MANILA, Philippines -- The image of Blessed Pedro Calungsod is popular among devotees.
But unknown to many, this was actually PBA player Ronald Tubid when he was 17 years old.
Now 31, Tubid seems to be channeling Dennis Rodman with his red hair and tattooed body. He's also a family man.
“Kailangan mo kasing maging modelo, eh. Hindi porke't image lang pabayaan mo na... it just happened na dumami 'yung tattoo ko,” Tubid said.
But Ronald's faith is actually imprinted in his tattoos, from Bible verses to the image of Jesus Christ and the Virgin Mary.
His PBA moniker is "The Saint" because he always does the sign of the cross every time he scores.
Tubid said being chosen as Blessed Calungsod's image model happened only by chance.
In 1998, Jesuit priest Fr. Catalino Arevalo was watching the UAAP and the TV cameras caught Tubid's face while he was doing a free throw.
Fr. Arevalo was doing research on Blessed Calungsod and they had been looking for a model since they couldn't find any pictures of him.
“Ang sabi nya sa akin, he was guided by daw by the Holy Spirit. 'Pag kita nya sa akin, 'yun na!,” Tubid said.
Since then, the basketball player became a devotee of Calungsod.
“He's only 17 [when he sacrificed his life]. ‘Pag nag-sacrifice ka, may ma-achieve ka rin,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday, Blessed Calungsod's hometown of Cebu bid farewell to his statue as it left for Rome. The image will be used on Sunday at St. Peter's Square for his canonization where he will be finally declared a saint.