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Felix Manalo : biography

May 10, 1886 - April 12, 1963

Felix Ysagun Manalo (born Félix Manalo ý Ysagun May 10, 1886 - April 12, 1963), also known as Ka Félix, was the first Executive Minister (Tagalog: Tagapamahalang Pangkalahatan) of the Philippines'-based religious organization Iglesia ni Cristo, and incorporated it with the Philippine Government on July 27, 1914. He is the father of Eraño G. Manalo, who succeeded him as Executive Minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo, and the grandfather of Eduardo V. Manalo, the current Executive Minister.

Because there were no precursors to the registered church, external sources and critics of the Iglesia ni Cristo refer to him as the founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo and describe him as such but the official INC doctrines claim otherwise.Editorial, Manila Bulletin Online, May 9, 2005

The official doctrine of the Iglesia ni Cristo is that Felix Y. Manalo is the last messenger of God, sent to reestablish the first church founded by Jesus Christ, which the INC claims to have fallen into apostasy following the death of the Apostles.Cantor,Pasugo - God's Message, May 2005


Felix Y. Manalo was born in Barrio Calzada, Taguig, in Rizal province, southern Luzon, in the Philippines on May 10, 1886—at a time when the country was yet in the clutches of Spanish colonialism and when Roman Catholicism was still considered the state religion. He was raised in the Catholic faith by his parents, Mariano Ysagun and Bonifacia Manalo. (It was sometime after his mother’s death that he decided on his mother’s name over his father’s name. He grieved over the death of his mother for whom he had a great affection. Thus for sentimental reasons and for expressing his reverence, he adopted her surname, Manalo.) He began acquiring his education from barrio school under the tutelage of a “maestrong Cario” (a teacher called Cario).

He worked as a herd boy, and was later apprenticed to his uncle in the latter’s photography studio and sometime in 1904, opened a hat shop in Paranaque, Rizal.

Felix Manalo began to entertain his first doubt in the Catholic teachings when, sometime in 1904, he witnessed a public debate between a Catholic priest and a Protestant pastor in Paranaque, Rizal. The Protestant pastor evidently prevailed and gained Manalo’s profound interest.

That year, he joined the Methodist Episcopal Church and attended classes given by that sect in the Methodist Theological Seminary wherein he eventually became an evangelist.

Thus began a seemingly endless search for the true religion—a search that led Manalo to join one Protestant sect after another—scrutinizing every doctrine and comparing them with the biblical percepts. In 1907, he joined the Presbyterian Church wherein he became a pastor after attending the Union Theological Seminary. In 1908, he joined the Disciples of Christ and served as an evangelist for a year before leaving, having been accused of domestic violence.

The manner of baptizing by immersion by the Christian Mission attracted Manalo’s attention and, in 1910, he joined the missionaries and later became an evangelist. He married Tomasa Sereneo of Paco, Manila who died soon after giving birth to their son, Gerardo.

In 1911, he joined the Seventh day Adventists wherein he also became a pastor. Then Bro. Manalo remarried. His second wife was Honorata de Guzman of Sta. Cruz, Manila. The couple were both active in the Church’s activities, Felix Manalo as a minister and Honorata, a deaconess. But then, after pondering on the Adventist’s persistent observance of Sabbath, Manalo found it unscriptural. He abandoned the Adventist Church and returned to his hat shop. According to some source, Manalo was suspended by the Seventh Day Adventist for alleged adultery.

Dissatisfied with the doctrines and practices of the then existing religions, Manalo severed himself from all of them. Then he transferred his business and domicile to Pasay City and also opened a barber shop. Although he was frequently visited by his former colleagues in the Adventist Church who tried to bring him back to the fold, Manalo did not waver.

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