Much Maligned Preacher Wins Over Distinguished Author in International Open Web Awards

Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Filipino preacher on exile, felt vindicated by an award given him by an international social media site that did not pay attention to disinformation about him scattered all over the Internet.

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A victim of religious persecution and disinformation, the preacher exiles himself to continue preaching in South America. Deprived of his own home country, he started blogging to aid his preaching. His truth blog makes a mark among the counted in Mashable International – one that did not pay attention to disinformation that scattered all over the Internet.

By Jake Astudillo

Manila, Philippines, (01/18/2010) – If things are played fair, we can always win. These were the words of the man for whom justice had long been elusive.

Bro. Eliseo Soriano, Filipino preacher on exile, felt vindicated by an award given him by an international social media site that did not pay attention to disinformation about him scattered all over the Internet.

Soriano easily beat Paulo Coelho, the Portuguese famous author in the 3rd Mashable Open web awards competition of 2009.

Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable.com, in an e-mail to Ang Dating Daan or The Old Path, the congregation lead by Soriano said, http://www.esoriano.wordpress.com takes its place among the top 50 websites and services of the year, having won the ‘Most Educational to Follow’ category in the Open Web Awards 2009.

Cashmore said the Mashable team, dealt with over 440,000 nominations with over 70,000 nominees and over 780,000 votes for the recent Open Web Awards. Mashable.com, an international social media site, partnered with Motorola this year to bring the 3rd Annual Open Web Awards: Social Media Edition. Reports show that past winners of this international competition include YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Digg, and iGoogle, to name a few.

In terms of written works, and literary reputation, Soriano is no match to Paulo Coelho.

Coelho began blogging in 2003, four years ahead of Soriano. Coelho could write as much as 186 in a month. It was in 2007 that that he jacked up his batting average, the same time that Bro. Soriano just opened his blog. By competition time, Coelho had written 3, 224. He also had forums on the spiritual or biblical just like the preacher. Coelho had 219,056 followers and 5,743 were listed. Soriano did not reflect his number of followers.

Apparently, it was not quantity of posts that mattered in the competition. Bro. Soriano posted a measly number: 117 posts from April 2007 to December 2009. The most that he could write in a month was 26 in July 2007 since his work involved traveling to the untamed regions of South America to preach. His blog, however, is pregnant with interaction, mostly on issues of truth.

Coelho’s forums included questions like the following: Do you think man is intrinsically bad? Do you think sex is dominating the human civilization? Do you think you’re following your personal legend? How do you interpret Adam’s experience? What do you think about reincarnation? Why are we born if we have to die? These were some of his forums.

Meanwhile, the posts of Preacher Soriano include: Will God Contradict Himself? Not everything is Possible with God. God is Not Everywhere. Perfect Justice in God’s Perfect Time. Karl Marx’s Unwise Definition of Religion. The Covenant on the Fleshy Tables of the Heart. The Imprudent Freedom to Question Free Will.

While Coelho’s posts remained pondering over many things, Soriano was assertive – just with the Bible as his reference.

There are bizarre similarities between Soriano and Coelho. Both of them were born in the same year. Paulo Coelho was born August 24, 1947 (1947-08-24) (age 62) while Eliseo Soriano was born April 7, 1947 (age 62). Both of them are from the same place in the same continent – South America to be exact. They dealt closely about the same topics.

The difference, however, between them is great. Coelho is a distinguished author. Soriano is unschooled formally. Though fearless, the preacher is much maligned and persecuted. To this day, he had exiled himself in order to continue preaching worldwide. Justice in the Philippines to him was scant and not within reach. Moreover, many bad things were written about Soriano.

The preacher’s bio in Wikipedia appears more as a list of accusations than a description of the man. They were the result of his work as preacher where he had to do the things no one wants to do: tell the truth and nothing but. None had the guts to expose false teachings and defend truth as Soriano does. Called the most sensible preacher of our time, his audience had evolved from just the Filipinos to include other nationalities.

Coelho therefore was made famous for his literary works. Soriano on his part was popularized by vicious media out to get his neck for things he had said against powerful groups. They were able to attach “rape” to his name, as is the practice of some bent on destroying a personality.

Reports on Coelho show that he radically wrote from the other side of truth. His first book was Hell Archives. In 1985, he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism and the following year, he wrote The Pilgrimage. In 1987, he wrote The Alchemist. This is the book that got Coelho famous. It was translated in 68 languages, and published in 150 countries, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author. The novel exploited the theme of looking for one’s dream in other lands only to find it in one’s home.

The backpage of the novel, “The winner stands alone” written by Coelho says Coelho was named United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2007.

In contrast, Soriano was not schooled by the universities of men. He studied by himself with just the bible as his book. He grew up to be a principled preacher and the most learned man when it comes to biblical matters. In debates, no one could beat him.

For 45 years preaching the word of God, he had become an expert on matters of Christian living and salvation that his preaching had changed many lives. Known as the nemesis of false preachers, he had attracted many enemies far and wide. One by one, anyone claiming to be appointed by God to prophesy, much more to be the son of God, Soriano would challenge and expose. Later on, he would reap many cases filed in court due to his mouth. Nevertheless, he feared no one as long as truth was involved, no matter that people tore him to pieces. He remained as “appointed messenger of God” to millions of those who believed in his preaching due to his unequalled understanding of biblical truth, reaping another moniker, “Truthcaster.” Today, he maintains a program by that name.

A book review on The Alchemist, Coelho’s famous book, said, “Perhaps this is the secret of Coelho’s success: that he tells people what they want to hear, or rather that he tells them what they wish for but never thought possible could even be probable.” In contrast, Soriano is about telling the truth, no matter how bitter.

Preacher Soriano had disappeared from his own country in 2005 but like a turtle thrown to the water, he appears through satellite systems still preaching to the world. Religious persecution forced him to use as much technology as possible. He continued on with his work of preaching to the consternation of his enemies. They declared to the public that his congregation had dissolved while he, in turn, ran away from crimes – all of which were lies peddled by the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC) members led by Rizalino L. Arrabis, a retired US Navy man based in Guam.

Bro. Eli as he is called, had difficulties then in residence. In 2007, he started his blog, using it to further his preaching purposes and to reach out to those asking questions. It is this blog, http://www.esoriano.wordpress.com that had won as the most educational to follow in the 3rd Mashable Open web awards competition of 2009.

Soriano was fair game to Philippine media with connections to those whose interests were being risked. He was humiliated by them who were able to post his bio in the Interpol’s wanted list. Soriano had excommunicated a self-confessed rapist, Daniel “Puto” Veridiano, from his congregation but the rapist joined the forces of the powerful INC. In the end, the tables were turned: Soriano is being accused as the rapist (“sex crimes”) while the rapist turns the complainant with all the support of the INC in tow.

With malice or not, the Interpol posting did more to introduce Bro. Eli to the world, thanks to the influence of his enemies in the Philippine government. It is public knowledge that the INC practiced bloc voting and had the power to make and unmake kings. As a result, while persecuting the preacher, they had ironically given him avenues to become an international evangelist in the real sense. That Interpol posting was blunted to the core. Positive media competed with disinformation and the public had more chances to evaluate who is telling the truth. That the preacher remains free to this day despite the lot of disinformation created by the INC is something truth has to answer.

In South America, many preachers had been converted to the congregation that Soriano led – the Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path). More and more lives are being converted as a result of this work. Learning of the dangers that the preacher faced, some military men promised to take care of the evangelist while he preached openly. The INC may be powerful in the Philippines but not in other countries.

Unlike Coelho, Soriano defended God and the bible, truly interpreting his role as commissioner for biblical truth. He taught the bible from cover to cover and unlocked many mysteries like one can drink from an ever-flowing spring. The preacher is an educator of a different breed that many come to his blog to ask questions of all kinds. With just the bible as his reference, Soriano is one educator unequalled of all time. Until today, there is no program in the world that equals his “Ask Soriano, the bible answers.”

In tracking Mashable awards, records show that Eli Soriano was not even in the list of 500 top nominated individuals, tools, and organizations as posted by Sharon Feder. Feder said, “With just two days left in the nominations period we thought it would be appropriate to take a look at 500 of the current leaders in the competition’s 50 categories each selected by you, our readers. Add your voice to this list by nominating your favorites…”

Evan as Ben Parr of Mashable announced the short list of 10 nominees to each category, Soriano’s name was not there. On the other hand, Paulo Coelho was nominated in two categories: “Most Educational to Follow” and “Most Inspiring to Follow.”

By the time Pete Cashmore, CEO of Mashable, announced the full list of finalists (the short list of 5), Esoriano.wordpress.com made it to the category of “Most Educational to Follow” while @Paulocoelho made it to “Most Inspiring to Follow.” Coelho had failed to make it in the first category.

On December 16, 2009, Pete Cashmore announced the winners and Eliseo Soriano was the only name found under the category, “Most Educational to Follow.” Meanwhile, for “Most Inspiring to Follow,” Paulo Coelho lost to LoraAndLayton. In the end, Coelho didn’t make it to either of the two categories.

A check on the site of LoraAndLayton shows that it is about “A Young Family Beating the Odds.” Meanwhile, on Soriano’s blog banner is written: “Celebrating 45 years of serving THE ALMIGHTY.” In contrast, nothing is written in the banner of Coelho except, “Paulo Coelho’s Blog.”

Mashable was reported to have carefully monitored situations and discounted all votes made from “fake” or “new” Twitter accounts, especially the ones that only had references to their voting.

It was not the first time Eliseo Soriano won an award for his truth blog. On February 2009, his blog was the People’s choice awardee in the 2009 Philippine Web Awards in the blog category. Moreover, that blog was the awardee for that year for the most popular website, besting all others in all categories.

If Philippine media preferred to keep distance from the preacher, it was mostly because of much ignorance about his true personality. Soriano was not concerned about what people thought of him more than he cared for his work. Media greatly ignored his existence but wrote about him in negatives. That Soriano is offering assistance to dependents of fallen journalists suddenly made great news though.

Up until now, the UNTV host maintained a dawn-to-dawn preaching with his Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) program that managed to gather more converts to his campaign to true Christianity. It is the first thing that early risers watched; it is also the last program that insomniacs watched. Outside the country, he had begun buying time from foreign stations to repeat the Philippine experience. In all, he stood as one from whom people kept asking questions from dawn to dawn. He only had one reference – the word of God.

First published in Quazen (Biography) on January 19, 2010

The Face of War: Preacher in Exile Dares Powerful Nemesis to Finally Debate

By Jane Abao

An international evangelist, considered as the most queried man on earth today reiterated his need to face his powerful nemesis in a one-on-one debate on television live. Also counted as the most sensible preacher of our time today, his challenge is not one to be easily dismissed. Some quarters look at this challenge as a spur to the debate of the century long expected by those familiar with this preacher.

Filipino evangelist Bro. Eliseo Soriano who had exiled himself for expediency, reiterated today (23/1/2008) his challenge to a church leader of the Iglesia ni Cristo (INC, translated as Church of Christ) to come out in the open so that this man could defend his teachings. Soriano had been very critical of false preachers ever since, most especially those of the INC.

Eraño Manalo, the Executive Minister of the INC, one whom Soriano calls a false preacher, has been ignoring Soriano’s call for a debate. Soriano is the presiding minister of the Church of God, International, better known through their program, as Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path) by the public.

Eraño is the son of Felix Manalo, founder of the INC. He is politically a kingmaker in the Philippines for his bloc-voting congregation and is much sought after by politicians for help come election time.

Soriano, 61, left the Philippines in a hurry towards the end of 2005 when conditions turned sour to his interests as preacher, on the belief that Manalo had much to do with the string of cases maliciously filed against him. Word had reached the evangelist of impending events to happen. As he did not want anyone of his people to be sacrificed if they defended him, Soriano left the country upon advice of his security personnel.

A formal challenge to debate with Manalo was published by Soriano in one whole page of the broadsheet, Manila Times, in March 2005. The intention was to end once and for all the contentions between them and to let the public see who among them was telling the truth.

However, the INC Executive Minister Manalo merely told Soriano through his ministers in their TV program, Ang Tamang Daan (The Right Path), to debate with the Pope of Rome first and speak Latin before attempting to debate with him.

Ang Tamang Daan is an INC counterfeit of Ang Dating Daan (The Old Path), Soriano’s long running program which has won several awards. For the nth time, Soriano who has been based abroad for two years now is reiterating the call for debate with Manalo.

In a bible exposition where the interactive portion, “Ask Bro. Eli” was held today at Marinduque, south of Manila, via satellite from the United States, Soriano who is called Bro. Eli, has been challenged by a minister of the Iglesia ni Cristo or INC to explain why Soriano kept referring to his church as Iglesia ni Manalo (Church of Manalo). Soriano replied that there are so many churches of Christ but it is only the INC who refers to Christ as man and that he never was God at any time. Therefore, to make a distinction that the church of Christ he was referring to is the one that believes in Christ as man, Soriano had to refer to this group as Iglesia ni Manalo, he said.

Further, Soriano reasoned out that the Wesleyans did not find it offensive if their church was referred to as the Church of Wesley, just as the Mormons and the Aglipays did not feel slighted when they were referred to as the Mormon church or the Aglipayan church. Soriano also showed some documents on screen for the audience to see that Felix Manalo, the founder of this church, referred to the Iglesia ni Cristo as “my church.”

Piqued with the preacher’s answer, the minister of the INC (name unidentified to the audience) insisted that he could debate with Soriano at that very moment, but the latter countered that he must have the authority of Manalo first. The minister claimed that Soriano had been evading debate with his group, to which Soriano retorted that he was the one who had long been challenging Manalo to come out in the open and defend his teachings. He also warned the INC minister not to reverse the truth.

Answering from his seat abroad where is he based, Soriano said in a raised voice, “It is I who kept calling for Manalo to come out in the open and debate with me. Don’t you dare reverse the truth.”

As published in Wikipedia, “Eliseo Soriano posted a paid advertisement in Manila Times broadsheets and invited the camp of Iglesia ni Cristo in a one on one debate and discussion. The Iglesia ni Cristo answered Soriano on their program by asking him to debate first with Pope John Paul II which was bedridden at that time and died a few days after this was posted.”

The INC minister, who was tagged as the 14th inquirer in the “Ask Bro. Eli” portion of the program that night, walked out of the hall after failing to get what he wanted. As he left the hall, many of his followers took after him that several seats were vacated up front. However, even as the INC group left, there was excitement in the air.

It is nights like this that the audience becomes excited whenever one would dare challenge Bro. Eli. Until now, it is said, no one has proven this man wrong when it comes to biblical matters. His work history is one tracked with many exciting debates – with the losers leaving in bitterness after their erroneous teachings were exposed. Bro. Eli does not flinch whenever he comes face to face with false preachers, it is said. The INC are not excluded from the many fiery attacks of this evangelist.

It was evident that the inquirer was not there to ask questions on matters of faith or salvation but to register his angst and anger against the host for labeling their church as Iglesia ni Manalo.

Eliseo Soriano comes off as the most queried man on earth today. Working initially with Filipino audiences wherever they could be found, he had expanded on to international audiences. In his program, “Ask Bro Eli,” he is asked several questions ranging from relationships, to dreams, to ailments, to spiritual concerns, to management, to governance, to deep matters of truth, and he would answer by reading direct from the bible.

Each month, Soriano’s program gives off an average of 10 bible expositions where about 20 complex questions in each are asked and he would give long comprehensive answers. Each month, therefore, Soriano’s program that is held in the evening up to midnight could reap about 200-250 questions and each year, about 2,500 questions. The program had started its heydays in the radio then. Most of the questions are those not answered by the pastors of the inquirers. They included questions about idols, spirits, prayers, death, tithing, the real Jesus Christ, resurrection, judgment day, living, God the father, false preachers.

“Ask Bro. Eli ” has long been showcasing Soriano’s prowess in answering questions where most of the inquirers were enlightened and had joined Soriano’s faith – not excluding those from the Iglesia ni Cristo.

Soriano is now facing multiple charges in the Philippines filed by the Iglesia ni Cristo and its sympathizers – all of them arising from his work as evangelist. The witnesses are either those Soriano had excommunicated from his congregation for various offenses, public officials who had benefited from the bloc-voting practices of the INC, and even those who stood to gain from the filed cases.

The impact of the evangelist’s work has drastically reduced the membership of Manalo’s church that heavily depended on tithing – which practice Soriano has been preaching against. Tithing according to him is merely Mosaic law that is not applicable to Christians today.

Wanting to continue with his mission as one in a hurry, Soriano tries yet to be safe from those who would want his downfall. With his impressive humanitarian work of caring for the helpless of Philippine society, he feels he is not being given the justice due a Filipino citizen.

In one of the many earlier discussions of Soriano on Biblical topics, he had intimated that the last war to be fought will be a war between truth and evil.

Soriano had earlier filed a case with the International Human Rights Commission.