BOCAUE, Bulacan: President Benigno Aquino 3rd on Monday led the opening of the world’s largest indoor stadium, the Philippine Arena of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), or Church of Christ.
Aquino was accompanied by INC executive minister Eduardo Manalo in the unveiling of the marker in front of the arena situated at a sprawling 75-hectare eco-tourism zone in Ciudad de Victoria (City of Victory) here.
“Sinasalamin nito ang mga nakamit na tagumpay ng Iglesia sa nakaraang siglo [This mirrors the victories of the Church over the past century],” Aquino said of the arena.
The inauguration of the 55,000-seater arena kicked off the INC’s centennial celebration on Sunday, July 27, which Malacañang has declared as a special non-working holiday.
Aquino congratulated the influential religious group on its 100th anniversary, saying “INC’s sense of community [and]faith extends beyond the Church.”
“Talaga naman pong ikinalulugod ko ang pagkakataong maging bahagi ng pagtitipong ito. Personal nga po nating sinusuportahan ang isang institusyong tulad ng Iglesia sa maalab na paghubog ng inyong mga miyembro bilang mga tapat na alagad ng ating Panginoon [I am truly happy to be given the opportunity to be part of this event. I personally support institutions such as the INC, which continuously guides its members into becoming faithful followers of God],” he said.
“Maraming salamat po sa pagiging kabalikat ng ating administrasyon sa pagsusulong ng mabuting pamamahala [Thank you for being a partner of the administration in pushing for good governance],” the President added.
Witnessing the event was an entourage of VIPs, including Vice President Jejomar Binay, other government officials and foreign dignitaries.
The domed arena, which cost more than $200 million, is even bigger than the Staples Center in Los Angeles, which could hold only 21,000 people.
It is twice as large as the 20,000-seater SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, and thrice as large as the 16,500-seater Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
The Philippine Arena will not only hold major church gatherings, it will also operate as a multi-use sports and concert venue, capable of holding a range of events from boxing and basketball to live music performance.