El Shaddai (movement)
El Shaddai is a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement from the Philippines. Its founder and servant leader is Mariano Mike Velarde or better known as Brother Mike. Its Spiritual Director is Manila Auxiliary Bishop Teodoro Bacani of the Roman Catholic Church .
The Turning Point in Bro. Mike's Life (History of El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI)
Brother Mariano "Mike" Z. Velarde, Servant-Leader of the El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International, is a geodetic engineer by profession and a real estate developer in business. Among his real estate developments are the Moonwalk Subdivisions in Parañaque and Las Piñas, and the Bricktown Subdivision and Multinational Village, located in Parañaque City, near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Actually, he had neither planned to lead any charismatic community nor dreamt of proclaiming the Good News of Salvation. However, God's thoughts are not man's thoughts, neither His ways are man's ways. Here is the story on how God called him to be a "fisher of men for Christ Jesus" and how the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI started.
A Visit by an Angel
Sometime in February 1978, at the age of 38, Bro. Mike was confined at the Philippine Heart Center for Asia Hospital due to heart enlargement and heart blocks. He was scheduled to undergo a major heart operation, but none of his five doctors
could guarantee that he would survive the operation. One night, an angel in the guise of a nurse came to his room and told him, "Mr. Velarde, I've been watching you for the past three weeks. You are very depressed and always in fear of a heart attack. Allow me to open that Bible beside you and show you a way out of your predicament." Then the angel opened the Bible on 1 Corinthians 10:13 and gave it to him, saying, "Read this and contemplate on it and I assure you, it will help." The verse read, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it." After reading the verse a number of times and meditating on it, his fear disappeared completely and he felt a peace of mind. That night he was able to sleep soundly. The next morning, he felt a new kind of strength and was filled with joy. His doctors were surprised when they saw him walking along the corridors of the hospital. They examined his heart thoroughly and was amazed to find out that his ailment had been healed! The operation was thus no longer necessary. A week later, he was discharged from the hospital. Further examination of his heart by doctors in a hospital in Los Angeles, California, USA gave him a clean bill of health.
Once, while he was meditating on the miracle that had happened in his life, he asked God, "Lord, what must I do to live according to Your will?" The Spirit of God replied, "My son, bear witness to the salvation, love and miracle that you've experienced. If you continue to do this, your fellowmen will know that the God Whom you serve is indeed alive and faithful!"
Purchase of DWXI Radio Station and First Financial Miracle
In 1981, at the height of his real estate business expansion around the now Ninoy Aquino International Airport, Bro. Mike bought the DWXI (1314 kHz) AM Radio Station from its owner-operators for P2 million, because he needed the parcel of land on which it stood. Besides, the owners would not sell the land unless the radio station was included in the deal. Later, the radio station alone would cost him millions more to sustain its operations.
That same year, Bro. Mike became a born-again Catholic. In his eagerness to know more about the Lord Jesus Christ, he attended various prayer-meetings and studied the Word of God diligently. Thus, he learned about the practice of giving tithes and miracle-seed-of-faith offerings. He began to give financial support for the Mass and Healing Rallies of some charismatic groups that had started to flourish in the Philippines. One of these was the first Catholic Charismatic Mass and Healing Rally held at the Araneta Coliseum, which was organized by the Quezon City Catholic Charismatic Secretariat. Brother Mike gave P50,000 as a seed-of-faith offering for that activity. That amount was his last "cold cash" in the bank because his real estate business then had come to a standstill due to the downward trend in the real estate industry in the midst of economic crisis in the Philippines. Worse, his bank loans had snowballed to over P200 million because of runaway interests and penalties.
After giving the P50,000 seed-of-faith offering, with in God's Word, he prayed for a financial miracle. A week before the rally was held, a group of businessmen approached him and bought part of his real estate holdings for P60 million! With joy in his heart, he shared about the miracle during the Araneta prayer rally and started telling people about that testimony in other prayer-meetings where he was invited to attend. He recounted to them how God had returned his P50,000 seed-of-faith offering a thousandfold!
A Mysterious Voice
Once, at DWXI Radio Station, Bro. Mike heard a mysterious voice telling him: "Build Me a center, and I will give rest to you and all who will go with you." He thought God was calling him to build a church or a basilica made of concrete, similar to many other religious structures. He immediately called an architect to design a basilica with a seven-thousand seating capacity and set aside a piece of land at the Multinational Village for that purpose. Then, he had the plan blessed by His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, at the Vatican and prepared for its construction. However, his plan did not push through, inasmuch as his creditors and financial institutions started to foreclose most of his assets and real estate properties. Only one of his assets was not mortgaged the DWXI Radio Station. But this was a non-performing asset which instead ate most of his savings.
Nonetheless, in the darkest moment of his financial crisis, Bro. Mike remained steadfast in his faith. He thought that if the radio station could not help him rise above his financial troubles, he could have at least used it in spreading the Word of God and by bearing witness to the miracles that God had done in his life.
This would provide him a way to reach more people and draw them to the Lord Jesus Christ. He soon found himself actively sharing the Word of God in his radio program "To God Be the Glory." After several months, however, he decided to quit broadcasting and thought of hiring others to do the job. But before he could do so, he received a letter from a woman which read: "Bro. Mike, don't ever give up. Please continue with your radio program. One evening, when I felt I could die of migraine, which I had been suffering from for the last seventeen years, I happened to tune in to your program. As you prayed, I joined you and asked God to help me. Praise the Lord, at that very moment I got healed! Now your radio program has become a part of my life. Glory to God! Keep on, Bro. Mike!" The woman's testimony inspired Bro. Mike to continue with his radio program. He read her letter on the air and, soon, letters from other listeners giving their testimonies on miracles they received from God, and some were asking for prayer and counseling flooded his office.
To deepen his commitment to the Lord, he issued a memorandum instructing the treasurer of his real estate company to set aside ten percent of every sale and collection as tithe for the support of the work for the Lord through DWXI Radio Station. Miraculously, after this, offers were made on his foreclosed real estate properties, with the banks allowing him to sell these on his own terms and repay his loans out of the proceeds. Soon, his loans had been settled and some of his foreclosed properties were recovered.
After sometime, people from all walks of life were trooping to his office asking for prayer for the healing of their ailments and counseling for their financial and spiritual problems. Then, the Spirit of God finally revealed to him the real meaning of the mysterious call, "It is you whom I need to be built as a holy temple and to serve as a living sacrifice to renew the Church. I have called you to share with everyone the Good News and the joy of Salvation, to strengthen the faith of God's people, to set on fire their love for God and neighbor, and to bring them into a family that cares and shares in each other's burdens and blessings while waiting for the joyful second coming of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ of Nazareth."
Establishment of the DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International
In August 1984, Bro. Mike invited his listeners for a Thanksgiving Mass and Healing Rally that was held in front of the DWXI Radio Station Compound on the Sunday nearest his birthday, August 20. About one thousand people attended the affair and experienced the miracle-working power of God!
Encouraged by the success of the rally, Bro. Mike scheduled a monthly Mass and Healing Rally at the DWXI Compound in Paranaque. Some time later, as more people came to be led back to the Lord Jesus Christ, the rally was held weekly. A monthly Catholic Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar (CLSS) and a weekly fellowship were also held at the Queensway Building (owned by Bro. Mike) at 118 Amorsolo St. in Makati City.
After a while, Bro. Mike decided to air his program three times a week and began thinking of a new title and theme song for it. At this time, a friend gave him a magazine entitled "El Shaddai," which quickly aroused his interest.
He made a study of the meaning of the term and discovered that it was one of the seven Covenant Names, by which God the Father revealed Himself to Israel.
El Shaddai, a Hebrew word, when translated to English meant "The God Who Is More than Enough." The Good News Bible translated El Shaddai as "God Almighty" (Genesis 17:1/35:11). Shortly, he heard the song "El Shaddai" over Radio DWXI itself. At this point, he realized that God wanted His Holy and Almighty Name to be proclaimed and made known throughout the world. He thus changed the title of his radio program to "El Shaddai."
Through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, the weekly fellowship came to be called the DWXI Prayer Partners Family Appointment with El Shaddai, since Radio DWXI was the broadcast medium, he and his first listeners became prayer-partners, and El Shaddai was the Divine Name revealed to him by God. Every week, God added thousands of new prayer-partners to this community by means of the Good News aired over the radio DWXI and the Mass and Healing Rallies held all over Metro Manila and nearby provinces. As the community grew, they voluntarily gave their tithes and miracle-seed-of-faith offerings to support the radio program "El Shaddai" and the Mass and Healing Rallies. Some prayer- partners even volunteered to serve without compensation.
Inspired by the outcome of events, Bro. Mike thought it was time to formally organize the community. Thus, the DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation, Inc. was established, which in due time was registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. It was organized, primarily, as an institution where Bro. Mike could channel his tithes and donations derived from his real estate business and other companies to support the religious activities of various Catholic charismatic groups and some projects of charitable organizations. These however were not enough to support the expenses of the newly-founded charismatic community, especially the radio programs of DWXI and the Mass and Healing Rallies. And so, he had to continue shelling out funds from his own personal earnings. For him, though, it was a great enough blessing from El Shaddai that his radio listeners came to know Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour and were receiving answers to their prayer-requests.
In 1988, the first overseas chapter of the Foundation was established in Hong Kong. It started when Bro. Mike, who was then in Hong Kong for a vacation, was invited to share the Word of God before a Filipino Prayer Group at the St. Joseph Church on May 15. After the meeting, a group of seven Filipino prayer-partners working there and who were at the affair bonded together and held their initial prayer-meeting at the Jones Health Club, a gym formerly owned by Bro. Kenneth and Sis. Tessie Wong at North Point, drawing thirty persons. On August 7, the group invited Bro. Mike, together with Rev. Fr. Archie Guiriba, OFM, for a Mass and Healing Rally at the St. Joseph Church Hall. The rally was such a success that it paved the way for the formation of the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI Hong Kong Chapter with a core group of seven persons on August 21. On November 20, the first healing rally under the chapter's banner was held at the Christ the King Chapel of the St. Paul's College. An estimated 800 people attended the affair. The chapter increased in number as the years passed that venues for its succeeding anniversaries were held in bigger ones from the Caritas Hall in Central, Hong Kong to Queen Elizabeth Stadium, Ko Shan Theater in Kowloon, Hong Kong Coliseum, Kai Tak International Airport, and Hong Kong Stadium. At the chapter's 11th anniversary at the Hong Kong Stadium in November 1999, approximately forty thousand people attended the affair.
From 1989 to present, other chapters were formed in Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Japan, Kuwait, Libya, Macau, Malaysia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland, U.A.E., United Kingdom, USA and Yemen. These were formed by Filipino prayer-partners working abroad, who were motivated by the desire to bear witness to the love and goodness of El Shaddai. With the emergence of the chapters abroad, the corporate name registered with the SEC was amended to El Shaddai DWXI Prayer Partners Foundation International.
Later in 1993, the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) realized that the growth of the Foundation, particularly since it was affecting Catholics, could not be taken for granted any longer. Most Rev. Teodoro Bacani Jr., DD, Auxiliary Bishop of Manila and Overall Spiritual Director of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement (CCRM) in the Archdiocese of Manila, invited Bro. Mike to the CBCP Conference on January 24, 1993, to shed light on what was going on in the Foundation. On that occasion, Bishop Bacani was beside Bro. Mike, not to defend him, but to bear witness to what God was doing through the Foundation. The result of the meeting was satisfactory because most of the questions asked were clearly and humbly answered by Bro.
Mike. This event paved the way for the recognition of the chapters of the Foundation by several dioceses and parishes of the Roman Catholic Church. It also initiated the launching of its Back-to-the-Parish program. As you read on, you will discover how the Foundation has grown dramatically through the years.
The Foundation Through The Years
First Year (August 1984-August 1985)
In February 1985, thousands of people received deliverance from sin, vices and ailments during the DWXI-PPFI Healing Rally at the DWXI Studio Compound in Pascor Drive, NAIA, Paranaque City, with Bro. Mike Velarde as speaker. On the second quarter of 1985, the Foundation held Catholic Life-in-the-Spirit Seminars and fellowships in the following places: Cabuyao Parish, Laguna; Concepcion, Malabon; Balagtas, Bulacan; and Abucay Catholic Church in Bataan. On August 17 to 18, 1985, during its First Anniversary at the DWXI Compound in Paranaque City, about five thousand people witnessed and experienced the miracle touch of El Shaddai. In that same period of time, the maiden issue of the "Liwanag Magazine" (now "El Shaddai Bagong Liwanag Magazine"), the official publication of the Foundation, was released to the public.
Second Year (1985-1986)
In 1985, monthly Catholic Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar (CLSS) of the Foundation was moved to the Folk Arts Theater (FAT) at the CCP Complex, Pasay City, because the venue on Amorsolo could no longer accommodate the increasing number of participants. About twelve thousand people witnessed and experienced the tremendous outpouring of the Holy Spirit during the first CLSS held at FAT. Following this, even more people attended the succeeding seminars, so they had to be conducted in three shifts until the FAT itself could no longer hold the crowds. Consequently, the CLSS was held at the Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City, wherein close to twenty-five thousand people participated.
Some eight thousand people gathered together on the Second Anniversary of the Foundation at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC) on August 24, 1986. Even the seemingly indifferent PICC staff were surprised because the affair lasted one whole day and it was the first time that its Reception and Plenary Halls were filled to capacity. On that same period, the "Liwanag Magazine" was renamed, "Bagong Liwanag."
Third Year (1986-1987)
Before the year 1986 ended, a crowd of more or less 100,000 attended a Foundation-sponsored CLSS and Mass and Healing Rally at the Rizal Baseball Stadium in Manila. That was then the biggest crowd ever gathered by a Catholic Charismatic Renewal Community in the Philippines.
On February 9, 1987, Most Rev. Bishop Gabriel Reyes, Overall Spiritual Director of the CCRM of Manila, appointed Rev. Fr. Archie Guiriba, OFM, as the Spiritual Director of the Foundation.
The Third Anniversary of the Foundation was celebrated with an Overnight Mass and Healing Rally at the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Vito Cruz, Manila, from August 22-23, 1987. It rained heavily throughout the affair, but the estimated two hundred thousand attendees stayed until it ended in the morning.
Fourth Year (1987-1988)
From December 26 to 27, 1987, over 200,000 participants from all over the Philippines attended the Annual DWXI-PPFI Family Reunion with El Shaddai at the DWXI Compound in Paranaque. His Eminence, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin graced the occasion.
Before the year ended, one of Bro. Mike's most trusted associates in the management of the Foundation resigned from his post and incited other workers of the Foundation to join him. They then orchestrated an uprising within the Foundation and destroyed some important pieces of equipment in the radio station. They accused Bro. Mike of malversation of the funds of the Foundation and filed charges with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). On July 19, 1988, their allegations appeared in a daily newspaper with nationwide circulation. Despite this, more and more people attended the fellowships of the Foundation. After several court hearings, the SEC dismissed the case for lack of merit.
Because of the phenomenal growth of the Foundation, its Fourth Anniversary was held at the Quirino Grandstand in Rizal Park, Manila, from August 20-21 1988, where an estimated half a million people packed the venue. It was the biggest crowd so far gathered by a particular group in the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in the Philippines. The testimonies on the healing and miraculous power of Psalm 91 inspired some prayer-partners to have the Psalm printed on handkerchiefs. These handkerchiefs have become an instrument of God's healing and miracles among the prayer-partners worldwide.
Fifth Year (1988-1989)
At the Catholic National Prayer Rally held at the Quirino Grandstand on July 16, 1989, the prayer-partners, constituting some eighty percent of the participants, were highly visible because they used the El Shaddai handkerchiefs as head coverings. By this time, several parish priests and bishops of the Catholic Church had begun to recognize and accept the chapters and prayer-groups of the Foundation in their respective parishes and dioceses.
As early as 9:00 a.m. of August 19, 1989, members and followers of the Foundation began trooping to the Rizal Memorial Football Stadium in Vito Cruz, Manila to participate in its Fifth Anniversary. By midnight, the entire stadium was jammed with over half a million people from all over the Philippines to take part in an overnight activity of praise and worship dedicated to El Shaddai. Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani, together with some priests from the different parishes in the Archdiocese of Manila, led the Holy Mass.
Sixth Year (1989-1990)
From November 18-25, 1989, the Hong Kong Chapter celebrated its anniversary at the Chung Hom Kok with Bro. Mike and Rev. Fr. Archie Guiriba as speakers.
From December 30-31, 1989, there was simply no space left unoccupied with people standing shoulder to shoulder during the Annual Overnight Family Reunion with El Shaddai at the Rizal Baseball Stadium in Manila.
In February 1990, many were healed of their ailments during the Mass and Healing Rally of the Foundation at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila. From April 14 to 15, 1990, thousands of members and followers trooped to the DWXI Compound in Parañaque for the Easter Family Appointment with El Shaddai. During the months of July and August, the Foundation extended assistance to the earthquake victims of Aringay, La Union and Baguio Hills, Baguio City. A Mass and Fellowship was held thereafter.
On August 5, 1990, due to the overflowing crowd, a three-session Sunday Family Appointment with El Shaddai was held at the Folk Arts Theater.
From August 18 to 19, 1990, the Sixth Anniversary of the Foundation was held at the PICC-CCP Grounds in Buendia Ext., Pasay City. In attendance were housands of its members and followers, who experienced the wonderful works of the Holy Spirit as they praised and worshipped El Shaddai and listened to His Word despite a storm which flooded some parts of the venue with knee-deep water.
Seventh Year (1990-1991)
On September 24, 1990, the servant-volunteer workers of the Foundation participated in the El Shaddai Community Leadership Seminar at its office in Amorsolo St., Makati, with Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bacani as speaker.
On December 8, 1990, the Foundation joined in the National Cathetical Year held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. Brother Mike led a prayer at three o'clock in the afternoon. From December 29 to 30, 1990, the Annual Overnight Family Reunion with El Shaddai was held at the PICC-CCP Grounds, Pasay City. Bishop Bacani led the Holy Mass. In his healing message, Bro. Mike urged the crowd to be delivered from their vice of smoking. Thus, many cigarettes were thrown onto the stage.
In the second quarter of 1991, Bro. Mike, together with Rev. Fr. Archie Guiriba led a Mass and Healing Rally in Toronto, Canada and in Los Angeles, California, USA, and during the opening of the chapter of the Foundation in Singapore.
The scenario of the Seventh Anniversary of the Foundation held at the PICC-CCP Grounds in Pasay City, from August 17-18, 1991, was identical to that of its Sixth Anniversary. Nevertheless, the almost half a million attendees braved the monsoon rains and knee-deep flood to give thanks, praise and worship to God.
Eighth Year (1991-1992)
On December 1, 1991, the Cebu Chapter of the Foundation held its First Mass and Healing Concert at the Cebu Coliseum, Cebu City, from 8:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. Bishop Bacani, together with Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Leo Tumulak and Rev. Fr. Mike Hisoler, led the concelebrated Mass. His Eminence Cebu Archbishop Ricardo J. Cardinal Vidal talked about the need of unity among the various charismatic groups under the banner of the Foundation. Brother Mike, in his healing message, led the crowd in repentance and acceptance of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
On December 14, 1991, the Foundation joined in the CBCP-sponsored First National Day of Prayer and Renewal held at Rizal Park, Manila. On December 29, the Annual Family Reunion with El Shaddai was held at the PICC-CCP Grounds, from 12 m.n. to 11:00 a.m. The lame people in attendance were able to walk, even onto the stage, miraculously.
In the first quarter of 1992, Bishop Bacani appointed Rev. Fr. Anton T. Pascual of the Sto. Niño de Praga Chapel in Greenbelt, Makati City, and Rev. Fr. Alfredo Guerrero of the St. Joseph Parish in Tondo, Manila, as Spiritual Directors of the Foundation.
On March 15, His Eminence Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal L. Sin celebrated his Episcopal Silver Jubilee with members and followers of the Foundation, together with some guests, at the PICC-CCP Grounds. During the fellowship, many were delivered from vices such as smoking, drinking liquor, and gambling. As a proof, bottles of wine, cigarettes and game cards were gathered at the stage as urged by Bro. Mike. From May 9-10, during the Special Prayer Vigil and Overnight Rally of the Foundation held at the PICC-CCP Grounds, former bitter enemies and 1992 presidential candidates Fidel V. Ramos and Imelda R. Marcos got reconciled in front of Bro. Mike and the thousands of people who attended the affair. On May 24, Bro. Mike, together with Rev. Fr. Archie Guiriba joined the Toronto, Canada Chapter Mass and Healing Rally held at the Our lady of Assumption Church, wherein people of different nationalities-French, Canadian, Spanish, Italian, German, American, Mexican, Filipino and Chinese filled the church.
Back in the Philippines, Bro. Mike was the guest speaker during the First Anniversary of the Foundation's chapter in San Pablo City, Laguna held on July 7. Though a brownout occurred, this did not hinder Bro. Mike from proclaiming mightily and boldly the Word of God. On July 16, during the El Shaddai Fellowship in Amorsolo, the former owner of DWXI radio station, Bro. Ernie Rosales gave his testimony on how he came to know Bro. Mike and how he was blessed upon seeing him being used by the Lord in this vineyard.
On July 26, 1992, the El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI Japan Chapter was inaugurated with a Mass and Healing Rally at the Nishi Chiba Catholic Church, in Chiba City. Reverend Fr. Vic Torres, the chapter's spiritual director, officiated the Holy Mass. After the healing message of Bro. Mike, everyone present became joyful, experienced miracle healings in spirit and body, and received new lives in Christ.
On the occasion of the Eight Anniversary of the Foundation held at the PICC-CCP Grounds, from August 22-23, 1992, more than one-and-a-half million prayer-partners attended the affair. His Excellency, President Fidel V. Ramos, gave his greetings to the congregation.
Ninth Year (1992-1993)
On September 5, 1992, Bro. Mike visited the Foundation's chapter in Roxas, Oriental Mindoro Chapter via a helicopter. The estimated 25,000 Mindorenos from different denominations, including the native Mangyans, were delighted as they listened to his healing message during a Mass and Healing Rally held at the Roxas Town Plaza, from 5:30 p.m. to 12 m.n.
On October and November 1992, the Foundation had a relief operation for the Mt. Pinatubo victims in Zambales and Tarlac. Before the distribution of relief goods, a fellowship was held amidst the heavy downpour of rain.
On November 6, the first Diocesan Mass and Healing Rally in Pampanga was held at the Pampanga Sports Complex in San Fernando, Pampanga, where Kapampangans filled the venue to the rafters.
On December 12, the Foundation joined the Family Rosary Crusade Golden Jubilee at Rizal Park , Manila. Majority of the millions of people that attended the affair were prayer-partners. From December 26-27, an estimated three million people attended the Annual Overnight Family Appointment with El Shaddai at Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila.
On February 10, 1993, the first Mass Wedding sponsored by the Foundation was held at the St. John the Baptist Church in Pinaglabanan, San Juan. Nineteen couples, who were together without the benefit of marriage from seven months to 34 years and some had already children, finally tied the knot. From February 13-14, thousands of prayer-partners joined the Save A Child, Save the Family Movement at the Qurino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The event was held in protest of the anti-life programs of the government. On February 25, for the first time, the Foundation participated in the 1986 Edsa Revolution Anniversary. On February 28, 1993, Bro. Mike delivered the healing message during the DWXI-PPFI First Family Appointment with El Shaddai in Laoag, Ilocos Norte. Laoag Bishop Edmundo Abaya, led the concelebrated Mass. Bishop Abaya was the first bishop who accepted the Foundation in his diocese.
Close to two million people gathered to praise, worship, and give thanks to God for His love and goodness on the Ninth Anniversary of the Foundation held at the Quirino Grandstand, from August 21-22, 1993. The crowd filled the Rizal Park from Taft Avenue to Manila Bay at the back of the grandstand. The affair featured the mass wedding of two hundred thirty couples who had previously lived together without the blessing of the Church. During his healing message, Bro. Mike launched the "Love Our Police Movement," believing that through the Filipinos' love and faith in the members of the Philippine National Police, the nation will change for the better.
Tenth Year (1993-1994)
On October 13, 1993, Bishop Bacani led the First Morning Mass held at 3rd Floor, Queensway Bldg., Amorsolo St., Makati and aired live over radio DWXI (1314 kHz) AM from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. Preceding the Mass was the early morning praise and worship from 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. led by the El Shaddai Gospel Choir.
On November 15, the Foundation opened its Medical-Dental Clinic for its members and followers. On December 11, in spite of the heavy rains and muddy place, millions of people including the prayer-partners participated in the International Year of the Family launched by the CBCP at the Reclamation Area, Pasay City. Concelebrating the Holy Mass were their Eminences Cardinal Sin, Cardinal Vidal, and Cardinal Alfonso Lopez-Turjillo, President, Pontifical Council of the Family, Vatican City.
On December 13, Bro, Mike delivered the healing message during the DWXI - PPFI Cebu Chapter 1st Anniversary held at the Arellano National School Grounds, Cebu City. A concelebrated Mass was led by Most Rev. Manuel Salvador, Coadjutor Archbishop of Cebu, together with Very Rev. Msgrs. Esteban Binghay and Fred Kiekenbeek, Spiritual Director, Cebu Catholic Charismatic Communities; and Rev. Fr. Nap Lozada.
From December 24 to 25, 1993, close to three million people stayed for about fifteen hours during the DWXI-PPFI Overnight Annual Family Reunion with El Shaddai at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila.
The place was made very colorful by the holding of the First Christmas Lantern Festival, wherein the attendees brought home-made lanterns of different sizes and designs as instructed by Bro. Mike. Seventy-eight couple who were once living as common-law husbands and wives finally tied the knot during the Holy Mass led by Bishop Bacani. Before the affair ended, Bro. Mike delivered the Good News of Salvation.
Immediately after the Christmas celebration, Bro. Mike left for the USA for some speaking engagements. He first went to San Francisco on January 9, 1994, wherein close to a thousand prayer-partners and friends from all over the Bay Area and Northern California flocked to Newark Pavilion to attend the regular Mass and Healing Rally of the chapter. Reverend Fr. Apolinario Icarangal, a spiritual director of a chapter of the Foundation and a parish priest of Calauan, Laguna, who was then visiting the city, officiated the Mass. In his homily, Father Icarangal explained the word "El Shaddai" to the congregation. He also expressed his appreciation for Bro. Mike and the community in bringing together more than four million people during its 9th anniversary in Manila. As Bro. Mike delivered the Good News of salvation, the anointing of the Holy Spirit was felt all over the place. On January 16, 1994, the Southern California Secretariat organized a special Mass and Healing Rally at the St. Kevin's Church in Los Angeles, which lasted for six hours. The Mass was celebrated by Rev. Fr. Ramon Valera, associate pastor of the Holy Family Church in the area. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual healing took place while Bro. Mike Z. Velarde shared his true-to-life experiences in relation to the Word of God amidst the joy and laughter of the crowd.
The Lord has His ways to let the people know of His presence. People, who have not gone to church before, ran to Him during the great earthquake. People thronged to the Mass and Healing Rally bringing with them torches, water and food. People in the Hollywood Palm Hotel, where Bro. Mike and members of the San Francisco chapter stayed, said that their hotel was free from any damage, although many buildings and hotels collapsed, because the servant-leader of the Lord's ministry checked-in there. Some churches were also condemned due to big cracks in the wall, however when the L.A. fire department checked St. Kevin's Church, the cracks were only superficial. Brother Mike conducted a discipleship meeting with the Northern and Southern California chapter officers and workers while in the area.
From USA, Bro. Mike flew to Japan for a Mass and Healing Rally held at the Nippon Kai Kan Hall in Tokyo on January 23, 1994. The theater was almost filled to capacity with people of different nationalities, particularly Japanese who were married to Filipinas. A Philippine Consulate officer and a Japanese interpreter graced the occasion. The Holy Mass was officiated by the chapter's spiritual director, Rev. Fr. Vic Torres. As Bro. Mike delivered his healing message, the theater was filled with the Holy Spirit and many hearts were touched and experienced emotional, spiritual and physical healing. Even the Japanese were moved into tears.
From February 11 to 13, 1994, a Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar was held at Sai Kung in Hong Kong with Bro. Mike delivering the healing and salvation message-explaining the Eucharist to the believers. He also emphasized that the Foundation is a worldwide Catholic Charismatic ministry. Concelebrating the Holy Mass were Rev. Fr. Paul Guinnevan, OMI, the chapter's spiritual director and parish priest of Sai Kung; Rev. Fr. Niveo Vigano; and Rev. Fr. Carreon, a visiting priest from Pangasinan.
In the First Quarter of 1994, back from abroad, Bro. Mike opened the national diocesan centers in Cainta, Rizal (February 21); Laoag City, Ilocos Norte (February 26); Lipa City, Batangas (March 7); and Balanga, Bataan (March 21). On April 2, close to three million people gathered for the Foundation's Easter Overnight Celebration at PICC-CCP Grounds.
On April 10, a big healing rally of the Foundation, sponsored by the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Service Committee, was held at the Edmonton Convention Centre in Canada attended by many Filipino Canadians, including small groups from Vancouver and Toronto and a busload from Winnipeg. Reverend Fr. Bong Guerrero concelebrated the Holy Mass with local Canadian priests and Bro. Mike delivered the healing message.
On April 17, the Los Angeles Convention Center (Concourse Hall) in USA was the venue of the 3rd Anniversary of the Los Angeles Chapter of the Foundation. It was filled to its maximum capacity of 3,500. Catholics and members of different denominations converged in the venue to join the celebration. When Bro. Mike delivered his healing message, the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit was all over the place as thousands came to repentance, accepted Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior, and received healing from various ailments, deliverance from the bondage of vices and spiritual transformation. Because of the countless miracles witnessed by those who were present, everybody went home with peace and joy, glorifying El Shaddai.
On June 19, Bro. Mike was bestowed the Ulirang Ama Awards (Socio-Civic/Religious Sector) held at the Malacañang, Manila. On June 24, the Foundation successfully held the First National Convention Seminar of its workers at the Folk Arts Theater.
On August 14, the Foundation led by Bro. Mike joined in the Catholic Church's protest rally against the government's population control program held at the Quirino Grandstand. His Eminence Cardinal Sin, together with Bishop Bacani, Manila Vice Mayor Lito Atienza, and Rev. Fr. James Reuter, led the affair.
For the first time in the history of Rizal Park and the whole of Metro Manila for that matter, about three million people joined the Tenth Anniversary of the Foundation at the national park from August 20-21, 1994. The participants crowded the 50-hectare park and adjacent areas-Roxas Boulevard, Taft Avenue, UN Avenue, T.M. Kalaw St., Port Area, and Jones Bridge. Some of them came to the venue as early as three days before the event. They came not only from Metro Manila, but also from Cavite, Laguna, Pampanga, the Ilocos Region, Quezon, the Bicol Region, Sorsogon, Leyte, and other distant provinces. Also present were members from different overseas chapters of the Foundation.
Eleventh Year (1994-1995)
On November 24, 1994, the Foundation opened its chapter at the Batasang Pambansa, home of the House of Representatives, with a Mass and Healing Rally. Brother Mike spoke before several lawmakers and their staff that attended the affair.
From December 24-25, the Foundation held the biggest Christmas party in the Philippines during its Annual Family Reunion at Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The close to three million attendees feasted on thousands of roasted calves, pigs and chickens. In the early morning, thousands of doves for peace and prosperity were released by the attendees.
At the start of the year 1995, the Foundation participated in two events-the First National Congress of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Movement in the Philippines, whose various Charismatic member groups gathered for unity in the spirit, and the 10th World Youth Day, during which close to five thousand young members of the Foundation joined as delegates.
The Pope visited the Philippines again in January 1995 in time for the 10th World Youth Day. Some 3 million people lined the streets to welcome John Paul II, who arrived on Jan. 12, 1995.
The five-day visit was the Pope’s first overseas trip after he underwent an artificial bone implant in the leg following a hip injury in April 1994. On his arrival, the Pope addressed the youth and invited them “… to [s]ee the world around you with the eyes of Jesus himself! The Gospel says that when he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
The following day, the Pontiff met with then President Fidel Ramos at Malacañang and later celebrated Mass for the 233 delegates of the International Youth Forum at Central Seminary Chapel of the UST. He also gave a 20-minute speech to some 200,000 cheering students and academicians gathered at UST Grandstand and Parade Grounds.
“I see that it is my great privilege to be here, to be here and discover anew this phenomenon I knew before, and today I know better,” the Pontiff said.
During this visit, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass to mark the fourth centenary of the Archdiocese of Manila and the Dioceses of Cebu, Caceres and Nueva Segovia at the Philippine International Convention Center grounds in Pasay City.
In a private meeting with members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines, the Pope made the “strongest comments” defending the Catholic ban on artificial contraceptives. He also condemned the injustice in the country and noted the “increasing” gap between rich and poor.
“When powerful interests promote policies which are against the moral law inscribed on the human heart, they offend the dignity of man who is made in the image and likeness of God,” the Pontiff said. “In doing so, they undermine the foundations of society itself.”
Four million people, the biggest in his 16 years, 2 months, 29 days reign, thronged the Rizal Park yesterday to see and hear Pope John Paul II celebrate a Mass marking the end of the 1995 World Youth Day (WYD).
Even the Pope could not get through the surging mass in his Popemobile. He had to be transported to the Quirino Grandstand in the presidential helicopter.
He was visibly moved by the sight of the huge turnout.
“The Pope was reluctant to ride the helicopter because he was thinking of the multitude that would somehow be disappointed,” the aide said.
“He knew that since last night, they were already at the site.”
He boarded the helicopter only after being informed by security personnel that even President Ramos was forced to use it because the streets had become impassable.
“I do not remember an instance when the Holy Father rode a helicopter (to attend) a big gathering like this one,” the aide said.
“He wants to be seen by the people so he can bless them as he passes by.”
The Pope was disappointed over the last-minute change, he was overwhelmed by the Filipinos’ very warm welcome, the aide added.
It was a dramatic climax to his triumphant five-day visit and confirmed his view that the future of the Catholic Church lies in Asia.
“I personally have never seen a crowd this big in my life,” said Archbishop John Foley, President of the Pontifical Council for Special Communications.
“This is marvelous. This is a wonderful outpouring of faith, love, fervor, and the (Pope) is very pleased. The crowd surpassed the two million people who turned out in 1979 at the Pope’s hometown of Krakow for the first visit to his Polish homeland after his elevation to the papacy,” Foley said.
It also dwarfed the million or so who faced down tanks and guns in the February 1986 uprising that toppled the strongman Ferdinand Marcos from power. And the two million who rallied behind Cory Aquino at the Luneta after the snap elections.
People started massing at the Rizal Park as early as midnight Saturday, swelling the one-million crowd that attended the WYD delegates’ sunset vigil at the 20-hectare Rizal Park.
The throng grew swiftly as more and more people arrived early yesterday morning.
Among those who came for the Mass were delegations from the provinces, some coming from as far north as Vigan.
In his homily, the Pope roused the youth of the world to “heal and transform society” and to participate in God’s mission “in a unique and personal way.”
He urged them to respect the “beautiful gift of sexuality” and to resist the lure of alcohol and drugs as well as “peer pressure and . . . the pervasive influence of trends and fashions publicized by the media.”
As in the previous day, the Pope called on Filipinos “to play a fuller role in the Church’s elevating and liberating service to the human family.”
The themes of “mission” and “becoming apostles” prevailed in the Pope’s homilies and speeches in the past days.
His constant quote from the Bible was “As the Father has sent me, so do I send you.”
At the 1993 WYD celebration in Denver, the theme was “newness of life.”
According to an aide, the Pontiff had insisted on using the Popemobile to get to the Rizal Park.
`Excess of success’
“There is no security problem,” said Vatican spokesperson Joaquin Navarro-Valls as officials tried to decide on how to get the Pope to the park. “This is an excess of success.”
In a statement issued later in the day, Navarro-Valls said cancelling the Mass due to security risks was never considered.
“The Pope truly has a big heart,” he said. Navarro-Valls added that the turnout was estimated at five million.
From the Apostolic Nunciature on Taft Avenue, the Pontiff arrived at Malacanang Park aboard the Popemobile at 9:20 a.m., where he was greeted by the families of members of the Presidential Security Group.
They waved copies of his photograph and raised rosaries and images of Jesus Christ and the Blessed Mother for his blessing.
He then boarded the helicopter along with Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and Papal Nuncio Gian Vincenso Moreni.
The President arrived at the grandstand on board the same helicopter at exactly 9 a.m. He was accompanied by his daughter Angel, her husband Norman Jones, and Ambassador Lolita R. Haney.
The three-and-a-half-hour Mass, earlier set at 8:45 a.m., did not begin until past 10.
After mounting the podium, the Pope stared out at the pennant-waving throng which stretched as far as he could see.
His face was almost devoid of expression, and his lips quivered as if he were talking to himself.
But he seemed to respond to the warmth of the crowd as the Mass continued.
At the end of the Mass, the multilingual Pope delivered special farewell messages in 13 languages, including Filipino.
He was brought back by the same helicopter to Malacanang Park, where he boarded the Popemobile for the trip to the San Carlos Seminary in Makati.
The Pope called the world’s youth the “hope for the future” on which will depend the coming Third Millennium which he described as “a marvelous epoch for humanity but which also raises not a few fears and anxieties.”
“Build your lives on the one model that will not deceive you,” he urged the youth.
“I invite you to open the Gospel and discover that Jesus Christ wants to be your friend.”
He challenged the Christian laity to do its part.
He called on “people who till the soil, factory workers, engineers, technicians, doctors, nurses and health care personnel, teachers, men and women in the legal profession, those who serve in public life.”
He also challenged “writers, people who work in the theater and cinema and the media, artists, musicians, sculptors and painters” to take part in the mission.
Again addressing the youth, the Pope added “one specific challenge and appeal, which involves the healing of a source of immense frustration and suffering in many families all over the world.”
Gratitude toward parents He said: “Parents and older people sometimes feel that they have lost contact with you, and they are upset, just as Mary and Joseph felt anguish when they realized that Jesus had stayed behind in Jerusalem.
“Sometimes you are very critical of the world of adults, and sometimes they are very critical of you . . . But always remember that you owe your life and upbringing to your parents.”
He exhorted both parents and children “to build bridges of dialogue and communication.
Young people from all over the world, including a black youth clad in a g-string, presented offerings at the Mass.
A young man from the Netherlands read the manifesto of the International Youth Forum.
The main concelebrants of the Mass were Sin, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal, Vatican Secretary of State Angelo Cardinal Sudano, and Eduardo Cardinal Pironio, head of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
Hundreds of cardinals, bishops and priests also served as concelebrants.
`To see him’
Scores of people who had been waiting for the Pope started leaving Rizal Park when they learned he had taken a helicopter.
“Why should I stay when I won’t see him, after all?” said an elderly woman. “I just came here to see the Pope.”
By the time the Mass started, the crowd in front of the Manila Hotel had shrunk to a third of its original size.
More than 100 children aged seven and below were reported missing while thousands suffering from intense heat and cold collapsed in the mass camp-out at the Nunciature and Rizal Park from Saturday night to Sunday morning.
As of 5:30 p.m. yesterday, the Department of Health counted 1,720 persons who were brought to emergency medical stations at the park.
The complaints involved dizziness, asthma, allergies and headaches, said Dr. John Layugan, a member of the Stop Disasters, Epidemics, Accidents and Traumas for Health (Stop Death) team.
Criselda Tungcol, 19, a WYD delegate from San Juan, Metro Manila, was rushed to the Polymedic General Hospital in Mandaluyong after suffering spasms at Rizal Park. She has since been discharged.
Although the Pope looked very tired and lost in thought as he arrived for a Sunday evening meeting with Asian bishops, aides said his Manila reception was just what he needed to help get through the loss of his former active lifestyle.
“That kind of change is difficult psychologically and this trip has helped him come to peace with himself about this new phase in his life,” the aide added. “It has recharged his batteries.”
The following morning, the Pope left Manila for Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea. In his farewell speech before some 10,000 people at the old Manila International Airport, the Pontiff said: “The Pope feels so well in the Philippines that he looks at another opportunity perhaps to return.”
He added: “I take with me a thousand images of the Filipino people.”
On February 1, in order to deepen the spiritual nourishment of its service-volunteer workers and for them to appreciate the heritage of Catholic worship and the sacrament, as well as enhance their knowledge of Catholic teachings on Scriptures and basic doctrines, the Foundation started its On-Going Formation and Cathetical Seminar at Amorsolo handled by Bishop Bacani and Rev. Fathers Bong Guerrero and Anton Pascual.
On April 1, right after the Weekly Family Appointment with El Shaddai at Luneta, Bro. Mike held a press conference at the National Press Club in Manila to air his protest on the proposed cutting of diplomatic ties with Singapore, an offshoot of the Flor Contemplacion case, and with other countries.
On May 28, the CBCP Episcopal Commission on Family and Life and the Foundation joined hands in celebration of the First National Day of Life with the hope of arousing the awareness of the public regarding the evils of abortion and euthanasia, and instilling the responsibility of everyone to promote life in obedience to the plan of God. The celebration was held simultaneously with the Family Appointment with El Shaddai during the Feast of the Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ at the Reclamation Area, Pasay City. A Marian procession was held, accompanied by the recitation of the 15 decades of the Holy Rosary. Special intentions for the youth, doctors, pharmacists, teachers, handicapped, prisoners and victims of violence were mentioned during each mystery.
The Eucharistic Celebration was officiated by Bishop Bacani, together with Most Rev. Bishop Ramon Arguelles, Manila Episcopal Chairman of Marriage, Family and Life Ministry; Very Rev. Msgr. Vicente Salgado and Rev. Fr. Watin of Romblon. During the Mass, Bishop Arguelles read a special letter to all Filipinos from His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, imparting his apostolic blessings to the event.
From June 3-4, amidst the storm and flood, thousands of people converged at the PICC-PNCC Grounds for the DWXI-PPFI Pentecost Overnight Celebration. Bishops Ramon Arguelles of CALMANA and Rolando Tirona of PPLM led the concelebrated Mass.
Thousands of members and followers of the Foundation braved the early morning summer sun as they gathered at the Yorty Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center during the first USA and Canada joint Charismatic Healing and Prayer Rally held on July 2. Some prayer-partners gave their testimonies on the miracle healing and life-changing power of the Word of God. Among them were the Lawas brothers, who "littered the street" back in Manila, where they indulged in prohibited drugs, alcohol and almost all kinds of vices. The Lord has changed their lives through the Good News. Now, together with some members of their families, they have become part of the music ministry of the San Francisco Chapter. Reverend Fr. Alfredo "Bong" Guerrero delivered his homily with witty and charismatic jokes, to the delight of all attendees. Afterwhich, Bro. Mike expounded from the Holy Scripture the value of getting close to God Almighty and following the Golden Rule. He gave emphasis on how to become a true Christian by believing that God will give whatever we ask, as long as we have faith in Him. The Holy Spirit manifested Himself, through the physical and emotional healing experienced by the attendees, as the love, peace and joy of the Lord filled the Yorty Hall.
From August 14-15, over a thousand people composed of the local and international parish chapter coordinators, service volunteer workers and staff of the Foundation held an overnight retreat at Puerto Azul, Cavite, in preparation for its 11th anniversary. Brother Mike delivered his first message at around 7:00 p.m. The congregation was held captive by his usual style and wit, that even the staff and workers of Puerto Azul Country Club took time to listen to him as he discussed the attributes that each one must possess in order to become a true servant of God. He was followed by Bishop Bacani who talked about "Faithfulness" as servants of God, and added cheerfully that a Christian's life is a series of hatching (birth), matching (marriage) and dispatching (death). The wee hours of the morning were spent in sharing and group interaction. At 5:30 a.m., despite the fact that everybody remained awake throughout the night, everyone joined the morning joyful praise and worship to give thanks to the Lord. Around 9:00 a.m., Bro. Mike gave his morning message. At 11:30, a sumptuous lunch awaited the workers while Bro. Mike brought the retreat to a close with a prayer for peace, unity and love to reign among workers in the vineyard of El Shaddai. Shortly after, everyone went home filled with joy and a sense of oneness, and with renewed strength from El Shaddai.
The Eleventh Anniversary of the Foundation was held at the PNCC-PICC-CCP Grounds, Buendia Ave. Ext., Pasay City, from August 19 to 20. Three days before the event, tents of sack, plastic and umbrellas had already mushroomed in and around the venue. The members and followers of the Foundation from the provinces arrived in buses, trucks, jeepneys, and other vehicles festooned with streamers bearing the name "El Shaddai." In view of the huge numbers of people coming to the venue, the Buendia Avenue Extension was closed and a big number of those who came had to stay in their vehicles, go to the rooftops of nearby buildings, or sit on the sidewalks and simply monitor the celebration on their portable TV and radio sets. His Eminence Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, officiated a mass wedding of one hundred eighty-two couples.
Twelfth Year (1995-1996)
On August 27, 1995, an estimated four thousand people attended the 4th Anniversary of the Singapore Chapter of the Foundation held at the Blessed Sacrament Church in 1 Commonwealth Drive. Reverend Fr. Philip Kolandaisamy of Johor, Malaysia, together with Rev. Fr. Frank Pidgeon, officiated the Eucharistic celebration. Singapore employers and guests from Malaysia and Thailand joined its
members and followers as they sang and danced in praise and worship to the Lord. The church, including its aisles and choir loft, was jam-packed. Everyone felt the outpouring of the Holy Spirit as Bro. Mike delivered his healing message. The laughter of the audience echoed through the walls of the church which was a clear manifestation of God's living power.
From September 30-October 1, some two hundred thousand members and followers of the Foundation, weathered typhoon Mameng's onslaught that fell in torrents over the PEA Grounds in Pasay City during the Weekly Family Appointment with El Shaddai, threatening to disrupt the rally. Lightning and thunder came in succession as the voices of the emcees, lectors, and choir members on-stage weakly filtered through the microphones which had already been turned full blast. Umbrellas were rendered useless against the strong winds and heavy downpour which left everyone soaking wet and shivering. Despite this, the attendees were determined to hear Bro. Mike speak for the first time, after he met an accident on Sept. 16 wherein his arm was fractured during his routine jogging at Puerto Azul. It had been two weeks of continuous intercessory prayers for his recovery, especially before his bone surgery on Sept. 21. It was indeed a miracle, for ten days after, the servant-leader was able to attend the Weekly Family Appointment with El Shaddai. It was around 4:00 a.m. when Bro. Mike, with his arm still in cast and sling, delivered the healing message amidst the rampaging storm.
On October 7, at the formal launching of the "Piso Para sa Pasig Fund Raising Campaign" at the Rizal Park Orchidarium spearheaded by First Lady, Mrs. Amelita Ramos, the Foundation through Bro. Mike Z. Velarde expressed his support for the PPP project, a special campaign to bring back life to the Pasig River.
The Hong Kong Stadium, a billion-dollar, state-of-the-art sports and entertainment complex situated in Wanchai, became the venue of the 7th Anniversary of the Foundation's Hong Kong Chapter held on November 22. An estimated 30,000 attendees eagerly participated in the Eucharistic Celebration with Bishop Bacani as the main celebrant; and Rev. Fathers Roman Carter and Nevio Vigano, spiritual directors of the Hong Kong Chapter, as concelebrants. Brother Mike once more shared the Good News of the Lord through his healing message. In between his talk, he gave examples of living testimonies of the miracles that God performed in the lives of our brothers and sisters. The whole assembly was filled with the power of the Holy Spirit as Bro. Mike's message closed with a healing prayer. Tears of joy and repentance welled from the eyes of those who have been touched by God's Holy Presence. The attendees, composed of Filipinos, Hong Kong nationals, and foreigners, went home joyfully renewed and united in the Spirit of the Lord.
Amidst the yuletide spirit and cheer, 110 couples who had been living together as common-law husbands and wives finally tied the knot during the Christmas Family Reunion with El Shaddai held at the PEA Grounds in Pasay City, from December 23-24, 1995. Close to three million people stood witness to the blessed event as Bishop Bacani officiated the mass wedding ceremony assisted by other priests. Romance pervaded the air, bringing smiles to the young and old alike who stood shoulder to shoulder, seemingly unaffected by the cool December breeze.
In January 1996, Bro. Mike Velarde arrived in Japan early on his annual visit to the different chapters abroad. The chapter's members and followers have greatly increased since it was first opened in 1992. This was noted during the successful Mass and Healing Rally held on January 28. Some two thousand and five hundred Filipinos, Japanese, and other foreign national covenant members and friends joyfully converged at the Nippon Kyoiku Kaikan Hall, situated at 2-6-2 Hitotsubashi Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo.
On February 25, in response to Bro. Mike's call for unity, some 100,000 members and followers of the Foundation braved the scorching heat of the sun as early as 10:00 a.m. to join hands with the nation in commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the 1986 EDSA Revolution. The whole-day affair aimed to rally the nation for peace, unity, freedom and thanksgiving. The Foundation was assigned to lead the ecumenical prayer and worship activities.
After the Mass led by His Eminence, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, the prayer-partners began their fellowship at about 6:00 p.m. with joyful praise songs. To the delight of everyone, Bishop Bacani, in his white robe and scarlet sash, expressed his joy and appreciation for the presence of the thousands of prayer-partners that evening. During the lighting of thousands of candles, a magnificent glow filtered through the darkness of the night filling the intersection of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA. Brother Mike delivered his healing message about the "Extraordinary People of the Lord." He concluded his message with a healing and deliverance prayer which included five particular intentions, as follows: that God forgive the sins of our nation; that He grant us the freedom we seek in our land; that He grant us "amnesia" from the past and the courage to look forward to our future with faith, love and unity; that He grant divine wisdom and extra-ordinary courage to our president so he could continue his vision of Philippines 2000; and that God grant to all of us the extraordinary power to remain firm in our faith. The fellowship ended at midnight.
From April 4-7, the Foundation held its Holy Week Family Appointment with El Shaddai at the PICC-CCP Grounds beamed live nationwide via satellite on IBC TV-13. Sixty five converts from other sects, young and old, was baptized during the Holy Mass on Easter Sunday. The newly-baptized converts joined more than 300 more for confirmation during the Pentecost Overnight Celebration of the Foundation held at the PICC-CCP Grounds from May 24-25 beamed live nationwide via satellite on ABC TV-5.
In June 1996, when Bro. Mike flew out of the country to fulfill some engagements, a former service-volunteer assigned to security filed charges of illegal transfer of funds against him with the SEC. The allegations appeared in various newspapers, as well as on TV news programs, not only in the Philippines, but throughout the world as well. Brother Mike, upon his return, denied the accusations and narrated the facts of the case in a Special Mass and Healing Rally held at the PICC-CCP Grounds on July 6, before close to a million people. He also invited his accuser and cohorts to look into the accounts of the Foundation. On August 14, the SEC Court through a resolution cleared Bro. Mike of the charges.
His Excellency, President Fidel V. Ramos was the guest of honor during the Twelfth Anniversary of the Foundation at the PICC-CCP Grounds from August 17-18. In line with the anniversary theme, which is unity, leaders from the different charismatic groups were invited to speak in a CLSS. During the Thanksgiving Mass officiated by Bishop Bacani , a mass wedding took place, in which eighty couples who had been living together as common-law spouses finally tied the knot. Brother Mike delivered the Healing Message about the "Miracle Touch of Unwavering Faith."
Thirteenth Year (1996-1997)
On September 2, 1996, Bro. Mike and Hon. Leonardo Quisumbing, Secretary of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), signed an agreement between the government and the Foundation to set up an El Shaddai Overseas "Desk" to look after the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers worldwide. The signing took place in the presence of Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr., author of the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipino Act of 1995, at his Makati City residence. The Memorandum of Agreement states that the DOLE through the POEA shall allow whenever feasible and appropriate the Foundation to maintain an active Guidance, Counseling and Spiritual Assistance Desk at the POEA Action Center to attend to the morale, welfare and spiritual concern related to overseas employment and other matters; that the DOLE through the OWWA shall extend possible and appropriate assistance to its members who may be in need of guidance counseling and spiritual assistance as well as other welfare services while at the jobsite; that the Foundation shall assign at least two responsible members/officers to man its desk at the POEA Action Center and shall communicate to DOLE/POEA/OWWA the concerns of its members which require immediate action or solution. The said agreement is a positive step of the government in its serious efforts to help alleviate the plight of our Filipino migrant workers abroad.
The House of Representatives Chapter of the Foundation held its 2nd Anniversary on Nov. 28, 1996 at the main lobby of the Batasang Pambansa Bldg., Batasan Complex, Quezon City. Several employees of the Congress and prayer-partners within the area including Cong. Dante Liban of Quezon City were present during the occasion. The affair started with the celebration of the Holy Mass which was officiated by Rev. Fr. Fernando Canicula, parish priest of St. John of the Cross, Pembo, Makati City. This was followed by a CLSS. Brother Mike delivered the message on the importance of being empowered by the Holy Spirit-the power that we need in order for us to overcome trials and temptations and to turn our problems into miracles.
Before the year ended, the Catholic hierarchy of the Philippines, through His Eminence Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, in solidarity with the instruction of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II, called on Filipinos to participate in the launching of the Great Jubilee Year 2000-a 3-year celebration in preparation for the 2000th birth anniversary of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thousands of Catholics from the different religious and lay organizations including the Foundation responded to this call as they gathered at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on December 1. A concelebrated Mass, officiated by the bishops and priests led by Cardinal Sin, highlighted the affair. His Excellency Most Rev. Gian Vincencio Moreni, DD., Papal Nuncio to the Philippines, read a letter from the Vatican before the multitude. In line with the theme of the occasion, Bro. Mike focused his healing message on how to prepare ourselves for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "let us not worry about anything, instead, let us put our trust in the Lord; let us fill our hearts with the Word of God and remain faithful in His love; and let us forgive those who have offended us and forget our past hurts. For forgiveness is a step to humility, humility to obedience, and obedience to Eternal Life."
From December 21-22, millions of members and followers of the Foundation joined in the colorful and joyful celebration of the Family Christmas Reunion with El Shaddai held at the PICC-CCP Grounds, Buendia Ext., Pasay City.
Just looking at the stage design, one can feel the Christmas season, wherein a giant Christmas tree were placed. The was made up of piled-up boxes with 5 in. x 5 in. x 7 in. in size covered by colorful Christmas wrappers. This is the same box, called Miracle Vision Prayer-Request Wish Box, which the attendees brought in the affair as instructed by Bro. Mike. The box had ribbons with color gold, symbolizing the virtue of faith; yellow, symbol of love; and white, symbol of good works. It had a hole to like a money-box, where the attendees put a duplicate copy of their 12 prayer-requests. During the Holy Mass, 101 couple who had been living outside the grace of God finally tied the knot. Some of them were the pair of Bro. Lucino dela Cruz, 64 years old, and Sis. Lolita Papango, 63 years old, who had been living together without the blessing of the church for almost 38 years. Notable among them was a Swiss national who married a Filipina, a couple both afflicted with leprosy, at a Muslim convert. Prior to this, close to 50 among them were baptized and confirmed first before they were allowed to get married, according to Church regulations.
From December 28-29, in order to welcome the coming year 1997, millions of people gathered for an overnight fellowship at the PICC-CCP Grounds beamed live nationwide via satellite over IBC TV-13. A Basic Christian Maturity Seminar was held led by several disciples of the Foundation.
On January 22-26, 1997, Filipino Catholics celebrated the CBCP-organized 5th National Eucharistic Congress held at PICC and Quirino Grandstand in Manila. During the 14-hour overnight vigil at the Quirino Grandstand in Luneta which started at 7:00 p.m. of January 25, millions of believers and members of various lay organizations, including the Foundation, nuns and priests together with the cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, from all over the country, attended the vigil. An elder-disciple of the Foundation talked before the congregation on how to prepare oneself in receiving the Eucharist. In the morning of January 26, President Ramos gave his message to the assembly. Shortly after this, Papal Legate, His Eminence Anthony Joseph Cardinal Bavilacqua, Archbishop of Philadelphia (USA) led the concelebrated Mass, together with their Eminences Jose Thomas Cardinal Sanchez, Prefect, Congregation for the Clergy, Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, Cebu Archbishop Ricardo Cardinal Vidal; Tuguegarao Archbishop Diosdado Talamayan; Most Rev. Gian Vincenzo Moreni, Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines; and Manila Auxiliary Bishop Bacani.
On March 20, Bro. Mike was the Guest of Honor and Speaker during the luncheon meeting of the Manila Rotarians at the Century Park Sheraton Ballroom, Vito Cruz, Manila. In his message, he told everyone that what we need to realize our quest for national peace, unity and prosperity is the "Missing Part"-the Lord Jesus Christ.
On July 1, the Foundation's radio program, "Alay Pagmamahal" reached its first year of broadcast over Metro Broadcast-Metro Plus (1044 kHz) AM, a Hong Kong-based radio station. This is the only Christian radio program in Filipino being aired in Hong Kong. The program aired audio tape of "Alay Pagmamahal," a radio program of Bro. Mike in Manila being heard every Tuesday and Thursday over radio DWXI (1314 kHz) AM. The program tackles the ever-present problems in relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, parents-in-law and sons or daughters-in-law, and other members of the family; and gives advices or suggestions as solutions based on the Word of God. Since its broadcast, many Filipinos working there became its listeners and gave their testimony that they experienced strength, vigor and hope in life in spite of their homesickness, hardship in living there, and anxieties brought about by problems that they received from their respective family back home. Aside from this, many broken families were restored after they followed the advices they have heard on the program.
The Thirteenth Anniversary of the was celebrated at the PICC-CCP Grounds from August 23 to 24, His Eminence, Jose Thomas Cardinal Sanchez, Most Rev. Naval Bishop Filomeno Bactol, Bishop Bacani, and some Reverend Fathers and Spiritual Directors of the Foundation for local and overseas chapters attended the affair. A number of public officials also graced the occasion. Brother Mike presented the "Blessed Are the Peacemakers" Award to President Fidel V. Ramos, the guest of honor.
Fourteenth Year (1997-1998)
In spite of heavy rains, close to 600,000 people trooped to the Rizal Park, Manila on September 21, 1997 to join a prayer rally for peace and unity called by His Eminence Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin and former president Corazon C. Aquino. The rally was held in protest of move to amend the Constitution before the 1998 national elections. The attendees were from the different NGOs, civic, business and political groups, Catholic religious organization, and non-Catholic groups. This include the thousands of flaglet-bearing members of the Foundation. Representatives of the different groups in attendance signed a covenant against charter change. An ecumenical invocation was held with leaders from Islam, Protestant and other sect groups participating. Brother Mike represented the Catholic Church. As a result of the rally, the move for charter change in then congress were stopped as called by former president Fidel Ramos.
On November 14, Bro. Mike, together with Bishop Bacani, and some members of the Foundation went on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land via Italy. As they arrived in Rome, they went to Santa Maria Maggiore Church in Assisi for a Thanksgiving Mass. Then, they visited some of the famous tourist sites in the country. On November 16, they went to the Vatican City for the Papal blessing.
In the afternoon, they proceeded to Magna Aula in Pontificio Ateneo Antonianum for the scheduled Mass and healing rally of the Foundation's Rome chapter. Approximately three thousand members and followers from its different chapters in Europe attended the affair. His Eminence Jose Thomas Cardinal Sanchez from Vatican officiated a concelebrated Mass, afterwhich, Bro. Mike delivered his healing message. On the 20th of November, the pilgrims left for Tel Aviv, Israel. The following day, they went to Haifa, Cana, Nazareth, Capernaum, Mt. Tabor and Jericho. On November 23, they held a Mass and Healing rally at St. Peter's Church in Jaffa. About 2,000 of its members and followers attended the rally. Bishop Bacani officiated the concelebrated Mass, and Bro. Mike delivered the healing message. In the succeeding days, they visited the old city of Jerusalem, the Garden of Gethsemane, the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, Ein Karem, the Via Dolorosa, where they walked through the 14 stations placed along the route Jesus had taken from Pilate's judgement hall to Golgotha; the pool of Bethseda, Mt. Zion, the Dead Sea, and many other significant places. After the pilgrimage, they left for Hong Kong for the 9th anniversary of the chapter there. About 36,000 prayer-partners attended the celebration held at the Hong Kong Stadium on Nov. 30, 1997.
From Nov. 14-15, while Bro. Mike was away, the Foundation, together with over 29 national and international organizations and institutions, participated in the National Conference on Women held at the Philippine International Convention Center in Pasay City.
On January 9, 1998, close to 200 Filipino members and followers of the Foundation, together with several Africans, joined the First Anniversary of its cell group in Tripoli, Libya held at the San Francisco Catholic Church Compound in Tripoli. Most Rev, John Giovanni Martinelli, Tripoli Bishop, officiated the Holy Mass, together with Rev. Fr. Daniel Farrugia from Malta, its spiritual director.
From January 22-24, the Foundation, together with the Philippine Catholic Church hierarchy and members of religious and lay organizations from all over the country, participated in the National Congress on the Holy Spirit held at the Cuneta Astrodome and PICC Plenary Hall. The theme of the affair was "Holy Spirit, Renew the Face of the Earth!" The aim of the Congress was to prepare Catholics for the coming Great Jubilee Year 2000. The event culminated with an overnight vigil at the PICC-CCP Grounds, from January 24-25, hosted by the Foundation. Early in the morning, Papal Legate, His Eminence William Cardinal Keeler, Archbishop of Baltimore (USA), officiated a concelebrated Holy Mass, together with Archbishops Jaime Cardinal Sin of Manila and Ricardo Cardinal Vidal of Cebu and other bishops and priests.
In response to the call of His Holiness, Pope John Paul II for a joint witness and collaboration of the ecclesial movements in the Catholic Church, the Pontifical Council for the Laity, headed by its president, His Eminence James Francis Cardinal Stafford, held the First World Congress of Ecclesial Movements at the Domus Pacis in Rome, Italy, from May 27-29, 1998. About 350 delegates participated in the congress. Most of them were bishops, representatives of different movements in the Catholic Church and dicasteries of the Roman Curia, Catholic personalities, and fraternal members of other Churches and Christian communities. The Foundation was represented by Bro. Mike, and its Spiritual Director for international chapters, Very Rev. Msgr. Mario R. M. Castillo. On the last day of the occasion, Bro. Mike shared his testimony on how he was miraculously healed of his heart ailment in 1978 and how this experienced led to the establishment of the Foundation. The congress concluded with a Holy Mass.
During the Pentecost celebration of the Roman Catholic Church on May 30, 1998 at St. Peter's Square in Vatican City, the Foundation, together with other ecclesial movements and new communities, had an audience with His Holiness, Pope John Paul II. The members and followers of the Foundation, together with more than one million people who joined the occasion, warmly welcomed the Pontiff. After the meeting with the Holy Father, members and followers of the Foundation convened at the Don Orione Theater in Rome, Italy for a 2-hour healing rally. Some of the attendees were from the different chapters of the Foundation in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Japan, Kuwait, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan, United Kingdom, USA, and the Philippines. Brother Mike delivered to the congregation the healing message taken from the Word of God that brings joy, healing and Salvation to those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
On June 13, 1998, on the occasion of the Centennial Celebration of Independence Day of the nation, the Foundation took part in the "Pista ng Kalayaan" (Feast of Freedom) held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The different agencies of the government and the private sector joined in a socio-civic parade in their respective floats. The Foundation's float showed a gigantic dove, symbolizing freedom, in accordance with the Catholic Church's celebration of the Year of the Holy Spirit. The float depicted the different historical events in the country with the theme: "Faith, Love and Unity." Faith-depicted the first Holy Mass in the country held in Limasawa on April 7, 1521, signalling the beginning of the embracing of the Christian faith by early Filipinos. Love showed the martyrdom of Fathers Gomez, Burgos, and Zamora who were killed for their fervent love of God and country. Unity depicting the unity of Filipinos here and abroad at present through the Word of God being proclaimed by the Foundation. At the side of the float, a Bible verse could be read as such: "It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery" (Galatians 5:1). This verse reiterate that the freedom of the country from its colonial masters were achieved by the Filipinos, not only through violent wars, but, most of all, through the power of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Foundation joined the nation for the inauguration of the newly-elected President of the Philippines, Joseph Ejercito Estrada, held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila on June 30, 1998. More than two million Filipinos witnessed the event. The program started with a prayer for the President led by Bro. Mike, together with Bishop Teodoro C. Bacani Jr., and representatives of other religions and sects in the country. In history of the nation, Bro. Mike was the first lay man who led the invocation for the inauguration of the President of the Philippines. After the inaugural address of President Estrada, the crowd feasted on more than 5,000 roasted pigs and 20,000 roasted chicken prepared by the Foundation and supporters of the President. The big celebration dubbed "Pistang Bayan ng Pagkakaisa," is an offering of the Filipino to God, with prayers for peace and prosperity in the country and for the President. At 10:00 p.m., the Family Appointment with El Shaddai was held in thanksgiving for the peaceful transfer of leadership in the country. After the candlelight ceremony led by Bro. Mike, he enjoined everyone to continually pray.
On the occasion of its 14th Anniversary, the Foundation held an overnight fellowship at the Quirino Grandstand, Manila, from August 22 to 23, 1998, with the theme: "New Heart, New Spirit" (Ezekiel 36:26). The affair was televised live nationwide via satellite on IBC TV-13. Over three million people from Metro Manila, the provinces, and abroad joined the celebration, which started at four o'clock in the afternoon. Several priests expounded the theme of the mission of the Foundation which is "Faith, Love, and Unity." During the concelebrated Thanksgiving Mass with Bishop Bacani as the main celebrant, a mass wedding was officiated, wherein thirty-seven couples, who had been living as common-law husbands and wives, finally tied the knot. Sister Belen del Monte-Velarde, wife of Bro. Mike, shared with the crowd her experience about the successful quadruple heart bypass operation of Bro. Mike in the USA in July 1998. The anniversary was also attended by a number of government officials led by His Excellency President Joseph Ejercito Estrada and Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The President, together with Vice-President Arroyo and Bro. Mike, led the symbolical lighting of a miniature radio transmitter tower, which ushered the re-launching of DWXI (1314 kHz) AM radio, now broadcasting with an increased power of 30 kW from its previous 15 kW power in 1994. The radio station started broadcasting with a power of 9 kW in 1981.
Fifteenth Year (1998-1999)
On the occasion of the feast day of San Lorenzo Ruiz on September 28, 1998, Bro. Mike, together with Manila Mayor Lito Atienza, former Manila Mayor Ramon Bagatsing and the late Justice Antonio Barredo, received the first-ever San Lorenzo Ruiz Basilica Awards at the San Lorenzo Ruiz Minor Basilica Church in Binondo, Manila. The awards were given to outstanding Filipino Catholics who have excelled in their respective fields, while adhering to the principles of love of God and country, and have helped in a way in the propagation of the faith that San Lorenzo Ruiz died for with a group of missionaries. Brother Mike was cited for his pro-eternal life stance and his efforts to bring the eight-million members and followers of the Foundation closer to God. In his acceptance speech, Bro. Mike said that he was humbled by the award. "God truly works in mysterious ways, and my own life is a testimony to that. I may be the recipient of this award, but all the glory belongs to Him," he added.
On November 14, in accordance with Presidential Proclamation No. 47, close to a million people, led by the President, joined together for the launching of the First National Day of Prayer and Fasting for National Strength and Unity against All Adversities held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The rally was held for the strengthening and unity of the Filipino people amidst the crises, adversities or calamities experienced by the country, and in assisting the fellow countrymen under those circumstances. Representatives from different sectors of the nation offered prayers, according to their needs in particular and for the country in general. In his special message, the President asked the crowd to pray for his fruitful stint during the APEC Summit held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from November 17-18. At the end of his speech, the President led the congregation for the recitation of "Our Father." Brother Mike, led the crowd in prayer for the President. In his homily during the Mass, Bishop Teodoro Bacani praised the President for leading the multi-sectoral prayer rally. In his healing message, Bro. Mike talked about having a peaceful and prosperous life.
A colorful and glorious celebration of Christmas was attended by close to four million people during the Annual Christmas Overnight Family Reunion with El Shaddai held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila, from December 25-26. Dubbed "Pamaskong Salu-salo ng Masang Pilipino at Pangulong Joseph Ejercito Estrada", the affair was beamed live nationwide via satellite sa IBC TV-13 at PTV-4. A Thanksgiving Mass was led by Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr., together with Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual at Rev. Fr. Sanny de Claro, spiritual directors of the Foundation; Rev. Fr. Emmanuel I. Cruz of Malolos; Rev. Fr. Manheim Abellana, SDB, of Malig, Davao; and Rev. Fr. Roger Orpiada of Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Malate, Manila. One hundred and twelve children received their First Holy Communion at the Mass. After the candlelight ceremony, Bro. Mike delivered his healing message about Christmas. In his Christmas message, President Estrada thanked the prayer-partners for their prayers during his stint in the APEC Summit in Malaysia last November 1998.
Before the affair ended, the President, together with Bro. Mike and Sis. Belen, distributed gift packs, containing 3 kg. rice, 1 kg. bihon, 1 kg. sugar, 1 large can of sardines, 1 big onion, at 1 bunch of garlic, to more than 4,000 indigent people from different places in Metro Manila and distant provinces.
Signaling the start of the celebration of 1999 as the Year of God the Father, the CBCP organized a conference about the event at the PICC Plenary Hall, from January 20-23, 1999. The conference theme was "Father of Jesus...Father of the Church of the Poor." Close to five thousand delegates from the clergy, religious, youth groups, and lay communities, which included the Foundation, participated in the affair. The Great Jubilee Year will mark the Church's celebration of the 2,000th birth anniversary of the Lord Jesus Christ and the beginning of Christianity's third millennium. This will start on Christmas Eve of 1999 and will end on January 6, 2001. The 3-day conference emphasized on the compassionate and merciful God the Father. The confab ended at a prayer rally at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila, where thousands of members and followers of the Foundation led by Bro. Mike joined the delegates. A Holy Mass was concelebrated by Papal envoy Jose Cardinal Sanchez, Papal Nuncio Gian Vicenzo Moreni (+) and Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin. In his healing message, Bro. Mike echoed from the Holy Bible the inspirations and promises of God the Father to His people.
On February 22, approximately 100,000 members and followers of the Foundation trooped to the EDSA Shrine in EDSA-Ortigas Ave. Interchange to join the nation for the 1986 EDSA Revolution 13th Anniversary. The theme of the affair was "Isabuhay ang Diwa ng EDSA, Ipaglaban ang Kalayaan!" (Live Up to the Spirit of EDSA, Defend Our Freedom!) A concelebrated Thanksgiving Holy Mass was led by Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, assisted by Bishop Bacani. In his message to the crowd, President Joseph E. Estrada stressed that the celebration was held not to fight any political chaos but to alleviate the plight of the marginalized poor. This was followed by a fellowship of unity led by Bro. Mike. In his healing message, he expounded that to attain a lasting unity in our society, every Filipino should reconcile to God and to one another, love one another, and learn to accept one another.
On March 7, in order to strengthen the peace and order situation in the Philippines, thousands of members and followers of the Foundation led the nation in a Prayer Rally for Peace and Unity at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. The event was beamed live nationwide via satellite at PTV-4. The theme of the affair was "Tayo'y Pilipino: Sandugo, Sanlahi, Isang Katawan-Magkaisa na Tayo!" ("We are Filipinos-One Blood, One Race, One Body: Let Us Unite Now!") Prayers for peace and unity were offered by representatives of various sectors led by Bro. Mike. Their prayers included the plea for the release of police and military captives held by the CPP-NPA-NDF and for the resumption of peace talks between them and the government; and also for an end to the armed conflict in Mindanao. To symbolize the national desire for peace and unity, thousands of doves were released by the congregation. Signed personal petitions of each attendee were tied to the birds' legs. A celebration of the Holy Mass was led by Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual, Spiritual Director of the Foundation, together with Rev. Fr. Manheim Abellana, SDB. In his healing message, Bro. Mike expounded about having peace that comes from the Lord-one which cannot be shaken even in times of troubles.
On April 13, the radio DWXI (1314 kHz) AM launched its newest program entitled "Gintong Aral, Gintong Ani," led by Bro. Mike. This served as the propaganda arm of the newly-established El Shaddai Brother's Keeper Multi- Purpose Cooperative, which aimed to alleviate the economical and social status of its future member, according to the principle of FLU: "Faith, Love, and Unity" of the Foundation. The radio program tackles all the necessary informations about the cooperative. The cooperative is open only to members of the Foundation. Completion of a Catholic Life-in-the-Spirit Seminar (CLSS) is a prerequisite for those willing to be a member of the Foundation and the cooperative.
On April 19, 1999, in support of the Linis-Bayan program of the government, thousands of members and followers of the Foundation, led by its Servant-Leader Bro. Mike Z. Velarde, joined together in cleaning the stretch of Roxas Blvd. and Airport Road. This also served as their gift to President Joseph Estrada who celebrated his 62nd birthday on that day. In a telephone conversation, Bro. Mike told the President that it was the only gift that the Foundation could give on his birthday. In response, the President told him that he was elated and was thankful for the initiative taken by the group. As early as 6:00 a.m., the assembly of volunteers were seen sweeping the streets with their own broomsticks. They were wearing white T-shirts printed with the slogan "El Shaddai Linis Bayan Troops: Linis Kalsada, Linis Konsensiya" (Clean Street, Clean Conscience). The volunteer-sweepers jubilantly cheered as Bro. Mike moved from one point to another of the long stretch in a motorcade. Brother Mike was joined by his wife, Sis. Belen, TV host Cory Quirino and supporters.
Not even the strong winds and heavy rain could dampen the spirit of close to 1.2 million people in joining the 15th Anniversary of the Foundation held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila, from August 20-21. Most of the attendees were already in the venue days before the overnight affair beamed live nationwide via satellite over RPN TV-9. Before noon of August 20, in observance of Bro. Mike's birthday, the attendees feasted on roasted chickens, pigs and calves as a gift of the family and friends for his natal day. Early in the afternoon, the crowd jubilantly caught with their umbrellas inverted thousands of miracle-souvenir handkerchiefs thrown into the air from several helicopters. A thanksgiving prayer was offered by Bro. Mike for his birthday and for the anniversary of the Foundation. He also led the congregation in prayer for their prayer-requests, which were tied to balloons and released to the air at the signal of Bro. Mike. His Excellency, President Joseph E. Estrada, the guest of honor in the occasion, gave his greetings and message to the crowd. The President was with First Lady Eloisa Ejercito Estrada, MD. In attendance also were some members of the cabinet; several senators led by Senate President Blas Ople; several congressmen led by House Speaker Manny Villar; and friends of Bro. Mike from the business, entertainment, media, legal, and religious sector. A Thanksgiving Mass was led by His Eminence Jose Thomas Cardinal Sanchez of the Vatican City, together with Bishop Bacani; Very Rev. Msgrs. Mariano T. Balbago Jr. of Antipolo Diocese and Mario A. Castillo; and Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual and Rev. Fr. Sanny de Claro, spiritual directors of the Foundation. Joining them also were several spiritual directors from the international chapters of the Foundation namely Reverend Fathers Bernard J. Nolan of Brisbane, Australia; Leo E. Steinbock of L.A., Ca., USA; and Thomas Kawamura of Tokyo, Japan, as well as from the Philippines namely, Dwight de Jesus; Remigio Mendoza of Mabini, Batangas; Manheim Abellana, SDB; Eligio Santos of San Ildefonso Parish, Makati; and Stephen Punnakal and Victor Maung Thit of the Our Lady of Assumption Parish, Malate, Manila. Highlighting the Mass was the mass wedding of 50 couple who had been living together for a long time without the blessing of the Church. They decided to get married for they had known through their listening of the Word over DWXI (1314 kHz) AM, that they are living against the will of God, for it is written in 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, "...Do not be deceived: Neither the sexual immoral...nor adulterers...will inherit the Kingdom of God." After the Mass, a candlelight ceremony was held followed by the delivery of the healing message of Bro. Mike.
Sixteenth Year (1999-Present)
On September 13, 1999, after the press release of the CBCP Permanent Council Statement regarding its fraternal concern on the Foundation, the news media came out with the following issues: that the Foundation is becoming a cult because of some of its practices; that there is a lack of transparency in the administration of its funds; and that it will eventually break away from the Catholic Church and establish its own church. To clarify the stand of the Foundation on the issues, Bro. Mike called for a press conference on Sept. 16, 1999. It was held at 8th Flr., Queensway Bldg., 118 Amorsolo St., Legaspi Village, Makati City and attended by tri-media people from different establishments in the Philippines and abroad. Bishop Bacani and its spiritual director, Rev. Fr. Anton Pascual also gave their views on the issues during the forum.
On Nov. 13, 1999, in accordance with Executive Order No. 169 signed by the President, complementing Presidential Proclamation No. 47, declaring the second Saturday of November of every year as National Day of Prayer and Fasting Against All Adversities, thousands of people from different sects and religions in the Philippines joined together for the affair held at the Quirino Grandstand, Rizal Park, Manila. Reverend Ephraim Perez and Bro. Boy Baldomaro of the New Hope of Life Church, Baliuag, Bulacan led the congregation in the singing of praise and worship songs. Bishop Efraim M. Tendero of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCES) exhorted the crowd about the importance of prayer. Reverend Reynaldo Santillana of the Christian Ministers Council of Bulacan led the invocation. This was followed by the offering of prayers of representatives of the different sects and religions, namely, Bro. Joe Villanueva of the Mission to All the World Ministry; Rev. Fred Magbanua of the Christian Leaders Alliance of the Philippines (CLAP); Imam Abdul Bashit Kareem Bantuas of the Muslim community; Rev. Kenneth Aguillera of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP); Minister Adriel Obar Meimban, Ph.D. of the Iglesia ni Cristo; Most Rev. Bishop Teodoro Bacani Jr. of the Catholic Church; and Bro. Bert Lotilla of the Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship. Their prayers for the nation were as follows: peace and unity, healing of the nation, lasting peace and prosperity in Mindanao, productive collaboration between the media and the government, eradication of poverty and graft and corruption in the public service, and bountiful harvest and improvement of economic growth and employment. A candlelight ceremony was held after the special message and prayer of the President. The congregation led by Bro. Mike joined together in the recitation of the "Our Father". He also prayed for unity among Filipinos amidst adversities and for progressive development of the nation.
The Foundation Today
At present, the number of members and followers of the Foundation has reached millions. They are united in mind and heart by virtue of the Good News of Salvation, which is disseminated through the publications, radio and television programs of the Foundation. The phenomenal growth of the Foundation is a sign that the One Who has founded and established this group is none other than God Almighty-El Shaddai! This also shows that a revival of faith is going on similar to what happened during the time of the Apostles, "Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and miraculous signs were done by the Apostles... Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved" (Acts 2:43,46-47).
The Foundation in the New Millennium
Despite the tremendous growth of the Foundation, there is still much work to do. There remains so many souls that God wants to reach and save from the bondage of sin and vices. In this light, the Servant-Leader has envisioned that, by the year 2000, an El Shaddai DWXI-PPFI prayer-meeting will be conducted in every parish in all parts of the Philippines-Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao.
If every Filipino will come to know God in spirit and in truth, repent of all his sins, turn away from his wicked ways, and accept in his heart Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, peace and unity will reign in their hearts and minds. If this happens, peace will prevail in every home. And from every home, this will spread to every community, and to the entire nation. Thus, not too long from now, a significant change will prevail in the Philippines. This is what the El Shaddai "FLU"-Faith, Love and Unity's all about.
USA, Canada, Hongkong, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Lebanon, Bahrain, Germany, United Kingdom, Greece, Italy, Cyprus, and others potentially not listed here.
Some think Velarde is less saint than swindler. Velarde is "preaching a gospel of prosperity". His message is straightforward: give to the Lord and He will return it to you tenfold. His followers, most of whom suffer from sakit sa bulsa (poverty, literally "ailment of the pocket"), are nevertheless happy to pay ten percent of their income to become card-carrying members of Brother Mike's flock. His identification with and perceived pandering to the poor gains little respect among the intelligentsia.
In June 2001, former members alleged that Velarde had misused the movement's funds. Their allegations resulted in an investigation by the Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission(SEC), which slapped Velarde with a $2,350 fine.
In 1988, the last year the foundation filed its financial statement with the SEC, El Shaddai took in almost $500,000. Today, Velarde says, the group collects between $360,000 and $400,000 monthly. Former members say the real amounts are much larger. They report seeing 1-meter-tall duffel bags, as thick as adult bodies, stuffed with donation envelopes.
Velarde's relationship with the mainstream Catholic Church is uneasy. El Shaddai sees itself as a charismatic movement within the Roman Catholic Church. Velarde has never let any doubt about his Roman Catholic confession: "By religious affinity, I am a Catholic. Very clearly, I intend to stay a Catholic”. But sometimes there are reproaches, that his movement represents a kind of side church next to the Roman Catholic church (parachurch).
Some conservative priests are seeing the illusionist Velarde already on the edge of heresy because of his "stupid" practices not known in the traditional Catholic rites. Velarde opposes the use of rosary beads and images of the saints, and he is especially critical of prayers directed to Mary instead of God.
Velarde's movement draws from Philippine folk Christianity. Velarde encourages the ritual use of a wide range of objects, from bankbooks and visa applications to eggs, umbrellas, and even specially blessed handkerchiefs, as a kind of Pentecostal anting-anting(amulet). El Shaddai's followers ascribe magical healing powers to eggs or bottles of water brought to rallies, or to handkerchiefs printed with prayers. Another critical point is that his teaching suggests the feasibility of miracles.
Velarde, who mainly preaches in Tagalog language, offers no ingenious theology. Primarily he wants to inspire trust in the Holy Spirit and his gifts. His message is: Help yourself by prayers and the Holy Spirit will help you. And this help can also be very materialistic. "Do you want to have a refrigerator?” he shouted once to an enthusiastic crowd, “if you believe, you will also have a refrigerator”. Some observers believe that these material success promises are also substantial for the popularity of the El Shaddai movement. Other promises can be: the curing of a sick person, the elimination of an addiction, the mastering of a marital crisis, the successful passing of an examination or getting a job.
Some believe that El Shaddai plays a major role in Philippine politics. They assert that former President Fidel Ramos won the 1992 Presidential elections because of El Shaddai's votes, although this has never been corroborated with an actually tally of votes corelated with El Shaddai membership rosters. Some counter this claim as well by stating that El Shaddai members vote independently.
During the impeachment trial of deposed President Joseph Estrada, Velarde rejected the call of then Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin to join a prayer rally urging Estrada to resign. Velarde said that El Shaddai members were free to join the rally of their own volition and reiterated that the movement was neither for nor against Estrada's resignation.