A few hours before last Monday midnight’s debate has began, some people anticipating the mano a mano featuring the international evangelist Bro. Eli Soriano and his opponent Carlos Montemayor, a pastor of Iglesia Luz do Mundo, took to Twitter their sentiments about who will and should win.
In the debate challenge to Bro. Eli, Pastor Montemayor has the task to: 1) prove that in this time there is an existing apostleship; 2) prove the use of the material veil in woman is a commandment of God in the New Testament; and 3) defend tithing is aso for our time.
The debate was streamed live over the Portuguese counterpart of the Ang Dating Daan radio-television’s Youtube Channel — Youtube.com/OCaminhoAntigoHD — for those watching from the different corners of the world.
As soon as Bro. Eli’s and Montemayor’s camp get seated, the viewer counter of O Caminho Antigo Youtube channel busily rise up to reveal more than a thousand watchers, where majority of viewers came from the Philippines, followed by those from North and South America and Middle East.
For those watching the live stream – the people who rose from different nationalities – Portuguese as the main language used in the debate became less of a problem as soon as fellow netizens knowledgeable enough of Portuguese posted their translation of the discussion into the Youtube Channel’s chatboard.
Of Tweets, Emojis and Emoticons
Simultaneous when the crowd in the venue raved and expressed their hard-to-contain reactions and wild applause, netizens expressed their amazement in social media. The Web then serves as an extension of the venue, which is much bigger and global in scope, giving a bigger spotlight to winnings but magnifying humiliation of the losing party.
Hence, everytime Bro Eli would stand to speak, cross examine Montemayor and defend his side, crowd reaction reverberated not only within the confines of the venue’s four corners. As in every moment when Montemayor unreluctantly showed his rude behavior, took his unfair swipes against Bro. Eli and untoward attitude before the audience, netizens are quick to take note and pour in their sentiments into the Youtube chatboard.
Witty chat messages on Youtube, tweets and posts on Facebook streamed through the social media timelines and walls, often punctuated with emojis and emoticons and accentuated by screengrabbed images from the Youtube channel. What these whole thing showed was what netizens discovered as a unique mode of online expression.
On Twitter, the situation was 180-degree different. Sharp and sometimes humor-laced banters, candid observations and screenshots of captured moments were quite succint and easily digestible because Twitter limits posts to 140 characters per tweet.
In Celebrity-Worship Era, Twitterverse Has New Tribe
In a celebrity-worship age that dominate Twitter, it has of late becoming rare to see real conversations and real humans using Twitter for more meaningful, significant and intellectual discussions among netizens. But participants of the #DebateBroEli social media conversation could hardly be accused as mere bots because sentiments expressed through tweets were filled with reasons and logic and thoughtfulness and sincerity.
Even more, what is shown by #DebateBroEli, however, was the vibrant and dynamic interaction that develops among netizens. As some shared their sometimes poignant, clean humor and overwhelmed expression about their experience in watching the debate, some even offered assistance in the form of translation.
Thus, the collective fervor of netizens that leaned in favor of Members Church of God International’s Bro. Eli winning the debate has electrified Twitter that early morning. It was not a long shot, according to netizens who believe the televangelist’s mastery of the Bible has always been his huge edge over the Peruvian pastor.
Offline or even from his hometown, the Philippines, locals already expected victory for Bro. Eli, whose many constituents believe remains to be the Philippines’ finest when it comes to debates. Netizens root for Bro. Eli to win, not simply because of ‘Pinoy pride’ or the glory brought by representing the Philippines in the international scene.
Filipinos used to watching the radio-television host beat all his debate opponents from the Philippines and abroad knew already what the outcome will be.
After more than three hours of debate, Bro. Eli never disappointed his followers in social media and his constituents in the Philippines when he won the debate challenge. To this win, Bro. Eli tweeted:
isa lang gagawin natin: lets proclaim the glory of our GOD and let them say all manner of evil against us! maligaya tayo maligaya rin sila!!
— Brother Eli Soriano (@BroEliSoriano) March 3, 2015
Montemayor, walked out even before the debate was over. For this behavior, observers note this as the pastor’s tactic to get away leaving the impression that he was not given due process even the reality spoke of the contrary. The Peruvian pastor and his men have been complained in the venue to be unruly and arrogant during the course of the debate. Montemayor has reportedly been called out to give negative example as the supposed religious leader of their sect.
Yet Bro. Eli has shown the opposite of Montemayor’s uncalled for behavior. The Filipino evangelist was well-composed, coolly-relaxed, and humble as always. Bro. Eli, according to netizens who watched the debate, has flashed some of the evening’s sincerest smile most of the time.
And as soon as Twitter finally noticed the euphoria of netizens on Twitter, it allowed the hashtag #DebateBroEli to debut at No. 2 in Philippines trends. For more than 10 hours trending, it rested for more than five hours in the No. 1 spot.
For the nth time, the debate triumph solidified Bro. Eli’s position as the most sensible televangelist and best Filipino debater in religion. Some netizens tweeted there is one lesson that those challenging the televangelist to a debate must learn right away: to ask around who Bro. Eliseo F. Soriano is, the Truthcaster.