O Brother Where Art Thou?
The Life and Times of Eli Soriano
(Part of a series)
Part I: Biography
Eliseo Fernando Soriano, Brod Eli to his supporters, was born on April 4, 1947 to parents Triumpo Soriano and Catalina Fernando in Pasay, Rizal. He came from a poor family. He was the seventh of the eight siblings namely Corazon, Remigio, Emiliano, Roberto, Valentin, Narciso and Elizabeth, the youngest. His father was a student of the Philippine Military Academy, hoping to be an officer someday but a few months before graduation got married and did not graduate. When he was born both of his parents where members of the Iglesia ng Dios kay Kristo Hesus, Haligi at Suhay ng Katotohanan where his father was then the General Secretary and Treasurer. This religion was headed by Nicolas Perez. Life was hard for Eli and his family, so much so that his father had to do manual work to get by. To lessen the burden of day to day living, Eli was sent to live with his Auntie Toyang and this is where he grew up. His Auntie was a devout Catholic and taught Eli catholic doctrines including praying to idols and reciting “Ama Namin”. From all indications, Eli grew up without a father figure to guide him. Instead he grew up mainly in the company of women.
Life was hard when Eli and his siblings were young. There were times when they had nothing to eat specially when his parent did not work. At some point his mother was forced to use church funds which resulted in his mother being suspended for 7 years and his father being removed from his position as General Secretary and Treasurer.
Little Eli was timid as a boy. When he was 7 years old, he started elementary school but did not finish because he was overly shy and hides from people so they would not see him. He would do anything to avoid going to school, he even rolled in mud. In 1955, he repeated first grade. He would later claim that he’s first in his class and was valedictorian of the school but he repeated grade six in 1961.He finally started high school and was enrolled at Ramon Magsaysay in Espana, Manila but this too proved hard for him and again did not finish.
Time came which would prove to be a turning point in his life when his father told him to come to a worship service at his father’s church. He initially did not want to go but his father threatened to throw him out of a window which scared him enough to go. He went to Pasay with his father where he heard Nicolas Perez preached. He became interested in the Bible and began reading it. After a short time, he was baptized into his father’s church in Bacoor, Cavite by Filomeno Hizon.
By this time, he wanted so much to be a minister in this new church. He befriended Hizon and through him he was introduced to Perez. He tried his best to be close to Perez until finally he was sent to Bacoor, Cavite. This was his first assignment. He was later sent to Pasay and then to Pampanga. In Pampanga, he met and befriended Renato Dimalanta.
(To be continued…)