I HAVE no wish to be involved in the current internal, maybe fratricidal, conflict among the officers of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC).
But, as a Filipino, I wish to express my sentiment on the project of INC which, per newspaper reports, appears to be one of the issues which caused the disagreement among its officers, namely, the construction of the Ciudad de Victoria complex with its principal component, Philippine Arena, which straddles four municipalities in Bulacan.
One group in INC has publicly criticized the incumbent leadership for spending substantial money in the construction of the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena on the grounds that it is not purely religious related. They say that the money spent for it could have been better used for the construction of more chapels. They reveal, further, that its construction necessitated the sale of certain INC properties to finance the project, which is a departure from the previous practice of INC of acquiring new properties but never selling any it already has.
I do not know the underlying reason of the INC leadership in undertaking the construction of the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena. Although, from what I read from the papers, the INC leadership said that it has already constructed some 800 churches/chapels during the tenure of it incumbent Executive Minister Eduardo V. Manalo (which started in 2009) to serve the needs of its expanding membership and that it still continues its other religious, educational and charitable activities.
But, what I can see are the patent benefits gained by the Philippine government and the Filipio people from the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena.
First: It landed the Philippines in the Guinness Book of Records as the location of the world’s largest multi-purpose hall. This is a thumbs up for our country.
Second: It provides additional income to the national government and a bonanza for the entrepreneurs in at least four local government units (LGUs) in Bulacan in terms of business opportunities.
And third: More important, it provides the government and the people a ready, suitable venue for extraordinary, large gatherings.
Inevitably, for example, in the Philippines’ bid to host the 2019 Federation of International Basketball Association (FIBA) World Cup, it will be necessary for the Filipinos to mention the availability of the huge covered hall (gymnasium) in which FIBA’s activities (opening ceremony, final championship games and the closing ceremony, at least) can be held, which is no other than the Philippine Arena because it is the only venue which can accommodate the huge spectators expected to watch live FIBA activities.
Visibly, too, the INC, which is the owner and operator of the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena, will reap free, favorable publicity worldwide; and, resultantly, this will enhance in no small measure its prestige!
I, therefore, rather congratulate the INC leadership for its visionary and patriotic endeavour in putting up and operating the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena.
The edifice is a very fitting tribute to its visionary and patriotic Filipino Founder– Ka Felix Manalo — on the occasion of INC’s 101st Founding Anniversary!
Thank you, INC, for the Ciudad de Victoria/Philippine Arena.
You do make us Filipinos proud!
Lawyer Salvador B. Britanico is a former deputy minister of Education, Culture and Sports.