VOICE OF THE BRETHREN
Translated from the Tagalog Article: https://incsilentnomorebackup.wordpress.com/2015/11/28/ang-katauhan-nila-ka-angel-at-ka-marc-manalo-batay-sa-aking-karanasan/
A Letter from Brother Lowell Menorca II
One of the many blessings in my life is the opportunity for my family to be a part of the life and of the family of Brother Eraño G. Manalo, particularly bro. Angel and Bro. Marc V. Manalo.
Backtrack: From a young age, contrary to what many believes, I did not grow up in affluence and prosperity. My father, bro. Lowell, was a simple teacher in Bongabon, Oriental Mindoro, when he was called to membership in the Iglesia ni Cristo. My mother, sis. Minda, was a midwife in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro. When my father joined the Church, he was disowned by his whole family who were devout Catholics. He was chased by his eldest brother with a machete and so he was forced to move out of their home. He ended up in Manila. He remained in the Church and soon after, he entered the Ministry.
My mother strived to go abroad and became a Nurse in Amsterdam. Then she moved to Canada, where she became one of the pioneers of the Iglesia ni Cristo there. She petitioned her mother and six (6) siblings. One was a seaman, and all of them became Canadian Citizens. When my mother returned to the Philippines, she met my father who was already on his 3rd year in the Ministry. He introduced sis. Minda to bro. Erdy and requested his blessings to marry her and that was that! They were assigned to provinces such as Bicol, and other outskirts of Manila and in Manila as well, and in Cavite where he became a Coordinator in Cavite while we lived in Taytay, Rizal. I only saw him on Saturdays and Sundays because of the distance of his local. Afterwards, he was chosen and summoned by Ka Erdy to Central and came under the training of bro. Vivencio "Bining" Pineda to do office work. Far from his knowledge, he was being prepared to become bro. Erdy's Administrative Secretary. At a young age, he fulfilled this duty for a long period of time until he was formally sworn in during the "Araw ng Katapatan" (Day of Loyalty) on April 1994 (if my memory serves me well) as the Administrative Secretary, while bro. Arnel Tumanan was sworn in as General Secretary.
I was born on April 2, 1977 and was offered by bro. Eraño G. Manalo in the Ministry. In spite this, my father never forced me to become a Worker. Although I was the only son for 13 years, I was not brought up "spoiled" by my parents. They were both disciplinarians. We experienced the challenges of life in the Ministry at my young age and so I became accustomed to hardship and a simple way of life. After I graduated from High School, I requested a visit to bro. Eraño G. Manalo because I wanted to present to ka Erdy awards I won for New Era during inter-school competitions, as well as those that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Scholarship awarded to me. I remember that day very clearly and the indescribable feeling when you meet Ka Erdy in person. You feel the power of the Holy Spirit, and I was unable to speak in awe of facing this man, shaking his hand while he talked to me. That was the chance I had to ask Ka Erdy if I could enter the Ministry to become a Worker. His answer was, it would be better if I finished a course so that I may be of better help to the Church. I agreed, and followed up my question with, what course would he recommend? Ka Erdy called forth Ka Marc Manalo and asked him what course would be beneficial for the Church and Ka Marc's answer was, "We are need of Engineers." Ka Erdy looked at me and asked if I agreed to take Engineering. He again asked ka Marc for specifics and ka Marc said, "We lack Electronics and Communications Engineers." Ka Erdy once again asked me if I agreed to take ECE. My answer was YES.
Fast Forward. After I graduated from ECE, I once again faced ka Erdy and presented to him my inter-collegiate awards for New Era University and I once again asked or permission to enter the Ministry and in accordance to his agreement I enrolled in the College of Evangelical Ministry as a Preparatory Student, section MICAH.
During our time, BEM students were allowed to work. So I kept my job in a Multi-National Company while I went to BEM school at night. One day, I was able to attend a "Balikbayan Day" where I was able to once again shake hands with bro. Erano G. Manalo. While waiting for my father who was in a meeting with Ka Erdy, I was able to speak to bro. Marc. Manalo. We talked about how I got into ECE, he asked how it went and what came of it as my expertise, what my job was at the company, among other things. I happily answered his questions and I was amazed about how ka Erdy's "aura" was the same "aura" I felt with ka Marc and ka Angel. You can imagine how pleased I was when I got to talk to bro. Marc for a long time that day. After I explained my responsibilities in the company where I work to ka Marc, he said, "you're comparable to a CEO with the scope of work and salary you have," and I said it was only becasue of God's help and mercy. The last question he asked me before he left was, "When will you be joining us at the office?" I was surprised with this unexpected question, and my quick response was no other than, "later this afternoon po." That same morning, I submitted my letter of Resignation to my employer who called me right away and tried to convince me not to resign to the point of offering to double my salary with housing and car incentive. I thanked him for the offer but I declined with all due respect and told him it was a personal decision and asked that may he respect it just the same. It was more important for me to accept the call of duty to work inside the Central Office.
That afternoon, I was inside SVF or Sound and Video Facility and that's where I began to be with brothers Angel V. Manalo and Marc V. Manalo who were in charge of this Department. From my Preparatory BEM years all the way to graduation and my first local assignment, I was fortunate to remain as a worker in the Department since 1999. I started in the lowest level until I was slowly entrusted with various important and delicate tasks. With God's help and mercy, I also had the honor to be in the company of Bro. Marc V. Manalo when he officiated worship services, and I can attest to the bountiful blessings that flow during his preaching, prayer, admonition and fellowship with the brethren. They esteem the brethren, they are approachable, without an air of self-pride and arrogance or self-importance. They are gentle and calm even in giving advice to local ministers when there are issues in the local. They never embarrassed anyone and they neither yelled.
In the office, the feeling topped that of working at ABS-CBN or GMA7 and other TV Stations with many celebrity artists. Everyone who works at SVF/GEMNET/NET25 were always star-struck whenever Ka Angel and Ka Marc were there. They even wait for the chance to meet them along the stairs, corridors, inside the office, at the doors, the parking lot, and all of us will greet them and shake their hand as if we had the pleasure of meeting them for the first time. It was indeed a pleasure and a wonderful feeling to talk to them even for a few seconds, it's hard to explain such a feeling as many say and it never wears down or out. It's such a blessing to be around them because of their humility, gentleness and amiability to the brethren. They were constantly patient even with hundreds of repeated hand shakes every single day yet they never denied this from the brethren and there wasn't any hint of being annoyed or irritated or being snobs. We may have been with them in the Department for long, but we ceased every opportunity to extend our hand to those who belong to the family of bro. Eraño Manalo.
When it comes to their work, they are fastidious, meticulous, and always taking into account whether the work being done is beneficial and not harmful to the Church, which is why all the shows' content in Net25 were closely monitored and screened to ensure nothing is against the Doctrines that would stain the image of the Church. All the shows went through the office of Bro. Bienvenido C. Santiago who was very meticulous and strict then, that no lewd dances, hiphop or rap Christian Music Videos slipped through, and no artists or hosts were allowed to act and dress improperly. So even when a program or video is finished, it will not be approved for broadcast if bro. Bien believes it will be detrimental to the reputation of the Church. They make certain that the sacred and pure image of the Church remains. Having personally worked with Bro. Angel and bro. Marc, I saw and experienced how keen and observant they were to quality and detail. They have a very high regard to the security of the department and the tasks appointed by bro. Erdy. Bro. Angel and Bro. Mark are the kinds of leaders who do not impulsively make decisions. When a report is turned in regarding a specific task, they will continue to collect more information to confirm that the report is exact and accurate. They are neither gullible nor naive. They are very strict in dealing with with serious reports of irregularities and readily conduct investigations and act upon as necessary with fairness and impartiality even to those who are close to them. If someone is in violation, the proper discipline is imposed. Along with strict discipline is their empathy and love so that one cannot bring himself to feel angry nor takes offense from being corrected. They can also discern sincerity and impure intentions so one should attempt to lie to them and those who lie and those with evil intent will be quickly revealed. The decision making of bro. Angel and bro. Mark is of immense intelligence coupled with understanding that is beyond wide in their leadership. Guided by the holy spirit, they easily distinguish which things are for the good and which things are for the bad, and in the end, we can truly see that the results turn out for the good and indeed guided, and all doubts and questions about their decision cease to exist. Not too many people are familiar with how they lead and guide. They do not spoon feed, instead, they offer vast and deep knowledge that require one to think deeply in order to comprehend their instructions and decisions. Their disciplinary actions do not include kidnapping, or illegal detention, but you will know and feel that you have done something wrong. As quiet and calm as they are, your heart will be revealed, good and evil alike.
In spite the many duties and responsibilities of brothers Angel and Marc in Net25, they were also entrusted by brother Eraño G. Manalo with other tasks for the Church. They never tired of teaching the brethren under their care. I am very fortunate for the many times I listened to them teach and give advice, and the primary teaching they always shared was to obey the will of our Lord God and submit to the Administration. Even when the time came when the members of the Sanggunian started persecuting them, oppressing them left and right, falsely accusing them and removed them from their duties. They were humiliated by the District Minister during Ministerial Class, they were mistreated and picked on, but in IN NO INSTANCE DID WE HEAR THEM COMPLAIN OR REBELLED AGAINST THE ADMINISTRATION. They only showed obedience, humility and submission even when they were disgraced and shouted at by the District Minister during classes as though he was picking a fight, and they were rudely told to move from their seats instead of politely doing so in private, yet he chose to make this a spectacle in front of all the Ministers. Many ministers wanted to engage against this disrespect as we are not used to this kind of harsh speech and behavior. We give due respect to these District Ministers, what more to the children of our former Executive Minister who do not deserve such malevolence! They never complained, instead they continued to encourage us to follow in humility. For the severity of insolence and oppression handed to them for more than 6 years, they've only spoken up once, NOT AGAINST THE EXECUTIVE MINISTER, BUT FOR COMPASSION TO US MINISTERS AND WORKERS WHO WERE ABDUCTED, AND REQUESTED TO TALK TO BRO. EDUARDO. But because of that, they were all the more tyrannized, disgraced, and oppressed by the Sanggunian. This is the image of the Church now, Christian professing Ministers of the Church who spearhead in spreading malicious, shallow and obscene lies, and libelous detractions against brothers Angel and Marc Manalo. It is agonizing to us Ministers, Workers, Officers, and members to see the beloved wife and widow of our former Executive Ministers maligned in Social Media and bro. Angel, bro. Mark, and sis. Lottie who are siblings of Bro. Eduardo V. Manalo and this is all permitted by the Sanggunian of the Church. The world had high respects for the Church then, especially to its Ministers, and to the former virtuous way they handled past issues. Now, disgrace, pettiness, uttered profanity, bullying, and sacrilege is normally seen from these self-proclaiming true Christians, whose character is contrary to their actions. We should all the more know by now that in spite of all of these, they do not rebel, nor entertain the vile campaigns against them, and they continue to advise us to absolve it and be forgiving, and to continue to pray for the offenders to have a change of heart, and stand up for what is right and true.
Defender brethren, I believe they should be our deserving example in the correct way of battling the wickedness and lies that the Sanggunian and their villainous ministers are propagating. Every accusation that exists has already been hurled by the Sanggunian to bro. Angel and bro. Marc, and this is why they took us, Ministers and workers so they can force us to testify further against them with made up stories they can use as evidence, stories such as they are forming their own religion and that they are rebelling against the Executive Minister, all of which are fabrications and lies.
I can say that what I regret the most is the day when I was forced to say some things against bro. Marc and bro. Angel and other defenders due to the interrogation of Sanggunian members such as bro. Rolando Esguerra, Bro. Erdz Codera, bro. Radel Cortez, and bro. TJ Orosa. They came to our place of detention often to convince me of their made up stories, over and over they tormented us into believing their lies, until I could no longer bear the weight that burdened my being, and we were forced to agree to the fables that they invented, the same concoction they made me write in my statements, and made me say on the videos that they are now circulating. If anyone is to feel angry and betrayed, it is no other than bro. Angel and bro. Marc, but when I was freed from Central and was finally safe from the Sanggunian, I wanted to immediately ask for forgiveness from the brothers, but without letting me finish, they readily told me, "I understand what happened to you, what's important is that you and your family are safe." I shed many tears for their abundant love for us, for their incomparable understanding of the pressures and threats our kidnapers put us under. When they could have renounced me, or doubt me and relinquish their trust, brothers Angel and Marc and their families continued to love us and care for us. And so I promised that I will no longer be used for atrocity, and I, with my whole family will stand up for the truth and for the will of God until our last breath. I was once attempted for murder by the Sanggunian, encarcerated and detained but my faith and confidence now is that the Father rescued me from all these dangers so that I could tell the truth, the truth that will set all of us free. It is the same truth that the Sanggunian and the multiple lawyers they employed are trying their hardest to hinder from coming out. They will do anything to prevent the revelation of the this truth about the evil and deceit perpetrated by the Sanggunian and the Legal Department of Central.
I hope that everyone else who are still going through this kind of oppression by the Sanggunian be courageous enough to come out. Bro. Nolan Olarte, Bro. Jojo Nemis, I hope that while it is not yet too late, you will speak up. We were together in Sorsogon and you and your families know the truth...do not be blinded by what they can offer or be afraid of their threats. May you prove especially to God, and to your children, that their fathers can stand up for the truth. Ninong Arnel Tumanan, you know what really happened...yet I respect your decisions to choose to deny the honest truth.
Lowell R. Menorca II
I want to clarify that I wrote this letter, not for the purpose of exalting them above anyone, and neither in any manner to say that they are more worthy to administer the Church, nor to compare them to and criticize anyone, but only to paint a picture of bro. Angel and bro. Marc from the perspective of someone who has been with them since my youth until the present day, and to share these to many brethren who were unable to be with them or do not know bro. Angel and bro. Marc personally.
And to all malicious minions of the Sanggunian who will take this letter for purposes other than understanding the message, go ahead, take it apart and obscenely manipulate it piece by piece, take it out of context or misinterpret it and grossly belie it to please yourselves and the depthless minds of your avaricious masters. Go ahead, once again prove to the world the malicious kind of Christians that you are. Instead of viciously criticizing someone else, why not write a letter of your own and send it to your avid readers which are no other than yourselves. Thank you.