The Legends Rising

“Legends are made from the wisdom of youth and innocence, perfected with age and experience, as whispered by God.”


My warmest greetings to this wonderful community of God and Love.


This book presents the legend of Felix Ysagun Manalo, the founder of Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), as narrated and witnessed by Irene M. Lumbrera based on her personal and firsthand experiences with him, and who will become her ultimate teacher and pastor. This is a tribute and salute to a man whose vision and wisdom was brought to build a Church that has gone global unto this day and has empowered the rising of legends over three generations.


The book also presents the beautiful, fairytale-like story of Irene Moraga Lumbrera, whose faith in her God is as tall as the highest mountain peak. Irene became a self-made millionaire at age twenty-six when the Philippines was just recovering from the scars of war. She came to the United States and was amazingly blessed with more good fortune and returned home to the Philippines after thirty years, only to become homeless again at eighty-eight when she found out that her home and properties were no longer hers. Returning to America, Irene rises back at eighty-nine when the Philippine Community Center Services for Aging adopted her and placed her on its Home Living Program, where she has regained her basic human right to home and shelter. Irene is now dreaming of a happy ending for herself and her community, and willing to work hard to build another dream to complete her earthly mission, becoming stronger in her faith as ever, like the rock of all faith and churches. 


This is just the beginning of a great story to be told on The Legends Rising. It is mission-inspired, a quest, a destiny whispered by God into the ears of a feeble and sick nonagenarian. Equipped with a company of wise men and women, an orchestra led by Irene herself, a deaconess, an apostle to share God’s love and blessing, chosen by God, the ultimate Rainmaker, to claim His Glory and Power thereby proving that "With God, there is nothing impossible." Ever trusting, never losing hope that His Will be done, Irene’s faith has earned her heaven on earth.    


I have never been so obsessed with an endeavor as writing this book. I have seen its worth and value, not only for Irene’s legacy, but my own. This book shows how Legends Rise and promises more to come.


Myrna D. Santos/Co-Author



I am honored to become a part of this community to meet leaders of the Church of Christ.


Thanks to our community photographer, Wally Pacumio, who patiently took the shots while we practiced capturing Irene from our inexperienced amateur photography. And how Wally narrowed the choice from almost a hundred photos to this beautiful cover page that portrays Irene’s class, emanating a character of peace, kindness, intelligence, and authority.


My final cuts in the form of questions addressed to the readers make this story telling interactive so they may become the judge themselves especially on issues of spirituality and higher consciousness as you have exemplified. It was a pleasure driving you, Ms. Irene. My old car is no comparison to your times’ Berlina, but surely, I cared for the most important cargo, as you are.


Our greatest appreciation to Ludy M. Resurreccion, our Program Director, for giving me a critique and feedback on my delivery of English and style as well as the psychology of the Filipino readership. She has given a brief intellectual perspective on the historical philosopy of Felix Y. Manalo on a movement that is known as Iglesia ni Cristo.


We are seeking all opportunity to maximize what we can do out of this printed medium to reach out in any way, from marketing, fundraising, entrepreneurship, and spiritual ministry as we are all  affected by this unprecedented pandemic of our times. Together we will celebrate a leader in her own rights, a teacher of life and a legend rising!


Myrna D. Santos/Co-Author


To learn, discover, enjoy, and live life with God


At a precious age of ninety-one, Irene is coming up as a storyteller of nothing but her life. Can she sustain the interest of readers old and young, like “Lola Basyang”? Will she be able to relate to the culture of where she was and where we are now? Will she be able to emote the feelings of excitement as she had experienced them? Nobody can tell it better how to learn, discover, enjoy, and live life with God as Irene.


Like a movie, I can let her story flow into an interesting craft for the imagination. I want her to be actively involved so, we came up with a narration in the first person. May we be able to recreate the scenes in words, so you can travel with her back in time and enjoy the ride. I can still see her face as I hear her giggle like a child as she recalls the moments she treasures. I do not see a perfect Irene, but I know why, from the perspectives of culture, age, spirituality, and psychology, because I am a nurse. I know where she is coming from.


I am very happy to celebrate with you, Irene. I am fortunate to know you who have shown me how to nurture Faith and believe. I only know you for a short while, but as if I have known you forever. I will never be a match to you but certainly close. Our personalities meet somewhat; I know when there is a single strand of hair in my face, while you know the feel of water that has reached a boiling point. There is an interfaced or joint storytelling between you and me, as an active synchronized trend of thoughts flowing between our minds.


We read the book for the first time as a community, as a way to test and create a perfect book, in the first place, it is about legends, how else can it stand through generations to come? 

~Myrna D. Santos




Preface i

Acknowledgement ii

Introduction iii


I The Legend of Felix Manalo

  1. The Meeting: Ka Felix & Irene
  2. Engineering God’s Plan

II The Legend of Irene

   Once upon a time, ninety years later

  1. My Baby Steps
  2. A Perfect Father
  3. Missing My Mother
  4. Finding God: My Conversion
  5. Love as Bittersweet 
  6. Peter: My Legacy Keeper
  7. The Alluring
  8. Deliver Me From Evil

III Welcome to the Bountiful:

     My Journey to the World

  1. Making the First Million
  2. The Taste of Manna
  3. Shaping my Destiny
  4. This Land is Mine!
  5. Queen of the Sea, Fisher of Men

IV The Rising of Legends

     Some Legends Rise and Fall

  1. My Roots: The Legend of Moraga
  • What Runs in the Family/The Way we Were
  • The Lumbrera Heirloom
  • The Medal: Bravery and Heroism Once More
  1. Jose P. Leviste: The Rural Doctor
  2. Kapitan Kulas: The Outlaw Hood
  3. BOSS: The Battle of Sibuyan Seas
  4. Benigno Aquino Triangle
  5. Ma. Consuelo Almonte: The Icon of the Aging Fil-Am
  6. Prashant Shah: Awakening the Soul
  7. Gonzalo Velez: The Soldier’s Historical Novel
  8. Fr. Beltran: Rising from Smokey Mountain
  9. Yoga Nurse: The Legend of a Healing Star
  10. Nurses: Behind the Frontlines 

V A Good Life: Life Full of Treasures

  1. Me & Irene
  2. Social Justice
  3. The Philanthropist
  4. The Healer


VI The Rising

  1. Homeless Bound
  2. The Rising
  3. Advocacy for Aging & Homelessness
  4. Sweet Homecoming

VII My Marbles

  1. Spirituality: From the Highest Consciousness
  2. Entrepreneurship: Making a Million One More Time
  3. Leadership & Management Her Style

VIII Glossary (Brief Dictionary)