Singer-actor Lance Raymundo was rehearsing for Passion Of The Christ as the Messiah for the stage play’s 25th anniversary in March 2014 when he met a freak accident at the gym. His trainer dropped a 95-pound barbell directly hitting his face, entirely damaging his nose bridge and part of his cheek.
While the accident prevented him from joining the play, it nevertheless strengthened his faith, which in turn helped him resolve to forgive—one of the most important lessons Jesus Christ ever taught mankind.
The younger sibling of singer Rannie Raymundo recalls accepting his fate—that of a damaged face and possibly being physically impaired for life—when he came to terms with his misfortune.
“The day after my near fatal accident, I realized the gravity of the situation. I was half blind, and the small crack on my skull made me vulnerable to meningitis, seizures and attacks. And through functioning eyes, I took a good look at the mirror and didn’t recognize my own reflection because my face had been disfigured. But for some reason, instead of feeling angry, depressed and negative, I just took another look at the ‘new me,’ smiled back at my reflection, and thanked God I was still alive.”
A life of meaning
Raymundo then asked God to guide him in planning a meaningful life with his situation. He began by finding it within him to completely and sincerely forgive the fitness trainer who accidentally dropped the barbell on his face, praying for the person’s peace of mind.
At approximately 5:45 p.m. that day, he narrated, “I heard a voice within my head saying, ‘Your suffering will only last for six days because on the seventh day, everything will be restored.’ I’m human, so naturally, I had my doubts. The doctors told me that due to extreme swelling all over my face it will take around three weeks before I can undergo the first surgery. So I asked the voice, ‘God I have full trust in you, and I fully accept my situation because I know there is a reason for everything, and I know that you will not put me in any situation I can’t handle. But I just want to know if I’m really hearing You, or if my mind is playing tricks on me, making me hear what I want to hear just to help me feel better.”
He continued, “The voice merely told me that if I have enough strength to sit down, then I will know the answer. I used all the strength I had to sit down on my own. When I finally got up from my hospital bed, the first thing I saw was the crumpled linen of my hospital blanket. It had the image of a bearded man, which to me looked like Jesus! I felt a little embarrassed for doubting my faith, but I was also very thankful for the direct response from God.”
His mom, former beauty queen Nina Zaldua, said she saw the same image, picked up her cell phone and took a picture as remembrance, which he shared on Facebook.
True enough, six days after the tragedy, his doctor scheduled him for his first surgery, which was successful. The singer-actor recovered a lot faster than expected, and after his second and final reconstructive surgery, Raymundo looked more handsome than before.
“This is not about religion. Anyone can feel free to relate to this story. [But] to me, this is more of a testimony of faith, hope, forgiveness, positivity, love, family and a smile that can truly work miracles,” he said of his ordeal and recovery.
A passion renewed
In 2015, the role of the Messiah was offered anew to Raymundo. Without thinking twice he accepted it, saying that playing Christ was the best way to celebrate the gift of new life.
Since then, the singer-actor had pledged to portray the role of the Redeemer every year in the long-running Lenten musical. Titled Martir Sa Golgota for 2017, he first went on stage on April 7 at Greenfield Central Park in Mandaluyong City, then in Greenfield City, Sta. Rosa, Laguna on Tuesday. Today, he will re-enact Christ’s passion at Plaza Hugo in Sta. Ana, Manila at 7 p.m.
Playing the Redeemer is both a privilege and blessing for any actor, and as Raymundo attests, it has brought him closer to the Lord each time.
“My understanding of Jesus is that God the Father allowed him to descend upon the Earth as human like us, going through the same things—hunger, pain, happiness, joy, temptation, anger—but he drew his power through his faith, love and obedience to his Father,” Raymundo told The Manila Times.
He furthered, “For me, the reason why Jesus humbled himself to be incarnated on earth as human is to show us that we are actually capable of living a Christ-like existence by his Father’s words. I tackle my role by embracing my own humanity and by trying to understand how Jesus was able to fulfil his mission despite all his human qualities.”
Raymundo emphasized that the Jesus he portrays on stage is not detached from humanity.
“I’m playing Jesus just like he is just your friend, brother, neighbor. And I’m doing it in all humility, acknowledging the fact that my portrayal is a gift and blessing from God. I don’t do this on stage to showcase my skills as an actor and singer but to be able to spread God’s good words.”
Directed by Lou Veloso, completing the cast of Martir Sa Golgota are Ivy Violan as Mother Mary; Ced Torrecarreon as Pontius Pilate; Arkin Da Silva as Judas; Ejay Fontanilla as Herod; Kirst Viray as Peter; Angelo Ejercito as Pharisees; Niña Campos as Mary Magdalene; and Jojo Riguerra as Michael the Archangel.