(Eagle News) — An appreciation night was held for the FAMAS winners of the biographical epic film “Felix Manalo” on Sunday night, December 18, as Iglesia Ni Cristo members celebrated the five awards garnered by the movie about the Church’s first executive minister, giving back all glory to God.
The event was held at the Rizal Ballroom of the Makati Shangrila, and among those who attended were its film director Joel Lamangan and the film’s producer Viva Films’ Vincent del Rosario who led other stars and the men and women who worked behind the scenes in making the movie. Among the stars who attended the event were Elizabeth Oropesa, director Tony Mabesa, Gladys Reyes and husband Christopher Roxas, Regine Angeles, and Menggie Cobarrubias.
A number of INC members who were involved in the film’s production were also present.
A letter from INC Executive Minister Brother Eduardo V. Manalo was read by INC General Auditor Glicerio Santos Jr., at the start of the event.
In his letter, Brother Eduardo expressed his sincere thanks to those involved in the film which showed the early years of the Iglesia Ni Cristo, as well as the significant events in the life of the INC’s first executive minister, the late Brother Felix Y Manalo who became instrumental in registering the Church of Christ in the Philippines on July 27, 1914. Brother Manalo is regarded by INC members as the fulfillment of God’s prophecy on God’s Messenger in these Last Days.
The Iglesia Ni Cristo historical biographical film, “Felix Manalo” bagged a total of five major awards in the 64th FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) awards on December 4, namely “Best Director” for Lamangan, “Best Screenplay” for Brother Bienvenido Santiago, “Best Theme Song” for “Ang Sugo ng Diyos sa mga Huling Araw” sung by actress-singer Sarah Geronimo, “Best Actor” for the film’s lead actor Dennis Trillo, and the much coveted “Best Film.”
In his letter read during the Appreciation Night, Brother Eduardo said that the movie was received very well not only by members of the Church, but by those outside the Church as well.
The film, he said, also deepened the awareness and knowledge about Brother Felix Manalo and of the importance of his God-given duty and work that he had fulfilled with all fervor and dedication.
It had also captured the attention of award-giving bodies like the prestigious FAMAS awards.
“Pinakahahangad ko na nawa’y patuloy kayong gumawa ng makabuluhan at kapakipakinabang na mga pelikula at pagkalooban pa kayo ng maraming pagtatagumpay. Ang pagapapala ng Diyos ay sumainyo nawang lahat. (It is my earnest desire that you would continue to make meaningful and useful films and that you would be granted more success. May God’s blessings be with you all.),” Brother Eduardo said in his letter read by INC minister, Brother Glicerio Santos Jr., during the program.
Santos noted that many people had become curious about the INC after watching the film. This had led them to further study the INC doctrines, which in turn resulted in their joining the Church of Christ.
“Ito ay awa ng ating Panginoong Diyos. (This is our Lord God’s mercy.) Akalain mo sampung pelikula ang nominee, pero sa kabila nito, nakuha ng Felix Manalo movie ang limang category,” he said in an interview.
“Ang lahat ng yan ibinabalik natin sa Diyos ang kapurihan. Kaya tayo may appreciation night ngayon, hindi lamang parangalan ang (mga kasama sa pelikula), kundi higit sa lahat ay ibabalik natin sa Diyos ang lahat ng kapurihan. Sapagkat ang Diyos mismo ang may panukala nito — na ang “Felix Manalo” ay makilala ng lahat ng tao, na ang mga kapatid at hindi kapatid na makapanood ng “Felix Manalo” ay maging malawak at malalim ang kanilang pananampalataya sa Iglesia Ni Cristo na lumitaw sa Pilipinas. Naging malawak at malalim din ang kanilang pagkilala sa Sugo ng Diyos sa kanyang katapatan at sa pagtatalaga. Yun ang ibininunga ng pelikulang ito. (We give back to God all the glory. This is why we have this appreciation night, not only to recognize [those who worked in the film], but more than that to give back to God all the glory. This is because it is God Himself Who has willed this — that [the movie] “Felix Manalo,” will be known by all people, that brethren and non-brethren who were able to watch “Felix Manalo” would have a broader and deeper faith in the Iglesia Ni Cristo that emerged in the Philippines. They also had a broader and deeper recognition of the Messenger of God in his loyalty and dedication. This is the fruit of this movie),” Santos said.
Vincent del Rosario of Viva Films, the film’s producer, noted how the movie had been shown in more than 30 countries around the world.
“Ang pelikulang ito has travelled more than 30 countries. Isa ito sa well-screened sa buong mundo,” he said.
Director Joel Lamangan also thanked everyone involved in the film, including the hundreds of INC members who also helped in the production of the epic movie.
“Walang iisang tao na makakapagsabi na nakagawa siya ng pelikula na mag-isa siya. Nagpapasalamat po ako sa lahat ng mga taong aking nakasama sa pelikulang ito. (There is no single person who can say that he was able to do this movie alone. I thank everybody who was with me in this movie),” he said.
-Another great life to be made into a movie –
Lamangan also hinted that there could be another great movie in the works after “Felix Manalo.”
“Ito po ay hindi ang huli, maaari pong magkaroon pa tayo ng isa pang pagkakataong gumawa ng isang dakilang buhay na muli. Sana po magkatotoo. Atin pong ipanalangin (sa Diyos) sa pamamagitan ng tulong ng dakilang pananampalataya, ang Iglesia Ni Cristo. (This is not the last. There could be a chance to do another [film] on a great life again. I hope it is realized. Let us pray [to God] with the help of a great faith, the Iglesia Ni Cristo),” he said.
He acknowledged the help of the film’s creative director, Dr. Sergie Santos, in the making the film.
In an interview, Dr. Sergie Santos, said that he hoped that the film would affect more people in the years to come.
He stressed that the movie was finished, and achieved victories, all because of God’s help.
Although most of the INC members who were involved in the movie’s production never had any experience in film-making before, the product was a great film that had garnered awards, he noted.
“Sa araw-araw ng shooting, nananalangin kami at nagpapasalamat (sa Diyos), hindi dahil sa magaganap. Nagpapasalamat kami dahil nabigyan kami ng pagkakataon — kahit wala naman kaming alam, pare-pareho: Viva Films hindi naman alam ang buhay ni ka Felix Manalo, pati tayo hindi naman tayo marunong gumawa ng pelikula. So yung kaisahan pa rin (ang mahalaga) na gumawa kami ng isang bagay sa awa at tulong ng ating Panguinoong Diyos. (In our shooting everyday, we pray and give thanks [to God], not because of what will happen. We are thankful because we are given an opportunity — even though we all do not know anything: Viva Films does not know the life of Brother Felix Manalo, and even us, we do now know how to do a movie. So it is still the unity [that is important] that we do a thing because of our Lord God’s mercy and help),” Santos said.
He noted that in the making of the film, they can only “approximate, not even approach” the power of God’s fulfillment of the prophecy about His last messenger in the person of Brother Felix Manalo.
“So what we did was the next poor best thing,” he said referring to the epic film. “It is only a copy, we cannot recreate that work, no matter how hard, no matter (how we involve) the best people in production.”
-“Felix Manalo,” a reminder of God’s work in these last days —
He said he hoped that the film would serve as a reminder of God’s work in these last days through His last messenger, Brother Felix Manalo.
“So our goal everyday was (that for)those people like us, to let us glimpse even just for a second, or in this case three hours, the blessed fulfillment of God’s love to His people through the fulfillment of the prophecy of God’s last messenger in the person of Ka Felix Manalo. And hopefully, for generations to come, this will serve as a reminder to us that we are so blessed that one person in this world sacrificed everything so that we can be here inside the Church of Christ to be among God’s people,” he said.
Those in the film said they were grateful they were given a chance to work in the movie.
Award-winning actor Menggie Cobarrubias also expressed his admiration for the INC, saying that he got to know more about the Church as he was doing the film.
INC minister Brother Edwil Zabala said he hoped the film would lead more people to reflect on their connection to God, and to learn more about the Church of Christ and its doctrines.
“Kami po ay nagpapasalamat nang marami sapagkat binigyang halaga ninyo ang pelikulang Felix Manalo. Kami po ay patuloy na nag-aanyaya sa inyo, na hindi lang panoorin ang pelikulang Felix Manalo kapag nagkaroon kayo ng pagkakataon, kundi ang lalo pang suriin ang ating kaugnayan sa tunay Diyos na lumalang sa ating lahat (We thank you very much because you gave importance to this movie, ‘Felix Manalo.’ (We continue to invite you, not only to watch the film Felix Manalo when you have the chance, but for you to analyze our connection to the true God Who made us all),” Zabala said.