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PBMA, Inc. a Cult?

By: Antonio B. Acabal,MBA

>   Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr.   >   Articles   >   PBMA a Cult?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines cult as a religion: a system or spiritual beliefs, especially an informal and transient belief system regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false, and directed by a charismatic, authoritarian leader.

It is also define as religious group: a group of people who share religious or spiritual beliefs, especially beliefs regarded by others as misguided, unorthodox, extremist, or false.

It refers to idolization of somebody or something: an extreme or excessive admiration for a person, philosophy of life, or activity. It is considered as an object of idolization: a person, a philosophy, or activity regarded with extreme or excessive admiration. It is a fad: something popular or fashionable among a devoted group of enthusiasts.

In cultural anthropology, it is a system of supernatural beliefs: a body of organized practices and beliefs supposed to involve interaction with and control over supernatural powers. And, in sociology, it is an elite group: a self-identified group of people who share narrowly defined interest or perspective.

In an informal definition, 1. A formal religious veneration: worship, 2.  A system of religious beliefs and ritual: its body of adherents, 3. A religion regarded as unorthodox or spurious; also: its body of adherents, 4. A system for the cure of disease based on dogma set forth by its promulgator *health cults*, 5. (a.) A great devotion to a person, idea, object, movement, or work (as a film or book); especially: such devotion regarded as a literacy or intellectual fad, (b.) the object of such devotion, and (c.) a usually small group of people characterized by such devotion.

What is really a cult?

Historically, the word cult referred to religious practices that emphasize ritual devotion to a god or gods or the idolization of a person or object. References continue today to the cult of the Virgin Mary or the cult of a particular saint. They allude to special worship of that person. But cult took on additional meanings as it began to be applied to unconventional religious movements or to breakaway groups.

People sometimes confuse cults with sects, but there are differences. Cults are similar to sects in that they both promote a new religion or a new interpretation of an established religion. Sects, however, are groups that have broken away from an established religion, often in protest against what they see as corruption or impure doctrine.

Cults, in contrast to sects, differ sharply from traditional religions in their doctrine. In addition, cults are typically smaller and more loosely organized than sects. And finally, cults generally form around a leader who claims to have special spiritual powers, such as healing or prophecy. Such leaders, sometimes called charismatics, emphasize the importance of personal religious experiences. Cult followers typically feel intense loyalty to the group and its leader.

Scholars who regard cults as first-generation religions note that several major religions could once have been viewed as cults. These religions began as small groups of people inspired by a charismatic leader with novel religious ideas. Christianity, for example, began with a small group of Jews who accepted the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth and regarded him as the Christ (Greek for “chosen one”). Similarly, Buddhism was founded by a single person, Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha), who rejected principles of Hinduism and found acceptance for his new ideas among a small group of disciples.

The meaning of the word cult shifted dramatically in the West in the 1960s and 1970s with the appearance of many alternative religious movements that had unconventional practices and sought to convert young adults. The public viewed these groups and their leaders as extremist and dangerous and felt they exercised mind control over their followers. Those who joined cults were viewed as emotionally disturbed or as victims of coercion or brainwashing. Cult, in popular usage, came to describe any group with a fanatical devotion to a person, movement, or common interest.

Based on the above-cited definitions and interpretations of cult from varied dictionaries and well-known and distinguish scholars and philosophers, some people believe that the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Incorporated (PBMA, Inc.) is a cult, and that the Founder, Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr. and his immediate successor Ruben Buray Ecleo, Jr. are cult leaders.

Is the PBMA, Inc. really a cult?

Tell me about PBMA, Inc., the Founder and his successor, and I will tell you the truth.

First, let me reckon the accounts of Christianity way back 30 AD when Jesus, the anointed Son of God, went on mission: healing sick people and preaching the gospel of righteousness. Jesus Christ (between 8 and 4 bc-ad 29?), the central figure of Christianity, born in Bethlehem in Judea. The chronology of the Christian era is reckoned from a 6th-century dating of the year of his birth, which is now recognized as being from four to eight years in error. Christians traditionally regard Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, and as having been divinely conceived by Mary, the wife of Joseph, a carpenter of Nazareth. The name Jesus is derived from a Greek rendering of the Hebrew name Joshua, or in full Yehoshuah (Yahweh is deliverance). The title Christ is derived from the Greek christos, a translation of the Hebrew mashiakh (anointed one), or Messiah. “Christ” was used by Jesus’ early followers, who regarded him as the promised deliverer of Israel and later was made part of Jesus’ proper name by the church, which regards him as the redeemer of all humanity.

Others, interpreting the available sources in a variety of ways, produced biographies of Jesus in which his life was purged of all supernatural elements.

Jesus, accompanied by his 12 chosen disciples, traveled to neighboring towns and villages, proclaiming the advent of the kingdom of God, as had many of the Hebrew prophets before him. When the sick and infirm asked help from him, he sought to heal them by divine power. He stressed the infinite love of God for the humble and weak, and he promised pardon and eternal life in heaven to the most hardened sinners, provided their repentance was sincere.

Jesus’ emphasis on moral sincerity rather than strict adherence to religious ritual incurred the enmity of the Pharisees, who feared that his teachings might lead to disregard for the authority of the Law, or Torah. Others feared that Jesus’ activities and followers might prejudice the Roman authorities against any restoration of the Davidic monarchy.

Despite this growing opposition, Jesus’ popularity increased, especially among social outcasts and the oppressed. Eventually, the enthusiasm of his followers led them to make an attempt to “take him by force, to make him king” (John 6:15).

According to John, his discourses and the miracles he performed at this time—particularly the raising of Lazarus in Bethany (John 11:1-44)—made many people believe in him (John 11:45). The most significant moment in Jesus’ public ministry, however, was Simon Peter’s realization at Caesarea Philippi that Jesus was the Christ (Matthew 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20), although, according to the synoptic Gospels, Jesus had not previously revealed this to Peter or the other disciples. This revelation and the subsequent prediction by Jesus of his death and resurrection, the conditions of discipleship that he laid down, and his transfiguration (at which time a voice from heaven was heard proclaiming Jesus to be the Son of God, thus confirming the revelation) are the primary authority for the claims and historical work of the Christian church. (Explicit authorization by Jesus is recorded in Matthew 16:17-19.)

There (on Monday and Tuesday, according to the synoptists), he drove from the Temple the traders and moneychangers who, by long-established custom, had been allowed to transact business in the outer court (Mark 11:15-19), and he disputed with the chief priests, the scribes, the Pharisees, and the Sadducees questions about his authority, tribute to Caesar, and the resurrection. On Tuesday, Jesus also revealed to his disciples the signs that would usher in his Parousia, or second coming.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, the priests and scribes, concerned that Jesus’ activities would turn the Romans against them and the Jewish people (John 11:48), conspired with Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, to arrest and kill Jesus by stealth, “for they feared the people” (Luke 22:2). John 11:47-53 places the conspiracy before Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. On Thursday, Jesus ate the Passover supper with his disciples and during the meal referred to his imminent betrayal and death as a sacrifice for the sins of humanity. In blessing the unleavened bread and wine during the Passover services, he called the bread his body and the wine his “blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:27), and he bid the disciples partake of each. This ritual, the Eucharist, has been repeated by Christians ever since and has become the central act of worship in the Christian church.

At the council meeting, Caiaphas asked Jesus to declare whether he was “the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). Upon his affirmation (Mark 14:62), the council condemned Jesus to death for blasphemy.

When the crowd insisted on his death, Pilate ordered him executed (Matthew 27:24). On the cross, above Jesus’ head, “they put the charge against him, which read ‘This is Jesus the King of the Jews’” (Matthew 27:37).

“Go … and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Finally, according to Luke (24:50-51), at Bethany Jesus was seen to ascend into the heavens by his disciples. Acts 1:2-12 reports that the ascension occurred 40 days after Jesus’ resurrection. The doctrines that Jesus expounded and those concerning him were subsequently developed into the principal tenets of Christian theology.

Virgin Mary, after the death of Jesus, encouraged disciples to continue the mission. Peter played an important role in the early Christian church at Jerusalem, having received a special call to preach the gospel to his fellow Jews. In time, Peter came also to affirm the Christian mission to the Gentiles, whose chief advocate was the apostle Paul.  Peter traveled about in his missionary activity, accompanied by his wife, and finally died the death of a martyr in Rome. Saint Peter (?-ad 64?), the most prominent of the 12 disciples of Jesus Christ, a leader and missionary in the early church, and traditionally the first bishop of Rome.

Paul became a Christian after experiencing a vision of Christ during a journey from Jerusalem to Damascus (see Acts 9:1-19, 22:5-16, 26:12-18). Saint Paul (circa ad 3-62), the greatest missionary of Christianity and its first theologian, called Apostle to the Gentiles.

First, however, Christianity had to settle its relation to the political order. As a Jewish sect, the primitive Christian church shared the status of Judaism in the Roman Empire, but before the death of Emperor Nero in 68 AD it had already been singled out as an enemy. The grounds for hostility to the Christians were not always the same, and often opposition and persecution were localized. The loyalty of Christians to “Jesus as Lord,” however, was irreconcilable with the worship of the Roman emperor as “Lord,” and those emperors, such as Trajan and Marcus Aurelius, who were the most deeply committed to unity and reform were also the ones who recognized the Christians as a threat to those goals and who therefore undertook to eliminate the threat.

By the beginning of the 4th century, Christianity had grown so much in size and in strength that it had to be either eradicated or accepted. Emperor Diocletian tried to do the first and failed; Constantine the Great did the second and created a Christian empire.

The conversion of Constantine the Great assured the church a privileged place in society, and it became easier to be a Christian than not to be one. As a result, Christians began to feel that standards of Christian conduct were being lowered and that the only way to obey the moral imperatives of Christ was to flee the world (and the church that was in the world, perhaps even of the world) and to follow the full-time profession of Christian discipline as a monk.

Both Saint Peter and Saint Paul including other apostles and crusaders who committed themselves to spread the gospel were persecuted in Rome; as their informal organization was considered by the Roman Government as cult.

Today, the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Inc. resembles the acts of early missionaries in Christian history, indifferent to what was accepted and practiced by churches. Having questioned by demagogues, leaders in the government, professionals, congregations and other laymen on its existence and practice, the PBMA, Inc. soars high despite this growing opposition.

The sobriety, which echoes over the land, compels the theory that the PBMA is a cult, and the Founder and his successor are cult leaders. For what had had accepted theory about Ruben Buray Ecleo, Jr., the cult leader, has something with the cases filed before the court for graft and corruption, rape case, parricide, rebellion, and drugs.

Let me bring you the inception of the historical annals of the life, times and works of the renown  Mysterious Superstar of the South (WHO Magazine, September 30, 1980), Divine Master Ruben  Edera Ecleo, Sr., the Founder of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Incorporated.

His mother, Justiniana Edera, was conceived with too much pain that she could not resist. In the wilderness of Puyange, she always confronted with spirits and vanished to nowhere.

His father, Jose Ecleo, a popular “mediko” in the island, could not fathom the mystery that had happened with his wife. His prowess on spiritual undertakings, and with spiritual comrades interfere on his medical mission had lost; nothing in him left subside and meaningless, helpless.

On November 29, 1934 at 11:00 o’clock in partly noon, while the couple go on picking up shells, mussels and sea urchins, with Pascuala “Oya Pako”, the mother of Jose, Enrique “Iking” Ecle, and Soledad “Soleng”, the younger sister of Justiniana, at the tranquil bay of Puyange, heard a loud cry of a new born baby that echoed in the wilderness. There they found out that the baby cry came out from the womb of mother Justiniana.

At 2:30 dawn in Cab-ilan, Pandoy Edera, the son of Bencio Edera who is the younger brother of Justiniana, saw a big star at the sky. The tail of the light, like a broom, shines their small house near the shore where Justiniana is waiting for her delivery. The starlight with captivating colors allures Pandoy.

On the next morning, December 9, 1934 at 7:00 o’clock, Justiniana delivered a baby boy. But because of too much pain, which Justiniana could not resist, she was fainted and lost her consciousness. After a couple of minutes, she gained her consciousness but she was insane, and run to the rocks nearby the sea and lost to nowhere.

Seven days and seven nights of searching, Jose found Justiniana at the top of the rock in their farm at Puyange. With their newly born child, Jose and Justiniana were filled with tears of confusion on the unfathomed mystery that happened in their life.

At that night in Cab-ilan, Jose wanted to go on fishing. But he felt sleepy and forced him to lie down and rest for a few moments. At his golden slumber, a strange old man appeared before him and forced him to wake up. The strange old man told Jose about the prophecy of his child and Puyange: “Love and take good care of your child. Remember this, the day will come soon. Your child will become great leader. Many people will follow him. And, there on the top of Puyange, his kingdom will rise, and live together with his people as member of his family. You are blessed, Jose. From your blood and your flesh, a great leader will spring. Love him. We know that you are amazed the marvel of the birth of your child. And you are wondering why your spiritual prowess was lost, and you lost your power to heal and understand all those mysteries. You know why? Because your child is the owner of your spiritual power.” As the strange old man spoke the final word, he vanished invisible to Jose’s naked eyes.

On April 17, 1935, Monsignor Juan Sales of the Philippine Independent Church baptized Robinson Ecleo at Melgar. The name is taken from a popular story character, Robinson Crusoe written by Daniel Foe in 1769. Like any other ordinary boy, Ubing, as they called him, is fond of playing together with his elder brother, Moises.

After the Second World War in 1946, Ubing, at 12 years old, studied in Surigao with his brother, Moises. One day, he took a bath at his favorite spring near the river at Kilometer 3, in Surigao. He saw a booklet floating upon the spring.  A strange old man suddenly appeared, got the booklet and gave it to Ubing.

Ubing accepted the booklet from the strange old man, and accepted the responsibility performing missionary works to help the sick and infirm. Without any knowledge of his immediate family, Ubing started performing his first healing mission in Visayas provinces.

Ubing became popular on his healing prowess in Leyte, Samar, Cebu, and Negros. People called him as Ben Isay Ngipon, Dr. Laway, Batang Misteryoso, Batang Kahibulongan and many others. He usually performed healing by using his saliva, rubbed it in affected part of the body of the patient, and eureka the patient was healed.

People from all walks of life adhered to his healing prowess. Miracles were always an epitome of prayer to the persons who have acquired terminal illness, to those who made their lives hopeless, and to those who were ejected from hospitals.

Not only hundreds but thousands of people came to him to regain good health from sufferings. And so, their ailments were gone and new hope and new life springs in their heart.

Ubing told them to love and pray to God always and to be good and doing well to others. He inculcated to pray the holy family, the holy trinity, Jesus Christ and all saints.

Until witnesses had testified his presence and his undertakings on his first healing accounts in different places, his parents, brothers, sisters and relatives have known and realized the omnipotence  of Ubing for having been studied in different schools, and while he went on playing with his brother.

Once a prominent miracle-seeker, Mayor Felomino Torres of San Juan, Camotes Islands, a long-timed victim of paralyses, had testified that Ben Isay Ngipon, through his saliva, healed him just a minute. Others like Atty. Rafael Gemarino of Canduling, Ronda, Cebu adopted the Batang Misteryoso after he was cured from a serious ailment.

Leaning on such mystical phenomena, and which grandeur words of thanks to those infirm who have survived, were the answers of their prayer. That Ben Isay Ngipon and other notable pseudonym was only a material body performing the will of Almighty.

But to those persons who have an opposite views unparallel to what have been transcends over human limitations, Ubing was viewed as controlled by bad elements, eccentric, and hoax. He was always subjected to threat, and oftentimes he was put in jail for illegal practice of medicine.

He went on mission also in mainland Mindanao from 1946 to 1951. His first appearance to missionary works succumb his life to conform the commandments of spirits even at the extreme test of being a missioner. He was not even allowed to receive any material things: money, gifts, clothes, etc. from his patient equivalent to the miracles he had provided for.

His father died on April 17, 1947 at Puyange. Leaving such melancholic account of his father as a popular “mediko” in the island, Ubing pushed himself to work for a living with his mother as a fisherman.

Ubing was also active in sports activities, and in 1950 he became a varsity player in basketball in San Nicolas High School where he studied first year high. He also a varsity player of Bislig Lumber Corporation while at the same time studying second year high in Soriano Institute in Bislig in 1951. And, in 1953, he graduated high school in Cabadbaran National High School.

On June 19, 1952, aboard by a sail boat, two unexpected Americans, Dr. Hugh Tovar and Capt. Caple Jurry, arrived in Cab-ilan searching for Robinson Ecleo. The said Americans, who were representatives from the World Spiritual Division, directed Ubing to go to America for eight months spiritual observation.

Seven days after the departure of two spiritual representatives, relatives and friends in Cab-ilan: Bencio Edera, Pandoy Edera, Monloy Paulco, Tikay Diegas, Justiniana Edera, Tikong Glico and many others witnessed the transfiguration of Ubing. His physical attributes, character, behavior, as well as his voice with American accent, is the same with that of Dr. Hugh Tovar.

He had the ability to get something out of nothing from the air: money, food, beverage, and any other which the people in Cab-ilan would like to ask from him.

Ubing disappeared in Cab-ilan for quite some time. In 1954, after the spiritual observation and initiation, he performed divine healing mission in Pasay City with Dr. Oral Robert.

The introduction of divine healing technique opened new dimension of faith, and showed new perspective of conventional system of healing done during his early missionary works using saliva as medicine.

Dr. Ruben, as patients, sympathizers and enthusiasts called him, used divine healing technique in performing healing activities with patients. Thus, healing procedure must be followed: the prayer using the Revised Latin Rosary, the calling of the Holy Trinity, the calling of Jesus Christ and all medical saints, the operation procedure using divine words, and the prayer of thanks.

Moreover, the itemized instructions for patients must observe during and after the operations. The patients, who belongs to any kind of congregation, belief and principle in life, prayed with what was practiced and in accordance on how he/she convey or ask blessings and forgiveness to his God.

In the same year, the Spiritual Division directed Dr. Ruben to continue mission in highlands of Mindanao tribes. He underwent tedious and painstaking initiations: walking by barefoot under the heat of the sun, wearing with only one clothes, fasting, sleeping on top of the tree, on the rocks, and bearing with character of down-trodden humiliated by extreme sarcasm, frown and envy.

He was tested by fire over and above his human emotional limitations: love, fear, hatred, patience, tolerance, faith and obedience; but the most of all is power, money and pride. The equity of his commitment to serve humanity is more than the sacrifices he delivered for the purpose.

The most daring test of Dr. Ruben being a missioner is love and affection of a beautiful daughter of a certain chieftain of the tribe in Mirayon Mountains in the highlands of Bukidnon, who was attracted and loves him so much with all of her life.

Then, Dr. Ruben, after performing divine healing operation, was honored by the chieftain, and providing him a banquet for miraculous deeds among his people. At that night, in the onset of the merriment, the chieftain planned for the wedding next day between his daughter and Dr. Ruben without the latter’s knowledge.

At 2:30 dawn, an old man, Gen. Adriano dela Concepcion, who is a member of the World Spiritual Division, appeared before him and directed to vacate the area right away because he will be getting married next day with the chieftain’s daughter.

He further foretold that the women destined to be his future wife is waiting at the town of Gitagum. Her name is Glenda Buray.

With utmost obedience, Dr. Ruben fled right away from the villagers and run as he could in the dark, risky rugged virgin forest of Mirayon. Sharp-stingy rattan thorns, itchy-silky alingatong leaves, tough hardened trunks and branches, and sharp-cobbled stones hit the human body of Dr. Ruben.

Torrential pour of sweat and blood poured–out from wounds all over his body.  His flesh and skin were torn-out, with broken arms and legs; but he run away from the villagers who wanted to capture him and bring back to the village for a wedding.

Dr. Ruben could no longer resist the pains and weary; and lost his consciousness in the midst of a muddy pond of wild pigs. Daybreak, he woke up by loud yells and roars of wild creatures in the forest. Monkeys, boars, falcons and all other animals and birds were gathered around him swimming in the sticky and muddy pond.

Following the direction given to him by spirits, Dr. Ruben, in spite from wounded body with contusion and deeply worn-out self, followed his destined journey to the plains of Misamis across the savage mountains.

Then and there, he reached Matangad, the place of the spiritual leader of Rizalian Association of Mercy, Rafael Mondejar. He joined the group as a formula designer. And later, he met Glenda Buray, through Olive.

Glenda’s parents, Roberto Buray and Rufina Oliveros, were prominent members of the Rizalian. Her father was also a spiritual healer in their place. Glenda’s notification of the life of her father as faith healer always reminded her about a white dove’s appearance on his father’s shoulder every time he performed healing rituals.

Ubing and Glenda’s intimate affection was turned into decent love; and in 1955, they got married under the Roman Catholic Church. Robinson was also converted into Roman Catholic and changes his name from Robinson to Ruben.

Ruben played paternal role for his family. He engaged into business venture as tobacco peddler. He went places to places to market his dried tobacco leaves. Until, his interest and ability in tobacco business was notified by a tobacco tycoon in Cagayan, and offered to manage bigger business.

In 1957, Datu Santiago Ecleo, the son of Miano Ecleo and brother of Jose Ecleo, offered his cousin, Ruben, to be the chief doctor of the Caballeros de Rizal Agricultural Endeavor (CRAE). The said spiritual group was established in Maguinda, Butuan, which Datu Ecleo was the President and Founder. Mostly members were primitives in highlands of Mindanao, Visayas and some part of Luzon.

With his family in Maguinda, Dr. Ruben performed his responsibility as chief doctor; and he went on missionary works with his fellow caballeros in Masbate, Samar and other neighboring provinces.

In 1958 after the mournful death of their first child, he decided to perform his own missionary works in Cab-ilan. There, he built a small cottage known as “tambalanan” for patients. Thousands of patients with different kinds of illness gathered in Cab-ilan.

Dr. Ruben was known about his divine healing prowess in the nearby provinces of Leyte, Samar, Bohol, Cebu, Surigao and Agusan. With the assistance of his relatives and other recuperated patients who wanted to live with him, he was able to accommodate patients every day.

One thing that puzzled his fellow Dinagatnons, government authorities, and leaders of churches in Surigao is where and when Ruben found and acquired such kind of power to heal.

A certain doctor in Surigao accused him for illegal practice of medicine; and many times he was put to jail for such practice. But the symbol of his magnanimity in service to humanity without discrimination as to creed, race, belief and status in life, showed them a way towards new philosophical foundation of life.

One of his turned sympathizers was Atty. Arsenio D. Nazareno from Calbayog, Samar, who was suffering from blindness. Through Dr. Ruben, Nazareno was able to see again the beauty of the naked world.

He transferred in Puyange in 1959, and established a bigger somewhat hospital to provide larger number of patients. His sympathizers were also increasing as time goes on, lived with him and assisted patients during missionary works.

Sometimes Glenda was pessimistic on her husband’s credo. Because she also wanted a simple, happy, and normal family life, she pushed ideas to establish economic activities that would generate income for the family. Since time immemorial, she noted that Ruben did not even asked charges on medical services he extended to patients. What he received from them was the voluntary donations and offerings.

But Ruben did not affirm Glenda’s idea because he always referred to the commandments of the spirits prohibiting him to ask money or anything equivalent to his services.

Anytime Glenda was put into the state of oblivion and confusion, Dr. Hugh Tovar was always there easing her with the program of the Spiritual Division. She was enlightened and became strong and determined.

On April 17, 1960, Ruben Buray Ecleo, Jr., the destined successor of his father, was born in Puyange. There was no sign of enigma, except the strange old man who keep on visiting and watching him. As in, Ruben Jr., shown to be an ordinary boy. One day, his father told Glenda that someday this boy will be put in prison.

The expansion of missionary works was extended all over the country, As sympathizers and followers were increasing in numbers, Dr. Ruben, with the Members of the Spiritual Division: Dr. Hugh Tovar, Capt. Caple Jurry and Gen. Adriano dela Concepcion established and organized the First Thirteen Missioners on April 11, 1963.

The selection process of the first 13 missioners was held at Lake Panimaloy, Don Carlos, Bukidnon. Dr. Hugh Tovar led the process of selection based on the spiritual records; conducted screening according to their will and commitment to serve, and obey orders in accordance with the spiritual mandate.

The first 13 missioners underwent spiritual training on how to conduct divine healing technique and procedures; and, seminars and workshop about missionary works and its rules and regulations were also inculcated as a missioner.

The confirmation of the first 13 missioners was so mystical and indispensable. Dr. Hugh Tovar, so with other spirits, who one after the other inserted in the human body of Dr. Ruben, proclaimed him Divine Master in front of the first 13 and other followers. The title divine master referred to a Master teaching divine healing technique and procedures using divine words with the intervention of spirits.

A day after, Divine Master deployed the first 13 in different provinces of Mindanao, Viasayas and Luzon. Like Divine Master did, the first 13, with their acquired spiritual power to heal, performed missionary works through divine healing. Arsenio Nazareno, Cipriano Otero and Franscisco Enerio established the first chapter office in Buenavista, Pagadian City.

Followers and sympathizers grew rapidly in different parts of the country. Some were migrated in Puyange, and lived with them for the rest of their lives. The population in Puyange was also increasing.

Divine Master wanted to defend the sanctity and integrity of missioners against the negative interpretation of the people running the government, of the medical practitioners, and of the leaders of different congregations and religions. His first attempt in politics in 1963 for mayor in the town of Dinagat against incumbent mayor, Meso, was unsuccessful.

Oftentimes, missioners encountered sarcasms and frowns, and others were put in jail by authorities for same reason of illegal practice of medicine. Miraculous deeds happened every time missioners performed divine healing; and questions rose how Divine Master transferred his power to ordinary missioners who follow his directions.

The hostility bolstered everywhere, and despite growing opposition on missionary works, followers were rapidly increasing in far-flung and remote areas, particularly poor and needy, and mostly uneducated people in the mountains and coastal places.

The influx of missioners coming in Puyange qualifies the basic requirement for the creation of certain barangay. In 1965, Puyange became a regular barangay under the municipality of Dinagat, part of the province of Surigao del Norte.

Through the spiritual intervention, Divine Master, his wife Glenda, the first 13, incorporators and other missioners decided to organize an association that would legally express the aims and purposes of the missioners who went on mission for humanitarian services in accordance with the constitution of the Republic of the Philippines.

Divine Master and so with the incorporators organized missionaries to form an association with a common vision and interest for humanitarian services.  Atty. Torcuato Galon drafted the Articles of Incorporation and By-Laws of the Philippines Benevolent Missionaries Association, Incorporated in the City of Ozamis.

On October 19, 1965, the Securities and Exchange Commission, Makati, Rizal, Philippines by Mariano G. Pineda, approved the registration of the Articles and Incorporation duly signed and acknowledged for the organization of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Inc. with S.E.C. Registration No. 28042.

The Articles of Incorporation of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association, Inc. provides that the incorporators, all of whom of legal age and residents of the Philippines, have voluntarily associated themselves together for the purpose of forming a non-profit association under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines.

That, the aims and purposes for which the association is formed are:

  1. To promote national and international peace and unity.

  2. To preach and practice the virtue of benevolence, by being charitable, giving voluntarily, helping generously, serving faithfully, without discrimination or distinction as to race, religion or nationality.

  3. To work for mutual friendly relations with all nations which uphold the true essence of democracy, as well as maintain harmonious relations with all religions, societies or associations in the country and abroad.

  4. To establish association which could help attain and maintain free, orderly, honest, and good government with country’s constitution and laws.

  5. To institute measures directed towards the upliftment of the economic, social moral and spiritual conditions of the members.

  6. To fulfill the needs of establishing community centers, regional chapters, provincial chapters and sub-chapters offices, or social halls for the recreational, social, educational, fraternal and other lawful purposes of the members in every provinces, here and abroad.

  7. To carry out the objectives of the association by soliciting initiation fees, dues, and other contributions from the members, as well as hold, acquire and possess real and personal properties of whatever nature or kind, and do perform any and all acts, transactions of matters necessary in carrying out its aims and purposes.

That, the principal office for the transaction of the business of the association shall be at San Jose, Dinagat, Surigao del Norte.

That, the duration of the association shall be for a maximum of (50) years, from and after its incorporation.

That, the name and residences of the incorporators of the association are as follows:

Names                                    Nationality                              Residences

  1. Ruben E. Ecleo, Sr. I Filipino I San Jose, Dinagat, Surigao del Norte

  2. Arsenio D. Nazareno I Filipino I Nabang, Oquindo Dist., Calbayog City

  3. Francisco C. Enerio I Filipino I Initao, Misamis Oriental

  4. Floro Caboverde I Filipino I Salug, Zamboanga del Norte

  5. Maximo Caboverde I Filipino I Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte

  6. Carlos Lomanta  I Filipino I New Misamis Annez. Ozamis City

  7.  Maximo Ravelo I Filipino I Mati, Davao

  8. Dionesio Cui  I Filipino I Babak, Davao

  9. Perdo Montives I Filipino I Kauswagan, Lanao del Norte

  10.  Eusebio Bandivas I Filipino I Buug, Zamboanga del Norte

  11. Casiano Gorrea  I Filipino I Sindangan, Zamboanga del Norte

That, the number of the Board of Directors of said association shall be eleven (11) and that the names and residences of said directors who are to serve until their successors are elected and qualified as provided for by the By-Laws.

That, the members of the association are of three (3) classes, namely:

a)     Missionary

b)     Stationary, and

c)      Ordinary

That, the association hereby established shall be charitable, non-stock, non-profit, and non-sectarian corporation. As such, the Board of Directors and all officers may not receive compensation or remuneration for service rendered, except in form of allowances.

That, Ruben E. Ecleo, Sr. is the Founder and President of the association. That eleven (11) members of the Board may be elected annually consistent with existing laws. He may, therefore, be authorized to appoint personnel and other officers; sign, act and execute documents; and represent the association in all transactions and business, subject to the approval of the Board. In the event that his authority to represent/or act for and in behalf of the association is expressly waived or delegated by him in favor of his successor or chosen representative, the latter shall exercise the same authority subject to the conformity of the Board.

As these documents are the governing fundamental law of the organization and the embodiment of the operative rule of conduct of every officer and member, whereby one may able to competently explain what the Association is all about as well as defend its integrity, reputation and good name against its vicious detractors.

One of the dreadful cancers that have plagued society since time immemorial is that unforgiving sin of envy. In fact, as pointed out by certain quarters, “Christ aroused the wrath of the scribes and Pharises and the Romans; Rizal reaped the ire of the Spaniards, particularly the friars”. The Association is an exception as victim of such a vicious cycle.


Against all odds, however, and the onslaught of time as well as the fury of the charlatans and demagogues who have conspired to unleash the forces of their evil minds to discredit the Association and the leadership with all deep of humility and candor, propelled by its Founder’s unbending pursuit for perseverance, and ignited by the members’ burning faith in the Divine Providence the guides and destinies of men and nation, the Association, under the leadership of its Supreme President and Founder, Divine Master Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr. has withered all phases of assaults in all decades of its phenomenal existence.


Laying the foundation and holistic framework of missionary works was the call of time when the world of humanity struggled to resolve the confusions in life and begin to seek the truth beyond the reality and capacity of human existence which is spirituality – the foundation of missionary works. Divine Master, since the inception of his mission, had a simple dream; “Peace, unity and brotherhood among men and women through benevolent services.

As the mechanism in working together for this charitable mission, the association established the core values, the so-called “Hiyas sa Matinud-anong Miembro sa PBMA, Inc.”; and the missionary doctrine through “Balaod sa Misyon”, policies, guidelines, systems and procedures were also installed.

In 1968, Divine Master joined in the government service as municipal mayor of Dinagat. His purpose is to extend services to non-members. He introduced self-reliance to the members through the spirit of voluntarism called “Pahina System”.

As the champion of self-reliance, 1n 1974, Divine Master was awarded as the Most Outstanding Mayor of the Philippines.  To date his dream and aspiration is gradually fulfilled. San Jose became a municipality and Dinagat Islands also became a distinct and regular province of the Republic of the Philippines through the effort of his better half, the Honorable Congresswoman, and now, the Governor of the Province of Dinagat Islands, Hon. Glenda B. Ecleo. Yes of course with the untiring support of her immediate family: Master Ruben B. Ecleo, Jr., Glorigen, Gracelyn, Vice Governor Benglen B. Ecleo, Mayor Alan I B. Ecleo, Mayor Allan II B. Ecleo, Former Governor Geraldine B. Ecleo, and Former Mayor Gwendolyn B. Ecleo, and the Officials and Members of the PBMA, Inc.


On December 9, 2013, Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr was declared as the LOCAL HERO OF THE PROVINCE OF DINAGAT ISLANDS through Provincial Ordinance No. BBE-03 Series of 2013.

Author's Quote

“It is not a man who chooses his God because God is only one, but it is God who chooses his people according to his will and be recognize as members of his family.”


"Tell the world about Divine Master Ruben E. Ecleo Sr."


"A mystical website of the book to ponder titled, The Miracle of the South – The Life and Times of Divine Master Ruben Edera Ecleo, Sr., a phenominal character, a public figure somewhere in the far east, south of the Philippines, Dinagat Islands, whose life is clothed with mysteries and miracles"