Religious leaders are men of faith, and in the Philippines, they happen to be few of the richest people, too. Little do most people know that religion not only involves faith, it also includes influence and affluence.
When I was in law school, a law professor told me this: “If you want to be rich quickly, don’t go into law practice. Instead, be a religious minister.”
That time, I had a very vague idea of what he meant. Only upon closer examination of the most visible religious groups today did I realize how right my law professor was all along.
Here are the top 5 richest and most powerful religious leaders in the Philippines today:
Glicerio “Jun” Santos Jr.
Jun Santos is the general auditor of Iglesia ni Cristo, and the president of more than a dozen Felix Y. Manalo Foundations. He also happens to be the most powerful religious leader in the Philippines. His influence in the Philippine national government? Unchallenged.
Mariano “Mike” Velarde
Mike Velarde is the leader of El Shaddai. Although he does not mix well with the media, his affluence is evident. He has an estimated net worth of at least 200 million pesos.
Eduardo “Eddie” Villanueva
Most people would probably recall Eddie Villanueva as that failed presidential aspirant, but his wealth remains steady and his influence strong. He also has an estimated net worth of more than 200 million pesos. He may have failed as a presidential candidate, but his pockets certainly don’t scream failure.
Eliseo “Brother Eli” Soriano
Brother Eli is in exile, yes, but he’s also one of the most controversial religious leaders in the Philippines. He is well-known as a critic of Inglesia ni Cristo, and has more than 100 million pesos under his name.
Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle
Since the Philippines is predominantly a Catholic nation, it would be safe to say that everyone knows Tagle. If one doesn’t know him through his religious backgrounds, surely one is familiar with his face as seen on TV. It is hard to quantify Tagle’s net worth, but he certainly holds much influence.
Well, if you have a talent for speaking and is charismatic enough to convince people, I say give being a religious minister a try. Who knows? You might be the next to the people in this list someday.