It certainly would surprise, including himself, to think that from being a PBA player of note in the late 1970s and 1980s, Padim Israel would go from being a cager into a preacher.
And he had an impressive record in the professional league that others can only dream of — 9 PBA titles from 3 different ball clubs, 5 with Crispa including its Grand Slam year, 3 with Tanduay and one with Great Taste, aside from individual awards as a defensive player.
In college, he played alongside the likes of Fritz Gaston, Steve Watson, Joy Carpio and Bambi Kabigting, a powerhouse team that won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1975 and 1976.
Padim describes his transformation, from being a man of the world — popular and good looking and a PBA player at that — to being a man of God.
Padim shared to MS his journey in life, saying he finally realized his true purpose in life that led to his conversion and become a true follower of Jesus Christ .
It was a trio of ex-cagers, who led him to the path, namely Freddie Hubalde, Abet Guidaben and Alex Tan, plus actress Rio Locsin, who would then become Padim’s partner for the next 28 years.
“It was in 1987 that I started asking myself some question, after basketball, what to do and where to go. And Freddie invited me to a Bible study at his house. And there, I got the answer to my greatest questions about my life. I discovered Jesus, and put my total faith in him. What Jesus did for mankind, dying to save us, provided me with the answers,” shared Padim, who eventually became a pastor.
Padim added: “Something that night made me fully understand my faith beyond just going to Sunday Mass, faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things unseen. My being a player really amounted to nothing before God.”
But now at the age of 65, he has already retired from from being an active pastor but that he still is a pulpit minister connected with the Cebu-based Living World Christian Churches.
He was also offered the opportunity to take up chaplaincy, which he differentiated from being a pastor.”This was just prior to the pandemic, but I lost momentum for that path because of this pandemic,” said Padim, who now lives quietly in Las Pinas with wife Ogie, two step daughters and one with his wife.
He still awaits to be rewarded with a grandkid, but laments the fact that all three, aged 41, 39 ,and 33 do not even have partners and are happy staying with their parents. The youngest though is based in Singapore.
Padim also revealed he has found another sport if you can call it that. From volleyball in high school and basketball in early college and the PBA, Padim now is into scale 4×4 rock crawling with remote controlled cars, similar to off-road driving and has his own collection of these mini vehicles.
Padim is looking forward to resuming this with his group, now that restrictions are being eased.
“I do not miss basketball at all and I am happy with my life,” concluded the cager-turned preacher.