The Iglesia ni Cristo, (INC) the religious group founded by Felix Manalo in July 1914, grew in numbers and influence by the 1930s. Even after World War II, in which the INC suffered greatly as well, it still managed to become a dominant force in Philippine society, thanks in part for its practice of bloc-voting that many aspiring politicians sought to have.
Perhaps the most visible example of INC’s growth after the war was the building of what would be its central temple and offices in Barrio (now Barangay) Santa Lucia in the then suburban town of San Juan outside Manila. From 1952 to 1968, this would the INC’s “home base,” so to speak. And even then, its San Juan complex was a sight to behold, never failing to draw attention from anyone who passed by the area, INC member or otherwise.
The design of this massive complex was the work of National Artist for Architecture Juan Nakpil, who is also a good friend of Felix Manalo. While it is religious in nature, one cannot help to think that it may have been otherwise, considering that it did not look as “solemn” as religious structures usually look. In fact, Nakpil’s design had that postwar “futuristic” look, not to mention an Art Deco look reminiscent of the movie theaters that Nakpil designed in downtown Manila. the At that time, the INC was not yet employing the neo-Gothic look that it sports today, so one can say the look was somehow transitional in nature.
By the 1970s, the INC would move its central temple and offices to a more vast area in Quezon City. Since then, the former central temple and office was converted into an INC locale known as the locale of F. Manalo, named after the street which was, of course, named after the INC’s founder and first executive minister.
Apart from its purpose as a temple and central office, the San Juan complex also served as the official residence of the executive minister of the INC. I’m not sure if it still serves as such. Nevertheless, there are guards standing by the complex to this day, which makes a visit to this place quite intimidating.
To be continued…
This is part of a special series in celebration of the centennial of the Iglesia ni Cristo