In 1954, the newspaper The Bombshell published a three-part story concerning Felix Manalo, founder of the Iglesia Ni Cristo. The first part was published on October 21 with front page headline “IGLESIA NI CRISTO ‘HEAD’ ANGEL OR SEX MANIAC?” The article includes a letter of confession from a certain Rosita Trillanes who, according to her, was raped several times by Felix Manalo. Here is the inside story. (Press Ctrl + to enlarge image.)
[To augment readability, and for whatever purpose it may serve, I decided to post the transcript here.]
Angel Or Sex Maniac?
“By JOE CRUZ
(FIRST OF A SERIES)
“(This article is not written in defense of a group of persons or organizations; neither is it designed to accuse publicly or personally a certain individual nor purposely designed for those to whom there is a great gulf fixed between the law-abiding citizens and the wrongdoers.–EDITORS)
“MANALO, FELIX ISAGUN
“Superior Minister of the “Iglesia Ni cristo,” or Church of Christ. Born in Barrio Calsada, Tagig, Rizal, on May 10, 1886, he is the first of the two sons of Mariano Isagun and Bonifacia Manalo. At the age of seven, he entered a barrio school then conducted by a certain Maestrong Cario, wherein he obtained his primary education.
“When the revolution came in 1896, he was unable to continue his studies, so he lived with his parents to help them sometimes by fishing but most of the time by plowing their own field. When he grew older he studied photography and later a hatter’s trade and established a hat store. But this kind of living did not satisfy him for he aspired to lead a religious life.
“To realize his aspiration he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1904, and attended the classes given by that institution, but not being satisfied with the teachings of that church, he transferred to the Ellinwood Presbyterian school. He was likewise so dissatisfied with the teachings of the Presbyterian Church that he decided and joined the Christian Mission, where later he was made an evangelist. As he was also dissatisfied with the teachings and doctrines of this church, he resigned his position and joined the Seventh day Adventist, popularly known as “Sabathist.” He continued his studies in the Scriptures, while in his spare time he canvassed books and wrote for the publications of the Philippine Publishing House, the organ of the Seventh Day Adventist. Then he was made a minister, but due to his constant and profound study of the Bible, he began to entertain many doubts in the doctrines and teachings of the Adventists, so that he finally decided to preach the Gospel as it was revealed to him. This was the beginning of the establishment in the Philippines of the “Iglesia Ni Cristo.” (ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE PHILIPPINES, Vol. IX, Versonco).
“But according to the same source, Felix Manalo Isagun is not the actual founder of the “Iglesia Ni Cristo” as claimed although the propagation started on or about November 1913. Thinking that it might be his success in pursuing his task by preaching the Scriptures in his own version, the said Church of Christ was registered under his name at the Bureau of Commerce and Industry, July 27, 1914. From then on, after many years of its survival as an organization the Philippines Free Press, dated April 23, 1950, made all estimation of more or less two million members. It was the most shocking news perhaps to other religious organizations ever made publicly. Since it scattered like wildfire that engulfed the four corners of the Philippines, Roxas, Avelino and Quirino were prompted to see the founder of “Iglesia Ni cristo,” and perhaps President Magsaysay too, for some political reasons. Analyzing its members whether such number is true, there are only 86, 125 members as of 1953, as far as the Bureau of Census and Statistics is concerned and not two million as claimed.
“Mr. Manalo, perhaps, is not fully satisfied with his wife and six children. In the early twenties he started already victimizing several women. To mention the few which met a strange, most bitter and painful experience lives are Rosita, whom he can not deny that this woman is one of those that met her doom during that time; Teresa Teodoro, another victim of the so-called “Angel”; Basilla Santos, if he can recall is also one among those that suffered under his hypnotistic system. Wives of several ministers that can not talk for fear that they might be expelled as “Diakonesas” might be known by their husbands. Our informant disclosed that the following are more or less under his sex domination: Felicidad, Rosa, Virginia, Bining, Mrs. Santos, Toddy, Atang, Paz, Pilar and several weeping souls that perhaps twice as much as those above-mentioned are, in one way or another, seeking revenge against Felix Manalo.
“To support our allegation, we want to prove to the reading public the following:
“Letter of Rosita to Her Brothers
“Brothers: In my belief that I will find protection I agreed that I be brought to [the] Central Office by Brother Jacinto Torres. When I was already there I experienced the most bitter and painful in [t]he life of [a] maiden like when Manalo, whom I considered as a father, abused me. At first he courted me but when I refused to accede to his desires he struck and beat me which rendered me unconscious. And when I was already unconscious, he raped me. There I suffered much because of the ill-treatment, beating and [threatening] that I received whenever I protested against his lewd designs.
“I also witnessed many who have been raped by Felix Manalo: some are maidens; others are the wives of members and ministers. Manalo himself told me about the others whom he molested when he was persuading me to accede to his desires. He told me about some thirty women he abused. I could not reveal their names to protect their dignity, but they frequently come to the Office. In my presence, he raped a maiden who later became pregnant and that happened when she went to the central office in that only instance which concerns Manalo. … Could your good sense accept these anomalies…? It is up to you to decide.”
On my next post, we will discover more of Felix Manalo’s activities when he is out of his members’ sight. These are contained in Rosita’s letter, in the original Tagalog, which were removed by the editor of The Bombshell for this issue.