The following is a verbatim copy of the biography of the late Brother Felix Y. Manalo as presented by the National Historical Institute. As far as I know this biography has not endorsed nor approved by the Iglesia ni Cristo.
NOTE: The Iglesia ni Cristo does not have a doctrine that either state or imply that the late last Messenger of God Brother Felix Y. Manalo is the FOUNDER of the Iglesia ni Cristo or that he OWNED the Iglesia ni Cristo
FELIX Y. MANALO (1886-1963)
Founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo
Founder of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC), or Church of Christ, Felix Manalo was born on May 10, 1886 in Barrio Calzada, Taguig, Rizal to a poverty-stricken couple, Mariano Manalo and Bonifacia Ysagun. His parents were devout Catholics who instilled in him as a child the love of God. His early religious training consisted of attendance at a caton class, where the basic
doctrines and prayers of Catholicism were rudimentarily taught.
As a youth, Manalo tended the fields, fished and engaged in other activities to earn a living. When he grew older, he thought of other occupations that would make him earn more. He studied photography under his cousin, and then found work in his uncle’s small studio. With his interest and aptitude, he was able to acquire the skills and know-how in other trades, such as
gold-smithing, barbering, and hat-making.
Once, when he went to a church in Sampaloc, he found a package on one of the pews. He inspected it cautiously. The package contained a Bible. This event marked the beginning of his absorption in the study of the Scriptures and his critical attitude toward the religion of his birth. He joined the Philippine Independent Church. He discovered that its doctrines were not
essentially different from those of its mother church, the Roman Catholic Church. Later, he was attracted to the religious sect called Colorum, whose initiation rites led him on a trek to the mountains of San Cristobal and Banahaw. After a brief membership, he realized that the “Voiceof the Almighty” emanated from a quite ordinary human being – a Colorum leader.
He went home, then opened a modest hat shop in Parañaque. He did not like what he was doing. He grew restless, for he really aspired to lead a religious life. In his untiring search for truth, he joined the Methodist Episcopalian Church, enrolling at
the Methodist Theological Semnary. He demonstrated his quickness of mind and deep-seated passion for learning, and became an asset to the Methodists. To find more time for the study of religion, he gave up his hat business. Later, he transferred to the Ellinwood Presbyterian Bible Training School, which had better facilities than the Methodist Theological seminary, and then to
the Christian mission, where he was made an evangelist. After three-and-a-half years of study with the Presbyterians, he discovered the Christian and missionary Alliance, known as the Disciple of Christ in America, and its unique practice of baptism by immersion. This, he believed, was more faithful to the Bible’s teachings than baptism by infusion or aspersion. He was
designated evangelist shortly after he joined the group, and attended its classes in Bible Science for four years.
Between 1911 and 1912, Manalo – still dissatisfied with the teachings and doctrines of the churches he had been part of – joined the Seventh Day Adventist, popularly known as Sabbathists. He continued his studies in the Scriptures. Made a minister of that sect, he proved to be very effective in its propagation. However, due to his constant and profound study of the Bible, he began to entertain doubts about the doctrines and teachings of the Adventists. Finally, he decided to preach the Gospel as it had been revealed to him with the establishment of his own religious denomination, the Iglesia ni Cristo.
Manalo completely turned over his material resources to a friend. He started preaching to four or five listeners at the workers’ quarters of Atlantic Gulf and Pacific Company of Manila, Inc. As the group of sympathizers grew, he conducted his religious meetings out in the open. After a few months, he left the small congregation he had built in the care of the first ordained
minister of his church, and preached in his hometown of Taguig. In the summer of 1914, despite the wave after wave of harassment and persecution he encountered, he was able to baptize a few converts, including some of his persecutors.
On July 27, 1914, the Iglesia ni Cristo was officially registered as a “corporation sole,” with Felix Manalo as executive minister. In 1915, he left for Manila to launch a missionary campaign in populous Tondo. Small meetings evolved into big rallies and public debates between him and the accomplished debaters and leaders of other religious groups. These debates highlighted the logic and validity of his church’s teachings, and served as an effective propaganda tool.
Manalo succeeded in enlisting thousands of members, particularly in the provinces around Manila. As evidence of the big progress he had made, he was able to build not only a beautiful INC mansion in one of the aristocratic suburbs of Manila but also INC chapels in various towns of Central Luzon. He continued his purposeful readings on religion, through whatever
religious books he could obtain. He even traveled to the United States, enrolling at a theological school in California in 1919 to learn more of Bible Science.
Upon his return in 1921, he resumed his Bible classes for the INC ministry. He ordained some students whom he could depend on for assistance in looking after the multiplying concerns of his church.
Manalo was esteemed as one of the authorities on religion. On December 25, 1918, ministers of the Christian Mission honored him as an outstanding evangelist. On March 28, 1931, the Genius Divinical College of Manila, a non-sectarian institution, conferred on him the master of Bible science degree, honoris causa.
As the Iglesia ni Cristo gained numerical strength and recognition, he dropped his family name Ysagun for Manalo, which means “to triumph” in Tagalog, for it seemed to aptly describe the saga of his church.
He died on April 12, 1963, a year short of the INC’s golden jubilee.
Felix Manalo was married twice. His first wife was Tomasa Sereneo. Their only child Ricardo died young. The second wife was Honorata de Guzman, by whom he had six children:Pilar, Avelina, Dominador, Salvador, Eraño and Bienvenido.
Ika-50 Anibersaryo ng Iglesia Ni Cristo: 1914-1964. Quezon City: INC, 1964.
Quirino, Carlos. Who’s who in Philippine History. Manila: Tahanan Books, 1995.