Christ in the eyes of Lance
DIRECT LINE - Boy Abunda (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2015 - 12:00am

Lance Raymundo will play the role of Jesus Christ in Lou Veloso’s Senakulo.

It is the same role he was about to play last year when the freak accident that almost killed him happened.

Lance has recovered beautifully and lives to tell his tale.

“It really was a miracle that I survived. The doctors were surprised that my neck did not snap. If I did not die from the fracture in my forehead, the first thing that could have killed me pala was that my neck would snap dahil sa sobrang bigat ng bumagsak sa akin.”

What “hardened” his neck was he had practiced his role for two months. And every night, he spent extra time carrying the cross on his neck. Even during rehearsal breaks, Lance insisted on carrying it.

Lance says that he was being physically prepared for the accident. “Malay ko ba na may mahuhulog sa akin? Pinapalakas pala ako kay Christ. Pinapalakas Niya ang aking leeg and I won’t die in the accident.”

“Also, had I not been rehearsing and practising my Christ role, I would not have the same attitude as I have now.” Lance has become more giving, more generous.

Then, he was resigned to whatever would come out of his face for as long as he survived.

“Who cares kung pangit ako? Kahit pangit na ako, sino naman mag sasabi na sira na ang buhay ko? I could be whatever I want to be. We don’t know the values of a person just by looking at the face, ’di ba?”

His Catholic upbringing and his faith in God helped him through the most difficult period of his life.

His public persona might belie the religiosity in him but Lance says he has always been religious.
“I was born into a God-fearing family. I have enough support and love from my family and I could say I have become even more closer to God.”

In Senakulo, Lance was given a freehand by Lou to interpret Jesus Christ as he sees Him.

“Lou gave me the artistic freedom to portray Jesus the way I want to. We don’t exactly know how He looks. All of us, we have a vision of Him na long hair and all. And for me, since we don’t exactly know, and what we only know is how Christ lives in us, I want to portray Him at my best, on my most passionate way. So, it’s also my way of paying tribute to Christ — have a nice hair, nice body and I am glad direk Lou agreed.”

Lance had to lose 20 lbs. for the role. “I gained so much weight after the accident. I had my medication and the steroids. But when direk Lou gave me the role, it was magical, I shed 20 pounds.”

This is Lance’s most difficult role so far. “Mas nahihirapan ako pag mas malaking responsibility. With Jesus Christ, I want to play it correctly as possible. So even the small details, I am very guarded. I want to give my best, and I am not just giving my skills but my soul and my heart to the project. Playing Christ is the hardest character for me. Aside from that, I have this personal relationship with Him.”

He relates that in the play, Jesus will be performing miracles like restoring the sight of a young man, making another walk again, etc. “I have been all of the miracles Jesus performed. I can very well relate to the people whom Jesus has given new chance at life because I am in my second life.”

Direk Lou, who authored Senakulo, says that he has been staging Senakulo for the past 27 years. Yet he feels, it is still a work in progress. “Every year, I inject something new. This year, ginawa naming dance. Before, we used lines based on what’s happening in the present time. I believe in the story that Christ is a man na sagad sagaran ang pagmamahal sa kapwa. Pinasok din namin kung ano ba si Christ na tao nung nandito pa siya sa mundo. Pwede siya magalit, pwede siya tumawa, pwede siyang masaktan.”

Though not entirely a musical, Lou plans to add more music as the play progresses in the coming years.

For this year’s Senakulo, Lou explains, “Si Christ may dalawang kanta, si Pedro, si Magdalene, si John the Baptist and even Judas.”

He has also injected humor into it. “The traditional senakulo also has a comic relief.”

By next year, Lou plans to make Herodes (played by Bernardo Bernardo) sing.

Lou has also involved the community actors of Sta. Ana, resident home of Tanghalang Sta. Ana, the theater company behind Senakulo. “I found out, the young generation does not know senakulo anymore. Kaya kailangan maibalik uli natin yun baka mamatay yung kultura.”

Lou has been successful in his efforts to bring Senakulo back to the consciousness of the young. It is now one of the most awaited events during the Lenten season.

Senakulo will be staged on March 29 at Greenfield in Ortigas. There are also other performances in various venues until April 2.

With (from left) Bernardo Bernardo and director Lou Veloso


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