Today, July 27, 2014, is the 100th founding anniversary of Iglesia ni Cristo, which is the largest religion founded by a Filipino, Felix Y. Manalo. To mark this milestone, I am featuring the site of the original temple of the church’s very first congregation in Punta, Sta. Ana, Manila. This temple, built in 1937, is now a museum depicting the early years of the church. In Manalo’s honor, the street fronting the original temple was renamed after him.
It was in November 1913 that Felix Y. Manalo, accompanied by his wife, first went to Punta, Sta. Ana to visit their friends and to start preaching the Bible. By early 1914, Manalo baptized the first members of the church in the nearby Pasig River and established the Locale of Punta, the church’s first congregation. He then went to his hometown of Taguig and managed to establish the second congregation (Tipas) despite receiving some persecution. Then on July 27, 1914, Manalo registered “Iglesia ni Kristo” as a sole corporation with the government, and thus was the church officially established.
It was only more than 2 decades later, in 1937, that the first congregation in Punta was able to erect a house of worship, a simple 2-storey building that didn’t have the distinctive tall, spired architecture the church is now known for. In the 1980s, owing to an increase in population, the church decided to purchase a larger property nearby, which was dedicated in 1993. The church then decided to convert the original property into a museum. Works were done in the late 1990s to restore the temple to how it looked back in 1937 and the museum was finally inaugurated in 2000.