The Legend of Felix Ysagun Manalo

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

The Meeting: Ka Felix and Irene

I lost it all, my home, and my family when I got baptized to become an Iglesia ni Cristo. This is a typical scene when somebody brings disgrace to the family. My family who were all reared Catholics did not have mercy on me. They have disowned me and drove me to where I am now. I have learned my lessons the hard, but lasting way. I only need God who will hold my hand like my father, and everything was mine to play without regrets and fear. I am with God and God is with me.

God will show you the way as He showed it to me, I did not know how and where to go about in Manila, but He has always led me and shown the way from that small town in Lipa, to quest and adventure on the Philippines’ nooks and crannies and to the rest of the world’s most spectacular cities like New York, my second home where I will reside for over thirty years and the rest of my days.

From a “well-to-do” home to become homeless in Manila, was blind and bold for me. At twenty one years old, I was young and full of dreams, I took shelter in Iglesia ni Cristo and was given a role or position (katungkulan). I became a choir leader as I love to sing. I went everywhere to join Ka Felix, from Manila to Baguio. I used to come and greet him after “Samba” and shake his hands as he usually stands by the tree outside the church to greet the church goers.

On the other hand, after the singing, my worries won’t leave me alone in peace, and leave me sleepless all nights and days. Then one day at around four o’clock in the morning, I found myself knocking at Ka Felix's house in Riverside. The guard let me in but warned me, “It’s too early in the morning”. Ka Felix heard my conversation with the guard through the intercom and he said, “Let her in”.

He was still on his bathrobe, getting ready for his day. He looked at me and asked, “Why are you here to bother me at this time?” I told him, “I cannot sleep, I have so many problems!” He asked me to kneel before him and laid his hand upon me to bless me. Then he asked me to look at him straight in his eyes and I followed without a single blink. I felt lighter in my spirit and went home. Everything flowed in my life since. 

I can attest for my story and to the so many “Ka’s” who enjoyed God's Bounty because of Ka Felix who mentored and advocated for entrepreneurship, a legacy that will always be in our hearts, mind and spirit now and the generations to come.

 

Engineering God’s Plan

I heard about Iglesia during the Japanese time. My father used to talk to our neighbor who is Iglesia. Incidentally, I have already met Manalo in Meycawayan where we lived in my grandfather’s house as a child. There is an Iglesia in the other side of town. I met Felix Manalo again around 1950. He looked like an ordinary man, but there is something so striking in him in the way he talked and the wisdom that flowed in every word he spoke. He never talked about him and for himself, indeed, a selfless man. He stood tall in the pulpit, like Moses, he spoke of God with intensity that you can feel and see in his eyes. When he speaks, it is not Ka Felix, but a “Special Messenger” of God. This simple man, born of modest means, and baptized as Catholic, worked hard to find the truth, he has joined a lot of sects and religious groups, until he found himself deeply believing in the true teachings of God. This conversion gave him a vision on how he will build this Church of Christ. He incorporated the organization in Manila by 1914 and started an Iglesia in a small, private house in Punta, Santa Ana, Manila. When the war broke, he continued his ministry without fear, as it is God who is in command as it is written in the Book of Revelation. A lot of people from all over the Philippines became converted. Japanese soldiers got curious and came to listen. The rest of history flowed in up to this day when his scriptures spread in 156 countries, around the world.

He thinks and writes a lot. He will spend days and weeks in his room, even forgetting to eat and sleep that made him frail over time. When he opens his room, papers and manuscripts are all over showing how much he has written behind his locked room. He later dies of peptic ulcer disease because of so many missed meals.

His wife Honorata, "Atang" was beautiful and so loving of him. She knew how hard it was to take care of him as he was always with God. There was nothing that can take him off and come in between his closeness with God. They had six children. Pilar, the eldest was born in 1914. She studied at Women’s College Conservatory of Music. As a Composer, she was ordained by Ka Felix to hold a position as Music Director and wrote all the music and hymns sung until today. She gave me a role as a choir leader, I had a chance to work with her as her assistant. Dominador, the eldest son, became a civil engineer and architect and ordained by his father, to design and build Iglesia’s churches according to the scriptures. Hence, as of this modern time, you will see tall churches in gothic architecture with tops pointing to the heavens. These churches mushroomed in the Philippines, particularly in Riverside, Cubao, Bago Bantay, Munoz, Washington, Sampaloc, Sta Ana, Paco and Baclaran. He worked so hard and efficiently, respecting the value of even the smallest nails that are used to build the church. He will pick up all the nails that fall on the ground and use them again. Salvador and Erano were ordained by their father in 1952, to become the head of the church from 1954. Avelina, married a doctor and did not have a significant role in the church. The youngest son, Bienvenido, became an architect after his elder brother, Dominador. He took over the church buildings later on. 

Felix was sent by Christ as “Sugo”, a messenger to spread the words of God about the coming of calamities at the end of the world which will be called Dark Ages, when all the people will die and the last judgement of God. Those who follow His words as written in the scriptures will be saved and enjoy the paradise of heaven, where peace and happiness will be forever in eternity as God has promised. 

It was early in the year of 1963, when he died. We knew that the last day is coming. I went to visit him in the Veterans Hospital where he was confined. Accompanied by a couple close to him, we came gathered to his bedside, and the man asked Ka Felix, “Do you remember this woman”? He remembered me as the doctor’s wife who chose Iglesia over her husband’s offer to bring her to America. Then he showed us numbers in the clock, 4 and 12, saying “These numbers have meaning”. This later came up to be the date of his death on that night we were there, April 12. He died at 77 years old.

He was survived by his wife and children and the entire Iglesia. He has envisioned his own mortality and succession by his son, Erano, who is older than me by 5 years. His death brought great sorrow to his church. We spent few weeks to bring his casket to several Iglesia churches, until we carried him from San Francisco, Quezon City to his final resting place in San Juan, Rizal, within the compound of his home. To bury him near his home and with guards all day long will prevent people from kneeling on his tomb. People came from all over the country, dignitaries, famous and influential people, including the president of the Philippines. We walked following his body by foot, we caused a lot of traffic. I remember, I was dressed in my “sutana” because I was leading the choir, I have to direct the traffic to make way for the procession. People came to his gravesite every day for months and years, bringing flowers, that the scent has been in the air. It became a job for the guards to clean after the flowers. His remains were ultimately transferred in the Central Office, Quezon City, where his son Erano was also interred, up to this day.

 

We have lost the man sent by God to write the scriptures as He had to his disciples. He wrote the Words of God so that we will still believe time after time until His second coming at the end of the world. These manuscripts are all those we are reading all these years over a century later. If these words were not of God’s, how did it pass the wisdom of million people in every country of the world and believed? 

~MDS