MOVIE REVIEW

MANALO: What salvation is all about

18

Last of a three-part series

The last sentence of yesterday’s Part 2: One post on Facebook has this brag: “Manalo is not meant to make money.” Though it has been bruited about repeatedly that the film has broken box-office records both local and foreign, meaning money is a concern by the film after all, the obvious undertone of that Facebook boast is that “Manalo” is meant for attaining spiritual ends.

This reviewer thus finally addresses this braggadocio head-on. How true is the salvation of which Iglesia Ni Cristo claims monopoly of? All Christian religions without exception preach the Second Coming of Jesus Christ during which he will judge the living and the dead, and bring with him to heaven those he will save. INC proclaims that only those within the true church of Christ – what else but Iglesia Ni Cristo – will be saved.

“Manalo” strikes this reviewer as a grand spectacle for promoting that proclamation. For those outside INC whom it derisively refers to as sanlibutan, the movie must be a vehicle for conversion to the faith. For those already in, it must serve as a consolidating force. Time and again, INC worship sessions are punctuated with announcement of expulsions, betraying dissatisfactions occurring among the flock. Those announcements certainly drive terror into the hearts of the INC members, each time prompting them to stay put.
On the scale of film aesthetics, “Manalo” contributes nothing substantial.

The screenplay is mediocre, making no effort whatsoever at exploring aspects endemic in the cinema for achieving interesting storytelling. The structure is one straight narrative succeeding only at presenting a dry chronology of the events from boyhood to death of the man who built Iglesia Ni Cristo. And the narrative has for its focus the evangelization that is routine in INC worships thereby achieving nothing new as far as film art is concerned. As a consequence, the dialogues sound like a broken record.


The actor playing Manalo deserves commendation for effective acting if the character he plays were a non-human detached from earthly sensitivities. Given the proper situation, his performance rates A, as in that scene where threatened to be shot by Japanese troops who barge in the middle of the service, he goes ahead with his sermon, prompting the Japanese to withdraw. What ruins the scene is the hackneyed emphasis on the soldiers slowly putting their pistols back in their holsters before walking out of the chapel.

Stereotype directorial approach and touches are a main shortcoming of the film, like men drinking in front of a store, hecklers disturbing an indoctrination session, rival preachers intruding in the middle of Manalo’s sermon and getting dignified with argumentation in which he prevails and at which Manalo’s flock nod their heads like mechanical dolls moving at the turn of a key.

Though claiming to be an angel, Felix Manalo hasn’t quite gotten over his human nature. This is obvious from the fact that he falls in love, gets married (in fact twice), has children, provides good home and life for his family. Surely he must have done some little misdeeds which can dramatize his innate humanism. His transformation into a holy man – call it saint, sugo, or whatever – can be a most interesting approach for the director in handling the character of Felix. But no, he appears to be exercising fidelity to the work of one who can afford much schooling in elementary screenwriting. The result, a character which, because it does not develop, is in limbo.

It is fundamental in literature that the development of the story depends upon the development of the main character. What film will you get if its main character does not develop? A static motion picture that, having no beginning, has no end. Felix Y. Manalo begins as a boy, grows up into a man, and dies head of a large religious sect. That’s no story, at best it is a photoplay approximating a scrap book.

A story depicts a man’s struggle to rise above his human weaknesses. All great literature has for its main theme this element in one form or another. A significant development the character of Felix Y Manalo would have taken is his exhausting his human strength to build a church by which to attain salvation for human kind only to stumble upon a Biblical passage that virtually proclaims his salvation gospel a hoax.

Mark 13:30, that passage, states: “Remember that all these things will happen before the people now living have all died.” The “things” referred to in the passage are the Great Tribulation, the Awful Horror that will presage the second coming of Jesus Christ during which he will judge the living and the dead and then bring with him to heaven all those that will deserve salvation. When will the Great Tribulation take place? According to Mark 13:30, “…before the people now living have all died.” And “now” in the passage means two thousand years ago. Even granting a common life span of 100 years for all the people living two thousand years ago, the longest any of the people living then could last up to was in year 100. In other words, the Great Tribulation and the ensuing Judgment Day immediately thereafter should have happened earlier than year 100. But as attested to by “Manalo,” as recent as 1913 Iglesia ni Cristo has been preaching a Judgment Day and salvation that until now are yet to come.

Felix has been preaching wrong!

Finally he is face to face with his ultimate chastisement, Deuteronomy 18:22: “If a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD and what he says does not come true then it is not the LORD’s message. That prophet has spoken on his own authority, and you are not to fear him.”

Is Felix to admit his wrong and undergo a cleansing of spirit by which to correct his mistake? Or keep mum on his discovery of Mark 13:30, as all other Christian churches have been doing, and continue hooking multitudes on the gospel of salvation?

Nothing is shown of course in the movie that Felix does come upon Mark 13:30. But his discovering the verse should be taken as a matter of course. He has not devoted one whole lifetime meticulously studying the Bible for nothing. In all likelihood he has found out about Mark 13:30 but has chosen to ignore it completely. Why? Because without the gospel of Judgment Day and Salvation, no solid rock will be there on which to build an Iglesia Ni Cristo – no need for a sugo to build that church in the last days.

As it is, anchored on believers’ undiminished faith in salvation, Iglesia Ni Cristo has prospered from so lowly beginnings in an obscure village in a backward municipality to a top rung among the major sects worldwide. It is common knowledge that INC exercises enormous influence and power over Philippine economy and politics, with its block vote able to determine the outcome of elections, its grip on the labor-only-contracting system proving a great fetter to the advancement of workers’ welfare.

As to fortunes, these must have grown to such tremendous proportions that the very family which Felix built is now splintered, reportedly wrangling over the matter.
Now, that’s the real story.

Share.
.
Loading...

Please follow our commenting guidelines.

18 Comments

  1. Justaskingseriously on

    I would like to express my sincere appreciation for imparting to us your scholarly reviews of the films “Heneral Luna” and “Manalo”. You brought to bear on your superb writing all your technical and practical know-how concerning these films from your viewpoint as an artist and literary genius.

    As a “rebel” you really do not need anybody’s approval, because you definitely know your subject — as art, as literature, and as added bonus: the political, historical, and religious angles.

  2. ^_^ Nyahahahaha! Hindi mo pala talaga gets? Hindi naman yan iprinoduce para pagkakitaan! Ganun kasi ang laman ng mga utak nyo mga tiwalag sa INC at mga panggap! Ang return-on-investment business-wise! ‘Yun pa lang sa pagpapalakas ng pananampalataya ng mga kapatid (na tunay) ay solved na! Eh yun pang mga natawag na mag-Iglesia dahil sa movie? edi wow! ilan yun? paglabas pa ng DVD panonoorin yan ng mga non-INC in the privacy of their own rooms! Internaional pa! Hindi talga mapipigil ang makapangyarihang gawa ng mga kamay ng Diyos! Sabi Niya: “Ako ang gagawa at sino ang pipigil?” Kayo? Pinipigilan ninyo? Haynz! higit pa diyan sa budget ang ginagastos ng INC sa pagpapalaganap at pagpapatayo ng mga gusaling sambahan! barya lang yan! kaya ka lang yata nag inc noon eh kasi gusto mo yata na pag gumawa na ng felix manalo movie eh ikaw ang kuning director eh meron naman palang magaling na mas dapat kaya sorry na lang bitter ka pala kasi hindi ikaw ang nakuhang director ng felix manalo the movie! sayang ha ‘ne? (Y)

  3. noon panahon ni noah.mas magagalit ang maraming tao dahil ang pamilya lang nila ang naligtas, Kailangan ng tao ang mag obserba at mag masid ,walang ibang makakapagdesisyon niyan upang maligtas ang iyong sarili ,kung hindi ikawl lamang.
    gamitin ninyo ang inyong kunting oras para magsiyasat , kung ano ang mabuti sa inyo.
    ang iglesia ni cristo ay nag aalok sa inyo ng kaligtasan. ikaw ,kayo ang nakakaalam ng mabuti sa inyo
    Anong mabuti mayroon ang maraming religion na kaiba sa inc.ikumpara ninyo sa lahat ng kilala ninyo.
    Sa bandang huli ,kayo pa rin ang magdedesiyon kung ano ang mabuti sa inyo.

  4. JUAN 17:

    3At ito ang buhay na walang hanggan, na ikaw AMA ay makilala nila NA IISANG DIYOS NA TUNAY, at siyang iyong sinugo, sa makatuwid baga’y si Jesucristo. 4Niluwalhati kita sa lupa, pagkaganap ko ng gawa na ipinagawa mo sa akin. 5At ngayon, Ama, luwalhatiin mo ako sa iyo rin ng kaluwalhatiang aking tinamo sa iyo bago ang sanglibutan ay naging gayon.

    24 AMA, sila ay ibinigay mo sa akin at nais kong makasama sila sa kinaroroonan ko upang makita nila ang karangalang ibinigay mo sa akin, sapagkat minahal mo na ako bago pa nilikha ang daigdig.

    25Mapagmahal na AMA, HINDI KA KILALA ng MGA TAO sa daigdig, ngunit kilala kita, at alam rin ng mga ibinigay mo sa akin na IKAW AMA ang nagsugo sa akin.

    26Ipinakilala na kita sa kanila, at patuloy kitang ipapakilala, upang ang pagmamahal mo sa akin ay manatili sa kanila, at ako ay manatili rin sa kanila.”

    • Justaskingseriously on

      Magaling! Ipinagdarasal ni Jesucristo ang kaniyang mga apostoles na manatili na nagkakaisa sa kniya tulad na siya ay nagkakaisa sa kaniyang Ama. Alam na ng lahat kung ano ang nangyari sa isa sa mga apostoles dahil sa sobrang sobra na pagmahal sa pera. Ayon sa naisulat ni Mauro Gia Samonte, pera ang dahilan sa pagtalsik ng pagkakaisa ng mga INC. Tamang tama ang naisulat ni Mauro na lahat ng ito kasama na ang Arena ay hindi maaaring dalhin sa ibang mundo. Alam niyo ba kung ano talaga ang ibig sabihin ng salita na “arena” sa espanyol? “Sand” kung sa engles sabihin. Maging puti tulad sa Boracay o maging marumi ay “arena” o “sand” pa rin. Pagdating ng panahon lahat ay babalik sa pagka “arena”.

      Kaya ano talaga ang tunay na salvation? Kung sa engles, salvation FROM what? Buhay na walang hanggan ang tunay na salvation. At ano ang dahilan na ang buhay ay nagkaroon ng hanggan? Isipin ang nagyari sa Paraiso o Paradise. Bakit nagkasala si Adan at si Eva? Dahil sa kanilang pagtiwala sa sinungaling ng demonyo. Si Lucifer at ang kaniyang mga sugo ang dahilan na ang kamatayan ay pumasok sa mundo. Ang kamatayan ay ang parusa sa kasalanan. Alam na alam yata ito ng lahat ng mga INC. Ang pinakamalaking tanong ngayon ay, “Paano ang tao maligtas sa kasalanan upang makamtan niya ulit ang buhay na walang hanggan?”

      Pakibasa sa John 8:58. Before Abraham came to be, I AM. Pakibasa rin sa John 8:27. When you lift the Son of Man, you will come to realize that I AM. Pakibasa rin ng John 3:16. God so loved the world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in Him may not die but may have eternal life.

      “I AM” ay “JEHOVA”. Ang ayaw maniwala na si Jesucristo ay si Jehova ay hindi magkakaroon ng buhay na walang hanggan.

  5. mahirap talaga kapag hindi ka kinuha na director sa isang INC movie kahit INC ka pa…
    sinubok ka pero hindi ka nakapasa…. kaawa-awa ka kaibigan – tawag dyan “sour-grapping”

  6. Christina Victoria on

    What more can we expect in that movie Felix Manalo but a load of sugar-coating? In the first place, the INC will not risk away millions if the reasons are not obviously to “bring back their lost glory” after they were rocked and shaken to their core – scandal after scandal, with Manalo heirs bringing into the light what the Sanggunian, their council of ministers, have hid from their members and the public for a long time. Are they now using the movie to cover up for their horrendous crimes?

  7. Let me share with you a factoid not related to the movie, but should be interesting to some nevertheless. We all know that the NPA has its tentacles inside the Catholic Church, or maybe its the other way around. It has also managed to infiltrate some other Christian denominations but the INK is one group they have never been able to penetrate. The INK is very vigilant on this matter, and they know how to smell and cast out a rat when they come across one in their ranks. FYI only.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      There you go again. How do you know for sure that the “infiltrators” are NPA? And how do you know that they are real infiltrators? Wouldn’t you think that it takes an NPA to know another NPA?

      The movie reviewer for both Heneral Luna and Manalo put down in writing that he is one of the “rebels” and that he is an ardent member of the INC. There is your hard evidence of how it is to know and not just to say what you think is a factoid.

  8. Abraham, Noah, David, Solomon, Moses etc…are not INC members…will they be saved come judgment day??

  9. Felix Servidad on

    Bakit ang sabi ng INC sila lang ang maliligtas,bakit ang sabi naman sa (1Juan
    2:22-25) Sino ang sinungaling Hindi ba ang tumatangging si Jesus ang Cristo? Ito nga ang anti-Cristo:Ang ayaw kumilala sa Ama at sa Anak. (23) Ang di kumikilala sa Anak ay di rin kumikilala sa Ama. Kapag tinanggap ninuman ang Anak, pati ang Ama ay sasakanya. (24) Pakaingatan ninyo sa inyong puso ang narinig ninyo sa simula pa. Kung gawin ninyo ito, mananatili kayo sa Anak at sa Ama. (25) At ito ang ipinangako sa atin ni Cristo: buhay na walang hanggan.

    • EFESO 1:3 Purihin ang Diyos at AMA ng ating Panginoong Jesu-Cristo! Pinagkalooban niya tayo ng lahat ng pagpapalang espirituwal at makalangit dahil sa ating pakikipag-isa kay Cristo. 4 Bago pa likhain ang sanlibutan, PINILI NA NIYA TAYO upang maging kanya sa pamamagitan ng ating pakikipag-isa kay Cristo, upang tayo’y maging banal at walang kapintasan sa harap niya. Dahil sa pag-ibig ng Diyos, 5 TAYO’Y KANIYANG PINILI upang maging anak niya sa pamamagitan ni Jesu-Cristo. Iyan ang kanyang layunin at kalooban.

    • Justaskingseriously on

      we ar wan, sa EFESO 1:5 mayroon salita na hindi yata binigyan ng tamang atensyon. Ang sumulat ng biblia sa tagalog ay maaring hindi alam kung ano ang salita na sapat. Malamang ay hinayaan na lamang mawala itong salita sa tagalog na biblia. Ang salita ay ADOPTED na mga anak sa pamamagitan ni Kristo Hesus. Ano kaya ang tagalog sa “adopted”? Kailangan na kailangan na hindi alisin and salita na “adopted” dahil ang tunay na anak ng Diyos ay si Jesucristo lamang. Ganoon ang kaniyang pagiging Diyos na ang expresyon ng kaniyang sarili ay siya rin sa kaboohan. Ganon ang kaniyang kapangyarihan na walang pagkukulang. Kaya nga siya ay Bathala na Maykapal. Walang pagkukulang. Ang pag-iibigan din ng Ama at ng Anak ay expresyon din na walang pagkukulang: buong-buo rin na Diyos ang expresyon sa pag-iibigan na tawagin natin ay Holy Breath or Holy Sigh ng pag-ibig. Espiritu Santo sa espanyol. Wala talaga pagkukulang ang Diyos. Ni isa sa atin kailangan ng Diyos. Tayo ang nanganga-ilangan sa Kaniya. Kaya kung sakaling mawalan tayo ng salbasyon dahil sa kasalanan, malas lang. Ang maging hiwalay sa Diyos ng walang hanggan ay pagiging tulad ni Lucifer at ang kasamahan niya na ang kanilang kinaroroonan ay tinatawag na infierno sa espanyol. Wala nang pagasa. Yon ang “pangalawang kamatayan” na tinutukoy sa Apocalypse 2:11; 20:6 at 14; 21:8.

  10. The film “Manalo” is just it, a film, a movie. It does not show who the real Felix Manalo is because it only exposes the “good” in him and so few and no important negatives about the man. As a non-believer of God the Holy Spirit, Felix Manalo cannot claim that his denomination or cult is the one true religion of the Lord Jesus Christ. No group of people professing themselves as the true one founded by Jesus Christ but cherry-pick the passages of the Holy Bible for their own self-serving is the true religion of Chirst. The INC if notorious in this anomaly. Let us face the fact, Felix Manalo founded the INC because of money. The proof is ever present in how rich the Manalo’s arfe, really.

  11. One practical argument disproving the INC’s claim of salvation of its members only, is the fact that there are billions of people on this earth, compared to say 2 million INC members, how lucky can they be because they are the only ones to be saved come judgment day? I believe that the term ‘Church of Christ’ is just descriptive word and not the ‘real’ church as literally stated in the Bible and inculcated to the members.

    In a way, the discipline the INC maintains for members to follow, is a curtailment of their earthly freedom, particularly the compulsary contributions assessed on every member, which increase to cover losses in the building of their arena, was alleged to be one of the complaints of some of is members. Also, unlike other religions or sects. the social life of members is also curtailed because they don’t normally socialize with non-members.

    But, overall, since it professes love, peace and vlue life itself, it is a good sect.

    • In addition, heaven is vast, can accommodate past dead and alive today.
      They teach the bible written by persons alive before 1914 (establishment of INC) and not their members..
      Therefore, those persons not members of INC, including Parents of Manalo and other people before 1914, also not members of INC will not be SAVED.

  12. yikes. I thought this was a movie review. Didn’t realize it’s a preaching/debate piece about the teachings of the INC. Also, didn’t the author claim to be an INC? Why chose a “movie review” to propagate your unbelief of INC doctrines? you could have challenge any INC minister to a debate? that is, if you have what it takes to face to face mano a mano? I doubt it.