As the oldest newspaper in the country, it is no surprise that The Manila Times prominently features in most, if not every, period film produced locally, as a means to denote the importance of an event in history.
Felix Manalo, the much talked about biopic of Iglesia ni Cristo’s founder, is the latest movie to do so.
At its world premiere on Sunday night at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, The Manila Times made several appearances throughout Manalo’s triumphs and tribulations in finding “the perfect religion based on the Bible.”
The first came at the official birth of INC when Manalo (portrayed by actor Dennis Trillo) registered his church at the Bureau of Commerce. He was seen leafing through the pages of The Manila Times, while waiting to comply with the necessary paperwork. The succeeding “cameos” signaled the beginning of the Japanese occupation in the Philippines, as well as other significant moments in history leading to the 1960s.
In fact, The Manila Times, which incidentally celebrates its 117th anniversary on October 11, seemed to have more exposure and pivotal appearances in the movie than most of the 100-strong cast of actors who landed character parts in the Viva Entertainment production.
With the help of 43, 624 attendees Felix Manalo the Movie, now holds two Guinness World Records from its grand first showing at the INC’s Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan. These are the “World’s Largest Audiences” in both categories of film preview and film screening.
Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., his wife Liza, and mother former First Lady Imelda Marcos joined INC members, officials, guests, celebrities and the movie’s actors in viewing the biopic at the 55,000-seater stadium.
On his official Instagram account, @bongbongmarcos, the senator posted a photo collage of his family, the audience at Philippine Arena, and a movie scene with the caption: “Isang mainit na pagbati sa pamunuan ng Iglesia ni Cristo, sa isang naiibang pagsasalarawan ng buhay ng ating nag iisang Ka Felix Manalo. Ipinaalala mo na ang sikreto ng matagumpay na buhay sa kabila ng mga pagsubok ay ang malalim na pananampalataya sa may kapal. Mabuhay ka! Mabuhay ang mga kapatid natin sa INC.”
TV anchor and journalist Teddy Boy Locsin also graced the event and later posted a series of tweets on his Twitter account @teddyboylocsin, the most popular of which wrote: “Beautiful movie, lovely scenes and elegiac stone, wonderful acting, Dennis Trillo deserves an Oscar.”
Before the start of the screening, Marco Frigatta and Victoria Julie Tweedy, the official Guinness adjudicators who flew in from London to facilitate the event, announced that the numbers to beat to steal the records were “10,000 for the world’s largest audience in film premiere and 28, 442 [for a documentary titled Honor Flight in the US]for the largest audience ever attended in film screening.”
While Felix Manalo was running, the Guinness officials tabulated and audited the attendance with the help of a third party auditing firm, Punongbayan & Araullo. They further double-checked the scanned ticket figures with the physical stubs to ensure the total number, even deducting a total of 172 people who left the arena and did not come back.
To date, Iglesia ni Cristo holds 10 Guinness records with their latest accomplishments, and may soon have an 11th with the 40 x 22-meter screen used at the premiere as the largest indoor screen in the world. The official decision will be released in the coming weeks.
Besides Trillo, co-actors Bela Padilla [who plays Manalo’s wife], Gabby Concepcion [Felix’ son Erano], and Gladys Reyes [Felix’ daughter Avelina Manalo], to name a few were spotted on the red carpet. Those with minor roles in attendance included Lloyd Samartino, Ruru Madrid, Boy 2 Quizon, Carla Humphries and AJ Muhlach.
Before the actual movie screening, a program was also held with Isabelle Daza and Richard Gutierrez as hosts, while Nadine Lustre and Basil Valdez performed songs for the mammoth crowd.
Joel Lamangan, who directed the movie, proudly revealed that the biopic took three years to make and had a cast of 100 actors, and more than 8,000 bit players. He estimated the total production budget at P150 million.
Felix Manalo begins regular screening on October 7 in over 300 cinemas nationwide.