six months shy of it's 102nd birthday Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), the
Church that Felix Manalo cobbled together in 1914 appears to be in a
deep ongoing crisis. The religion that claims to be the one true church
of Jesus Christ on earth is now being torn by internal strife. In an
ongoing saga that is unfolding publicly, Lottie Manalo-Hemedez this week
claimed that she was being forced out of her home on No. 36 Tandang Sora
Avenue in Quezon City. A home that once belonged to her father and that
she claims she has had title to since 1983 when she and her husband were
married. According to the INC lawyers however, that house and the entire
compound it is in is owned by the church and they want her out.
As you most likely
concluded by now, religion is big business in the Philippines, and
the INC, when stripped down to its core is really just a money-making
endeavor—like any other business. And like most Filipino businesses,
when the founders are gone, the children or the grandchildren start
squabbling amongst themselves. Such in-fighting not only
divides the family, it eventually destroys the business as well. When
you think about it, all those large, booming Filipino owned and operated
businesses that were around in the fifties and sixties are practically
all gone today. Squandered by heirs who knew little about how to run
them or cared about them even less.
Once highly profitable
concerns, they were passed from one generation to another, with each
succeeding generation feeling more entitled, more affluent, and less
willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work that their
forbearers did. Longevity for Filipino owned and controlled businesses
has thus always been a problem.
However, because of its
sheer size and its ability to continually generate extremely large
amounts of money, the INC was thought to be an exception to this rule.
Unfortunately, the current squabble between INC's leader Eduardo V.
Manalo, and the rest of his family does not bode well for the church.
July of last year, Eduardo expelled from the church his two younger
brothers Felix Nathaniel “Angel” Manalo and Marco Erano Manalo, his
sister Lolita “Lottie” Manalo-Hemedez, and even his mother Cristina
An article on the
Politiko (politics.com.ph) surmised that Eduardo's wife, Babylynn might
have had a hand in
"easing-out" her in-laws from the church. Whatever the real reason may
be, the Manalos have shown themselves to be a typical Filipino family.
Ironically, we are a country that prides itself with having strong family ties. Yet
time and time again, rich and even middle-class families have shown that
their strong family ties end where their stronger ties to money begin.
Whether the INC
survives this schism remains to be seen. But what the church is
currently going through should give us Pinoys pause for reflection on
the genuineness of our relationships
with family and friends and why
many of us seem to have this insatiable desire for money above all else.
Maybe tomorrow's Filipinos will be a little different in this regard. Published 1/16/2016