Eraño “Ka Erdie” Manalo was the fifth child of Iglesia Ni Cristo (INC) founder Felix Manalo and his second wife Honorata de Guzman.
Born on January 2, 1925, he was ordained minister and started serving as General Treasurer of the INC in 1947. Shortly after his 1955 marriage to Cristina Villanueva, he became District Minister of INC Manila (1957).
Ka Erdy was elected successor to his father in 1963. He served as the Executive Minister of INC until his death on August 31, 2009 at 3:53 pm.
It was Ka Erdy that transformed the INC into what it is today.
With the passing of Felix Manalo in 1963, critics of the church predicted the decline and eventual fall of the INC.
But barely a month after assuming his role as spiritual leader of the church, the young Manalo began visiting congregations nationwide.
On July 27, 1968, Ka Erdy established the first INC congregation overseas in Honolulu, Hawaii. Other church establishments followed in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California.
The same year, Ka Erdy built the INC’s new headquarters in Quezon City housing major INC structures like the cinemas, theaters, social halls and a Central Office Complex where Manalo has a permanent office.
Also in the complex is the Central Temple which is the largest of the church's houses of worship. Nearby is the tent-shaped Tabernacle, which serves as a multi-purpose hall.
But before INC expansion overseas, Manalo established model land reforms in 1965. His first resettlement farm was in Palayan City, Nueva Ecija. Similar establishments were put up in Cavite and Rizal.
The INC is noted for voting as a bloc during elections, guiding its membership through to its Tagubilin or circulars.
The doctrine is the Executive Minister’s “parting words and reminders” given after every worship service and followed by the worshippers to “show we are one force,” said an INC member.
The INC contributed to former President Joseph Estrada’s win in the 1998 elections. His ouster through the January 2001 Edsa 2 uprising displeased a lot of INC members.
April of the same year spurred the Edsa 3 Revolution, gathering thousands of INC members and Estrada supporters. They contested the legitimacy of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s presidency.
In 2002, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism reported that Ka Erdy himself wanted to support now-Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson.
Quoting Lacson’s aide, the PCIJ report said that Ka Erdy saw that Ping “will likely succeed Erap.” According to the report, this worried Arroyo during her 2001-2004 term as President.
But Ka Erdy’s support for Lacson did not prevent President Arroyo from courting the church. The church eventually offered their support for Arroyo’s presidential campaign in the 2004 elections.
INC and the Marcoses
When he was still in power, the late President Marcos paid visits to the INC headquarters in Quezon City and was a regular well-wisher at Ka Erdy’s birthday celebrations. The Marcos-INC relationship catapulted the minority church to the same level of influence with the Catholic and Protestant church.
According to the PCIJ report, the church came close to being divided when the INC directed its members to vote for Marcos in the 1986 elections. Some members voted for Corazon Aquino. The INC ministers then reportedly conducted house-to-house visits to compel members to confess who they voted for.
However, because too many voted for Aquino, church leaders reconsidered their decision and asked members to write letters of apology to the church instead.
Powerful church leader
The INC leaderships penchant for intervening in politics did not start when Ka Erdy became Executive Minister. Even before that, the PCIJ reported, the INC was already asserting itself in the political arena.
Former President Manuel L. Quezon drew support from Ka Erdy’s father, Felix, during the Commonwealth period. Quezon, a mason, honored “Bishop” Felix to temper the influence of the Catholic Church in government affairs.
With Ka Erdy’s death, it is not clear as to who will follow his footsteps as leader of the church his father founded.
The heir apparent is Ka Erdy’s son, Eduardo, who served as INC’s deputy Executive Minister since 2005. Eduardo is one of the six children of Ka Erdy and his wife Cristina. – Research by Maria Althea Teves, abs-cbnNEWS.com/ Newsbreak
Sources: PCIJ, Wikipedia