In the Iglesia Ni Cristo of Manalo, if you were a “handog” or “offered” (someone who was born when both parents are already members of the church), in the worship service of the youth you will experience proclaiming that Felix Manalo is the messenger of God in the last day. When you are baptized, you will be screened, and one of the foremost questions is: Who is the messenger of God? You will again have to answer that. By the time you have your own mind, having been baptized perhaps at only 12 years old, only then you begin to question, Is Felix Manalo really a messenger of God?
So why did you acknowledge Manalo as the messenger of God?
There is a verse in the Bible that is always being preached in the Iglesia Ni Cristo of Manalo when it is being proven that Felix Manalo is a messenger of God: I Corinthians 1:27. The verse says, “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;”
They say that there was a time when Felix Manalo was very brave in debates and would face those with educational attainment while he had none. This allegedly proves Manalo’s being a messenger. This is what’s inculcated in the minds of the members. And they would cite many verses to support their claim, after which they would compare them with “real” events. However, those days ended upon the arrival of Bro. Eli Soriano.
The “sugo” or “messenger” doctrine is one of the foremost doctrines being taught in the Iglesia Ni Cristo of Manalo. The understanding of the members regarding the messenger is that: Whatever the messenger says, that is the will of God. Whatever he says is from God, which was relayed to him. That is why the members thought highly of Felix Manalo. That is how their minds were conditioned.
The following is an interview with a former member of the Iglesia Ni Cristo of Manalo shown in the television program D’ X-Man. He recounts his experiences in his former church.
D’ X-Man is a 30-minute program in UNTV whose hosts are former members of the Iglesia Ni Manalo.
D’ X-Man: You were registered in Dau when you were still in the Iglesia Ni Cristo?
Former INC member: Yes.
D’ X-Man: How many years were you in…?
Former INC member: Three and a half years. But I turned my back because when I brought a Bible in the chapel I was reprimanded by the deacon.
D’ X-Man: Don’t bring a Bible in the chapel, bring comics instead.
Former INC member: Also, in the chapel, I was a cook. When we cook, there is Tanduay, wine and cigarettes. That’s what I didn’t like. So, I didn’t attend worship services anymore. I was always being visited for individual service. On Thursday, someone visits; on Sunday, there was none. So, it’s not good.
D’ X-Man: How old are you now?
Former INC member: 57.
D’ X-Man: So, you also believed that Manalo was sent by God?
Former INC member: Of course; that is the doctrine. That is what you have to say when someone asks, “Who’s the messenger?” Felix Manalo. That is never absent in their questions.
The name Felix Manalo is tied with the Iglesia Ni Cristo. Their church will not be formed if there is no Felix Manalo, and if you won’t believe that he is the messenger. You have to acknowledge him that he is the messenger. You will not be baptized if you don’t, because there is a screening before baptism.
Even if it’s not in your heart, even if you were just tagged along by your parents, even if you were not a handog or offered, you will be asked, “What’s the reason why you are joining the Iglesia Ni Cristo?” That’s number 1 in their list. Immediately, the next question is: “Who is the messenger in the last day?” You have to know the “correct” answer. And there is also another question, “How many gods are there?” That is also being asked.
However, the deciding question is, “Is Christ God?” If you answer “yes”, then you will not be baptized. The crux of that is Manalo’s being a messenger and an angel, and Christ is a mere man.
Here are testimonies from the hosts of D’ X-Man program concerning the “messenger” doctrine:
Nedie Español: I was 9 years old then when I was indoctrinated. I was sleepy because I just came from school. I was in elementary. So I was sleepy, but that Ka Damaso Banaag, the one who indoctrinated me, had to have someone baptized, so I was forced to be indoctrinated. But I remember clearly there were only two questions the old man asked me, because he was my father’s friend. He asked me, “What is Christ?” I said, “Man.” So, I passed. Then, “Who is the messenger in the last day?” “Brother Felix Manalo.” So I was baptized. So, at that time, I already acknowledged him as the messenger, because that is also the faith of my father and mother, whom, we could say, are really fanatics.
What changed my belief in the messenger is Ka Romy [Español]. Because Ka Romy was a minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, and that cannot be denied by anyone. Of course, you were with him for 20 years, of course you will talk, he will tell secrets, he will tell things unknown to many. Sometimes, there were drinking sessions in the house…
[Romy Español was a former Iglesia Ni Manalo minister at the rank of a pastor who was converted to the Members Church of God International. He was the husband of Nedie Español and one of the many sons of Felix Manalo. For more of Nedie Español’s story, click here.]
Lydia Manuyag: When circulars come in our locales, they say that those are from the administration, from the messenger. So, even if there is no Bible verse, they will read the circular, and whatever is there, since it’s from the messenger, the members must follow. If you don’t follow that circular from the messenger, that is a grave sin. We really thought highly of him.
[Lydia Manuyag is a former treasurer of 22 regions in the Iglesia Ni Cristo of Manalo.]
Cesar Adamos: That is really the first thing that they teach us. You know why? That is why we believed in everything he said because that is the first thing that was planted in our minds, because if you believe that a person is a messenger of God, whatever he teaches, even if he uses the Bible correctly, or he would cut short, or not, we don’t mind that. That is the messenger. That is also why we don’t read the Bible anymore.
Manny Jusay: You know, Bro. Arnel, the truth is, when I was young, the messenger was still alive. I was born in 1947 [Felix Manalo died in April 1963]. Bro. Felix Manalo officiated worship service in our place. I saw him personally, the old Manalo. He was already feeble climbing up the pulpit. He was very old. And because our parents taught us that he is the messenger, I was really eager to hear his preaching. And the reader – Manalo said, “Read!” – you know who? Ka Erdie. Ka Erdie was the reader. When I saw Felix Manalo, and Ka Erdie was also there, my heart was really delighted that time, even in my tender years, because I have seen the messenger. It’s like that. So I grew up believing that the messenger of God is Brother Felix Manalo.
Arnel Sangle: It’s only Ka Erdie that I have seen in person. In my belief that he is the messenger, I said, I would like to see even just his shadow. I was forcing my way into the crowd, but it was very difficult. That was really the case if you didn’t hear Brother Eli; he was really the messenger—IF YOU DIDN’T HEAR BRO. ELI.
Marcos Mataro: The truth is, when I was still in the Iglesia Ni Cristo, I really defended it. When I was conducting indoctrination, my favorite doctrine to teach is Manalo’s being a messenger. You know why all the more I believed that Felix Manalo is the messenger? I remember the preaching of Bro. Daniel Lapid, that because of the messenger, salvation came. The first cry of salvation is because of the messenger in Punta, Sta. Ana. If there is no messenger, there is no salvation to Filipinos. If there is no messenger, there is no real doctrine.
We thought of him highly, indeed. Even I, before, when I was once asked by a professor, “If Bro. Felix Manalo will come back to life today…” that was a question in a qualifying exam. For example, you’re in first year, for you to reach second year in the workers’ ministry, in BEM, Bachelor of Evangelical Ministry, one of the questions of the professor was, “If Bro. Felix Manalo would resurrect today, what will you do? My answer was like this: Then I will thank God because I have seen Bro. Felix Manalo alive, and I will embrace him because he is the one who gave me understanding, and he was the one who taught me. He is the messenger that is why I am here.
[Marcos Mataro was the foremost critic of the Iglesia Ni Manalo in the program D’ X-Man. He was murdered on April 27, 2008, shot point-blank 6 times in the forehead, right eye, neck, and chest in Apalit, Pampanga. He was murdered exactly two years after members of Ang Dating Daan were mauled by members of the Iglesia Ni Manalo outside Jollibee in Apalit. Mataro’s murderers are still at large, although identified with the same religion he used to criticize.]
Larry Erfillo: I, as one who was offered, and this is the experience of those who were offered—when you say “offered”, that’s from 12 years old and below—so what does an 11 year-old know? You will be offered, but you don’t know much about those things. And then you will be baptized, okay, but before you get baptized, you have to acknowledge him as the messenger, and you will really acknowledge him, but your understanding lacks. But because you were taught from childhood, and they were using verses, you will really believe. Only afterward as you grow up that you realize these things.
This was my observation, as you already know I was from the Central Office where the Manalo clan lives, the clan of messengers. It’s like this, until now when they mention the “messenger”, they do not tell the members what the true life of the messenger was. They will say, the messenger was persecuted, oppressed, and everything in the Bible that is meant for the preacher of God they will fit to Felix Manalo. But in truth, that is not what’s happening. So, we believed that he is the messenger because we were not told of the true condition of Felix Manalo’s life.
Regarding my turning point, I can share a little. Although I already have doubts when I was still in the Iglesia Ni Manalo, when they read the verses, it’s as if they fit [to Manalo], because they don’t tell us what other things he did. What is being taught to us is that Felix Manalo was like this and like that, that he was being oppressed, everything that they want to fit to his person. But I realized when I came to the Central, I saw that their lives were not like that, the messenger and his clan. So I told myself, this doesn’t fit. So I started to search.
I will cite one, although there are many, it is clear [in the Bible] that a preacher sent of God is poor, he sacrifices and does not live luxuriously like a king or a prince. This is the opposite of what we see. So, that was what I was looking for. If this person is really a messenger sent of God, that verse should fit him. Let us say that he did experience riding a boat without money, but how about the Apostle Paul, as a preacher sent of God, when did he say that his tribulations are going to end? When he was about to die. But this messenger Felix Manalo and his clan, while they are still alive, are they suffering tribulations? Do they experience hardships, if they really are the ones to whom the verse fit? No. Only the members suffer hardships.
Although they justify that since Felix Manalo experienced hardships in the early stage of his ministry he ought to have material abundance and blessings later on his life, that reasoning is not biblical. In the Bible, when you are a true preacher of God, from the start of your ministry until you die you are poor, you will not become rich. In 1 Corinthians 4:11, it says –
“Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace;”
That was the condition of Apostle Paul’s life. And Paul also has an admonition to Timothy, the minister of Christ who shall succeed him in leading the brethren. Paul reminds him of the dangers of desiring to be rich. 1 Timothy 6:9-10 says –
“But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”
Along with these biblical principles, how can a preacher of God become rich when he is commanded by God to do good unto all men? Galatians 6:10 says –
“As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.”
You cannot be rich if you are a true preacher of God in the Christian Era. How can you be rich when there’s so much good things that you have to do? Like putting up orphanages, free hospital and medical missions, aiding the less-fortunate by granting their little dreams, offering free legal assistance, putting up transient homes, free bus rides and everything that is good in the sight of God. These are the treasures Christians are commanded to lay up in heaven, not the earthly treasures the Manalo clan has accumulated.
Felix Manalo, Eraño Manalo and Eduardo Manalo are definitely not messengers of God. They are messengers of satan, the devil. That is why they have become rich. In the Iglesia Ni Manalo, what they do is brainwashing. You will be taught repeatedly until you receive the “messenger” doctrine. And that doctrine will be reinforced again and again in your life until you have become a hardcore fanatic, without truly understanding the doctrines of Christ.