FROM M16 TO JOHN 3:16 

Don Quilao gave up guns for the Bible and never looked back

 By Jane Taguicana

When Don Quilao got a letter to be a part of the Canadian delegation to Asia in the fall of 2012, he thought it was a spam and decided to set it aside. Two days later, the prime minister’s office called to ask for the documents, to which he confusingly replied: “What documents?” A few days later, the internationally-renowned inspirational speaker was in India, Philippines and Hong Kong with then Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other delegates.

The trip is far from the talks he gives on the power of the Holy Spirit or God’s love, but Don, 55, says his selection to be a part of the delegation is a testament to one of his favourite verses in the Bible, “Everything works for good for those who love the Lord.” Don is heavily involved in the Filipino community through the Archdiocesan Filipino Catholic Mission, where Don serves as an Assistant Director and Head of Education and Formation Ministry.

Cheering him on was the Archdiocese of Toronto, which he’s been leading through the Filipino-Canadian Catholic Charismatic Prayer Communities (FCCCPC). He was also then active at the Catholic Charismatic Renewal Council (CCRC) where he served as a councilor first and then chairman.


Don’s modest background started in Bataan. He’s the fifth of 11 siblings.

In his many talks, he always recounts his humble beginning as a son of a farmer. At an early age, he also learned to use guns. “Having a gun is part of our lives. It’s our hobby and it’s used for  our own protection.” Upon entering the charismatic movement at the age of 19, Don said giving up these firearms was the last thing he did to complete his transformation.

But when her then girlfriend, Norma Abuyo, brought him to one of the many charismatic fellowships he’ll soon regularly attend, he knew his gun-carrying days would soon be over. “I used to own an M16 but now I love John 3:16,” he says of his new mantra.

But didn’t the charismatic movement’s dancing, joyful singing and constant shouting of “Amen!” also contradicted the machismo culture he grew up in? “Initially it was awkward but as I go along and keep hearing the teachings, I got excited,” Don said.

Don was never really comfortable with public speaking. But he soon learned that his dreams were different from God’s plan. Soon after, he started giving his first talk. He became the head servant of the Joy of the Lord Foundation International and started preaching around the Philippines.

“The more you put God first, the more God will bless you. “

In the early 90s, Don started preaching in the U.S. and Canada, then in Asia, Australia and Europe. He became the chairman of the Catholic Lay Preachers of the Philippines and served as spiritual adviser to the Servants of Christ and Mary Community, Living Bread Prayer Community and Asian Development Bank Prayer Group.

Don was never lured by the life abroad. But he’s concerned there’s not enough job opportunities for his kids after graduating.

One night, when Don was watching TV , Fr. Patrick Payton of the Family Rosary Crusade came up with this message: “Filipinos are sent abroad to evangelize the world.” Don took it as a sign. He talked to his family about moving to Toronto but made a pact with them that their ministry shouldn’t su er with the move. “ e Lord should remain number one,” he told his wife, Tim, his twin daughters Anne and Grace, Mary and Maryjoy.


The road to holiness is never easy. Don must have faced them all: lawsuits, unsuccessful business ventures and even allegations of sexual misconduct. The only way he could surpass them, he said, is to treat challenges as normal part of living.

His greatest challenge occurred about two decades ago when his wife had to undergo a hysterectomy after giving birth to their youngest. Two days after, he was to leave for Los Angeles for a one-month speaking engagement, scheduled six months prior.

“I couldn’t decide,“ said Don recalling the time when he walked into the ICU. He reminded her that he’ll have to take care of God’s business so that God can take care of his. He flew the next day with his wife’s blessing. Norma survived.

As she was recovering, Tim, their eldest, contracted dengue fever. “Should I go home when I have a lot on my plate?” Don asked. “So, I prayed the same prayer: I will continue your work Oh Lord, but please take care of mine.”

Don described what happened next as a great miracle. There was another patient who had a much lighter case than Tim but didn’t make it. Don was never more convinced of the Lord’s power.

“The more you put God first, the more God will bless you.”


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