THE last time I wrote about the mystery surrounding Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy, I thought that he had enough blessings a man of humble beginnings can hope for. Starting out with just a dozen disciples, what he is today is nothing short of amazingly blessed. He has been vilified but the more that his malefactors speak ill of him the more his Kingdom Citizens increases. (Kingdom citizens are what Jesus Christ the Name Above Every Name members are called.)
The first time I heard him, and this was over two decades ago, was in a radio station where I also had a block time costing P2,500 a month. There were unkind rumors now and then that his religious program would be cut because his payments were long overdue. It was.
Tough times for a young pastor. He had a rickety car to maintain too. Reason why he and a struggling lawyer named Lawyer Rodrigo Duterte became acquainted and later became friends was because they both owned vintage cars which stayed more in the same repair shop than on the road.
Fast forward. About six years ago, I was invited by Pastor Apollo to be part of a special segment of his program “Give Us This Day.” This time, it is not inside a Jurassic announcer’s booth but in a huge TV barn equipped with the latest state of the art television equipment and the program is heard nationwide over 23 radio stations and then beamed world-wide on cable and on free TV stations. This man is blessed, I said to myself.
His guest was Rodrigo R. Duterte, this time mayor of Davao City. Over cups of special tea and coffee after the program, the duo shared what they went through. The mayor about how often and how much he had to spend for his Volkswagen and the Pastor having to pray over a second hand car that conked out on his way to Pampanga to preach about the gospel to some relatives in a town where he was born. And many more. On a serious note Duterte related how he was virtually forced into the political arena.
His mother Soledad “Nanay Soling” Duterte, a pillar in the Yellow Friday movement in Davao City, refused to accept her appointment paper as vice mayor and how the appointing authorities merely crashed out the name Soledad and on top wrote Rodrigo. The pastor spoke of a divine revelation of how he was haunted by a very audible voice saying: “I will use you”. It was persistent he thought he can evade it by seeking refuge in mountains until he finally buckled down. “Thy will be done.”
Two days prior to his birthday last April, he gave me a walk into his “kingdom.” We started from the Jose Maria College where, I found out later that most of the students are scholars. Hundreds of kingdom citizens were having a final dress rehearsal for enchanted shows like a Disneyland Parade. “We do this for the children, as well as adults,” Pastor Apollo said. “What I missed as a child, I provide them. On my birthday they will see the spectacles of their childhood wish of an enchanted dream. It is part of my way of returning the blessings that the Lord gave. We will be feeding over 3,000,000 children all over the Philippines.”
Pastor Apollo just winded up his world tour in an unprecedented ministry. I pondered over how he is able to do this. To this, he said, “Once I flew to Los Angeles, California to speak in a congregation. At one point of my talk I said I hope to go to San Francisco to preach there too. The following day a good Samaritan, who refused to be identified, had a key delivered to the house where I stay. When I stepped out of the house a brand new car was parked. ‘That key sir is for that car and it is yours. The giver said that will take you to San Francisco, California,’ the messenger said.”
Across the well-manicured lawn of the school campus is a vast area where a huge dome is undergoing construction. The dome will have a 75,000 seating capacity. “Nearly everything is precast and vital structures imported. We expect completion towards the end of 2016”, Pastor Apollo said.
The entire complex will have playgrounds complete with some rides. Opposite the big dome, across Carlos P. Garcia Highway, popularly known as Diversion Road, is a 20-hectare parking space. The parking terminal will be connected to the dome by a light railway transit that will snake around the Kingdom of what the citizens and friends call The New Jerusalem.
Adjacent to the dome is a hangar that connects directly to the Davao International Airport. There were two small choppers outside the closed building. I had a bad knee (rich man’s words for arthritis) so the pastor called for a van which took us right to the entrance of the hangar. The pilots’ rooms are like those of five star hotels complete with nearly every appliance and amenities that they can think of. In another section of the building is the pastor’s personal quarter complete with a meditation room. Entering his private nook is like shutting oneself from all the rest of the world. The solemnity is what is best described as perfectly infectious worship atmosphere.
One more turn and the glass doors lead to a gleaming executive jet. Nearby a just-in-jet- propelled helicopter dwarfs two other choppers and still another jet plane. The brand new chopper can fly straight to Manila. Like the executive jet the special paint coat of the chopper is guaranteed by the manufacturer as without any duplication.
On my way home, I wondered and pondered in awe how this simple preacher, who barely can afford a radio block time and a decent car, become so well provided. He is being pilloried by those who refuse to believe he is indeed the son of God. But he preaches only the words of God and tells those who listens to him that they too will be sons and daughters of God. He is envied because like single-handedly his flock grew from seven loyal followers to now over seven million. Hated because he had transformed the “lupang habilin” of his parents in Tamayong into a virtual Garden of Eden.
Despite all these incessant vilification, Pastor Apollo C. Quiboloy continue his ministry, only this time, it is not confined in Davao but the four corners of the globe. Today, he might be planting trees or supervising and seeing to it that poor students, whether they are scholarly or not, get free education in his school and tonight goes on nationwide radio and TV for his ministry. Tomorrow he packs up, gets on his jet plane with a retinue of choir members for yet another crusade, maybe in the Middle East or in Canada.
This pastor is indeed blessed, that is why his cup runneth over.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 08, 2015.