Ex-brgy. official becomes a healer, cult leader-A A +A
Thursday, March 27, 2014
WHILE Casiano Legaspino Apduhan sat, handcuffed and cross-legged on a plastic chair, his daughters and other relatives took turns wiping the sweat from his face.
“My followers call me Dios Amahan (God the Father),” the 45-year-old said.
Behind him loomed the house with more than 10 rooms for his followers and visitors.
In that house, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) 7 arrested him yesterday morning for allegedly detaining a woman for more than five years and burying a dead boy in an underground tunnel.
After the arrest, Apduhan spoke calmly to reporters, who badgered him with questions about his group.
“Katoliko mi (We are Roman Catholics),” he said. “My grandfather was responsible for the construction of the church in our barangay.”
The church he referred to is San Vicente Ferrer, in honor of the patron of Barangay Buanoy, Balamban.
San Vicente Ferrer Parish Priest Rizalino Raypan Jr. said he knows Apduhan because the latter is well-known in the barangay.
“But I don’t know him personally,” he said. “He is said to be the leader of a cult in Sitio Laray 3, after he took over from his father, who died. What I know about him is from what the people say. Dugay na sila ni exist ug gibadlong na sila kaniadto pa (They have existed here for some time and have also been warned against what they are doing).”
Apduhan, a father of three daughters, looks like any other man. He sports short, wavy black hair. He has stubble on his face.
No one would think that the former councilor of Barangay Buanoy, Balamban is the alleged leader of a religious group.
He is not the stereotypical spiritual figure with long hair, thick beard and flowing robe like the Indian prophet Sadhu, who reportedly predicted the devastation Yolanda would bring in the Central Philippines.
Apduhan, however, did not categorically say he is a prophet. His followers call him Tatay Loloy Jr., while his late grandfather, Casiano Lebron Legaspino, was known as Tatay Loloy Sr.
He claimed he has about 40,000 followers in the Philippines, but his daughter said they only have around a thousand followers.
He also claimed he has healed several people from their illnesses and resurrected the dead.
“Wala ta’y laing ikatabang ampo ra gyod (All I can do to help is pray),” he said.
Buanoy Barangay Captain Clyde Seblos said that Apduhan predicted the apocalypse in 2012. The cult is allegedly searching for gold, but has so far failed to find any.
What the NBI team found, hidden inside a concrete portion of the tunnel, is a body,
reportedly of the teenager Angelo Repuela.
“I was told the boy was offered by the cult so they can discover the treasure,” said Seblos.
Apduhan said they started digging in 2005, after a family told them that there was treasure in the place.
His daughter Seanrez said the tunnel would serve as their shelter. “We are still digging to prepare for a future calamity,” she said.
Her father’s arrest came a day after the graduation of her younger sister, Catherine,
20, from a Catholic-run college in Toledo City.
Seanrez, a government employee, worried about the health of her mother Henriza, 54, who has a heart ailment. She said that her father served as a councilor in Barangay Buanoy for more than 10 years, with a good track record.
Apduhan believes a person’s strong faith can cure any disease. He claims to have revived a one-year-old child, who had suffered burns.
“Nabuhi ang bata (The child lived),” he said. "Daghan na kog gitambalan basta motuo lang (I have a cured a lot, as long as they believed).”
He also claimed that there were politicians, board takers and business owners who succeded because of his prayers.
Asked about the cult members’ supposed immunity from physical pain, Apduhan said: “Di gyod ka madutlan basta wala kay sala (When you are free of sin, you are invincible).”
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 28, 2014.