Latest Stories

PBMA leader in Talisay, sister, talk about Ecleo’s ‘brotherhood’

They pray to the Holy Trinity, and their own version of the “mysteries” of the rosary in the ancient Aramaic tongue only they understand.

Some still attend Roman Catholic mass.

Every first Saturday of the month, members gather for songs and rituals before a picture of Ruben Ecleo Jr. in a headquarters in Talisay City where non-believers are not welcome.

“From bad to good”  was how a businesswoman in Talisay City described her life after accepting Ecleo as her “supreme master”.

She said she and her 10 children follow the teachings of the Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) and remain loyal to Ecleo despite the scandal after he was accused, then convicted of the 2002 murder of his wife Alona.

From living in a shanty 38 years ago, the woman who is in her 60s today, has a successful cattle business supplying meat to fast foods and restaurants.

She spoke to Cebu Daily News on  condition that her name would not be exposed.

She said Ecelo used to frequent their house, and was the one who gave her the smart advice to to buy vacant lots in Talisay. He told her Talisay would be a booming city like Hong Kong one day.

She and her family don’t fail to attend the monthly conference in the first Saturday of the month.


“Don’t call us a cult,”  said Leon “Boy” Famulagan, vice president of the PBMA Nonoc, Talisay City chapter to which  the woman belongs.

He said the PBMA, founded in 1965 by Ecelo’s father in San Jose, Dinagat Island in Surigao del Norte, is a non-sectarian, non-profit, humanitarian organization and a “brotherhood”.

The late Ruben Ecleo Sr. was the “divine master” whose reputation as a spiritual healer drew many followers.

Famulagan said the PBMA had more than 5,000 members in Cebu in the 1980s but that this has dwindled to about 400 members following the controversy over the murder of Ecleo Jr.’s wife.

When CDN asked to visit the PBMA  headquarters, Famulagan demurred, saying their chapter president Warlito Ponteros, who brings the keys, wasn’t around.

He said the building was an “ordinary” open structure with a very high wall, which made it difficult for passersby to look inside.

He said they gather before a table with the photo of Ruben Ecleo Jr. and the “Santisima Trinidad” or Holy Trinity to pray and sing songs.

Famulagan said the PBMA has its own constitution, by-laws and board of directors.

It’s three main objectives, he said, are 1. to perform charitable actions,  which is to serve faithfully, to help benevolently, and to give voluntarily; 2. to promote brotherhood among people regardless of religion, race and age, and; 3. to promote international peace and unity among nations.


Holding up two rings, one on each hand, Famulagan said members can be identified through  engraved ring likes these.

A small ring is worn by ordinary members. Another kind is worn by those who don’t go on mission work.  The biggest ring classifies a member as one who has worked as a missionary.

He said the ring symbolizes one’s personal decision of surrender or return to the Father in Heaven and is inspired by the “parable of the prodigal son” in the Bible and  Gospel passages about being “born again” and totally reformed in flesh and spirit.

Famulagan said the PBMA is not against any religion and that its members are free to join the activities of various religions.

He said PBMA teachings are a mixture of Christian, Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Akashic doctrines.

Members are not forced to abandon their religion, he said, but are advised to take the teachings of PBMA as an “additional source of spiritual nourishment and enlightenment.”

Some members still attend Sunday mass and read the Bible. There are also PBMA Muslim members or observe Muslim traditions, he said.

Famulagan said teachings of PBMA trace their origins to the Bible and Jewish doctrines.

He said they directly confess their sins and misdeeds to God in order to be clean and worthy in His eyes.

He said he once attended a Catholic mass in Tabunok, Talisay where a priest was lambasting the PBMA in the pulpit.  Famulagan said he went to the convent and confronted the priest to correct what he said to the people.


The Talisay businesswoman whom CDN interviewed said she used to do business without scruples just to get ahead, and was impatient with people.

“Ang inahan man gani nako ang tikasan sa una (My mother was also a cheat),”she said.

Her change of world view started as a domestic health problem.

She said her husband’s wounded foot didn’t get better after medical attention by a physician. It got worse and his stomach swelled.

One morning at the market, she noticed a man praying for a sick person. She approached 24-year-old Edgar Corpus, brought him to her shanty and let him attend to her sick spouse.

After a week, her husband was well. It was 1974 when she decided to join the PBMA.

It wasn’t a quick entry, she said, as the PBMA requires you to abandon vices and bad attitudes.

She said all members have to give up smoking, gambling, and drinking of any kind of liquor. Violation of this rule is a ground for getting cut off from the group.

Every member should observe the highest level of morality and discipline, she said.

It took two months before she was finally accepted in the PBMA she said. From there on, she and her family had to follow specific rules.

She said she prays everyday at  6 a.m. 2:30 p.m; and 6 p.m.

The “Revised Prayer” is in the Aramaic language and considered  a mystery in itself, she said.

The first part is a dedication, for various purposes as needed -  for healing, protection and others. It is addressed to the Holy Trinity (God Father, Son and Holy Spirit), to all  saints in heaven and to one’s guardian angel or angels.

The woman said she conducts her cattle business guided by PBMA tenets and has prospered as a supplier of meat to fast food chains in the Philippines.  She said she and her children remain loyal to Ecleo despite the trials and negative publicity he’s been getting.

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Philippine Benevolent Missionaries Association (PBMA) , Ruben Ecleo Jr.

  • catmanjohn

    Beware of sugar coated poison. The PBMA is a result of the corruption that has been festering in Philippine politics for decades. They are a result of failure of what responsible banks and governments should have provided to the people, but their delinquency and corruption allows people like Ecleo, with their ‘messianic complexs’ to offer People hope through a pyramid scheme using religion as a front. One can witness their ostentatious display of material gratification on themselves, and their own vain glory when visiting their temple in Dinagat. The person being interviewed perhaps was one of the individuals at the top of the pyramid, but other members are forced into a extortion scenario, handing over their properly and income. This is a dangerous and blasphemous religion for the Bible does truly warn us of these cultists. Good government economic policies would give the People a better option.

  • catmanjohn

    Additionally, as we have witnessed even in the Catholic Church, there is the sexual abuse of women and the young by PBMA members who commits such violations in the name of religion, and deviate in manners only the Devil himself could conceive.

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Henares on Pacquiao bashing: I did not start this
  2. ‘Mom, I love you,’ says text from student on sinking ferry
  3. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  4. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  5. Massive infra spending set
  6. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  7. South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  8. Passengers denied chance to escape sinking South Korea ferry
  9. Lacson’s wife loses diamond earring to thieves but recovers jewelry quickly with police arrest
  10. OFW brings MERS virus to Philippines
  1. Kim Henares needs a reprimand, says Cayetano
  2. Suspect in Vhong Navarro mauling tries to leave PH
  3. Fr. Suarez says last Mass on Easter before returning donated land to San Miguel
  4. MH370 co-pilot made mid-flight phone call – report
  5. More legal woes for Cedric Lee
  6. I’ll follow my conscience on Estrada, says JV Ejercito
  7. ‘Wife of Jesus’ theory papyrus not fake – Harvard study
  8. Gay college instructor arrested for oral sex with student
  9. ‘No real progress in PH if dynasties not dismantled’
  10. Palace: We can’t blame increase in population on Vitangcol
  1. KL confirms Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 ended in Indian Ocean
  2. MRT passengers pass the hat for 6-year-old Ashley
  3. Pork payoffs to newscasters Erwin Tulfo, Del Prado, others bared
  4. Rookie, lady cops lauded for quick response to MOA heist
  5. Model Helena Belmonte wished ‘to slash her wrist and hope to die’
  6. Malaysia averts another air tragedy; pilot lands troubled plane safely
  7. Revilla says he was joking; Lacson stands by his story
  8. Revilla ‘consulted’ Lacson on how he evaded arrest
  9. Police rule out foul play in Helena Belmonte’s death as boyfriend is ‘traumatized’
  10. Cudia, dismissed for lying, got 99% in conduct


  • 4.9 quake jolts Batanes on Maundy Thursday
  • Presidents, celebrities mourn writer Garcia Marquez
  • MH370 search to be most costly ever at $100 million — analysts
  • Iraqi guilty of beating wife to death in US
  • Avalanche sweeps Everest; 6 killed, 9 missing
  • Sports

  • Heat seek Three-peat but Spurs, Pacers top seeds
  • Can Spurs get back at Heat? Can they survive West?
  • Hopkins, 49, seeks win for the ageless
  • LeBron still No. 1 with NBA’s most popular jersey
  • Pacquiao back in PH, heads home to wife, kids
  • Lifestyle

  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Entertainment

  • ‘X-men’ filmmaker slams ‘fabricated’ sex attack claims
  • Singer Chris Brown’s bodyguard on trial in DC
  • Whoopi Goldberg debuts as marijuana columnist
  • ‘X-men’ director accused of sex assault on teen boy
  • Cannes film festival launches race for 2014 Palme d’Or
  • Business

  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Asian shares mostly up in quiet trade
  • Dollar up in Asia on US jobs data, Ukraine deal
  • Barbie doll has a problem
  • Oil prices mixed ahead of long Easter weekend
  • Technology

  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Last call for nominations to ’14 Presidential Awards
  • San Francisco business coalition slams proposed tax on sugary drinks
  • A ‘time-travel’ production of ‘Les Miserable’ at Stanford
  • Filipina Maryknoll sister honored for years of service
  • Malaysia quarantines 64 villagers over MERS virus
  • Marketplace