Here's an interesting story that every Christian should read.
This is all about a cult started in the Phillipines by Ruben Ecleo.
Among other things this story quickly dismisses the apologetics that it takes a full generation for legends to develop and that adherents of a cult will only die for the truth!
Saturday, June 08, 2002 - 07:13 pm
Ecleo cult a mix of great faiths, the occult
By Herbie Gomez , Correspondent
Posted on Saturday, June 8, 2002
CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY - Former mayor Ruben Ecleo Jr. of San Jose, Surigao del Norte, is a wanted man. He is accused of killing his own wife Alona in Cebu last January and has been ordered arrested to stand trial for parricide.
But he is not merely a politician or a son of Surigao del Norte Rep. Glenda Ecleo. He is the "supreme president" of a Mindanao-based cult with members willing to die for their "master."
Such zealotry could be attributed to Ecleo's late father Ruben Sr. from whom the ex-mayor inherited the cult's mantle of leadership.
For 37 years, the Surigao del Norte-based Ecleo cult, Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), has been preaching a doctrine lifted from the teachings of Christianity, Buddhism and Hinduism mixed with occultism and astrology.
It was the late Ruben Ecleo Sr. who started it all. In 1965, the "divine master" and a handful of his followers formally organized the PBMA in Ozamiz City.
Its incorporators were Ecleo, Arsenio Nazareno of Calbayog, Francisco Enerio of Misamis Oriental, Floro Caboverde of Zamboanga City, Carlos Lomanta of Ozamiz, Maximo Ravelo of Davao Oriental; Pedro Montives of Leyte, Dionisio Cui of Davao del Norte, Victoriano Rafols of Lanao del Norte, and Eusebio Bandivas, Casiano Gorrea and Maximo Caboverde of Zamboanga del Norte.
The elder Ecleo's "missionary work," however, started much earlier than 1965.
Between 1958 and 1963, the years Ecleo supposedly immersed himself in his "missionary work." Thus, the "divine master" collected the apostles who referred to as the "First Thirteen."
Two PBMA incorporators, Nazareno and Enerio, were among the Ecleo apostles. The others were Cipriano Otero of Gingoog City, his wife's brother Ruben Buray of Misamis Oriental, cousins George and Cupertino Edera of Basilisa and Martin Laturnas of Bohol, Ignacio Sombrado of Bohol, Teodoro Regacion of Leyte, Pedro Toquib of Bukidnon and Benjamin Ratonil of Cebu.
The "First Thirteen," like the early New Testament apostles, were sent out by Ecleo to preach, "heal" the sick and recruit followers.
The PBMA claims Ecleo started his "mission" as early as 1941 when the PBMA founder was still a boy. At eight, it said the boy Ruben had "reached far places on mission" and that he had received "dictations from the spiritual realm" in the mountains of northern Leyte at the age of 11.
He began his "full mission" a year later, when he was already 12.
The "dictations," according to the PBMA, came in the form of a voice from Devachan while Ecleo was meditating, surrounded by "pythons, deadly insects, venomous vipers and reptiles."
Devachan, in Indian, is the equivalent of the word "paradise" to Christians, a second heaven for the soul and a place of rest to Buddhists.
The PBMA also claims Ecleo was guided by the Arhat and taught by the Avatar.
Arhat is a Buddhist term for "worthy one" or "destroyer of the foe (ignorance)," a title given to those who have achieved "Nirvana" which is the state wherein a man is believed to have been freed from suffering or from the cycle of birth and death. In Hindu usage, Avatar refers to any incarnation of the god Vishnu. Used generally, it refers to any descent of a god into the world in human form
PBMA founder a `Christ-like' figure
By Herbie Gomez
Posted on Sunday, June 9, 2002
CAGAYAN DE ORO - "Voices" trained Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) founder Ruben Ecleo Sr. in reading and writing in Arabic, Hebrew, Sanskrit and Aramaic so he could "interpret the ancient mysteries," according to cult members.
The father of wanted former San Jose mayor Ruben Jr. was known to make predictions based on "Akashic Records" or, in Hindu mysticism, "cosmic consciousness." His continuing messianic mystique plays a major role in on-going drama on Dinagat, a small island off the northeastern point of the Mindanao mainland. There, cult members willing to die for their master are thwarting police efforts to arrest Ruben Jr., current leader of PBMA and son of Surigao del Norte Rep. Glenda Ecleo, who is wanted for the January murder of his wife, Alona, in Cebu last January.
Cult leaders say the older Ecleo had possessed the powers to be omnipresent like the "Master Jesus [Christ] who had been in the Americas, Egypt, India and in his native Judea simultaneously, aside from being in the monastery in the Essenean School, near Mount Serbal, overlooking the Black Sea." Mainstream Christian sects have rejected such teaching.
The cultists claim Ecleo "could do almost anything" by reciting the Mantra which, in Hinduism and Buddhism, refers to a sacred word or syllable repeated in prayer and meditation.
And like the biblical Jesus Christ, the PBMA leader can also transfigure himself and can even resurrect the dead, according to the cult.
"Master Ruben can materialize anywhere at will," claims the PBMA. It said Ecleo, on numerous occasions since his childhood, had been present in various places at the same time. "While performing his missionary work in Agusan, he was also physically traveling somewhere in Davao, Bukidnon, Leyte and Samar, using different names (and) perhaps different faces, some of whom are old or young identities ..."
The cult said "all manifested personalities" - with nicknames such as Ben, Obing, Fred, Freddie, Ruben, Tony and Dr. Laway - had cured the sick like the "Lord Jesus who first applied these powers in Judea ..."
PBMA leaders say Ecleo's healing powers directly come from "our Divine Father by virtue of the sacred or divine prayers which are called in Occultism as Mantras."
Ecleo Sr. built for himself and his family a "kingdom" on impove rished Dinagat, a small, irregular and typhoon-prone island mass off the northeastern tip of Mindanao. Since it was chartered in 1965, the late cult leader's PBMA virtually turned the entire island into an "Ecleo Country." The cult also became a powerful political machinery that it created, wittingly or unwittingly, a dynasty for the Ecleos.
Ecleo's elder brother, Moises, became a governor of Surigao del Norte. His wife, the former Glenda Oliveros Buray of Gitagum, Misamis Oriental, is now a representative of Surigao del Norte to the Lower House while his son Ruben Jr. was one-time mayor of San Jose town. Another Ecleo son, Allan II, is presently mayor of the same town where the PBMA solidified its base.
On San Jose now stand four multimillion-peso PBMA landmarks - the "Divine Master's Shrine," "Master's Mansion," "Comet House" and the cult's administration building.
The San Jose edifices are indications that the PBMA has grown into a multimillion-peso, if not a billionaire establishment.
It is estimated that the PBMA has already raised at least P35 million in entrance fees from its members since 1965. The figure is insignificant if one considered the estimated P70-million annual revenue the PBMA generates by imposing annual dues on its members in the country. The PBMA charter obliges each new member to pay P10 as "entrance fee." Every year, each PBMA member is expected to pay a P20 annual fee.
The PBMA boasts of having 3.5 million members in the country alone. It claims it also has members in Jordan, Canada, Australia, Palau, Hong Kong, Guam, Singapore, Malaysia, London, Italy, Monaco, Germany, Hawaii, New York and Scotland, among others. The group claims it is also organizing more PBMA chapters abroad.
Aside from its fixed entrance- and annual-fee incomes, the PBMA charter also encourages members to voluntarily give money "when the Board of Directors or the Supreme President ... may desire to plead to the general members for the good or the betterment of the association."
The association's constitution and by-laws is silent on the sale of PBMA rings but a Surigao City-based source said all its members are expected to wear one for identification.
Each PBMA ring, according to the source, costs somewhere "between P50 to P100, more or less."
With all the money the PBMA rakes in, not to mention the influence it wields over Dinagat, nearby towns and neighboring Surigao City, it has virtually become a little government in its own right with a well-greased "private army," ironically, on the impoverished Surigao del Norte island. "Many of the PBMA members living in Dinagat are armed," said a Surigao-based source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The source said the armed PBMA members have made an oath to protect the "master," referring to Ecleo's son and successor Ruben Jr. who is facing a lawsuit in connection with the grisly murder of his wife, the former Alona Bacolod. Alona, who died by strangulation, was found inside a garbage bag dumped in a secluded area in Cebu last January. Agents of the National Police's Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) who were sent to Dinagat island last week complained they failed to serve an arrest warrant against the parricide suspect because residents have been protecting the PBMA "master."
The Cebu-based CIDG team also accused the entire San Jose police force of coddling Ruben Jr. who is believed hiding inside the Ecleo mansion in San Jose town.
"That's the extent of the influence of the Ecleos in Dinagat. They even control the police," another source said.
Thursday, June 20, 2002 - 03:29 pm
23 slain as Philippines cult leader nabbed
19 June 2002 10:43
Twenty-three people died in a night of violence which erupted as Philippine police went to arrest the politically connected leader of messianic cult accused of murdering his wife.
Ruben Ecleo (47), finally surrendered on Wednesday after hours of bloody fighting between police and his armed followers at their commune on the southern island of Dinagat, regional police chief Alberto Olario said.
Sixteen members of Ecleo's pseudo-Christian Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA), including a co-defendant in the murder case, were killed after they tried to prevent police fro`m arresting the two men, Chief Superintendent Olario said.
A policeman also died and two were wounded, part of a massive police force that assaulted the island on Tuesday night.
As the operation was underway on Dinagat, a PBMA member armed with a machinegun broke into the home of Ecleo's in-laws in Mandaue district near here, killing Ecleo's father-in-law Elpidio Bacolod, his wife Rosalia, their son Ben and daughter Evelyn.
A neighbour was also killed while Bacolod's other son Ricky was wounded, police said.
The gunman was himself slain after a fire-fight with government forces, while a government militiaman was wounded, police said.
Ben Bacolod was a government witness in the murder case against Ecleo, police said.
***Ecleo is considered by followers to be the reincarnation of Jesus Christ.
His father, also named Ruben, founded the PBMA in 1965 and assumed the title of "Divine Master" with claimed powers of healing, mental telepathy, as well as the ability to communicate through dreams and to predict natural calamities and the rise and fall of governments.
The group's website claims 3,5 million members in 15 countries, and said the elder Ecleo had "re-appeared" four days after his death in 1987 and also had powers to revive the dead.
The remains of the younger Ecleo's wife were found stuffed in a black garbage bag at the bottom of a cliff in the south of Cebu island on January 30. Police said the 27-year-old woman had been strangled.
***Cult members, who carry amulets which they say ensure bullets do not harm them, helped the military fight communist guerrillas during the elder Ecleo's stewardship of the cult. --Sapa-AFP