Apollo Quiboloy

Quiboloy on the run, but cash keeps coming as gifts for his 74th birthday

Herbie Gomez

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Quiboloy on the run, but cash keeps coming as gifts for his 74th birthday
Doomsday preacher Apollo Quiboloy marks his birthday on April 25 for the first time as a fugitive

CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Former followers of fugitive preacher Apollo Quiboloy, along with an American aiding victims of alleged abuses within the Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) in the United States, claim that the group’s fundraising efforts have continued unabated in the Philippines and across continents, with solicitors brazenly ignoring and circumventing legal restrictions on financial misconduct.

Quiboloy on the run, but cash keeps coming as gifts for his 74th birthday

They said KOJC workers raised funds as gifts for Quiboloy, whom they regard as the “appointed son of God,” in time for his 74th birthday. The doomsday preacher marks his birthday on Thursday, April 25, for the first time as a fugitive.

The controversies surrounding Quiboloy show a sobering reality about years of unchecked power, serving as yet another indictment of an insatiable appetite for influence and wealth and the complex power dynamics inherent in the realm of religion.

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Apollo Quiboloy and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, from abuse to multi-million properties

Apollo Quiboloy and the Kingdom of Jesus Christ, from abuse to multi-million properties

Quiboloy’s previous birthday celebrations, particularly in Tamayong, Davao City, were marked by opulence and grandiosity. The annual event was often compared to a Disneyland spectacle, featuring elaborate floats, parades, carnival booths, and performances, attracting thousands of attendees, including prominent political figures.

In 2023, among those who attended his birthday party at the KOJC compound in Davao City were his close friend, ex-president Rodrigo Duterte, senators Christopher Lawrence Go, Robinhood Padilla, Ronald dela Rosa, Francis Tolentino, and Mark Villar.

CONTROVERSIAL PALS. In this 2016 photo, Rodrigo Duterte sits with his friend and ‘spiritual adviser’ Apollo Quiboloy, who has since been indicted for sex trafficking in the US and gotten some ABS-CBN frequencies. Manman Dejeto/Rappler

Others guests were Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, former national security adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr., former presidential spokesman Harry Roque, former presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, and Greco Belgica, who headed the Presidential Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) during the Duterte administration.

‘Relentless and ingrained’

Despite Quiboloy’s fugitive status and KOJC’s legal troubles, the fundraising activities have remained “relentless,” said Kentucky-based former KOJC worker Faith Killion. She said the practice has become part of a “default mentality” in the group.

GUESTS. A journalist works against the backdrop of a screen which shows Kingdom of Jesus Christ founding leader Apollo Quiboloy with some of his guests during his birthday celebration in Davao in 2017.

“For years, it’s been ingrained in everyone’s minds that whenever it’s his birthday, everyone pitches in because there’s a quota to meet,” Killion told Rappler on Tuesday, April 23.

She said Quiboloy’s group had passed it off as charity for the poor.

This year’s birthday celebration has been toned down, understandably, due to the preacher’s fugitive status. But Killion pointed out that Quiboloy’s birthday, year after year, has become a KOJC tradition and an opportunity for extensive fundraising, “squeezing the life out of members.”

COLORFUL PERFORMANCE. A journalist watches a video, uploaded on YouTube by the Children’s Joy Foundation, showing performers in colorful costumes during fugitive preacher Apollo Quiboloy’s birthday in Davao City in 2017.

Reynita Fernandez, a former fundraiser for the Quiboloy group, told Rappler that KOJC’s street-level solicitations were ongoing in Singapore, masquerading as charitable endeavors.

Now Singapore-based, Fernandez was among those who testified against Quiboloy’s group during one of the hearings of the Senate committee on women, children, family relations, and gender equality. She testified that KOJC workers were coerced into meeting fundraising quotas, with pressure exerted on individuals to contribute financially to the festivities.

In addition to the US and Singapore, the group’s fundraising operations persist in several other countries. Notable among them are Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan, Brazil, Canada, and the United Arab Emirates, according to former KOJC workers.

Disneyland-like affair

In the KOJC, Quiboloy’s birthday stands as the annual pinnacle event. Months of meticulous preparation precede the April 25 occasion, a day when the gates of the KOJC compound swing open to the public.

Previously, food was abundant all day, but mostly for the children, guests, and the closest of Quiboloy’s church associates and aides.

CROWD DRAWER. People flock to the Kingdom of Jesus Christ compound in Davao City during the birthday celebration of fugitive preacher Apollo Quiboloy in 2017 as shown in a Children’s Joy Foundation video uploaded on YouTube.

According to former workers, the preacher’s birthday, as they know it, transcended mere celebration. Before he was declared a fugitive in his own country, it was an extravaganza where members from different places flocked to Davao City for nearly a month of activities.

About a decade ago, they said, Quiboloy turned his birthday into a grand Disneyland-like affair, with his so-called “pastorals,” especially Ukrainian women, often leading the parades.

The KOJC pastorals hold a special place as some of Quiboloy’s closest female aides. They do special tasks and errands for him, seeing these duties as both privileges and acts of service to God.

Electronics, Screen, Computer Hardware
PARADE. Kingdom of Jesus Christ ‘pastorals’ in colorful dresses wave to a crowd on a float at the KOJC compound in 2017, as shown in a Children’s Joy Foundation video.

April 25 became KOJC’s magnet for VIPs. During election years, the attendance swelled with politicians seeking favor. Almost always, Rodrigo Duterte graced the KOJC festivities, they said.

The grandeur didn’t end at the KOJC compound gates; it transcended borders through the group’s media arm – television, radio, and internet platforms – which painted Quiboloy’s birthday as an epitome of extravagance. Simultaneously, KOJC groups overseas held synchronized celebrations.

Amid the festivities and aside from Quiboloy, the youth, particularly children, took center stage, showcasing their talents and performances.

ENTERTAIN. Kingdom of Jesus Christ workers in superhero and Star Wars costumes entertain the crowd as shown in a Children’s Joy Foundation video.
Getting around

Former members said the previous celebrations, purportedly dedicated to children, were funded through extensive fundraising efforts conducted year-round in the Philippines and overseas.

Stephen Wood, an American assisting former KOJC workers and who spoke before a Senate committee at the start of its investigation into the religious group’s activities in January, said he was aware of ongoing fundraising efforts by Quiboloy’s followers in Tennessee.

Crowd, Person, People
HEARING. American Stephen Wood attends the Senate inquiry on the activities and alleged abuses in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ and its leader Apollo Quiboloy, on January 23, 2024.

In 2022, the US government imposed restrictions on Quiboloy, including freezing properties and interests in the US belonging to him or held by US citizens. There, giving or receiving money, goods, or services to or from Quiboloy has been prohibited.

Two years before he went into hiding in the Philippines, Quiboloy was already placed on the US Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) list of the most wanted after he was indicted by a federal grand jury in California for sexual abuse, human trafficking, and money laundering, among others. This year, he was ordered arrested by regional courts in Davao and Pasig cities for sexual abuse of a minor, child abuse, and human trafficking. 

SURPRISE. A crowd surrounds what appears to be a surprise for the birthday celebrant, Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, in Davao City in 2017, as shown in a Children’s Joy Foundation video.

Despite the freeze order against Quiboloy in the US, Wood said the preacher’s group found ways to circumvent the prohibition, one of which is by sending funds to their family members in the Philippines who are also KOJC members. These family members, in turn, remit the money to the religious group.

“They are continuing here. I can only speak [about] my experience in Nashville, Tennessee, but if it’s happening in Nashville, it’s happening all over the country. They send their money to their families in the Philippines. That’s how he’s getting around it,” Wood told Rappler on Wednesday, April 24.

He said the KOJC fundraisers in the US were also using online payment and remittance platforms like PayPal and Remitly.

“There’s no way the US can stop that money,” Wood said.

‘Ever-growing need for money’

The former workers’ narratives point to a pattern of financial exploitation, with funds collected under the guise of charitable initiatives ultimately being diverted for personal gain. 

ABUSE. A former Kingdom of Jesus Christ (KOJC) worker and SMNI researcher, identified only as Rene, recounts the alleged exploitation and abuses he suffered when he served as KOJC worker, during a Senate committee hearing on February 19, 2024.

They also claimed that KOJC workers were subjected to psychological coercion and disciplinary measures, including forced prayer and fasting, physical punishment, and psychological manipulation in connection with the fundraising efforts.

Another former KOJC worker recounted how he was punished for his failure to meet the fundraising quota imposed on him.

“We were forced to account for every centavo. I was sent to a mountain in Davao for prayer and fasting for a month. Then, I was hit on the head many times by microphones and books. I was ‘disciplined’ multiple times. The psychological torture was beyond belief,” the former KOJC worker, speaking on condition of anonymity, recounted.

He added, “Although they won’t have a celebration like before, their expenses are mounting, and their need for money is ever-growing.” – Rappler.com


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  1. RB

    Let no stone go unturned in finding this predator and bringing him to justice.

  2. PD

    The capacity for idiocy in a large chunk of people is remarkable. Disneyland Jesus Quibus must be one of the biggest frauds in the Philippine history. Aided by a group of trapos and power hungry thugs centered around the Big Bad Bear from Dabao himself. What a shame.

  3. ET

    I appreciate the creativity of the illustrator of the drawing used in Sir Herbie Gomez’s article. It shows how powerful Pastor Quiboloy is. Just by praying, the Appointed Son of God can bring a rain of money. Unfortunately, all that money goes to him alone.

  4. ET

    Two people are happy today. The first one continues receiving gifts from his exploited and brainwashed religious followers, and the second one is going to receive a “secret” gift from the first one. That “secret” gift is believed to be greater than what he will receive from his retirement.

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Herbie Gomez

Herbie Salvosa Gomez is coordinator of Rappler’s bureau in Mindanao, where he has practiced journalism for over three decades. He writes a column called “Pastilan,” after a familiar expression in Cagayan de Oro, tackling issues in the Southern Philippines.