THE Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has approved the proposal to use an image of San Pedro Calungsod on a commemorative P50 bill that will be circulated in April this year.

CBCP President and Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma told Sun.Star Cebu the bishops were consulted on the proposal, which they subsequently approved.

"This would just be a commemorative bill and not meant for general circulation," he said.

Palma added that the bill will commemorate the canonization of Calungsod by Pope Benedict XVI last Oct. 21, 2012 in Rome, Italy.

The highlight of the celebration was the National Thanksgiving Mass on Nov. 30, 2012 at the South Road Properties (SRP) and attended by more than a million devotees.

"The project (of placing the new saint's image on a special bill) was in the context of remembering a significant event. Nobody objected," said Palma.

He added that the objective of the project is to promote the devotion to the Visayan saint.

Calungsod was a teenaged catechist who joined the Jesuit missionaries in the Marianas islands with Diego de San Vitores. They were both killed by the natives on April 2, 1672, which is the feast day of the teenaged saint.

According to CBCP News online, Henrietta de Villa, the secretary general of the National Commission on the Canonization of Calungsod, announced that the commemorative bill will be circulated nationwide by April 2, 2013.

She also said the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Monetary Board has approved the issuance of commemorative medals to honor the sainthood of Calungsod.

The new generation series currency design shows former President Sergio S. Osmeña, the Leyte Landing and the First National Assembly in 1907 on the front side of the P50 bill.

The design on the reverse side includes depictions of Taal Lake, the Maliputo and on the right side is a design from embroidered crafts in Batangas.

The last batch of commemorative notes, according to the Bangko Sentral website, was in 2004, when the P20 bill bore the design for the International Year of Microcredit.

Iconographer Louie Nacorda said there is nothing wrong if Calungsod's image appears on currency notes because all the persons depicted on the bills are Filipino heroes.

Nacorda suggested, though, that an image of San Lorenzo Ruiz, the first Filipino saint, should also be used on a currency note.

Ruiz, a native of Binondo in Manila, was canonized in 1987 by Blessed John Paul II.

Archbishop Palma said the project is similar to the Pedrito doll, a toy crafted in honor of Pedro Calungsod, which is now considered a catechism tool. In the days leading to the canonization, images of the doll from various locations were posted on social networking sites like Facebook.

The Pedrito doll gained the approval of the CBCP, said Palma, adding that the toy is not a sacramental or considered a religious artifact.

"It is a very good catechetical material," said Palma.