‘Largest theater on Earth’ shows Iglesia’s influence

BULACAN, Philippines – The Iglesia ni Cristo begins its week-long centennial celebration by opening the colossal Philippine Arena in Bulacan.

Paterno Esmaquel files this video blog.

(Watch the video blog below)

(The script of the video blog follows)

PATERNO ESMAQUEL, REPORTING: They call this place the “largest theater on Earth.” This is the Philippine Arena, a 55,000-seater structure worth P8.7 billion or $200 million.

President Benigno Aquino and Iglesia ni Cristo Executive Minister Eduardo V Manalo unveil it, in time for the Iglesia's centennial on July 27.

In his speech, Aquino praises the Iglesia, which elected him as a bloc in 2010.

BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Malinaw po sa akin: Hindi natatapos sa loob ng kapilya ang inyong pagbubuklod at pananampalataya…Dinadalaw din ninyo ang inyong mga kaanib upang personal silang kamustahin, at aktibo po silang hikayatin na makilahok sa mga gawain ng komunidad. (For me it is clear: Your unity and faith do not end inside the chapel…You also visit your members to personally check on them, and actively encourage them to join community activities.)

He also uses the event to slam his critics.

BENIGNO AQUINO, PHILIPPINE PRESIDENT: Mayroon pong iilan na anuman ang gawin ko, gaya ng pagdalo rito, ay maghahanap pa rin ng puwedeng ibatikos. Paalala ko lang sa kanila: Kung kapwa ko Kristiyano, tungkulin nating magmahalan sa ngalan ng Panginoon, sa halip na maghasik ng agam-agam at ‘di-pagkakaunawaan. (There are some who, no matter what I do, like attending this event, will always look for things to criticize. I just want to remind them: If you are my fellow Christians, it is our duty to love each other in the name of the Lord, instead of sowing confusion and misunderstanding.)

Other officials and diplomats join the event, proof of the Iglesia's clout in the country over the past century.

Paterno Esmaquel, Rappler, Bulacan.

 – Rappler.com