By Joseph L. Garcia, Reporter
NO ONE ever said enlightenment was easy.
It takes a tremendous amount of power — of the horse and will variety —to reach the MDP Village in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur. How else would you find the ability and strength to traverse a road snaking around a mountain, shrouded with waterfalls great and small, and signs warning of landslides and falling rocks? It took even greater effort for the media guests who went on a meditation retreat to the center this July, at the height of typhoons Inday and Josie. The rains whipped the roads raw, prolonging a wet and wild journey, afforded a sinister tone by the fog enveloping the mountain.
One expected a paradise rising out of the clouds when we reached the village, a retreat resort built by Del Pe in 2015. The village’s name comes from an acronym derived from his title and his initials: Master Del Pe. Yes, everyone on the mountain called him that. From his sister and nieces who helped him out, to his students, some of whom came all the way from London and India — all of them adopted a reverent and quiet tone when they spoke of him, the Master. Out of respect for the mountain’s residents, we called him Master, too.
Vegetarian meals are de rigueur in the village, as part of the Master’s own beliefs. In the rain made cooler by the high altitude, never had a bowl of thin soup with mushrooms and squash blossoms felt more welcome.
The accommodations were rustic, bordering on spartan. It has modern plumbing, thank goodness, but it was essentially a fortified hut. It made the experience more welcoming to the pursuit of enlightenment, as we prepared to shed our worldly desire.
Who is this fellow, anyway? Quick Google searches of his name, Del Pe, say he’s world-renowned, and yet none of us had heard of him. Most of the results that the Internet yielded were from his own organizations, namely the BeLite Institute for Higher Consciousness, and the American Institute for Higher Consciousness. His organizations are based in Houston, Texas, where he lived for many years after stints in New York and the Middle East.
We met the Master, a tall, tanned man, with a vitality unnatural for his age of about 60. His head is shaved clean: either a tribute to the monastic life, a simple move to look cleaner, or else a rejection of vanity and worldliness—but then, he also came to us dressed in a suit. “I’m a spiritual mentor, and a spiritual master. Healing is just one of my lines,” he said in an interview with BusinessWorld.
A one-page biography, given as a handout during the talks, says that he was mentored by four masters, one of whom was an immortal living in a cave up in the Himalayas. From his nieces and his own stories, the Master was once a successful Filipino engineer in the Middle East. During a brush with death in Singapore (a heavy boom gate missed him by a hair’s breadth), he began to rethink his life choices, which was why he sought out his mentors.
They were, according to the Master: a Chinese-Filipino businessman who claimed to be a superhealer; a paralyzed seer; and a Korean monk.
If his present organizations and achievements were influenced by his masters, he said, “I’m also a person who can intuitively know what to do. I can download in my mind what to do. I can write books without notes.”
The Master’s resume sounds ambitious: he’s apparently a speaker at the United Nations Spiritual Society, and the World Bank Women’s Circle; he was also invited to address the Harvard Business School Owners and Presidents Management Program. Sometimes, he serves as a retainer to the powerful (he cited two billionaires from India as his clients).
He said that he built his village, his base, up in Cervantes, Ilocos Sur, for a reason: students must travel to the Master instead of the Master going around the world to see them. The town is a fourth-class municipality with a population of 17,211 people, according to the last census of 2015. It’s nestled by the mountains of Cordillera, and is near Bessang Pass, where Japanese war criminal and general Tomoyuki Yamashita held his last stand.
The location is strategic: according to Master Del Pe, the mountains surrounding the area hold a nexus of power. His nieces pointed out to this reporter a mountain, untouched, with a grove of trees forming the shape of a heart. This is the center of power they said, and they proceeded to meditate, coaxing me to do the same. “There’s a portal of energy that is not available yet in any place,” explained the Master for the choice of the village’s location. According to him, the Himalayan Mountains and the Andes were once centers of this power, but have since been depleted. “The Philippines will be the new center. People would not believe it now, but I would like to prove it in a few years.”
He said the site was chosen by four of his student-clairvoyants. “All of them had pinpointed it here… they found the highest energy on Earth to put the center.” His seers said: “If the Earth changes, that’s the place that will be protected.”
Incidentally, it’s also the place of Mr. Pe’s birth.
“They didn’t know I was from here. They [were not] biased. They were separate from each other, yet they pinpointed the same place,” the Master said.
I went under the Master’s guidance for three days. Exercises in yoga, deep breathing, and even some martial arts were filled in by vegetarian meals, with vegetables harvested nearby. The whole experience made me feel lighter as a person, if I’m to be honest with you. Perhaps it was the thin and pollution-free mountain oxygen that I was breathing in that gave me energy and vitality that allowed me to sit through the Master’s talks, which could go on for hours, discussing his beliefs, spiritual or otherwise. These were all said in a clean, clear, soothing voice. The Master had a habit of repeating words and phrases when he spoke, and the combination of the two had an almost being trance-like effect.
What stuck was his emphasis on power. While other meditation programs emphasize love and compassion for others and oneself, the Master talked to us about harnessing our own power, and harvesting the energy from the Universe. “I’m not against love, because love is the basic function of spirituality,” he said in an interview. “Without power, people cannot finish what they start. They start a lot of good things, wishes… but if there’s no power, they can’t sustain it.”
“When you do good things, you are also pushing out evil. When you push evil out, you need a lot of power,” he continued. “It’s dangerous. Love and compassion without power, a person becomes a victim.”
His meditations center on power, light (wisdom), and love, for a person to achieve balance. “That is the complete formula.”
Looking again at the Master’s one-page biography, this reporter found claims of healing people: making the paralyzed walk; the blind, see; and drug addicts, recover. The Master even claimed to be able to heal people with HIV/AIDS just by adjusting their energies. “I modify the energy and the aura of a person to feel good, to think good, to be good. Then they can do whatever they want.”
We’ve heard of the placebo effect, where an ineffectual treatment somehow cures a person, simply due to a person’s belief in the cure. Is Mr. Pe’s magic mountain simply one big placebo? Like all placebos, it depends on you, but he said, “Not everything [can] be tested. How do you test loneliness?”
“There’s a lot of evidence that we can prove,” he said, again citing his patients who could miraculously walk, see, and live after staying at the village. “Most of the tests by scientists are very limited to physical things.”
“There are many things that you cannot test, that are real.”
He pointed to a wall. “There are things that you look at that your eyes cannot see.”
“You know something’s beyond, but your eyes can only see that.”
On our way home, the storms whipped our car as it sped down the mountain. What had been mere rivulets on the mountain’s face were now full-blown roaring waterfalls. The mountain mist and the storm’s fog and rain rendered the mountain path invisible. We stopped. Just a few minutes before, based on a car that had passed us on the road, rocks the size of desks had tumbled across the road, rendering it impassable. Did we use the Master’s techniques to get out? No — or did we? None of us prayed or meditated. There was no cellular service on the mountain, so we couldn’t tell anyone where we were. One more landslide, one more strong gust, one more waterfall could kill us all. In the back of our minds, we all wanted a truckload of big, burly men — soldiers, firemen, the police, whatever — to magically appear, dig out the rocks, and allow us to pass.
Was it the Master’s manifestation, or the mountain’s magic that made a van load of 11 men to suddenly appear on that mountain to help us carry the rocks and throw them over a cliff? I don’t know. The Master’s niece, during an impromptu dinner after the near-disaster, remarked that the spot where we were stuck was right in front of the mountain with the heart-shaped grove of trees, one of the purported portals of power. Coincidence? You decide.