Whatever I claim on TV, it does not come back to me. I can go out, but I am being careful. To me, if God does not allow a Maya to fall to the ground, it won’t fall.
By Eddinor “Laddie” Sibug
I was a handog* and I grew up with the Iglesia ni Cristo. Since my childhood I was nurtured in that faith in going to Worship services among the youth.
I attended the Angeles City Locale because my parents lived there. We went to Church services and there was no doubt in my mind that what they were teaching was the truth. This included the teaching that Christ is man. Never did I doubt that.
Came 1964, we moved to Cavite. I spent my formative years at Naic where my mother became a deaconess. My father was abroad that time in Guam. Both of them were active in the Church. Though my father did not have a position in the church, I heard that when he was younger, he was a church worker.
All of my relatives in Angeles City are staunch members of the Iglesia ni Cristo. Most of them are ministers. My uncle named Moring Piscasio, husband of my brother’s sister, was one of them.
I learned that my relatives watch the program, D’X-Man at UNTV and they say, “There goes Laddie. He was led astray. In Cavite, when he was younger, he was formed through so many Church responsibilities. Now, it is different.”
At the age of 11, I was baptized with the Iglesia ni Cristo without any indoctrination sessions. You see, if you are a handog, you do not have to undergo this thing. If you are active in attending worship services, you are considered like your parents and there is no need for this.
So in 1967, at age 11, I became part of them. I was head of the youth in singing and in worship service. I became president of the KADIWA (Kapisanan ng Diwang Wagas). [Trans: Society of Lasting Principles]. Before it became KADIWA, it was KMP (Kapisanan ng Maligayang Pagtatagumpay) [Trans: Society of Blissful Victory]. The name was formed from the name of Felix Manalo, the messenger.
In my formative years, I never doubted that Felix Manalo is a messenger of God, that he is the fulfillment of all the prophecies mentioned in the Bible, the worm Jacob, the bird of prey. There was no doubt to me about those. I was nurtured in those things. I had no doubt.
Then I became head of the choir. I stayed long with them – up until I reached college – up until I got married. Then they removed me from choir and made me a deacon. I was only 20 years old then, the youngest deacon at that time. After two years, I became 5th head deacon. There are only 5: the 1st, the 2nd, the 3rd, the 4th, and then the 5th.The 5th is the one handling the group of the Chapel. You are the one who knows about the building of the chapel. When it comes to maintenance of the chapel, that is your problem. There are relationships with the 4 and so I was holding many responsibilities.
There was no doubt in my mind that the doctrines of the Iglesia ni Cristo were true. And there was no point in time that when they were challenged for debates, they would back out. None! There was none of that. For example, the challenge was made in the morning at 8 AM and the topic is the true nature of Jesus Christ, by 2 PM, they would be there at the Plaza. There was no pre-debate conference in those days.
Time came that I was able to leave for abroad in 1983. I went to Seattle, Washington. I was also active there but my being deacon was stripped off from me. I was TNT [hide and hide] during those days. I was in uniform when I went there, quite courageous to live in America. I stayed there for 15 years.
My barkada were also INC brethren but we were drinking. We went to parties; we would go to Celebrity. We went to disco houses. My companions were all members of the Iglesia ni Cristo.
One time, we did a hold-up. My companions and I were taking drugs – were taking cocaine. I was hooked on that. You can’t just imagine that I was very active in going to Church, but after the service, I would be sniffing drugs.
I had a case in Seattle about credit cards. The postal inspector was after us. In other words, my name there was quite known. I left and went to San Francisco. There, I went to Church on and off. Despite that, I was an INC at heart – that “whatever you do, maintain, emphasize your membership in the church and you will be saved on Judgment Day.”
That was the teaching they taught us – that whatever you do, just make sure you are listed. When Christ returns you will be saved because when the time comes, it will be read – the Book of Life. Isn’t it? When your name is not there, you will not be saved. That is what they taught us at the INC.
I had many companions in San Francisco. Some were actors. That included Philippine Actor William Martinez. He was hooked on drugs – just like us.
In 1989, I moved out of San Francisco to Los Angeles. That was where I met the mother of my child. I hid the relationship because it was forbidden with the INC. I kept it a secret from 1990 up until 1995. I was attending Church services in other locales. I would go to Hollywood, to Riverside, to Anaheim. I went where I could not be seen just to conceal my sin. I did not like to be excommunicated. No, I did not like to be excommunicated. Never. Because once I get expelled, I won’t be saved. With the INC, we were taught, “no matter what you do in life, just maintain your membership in the church and you will be saved.”
If you have a transfer form, you hide it, and I did. There was no way they will expel me because they did not know where I was listed. But there will come a time the truth is revealed. They saw my son – about 5 or 6 years old at that time – when we were eating at Wendy’s. They reported that I had a family there and I was expelled. Despite that, I still attended church. They also did not push me out. In fact, giving contributions is not allowed, but they gave me a chance to do so. I was proving that I was faithful and I did not make any absences from the gatherings.
Then I came home to the Philippines, but it was most difficult, leaving my child behind. That was in 1998 when we were at the airport. My child was crying, but because of my faith I had to come back to the country. I needed to be re-instated with the Iglesia ni Cristo. In the country, I stayed close to Noel Sebastian.
Noel Sebastian is a bigwig from Bulacan. All the goons and fools and killers, he was the handler. One of those was my first cousin, the Chief of Police of Malolos. That was why I was at the INC Central every day. I was the bodyguard of Noel Sebastian. I carried his guns. I carried his money.
So I came back to the country, but I left my family. The one in charge of South California said, “Go back to the Philippines. Your re-instatement will be easier. You can speak to Eraṅo.” I followed that advice.
My conscience was bothering me because I believed the Iglesia ni Cristo is the true church so I sacrificed my family, I sacrificed my son. At the airport, he asked me, “Papa, where are you going?”
“I’m going home.”
“Are you gonna leave us?” I could not answer my son. But I had intended that if I could go back to them, we will find a way to be together.
When I returned to the country, I saw that things were different. In my enthusiasm to be re-instated, I was at the Central every day. Then I took a vacation in Cebu. That was where I watched Bro. Eli – in the year 2000 at his program in SBN21. I was watching on and off. With what he was saying, I was getting insulted. I even wanted to shoot the TV. I carried a gun that time.
It was not my intention to open to his program, however. It happened that Bro. Eli was talking about the Iglesia ni Cristo. He was saying, “This is the very verse they would not read to you!”
The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his works of old.
That meant nothing to me – the one that he had read. I went back to Luzon, but since then, I was watching his program. There was just the Ang Dating Daan of Bro. Eli; there was no Ang Tamang Daan yet of the INC. So I was watching since 2000. In 2004, I decided to undergo indoctrination. That was after 5 years of watching. I was hard-headed then, can you see? At that time, I saw those from the Iglesia ni Cristo coming out: Sis Lydia Manuyag, Bro. Romy Espaṅol, Bro. Larry Erfilo, Bro. Manny Husay. They left the INC and I heard them hurl a challenge on TV.
It was Bro. Romy Espaṅol who insisted on a debate. He was saying Maximo Bularan accepted the challenge and there was already a signed agreement. I was waiting for that. So, there would be a pre-date conference yet? I was getting confused. There was nothing of that kind before. Up until I said, “Go ahead, fight! Win or lose, I will continue being an INC! Even if there are proofs, I will not leave the INC. I will still continue. I will still approach Eraṅo! I will return. I did not doubt about the INC being the true church.”
But then because I watched Bro. Eli, I began to have doubts in my mind. If I watched him, all my questions were being answered. There was a time he was discussing Proverbs 8:22. When he read it, something was happening to me. What’s this you are doing to me? Can you give me a sign? I was in Malolos that time.
I went to the nearest Ang Dating Daan Locale but I felt that I have rattled the people there. At that time, the Ang Dating Daan and Ang Tamang Daan were having what is called a running debate. They answered each other over TV. At the Locale, there was Bro. Adonis and Sis Mariel attending to me. “What again did you say is your religion?”
“Iglesia ni Cristo.”
“So why are you here?
“To have indoctrination, I said.” [Laughter]. They were perplexed and as though looking at me from far away.
“Do you know anybody from here?”
“None.” I just saw your sign there outside – Ang Dating Daan. I used to listen in Paombong. I watched VHS tapes of Bro. Eli.”
“What if your brothers will stop you?”
“No! No one can stop me!” I said that, but I wasn’t sure then because of what happened to me afterwards.
I was really tested. In going to my indoctrination sessions, I was riding on a motor cycle. I was driving straight ahead but my motor cycle suddenly turned back! I met an accident. My foot got swollen before I could start, but still I went ahead to the sessions patiently.
I was often at the Locale and I continued on. Friday came and it was supposed to be the last session. But by Thursday, my fever ran high. I thought it was just some flu. I was alone at the locale when I dropped flat like I was between life and death. This was when my indoctrination sessions were supposed to be over. The officers were there. I was saying, “I think I am not allowed, I am being stopped.”
I stayed one week at the Sacred Hospital in Malolos and I was seeing so many weird things. The door to my room was opening without anyone being seen. The room was noisy though I alone stayed there. I was being bothered by bad spirits the whole time I was there.
I repeated the last indoctrination session. I told the workers what I experienced and of my feeling that something was holding me back. After that, the officers conducted me to Paombong. Bro. Tito Postinor, the president said, “That’s not true! It’s not true that God does not like you. Just go on!” I felt that God disowned me, that I was an outcast – that God did not like me to be baptized. Because you see, I had a lot of sins. Perhaps God was so angry with me for leaving my son.
After a week, I got baptized by Bro. Pablo Angue. During the time I was being led to the water, I thought I would die. I was crying without stop. When Bro. Pablo was asking me, “Are you ready to turn back from your old life?” I felt that, that was the most beautiful thing that happened in my life – that I got baptized in the Church of God.
The feeling was something heavenly – as though someone was leading me to the waters – from making a vow to turn away from my past, to flexing my knees, up until I was immersed and back. I really liked the feeling.
I let my relatives know that I got baptized in the Church of God, especially my cousin in Malolos. He said, “Oh, so you turned your back from our religion?”
“Why, yes! The teachings with the INC are false! I found the correct ones. So, Christ is not man! He existed before the material world was formed. There was a Christ before – the son of God.”
“Yes, that is better than having no religion at all,” he said with a grain of salt.
I simply smiled.
Grace, my sister-in-law, the wife of a minister, said, “Kuya, have you really forgotten all the principles of our faith? Grace was close to me. I had sent her to school.
“No, I have not forgotten. The problem is that they are false! Felix Manalo is not really a messenger, but one simply compromised! He is not the one, but Jesus Christ. When I was young, if you asked me who the Worm Jacob is, I would readily reply, ‘Felix Manalo.’ But now, I found out, it is not true. That was and is Jesus Christ.”
“What are you saying?”
“I was enlightened, and I want you also to be enlightened. Salvation is here – in the Church of God. If the Iglesia ni Cristo is the true Church, why is it that with Felix Manalo snakes walked on his stomach? Can you explain that to me? No one among those ministers with me was able to explain that. Ka Bayani, Rolan Esguerra – those were the important ministers I went with. They were my barkada. They cannot explain. What they were saying was, ‘Keep on contributing and contributing. That is where all the commandments fall. And when you contribute and contribute, you will be saved.’”
There! That is a false faith! It has no basis from the Bible. It has not taught anything! And then the drinking over there – people in the Iglesia ni Cristo drink and drink liquor!
My companions in the Iglesia were church workers. Before we even fulfill our singing assignment, we take a shot at the Ministerial House. One shot each so that we have one sin each. It is nice to pray with sins, they say. If you have sins, you have something to pray for.
Ka Kundangan was the one in charge before. He would bring Fundador with a wine cup from which he drank. The trainee workers would come to our house that looked like there is no way out when you are there. The bathroom is there. The beer is there, the pulutan is there. That’s how I was able to come to that point with the Iglesia ni Cristo, with a head deacon planning some killing.
I became part of those – the killing plans. For example, the target person raped. The question from higher headquarters is, “Is our sister beautiful? Ugly?” If ugly, the answer is, “You are really shameless! Even the ugly, you rape!”
However, if the sister raped is beautiful, the answer is, “Ah, he was really tempted.” The target person will not be killed. But if the raped one is ugly, you are a goner! You will surely be abducted. You will disappear from the face of the earth! That was my experience when it came to killing.
I came to the ADD Compound in October 2004. You will notice, I was not with the earlier D’X-Man episodes. It happened that there was someone from the INC whose love for me was such that until now she is after me. At the time that I had my hands full with taping, I lived with my first cousin – a police, in Malolos. He was hiding me because I was being seen on TV. But someone – Michael Guevarra – from the INC Central in Diliman saw me. I was ironing clothes. That was my daytime part-time job. My cousin paid me 350pesos for that.
“Brother, let’s eat.”
As I came out, Guevarra looked at me and said, “As if I know you.”
“Perhaps a look-alike.”
“No! I saw you on TV!”
I did not anymore object. He saw me on TV, at our program in UNTV. After that, the ministers, the deacons, the SCAN, began coming to the house. They were forcing me to leave, or else my cousin will be expelled. My cousin and I were very close – much closer than biological brothers. And now, he was blaming me for what happened. He had preferred the Iglesia ni Cristo over me. If I don’t leave, they will expel him. In fact, they also planned to hit me in 2008, but I was able to stay with my cousin for two years. That’s the reason I came to live here at the ADD Compound.
With my family abroad, I have no more communication with them. They are not INC. I tried every year to establish some communication with them but I was frustrated. March 1 is the birthday of my son and by that time, I would be searching for them. But they are not in Facebook. They have no names online. First, I chose the INC over them, but they cannot understand that. That is what the INC has inculcated in my mind. They say the Iglesia ni Cristo is the path to the Holy Nation. Whatever you do, just maintain your membership and you will be saved – whatever foolishness you have. This, however, does not apply to all, but to those who have handled sensitive positions, it does. That is what they taught me.
I had handled the position of Head Deacon 5. That is not a simple position. So, whatever I claim on TV, it does not come back to me. I can go out, but I am being careful. In fact, I go out alone. Sometimes, Bro. Noe asks me to do things outside and it is okay with me. To me, if God does not allow a Maya to fall to the ground, it won’t fall.
Just like the case of Bro. Marcos Mataro. There was an INC minister who talked to me in Malolos. He said, “Didn’t you know it was Eliseo Soriano who ordered Marcos Mataro to be killed?” He told me that – eyeball to eyeball. I looked at him.
“How wise can you get! You are able to pass on a lie! So that your children will believe your lies! And as for me, I know very well that Brother Eli will never do that – to plan any murder! With them, to revenge is not good. That is the doctrine of the Church of God. That is being implemented there. What you are thinking is very far from the truth!”
“Ah, hopeless! Hopeless! You are really out from us!”
“Of course! I am really out from you – in 2004 yet! And you only arrived just now.”
It is really nice to be with truth. The feeling is also good when you lay down your life – however that is difficult. When you are not materially secured, you might be tempted – if you do not hold on to the teachings. As for me I am happy to be with truth. Every Saturday, my happiness overflows with truth. I am also happy because I have a family. When they listened to Bro. Eli, right away, they submitted to indoctrination. With me, it took 5 lengthy years before I got affiliated. I scrutinized all those beliefs that I will be living with.
First, my happiness overflowed about the nature of Christ and the Worm Jacob topics. I was alerted by those. I thought it was Felix Manalo who was the Worm Jacob. Then it turns out, the answer is, “Debate with the Pope of Rome first!” That is preposterous! Absurd! Insane!
They will not really face Bro. Eli in a debate. They are only giving reasons. They have no might. To say, “Debate with the Pope of Rome first!” is a delaying tactic. They cannot fight and they won’t.
I just commiserate with the people who follow them. Imagine that! They say, “Debate with the Pope of Rome first!” Does the Pope of Rome fight? You cannot challenge one who is already established! You are the one being challenged and then you pass the challenge on to someone?
These INC ministers are really fools! During those days I was with them, I looked up to them as gods. Those ministers of the Iglesia ni Cristo were gods to us and that is why, no matter what they say, we bowed to them.
But now? No more! They are just garbage. They have nothing to advance to Bro. Eli. That is why when discussions are being opened up for them, to me it is only a waste of time. They will never fight.
When I was with the INC, you cannot look at us because we have a place for you. We can punch you and when we do that, there is no mention of any teaching why we do that. We only need to mention a name, a different one – and don’t you ever mention our true names!
And we closely watched the Temple. When I was assigned there, I had an armalite with me, and when I have a gun with me, it will really fire. That is how much we loved the Temple. Have you seen our chapels used for charity work? No! It was because we believed they are only for the glory of God. Watch out! You have to take care.
Just throw a stone at the windows and if you were seen, oh, my! You will evaporate fast! That is true. So no one ever does those things. None, because if you do, you have a place where you can be stocked. There are times you can insult a member. That can be okay. But if it is the temple you insult, you wrote on it, that is very grave.
Regarding bloc voting, I do not recall any instance where I broke the order. If they say, vote for Erap and his line-up, I submitted to it 100%. I believed in that. But I knew that some of my companions did not follow that 100%. That is what I wanted to happen here with us in the Church of God, but there is none of that.
Bloc voting is really power. If the politicians know we are bloc voting, they will recognize us as a group with power. That’s the reason the Iglesia ni Cristo maintain that practice. But now, not so much because they were exposed with that Party List thing – that they are really not that many as what happened to ALAGAD. They are not that many. They are just going along with the popular candidate as reflected in surveys.
During those days, when I was in high school, I was also used for surveys. We went to the barangays to find out who is the strongest contender. That is the one we submitted in the name of our Division. From there, they based their decision on who is the most likely winning candidate.
The Iglesia ni Cristo does not really support candidates in the real sense. That means it is not true that the INC is a king-maker. It only goes where the wind blows: to the strongest contender. So, there is no truth to all those stories about the INC making candidates win. But if you asked us what we believed in, we say we did it 100%.
There was no INC teaching that I threw away – because since childhood, I was being formed in those things. There was no teaching I objected to. All of them, I followed. That is why to me, the Iglesia ni Cristo is the true church. It only changed when it was Bro. Eli teaching.
Over here, there are many changes we had undergone. Before, I would smoke 3 packs a day, matched with liquor. I do not like the imported kind but the stainless one – the gin. I used to drink gin with straw. I don’t get drunk with beer, that’s why. Not even with Fundador. So I drank gin with pulutan. It is only that I eat much pulutan. Then when we were drank, Malolos belonged to us. That was because my cousin was a Policeman. All the entertainment belonged to us. With women, there was no problem. That was my life with the Iglesia ni Cristo.
I realize it is very hard to lose relatives. Before, my relatives used to send me text messages about their events, but now, no more. There is a change of family – and a shift of values.
I am thankful to God. For all my foolishness and the things I did in life before, I am not worthy, but why did he call me? That is a miracle that I am thanking God for. I am not really worthy, but he has given me a chance – to be saved. So this is it. I am being used in a small way in the D’X-Man program, though it is not much. And I hope not to waste the chance.
*Handog means handed over, donated, presented. In the Iglesia ni Cristo, these are young children given to the Church by their parents. They get baptized, hardly knowing what teachings they were accepting at baptism. Church services for the youth differed from that of the adults in terms of day and time.