Do you know that Calvin Abueva used to carry cross, join flagellants during Holy Week?
For seven straight years from 2003-2010, Calvin Abueva says he volunteered to carry the cross during the reenactment of the passion of Jesus Christ in his barrio and joined flagellants on Holy Wednesday. Jerome Ascano  

CALVIN Abueva hardly strikes you as a deeply religious man, right?

Well, he is.

A love-him-or-hate-him PBA star with so much swagger and antics, it turned out, learned to turn to his faith at a young age as he dreamed of lifting his family out of poverty.

Growing up under the care of his grandmother, Nanay Sionny, in their humble home in Balibago, Angeles City, Pampanga, the 'Beast,' then 15, started a 'panata' during the Lenten Season of 2003.

"Panata ko noon 'yung pangarap mo sa buhay na makatulong ka sa pamilya mo," the Alaska bruiser told SPIN.ph. “Penitensiya para ipagdasal kung paano 'yung tatahakin ng buhay ko.”

For seven straight years from 2003-2010, Abueva was steadfast in keeping his ‘panata' by volunteering to carry the cross during the reenactment of the passion of Jesus Christ in his barrio.

He also joined the men in his barrio, some of them friends, in the act of self-flaggelation, whipping their bloodied backs with bamboo sticks while parading around the neighborhood every Holy Wednesday."

"Tuwing Miyerkules Santo nagbubuhat ako ng krus sa bayan ko sa Angeles, doon ako umiikot, mga pito o walong puni (pabasa)," said the former NCAA MVP out of San Sebastian.

"At pag Biyernes Santo kasama ko 'yung tropa ko, mga fifty kami, mamamalaspas kami doon sa may Bamban," he shared. "Pagpapalaspas 'yung pinapalo ang likod na dumudugo."

Fast forward to 2017 and Abueva, a certified PBA star, no longer joins the Lenten rights in his hometown. But he has found a way to express his gratitude for all the blessings that have come his way.

Just recently, Alaska star prepared packed meals which he distributed to impoverished folks in Quiapo, Manila and fire victims in San Juan. 

“Last Friday, buti na lang binigyan ako ng GC ng Chooks to Go, pinapalit ko at pina-chop ko, nagluto ako ng pancit at kanin then nilagay ko sa styro, pinamigay ko sa Quiapo and sa mga nasunugan sa San Juan,” he said.

“Masarap sa pakiramdam sa akin kasi makapamahagi lang ako ng grasya na nakukuha ko, okay na ako, malaking bagay na sa akin,” he added.

Abueva stressed that it was his personal goal to extend his hand to those in need because he knew what it was like to have nothing.

“Dati ipinagdadasal ko lang na magkaroon kami ng magandang buhay ng pamilya ko, ngayon naman na medyo nakakaluwag-luwag ako, ise-share ko ang meron ako,” he said. 

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Abueva said he will also be coming home to Pampanga this Holy Week to bring his four sons - Clint, Calvin James, Deandre Calvin and Marcus - closer to his roots.

“Nitong mga nakaraan may mga lindol sa iba’t-iang lugar kaya itong Mahal na Araw dadalhin ko sila sa amin sa Pampanga, magdadasal kami,” the PBA star shared.

“Uuwi kami ng Porac, manonood kami ng pinapako (sa krus) para malaman ng mga bata bakit pinapako 'yung mga tao, ano ang ibig sabihin ng penitensiya, bakit may ganitong nangyayari.”

Follow the writer on Twitter: @meilinlozada