I looked saintly before–TubidBy Beth Celis
Philippine Daily Inquirer
IT TOOK me three days to reach Ronald Tubid through a telephone number that is still active.
I needed to talk to the Barako Bull cager because I wanted to ask him about his connection to Saint Pedro Calungsod.
To start with, I could not figure out why Ronald was chosen to represent the image of the Filipino martyr, when no one has the remotest idea how the saint looked.
Ronald himself told me, when I finally got to talk to him, that the recently canonized saint lived and died centuries ago.
* * *
“I’ll tell you the whole story. This is what happened,” Ronald started, when I posed the query.
“Many years ago when I was only 17 and still playing for the University of the East Warriors in the UAAP, Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin commissioned Father Catalino Alvarez, a Jesuit priest from Ateneo, to produce a booklet on the life of Pedro Calungsod, whose exact origin could not be traced. Some people claimed he was born in Cebu; others said he was from Bacolod.
“Many places are claiming to be the hometown of Blessed (Saint) Calungsod and one of them is my own birthplace, Iloilo, where you will find many people surnamed Calungsod. It’s not farfetched that he really came from our province,” Ronald said.
* * *
Fr. Arevalo didn’t have much difficulty finishing the manuscript of the booklet, but he needed a photo or illustration of the subject.
That was a problem. Nobody knew how the Filipino martyr looked, and neither could anyone trace a single living relative.
Assistance from God was his only recourse. He prayed and prayed hard, invoking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
* * *
As it turned out, Fr. Arevalo was a basketball fan. In all probability, he was watching a UE-Ateneo game on television when Ronald caught his eye.
As the camera took a close-up shot of Tubid, Fr. Arevalo leaned closer toward the TV set to get a better look. Suddenly he felt the nudge he was waiting for. He also heard a soft voice whisper in his ear: “That’s the face you’re looking for!”
Fr. Arevalo wasted no time. He immediately got in touch with no less than the UE president who led him to Ronald.
“At that time I was really very religious,” said Ronald. “I attended Mass every Sunday. I was an altar boy, I was a member of various catholic organizations. In other words, I was worthy to represent Blessed (Saint) Pedro Calungsod.”
That’s how Ronald’s face, described as saintly (maamo) got into the Calungsod booklet and his icons.
“Mabait talaga ako noon (I was fine young man then), but that was 14 years ago. Now I’m 31. Mabait pa din naman although I now play a rugged and physical game.”
“And if I looked like a saint before, you should see me now with my red hair and all these tattoos in my body.”
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