Yesterday, June 19, Jose Rizal would have celebrated his 152nd birthday. Jose Rizal, the champion of the Malay race, died facing a firing squad when he was just 35 years old. It was then that the Philippines lost a doctor, poet, linguist, artist, author, revolutionist, philosopher, activist, professor, and hero.
Before his untimely death, he was exiled in Dapitan. And though he was far away from those whom he loved, his time was not used in vain.
In a website chronicling the life of the national hero, his time away was not time wasted – he spearheaded the construction of an easier water system, taught farmers how to operate modern agricultural devices, learned how to farm himself, practiced medicine, taught students, collected specimens for scientific research, and wrote a book and some poetry.
One could say that his stay in Dapitan was peaceful and at the same time, fruitful.
Fast forward to today’s time, wherein another Filipino gentleman lives in forced exile due to rampant death threats and invented lawsuits. The gentleman is Bro. Eliseo Soriano, a preacher who exposes biblical truth at all costs – even at the cost of his leaving the country to continue his crusade on letting the truth of the Bible be heard.
It was in the latter part of 2005, when Bro. Eli left the country. From then on, following God’s will, Bro. Eliseo Soriano has traveled various parts of the world to preach God’s words. More and more coordinating centers are being established in the western part of the globe, and more is to come, with God’s mercy. Jane Abao,PhD gives a detailed and colorful read on Bro. Eli’s exile here.
Like the late Jose Rizal, Bro. Eliseo Soriano’s exile is fruitful – spiritually fruitful – as evidenced by the many emails he receives on a daily basis asking for services, baptism schedules, and the establishment of nearby coordinating centers.
His Bible-based question and answer program Ang Dating Daan is now translated in various languages. He holds Spanish and Portuguese online Bible Expositions. He travels weekly to different locations to meet and tend to the spiritual needs of brethren and visitors.
He maintains a faith-based blog. He answers any and all spiritual questions on Twitter. He gives a weekly dose of spiritual knowledge to the congregation during Thanksgiving celebrations and answers questions on the spot. He responds to questions via his email. He runs businesses to support the ballooning costs of propagating God’s words in more and more places. He regularly cooks for his family and broadcast staff.
All these, and more, the Filipino preacher does on a regular basis at an age more advanced than Jose Rizal.
Though both were exiled, Bro. Eliseo Soriano’s exile is not as peaceful as the late hero’s. The preacher who’s reputation is continuously besmeared wrote in his blog entitled “The lucky person I am: Most slandered me”:
I believe using mathematical and logical calculations that, I am the most slandered man in the history of Christianity. The defamations being thrown to my person “go beyond borders.” I mean beyond the borders of the land of my birth, the Philippines. By using the most efficient cyberspace technology that is however lenient in terms of charging responsibility and accountability, my detractors were able to popularize these lies beyond borders.
Both of these remarkable men managed to make the most out of a situation they did not choose to be in. Both men were exiled, but still, were able to see the blessing behind being afar from those they love. Both remained doing what they do best.
The word “interesting” would be an understatement to describe a conversation between these two men if they met, somehow.