zamboange del Sr and Zamboanga del Norte, Cagayan de Oro and in Maramag, Valencia, and Lingion in Bukidnon. The CARAGA region soon followed with Awana Clubs in Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, and Surigao del Sur.

New Awana Clubs were started in the Doane churches in Iloilo starting in Iloilo City. Awana Clubs also opened in Negros Oriental -- Dumaguete, Basay, Bindoy, and Sta. Catalina; and also in Negros Occidental -- Bacolod, Pontevedra, and Kabankalan. Coordinators were assigned to look after the clustered clubs. Althea Garcia became the first coordinator and a full time missionary soon after. Patrick Flestado joined as missionary in Luzon, respectively.


2004 - 2017

In 2004, Pastor Zoilo Anat became National Director and led the team in introducing and implementing the Leader-Based Strategy at the first Seed Planter's Conference in Iloilo City.


2017 - Present

Pastor Zoilo was appointed Southeast Asia Director of Awana International.

Total active missionaries reaches six, with Jen Jansalin, Renee Traviño, CJ Bravo, and Janel Bantolinao joining Althea Garcia and Patrick Flestado.

As of March 2020, Awana Philippines is currently reaching to more than 71,486 children and youth and equipped 9,005 leaders in approximately 1,229 clubs nationwide.