'Tao Po': Tenor Arman Ferrer reflects on his struggles and aspirations as a Filipino artist

Jervis Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2023 09:37 PM | Updated as of Sep 18 2023 11:01 AM

He's a dashing 34-year-old lad, known for his workout videos and superb talent in singing. You may have probably seen him in campaign rallies, or onstage in different concerts locally and abroad, or probably inside the gym, which is his natural habitat.

The classically-trained tenor Arman Ferrer bags another prized role as he stars as Rama in the latest iteration of 'Rama, Hari'– which is a grand collaboration of five National Artists: Alice Reyes (Dance), Ryan Cayabyab (Music), Salvador Bernal (Theater and Design), Bienvenido Lumbera (Literature), and Rolando Tinio (Theater and Literature).

In his "Tao Po" segment, Ferrer reflected on his journey as an artist, which he says, has not been exactly a walk in the park.

While he didn't come from a family of musicians, Ferrer discovered his talent in singing quite early in life. He recalled his earliest performances were from his kindergarten days.

"My mom volunteered me sa school dahil kailangan ng contestant sa singing contest nung kindergarten ako. So bibo yung mommy ko, ako yung unang anak so vinolunteer niya ako kumanta ako ng If We Hold On Together, yun ang unang-una kong kanta and then nung nag grade three ako, in Claret, nag-choir," he recounted.

"I'm so thankful kasi yung choirmaster ko ay si sir Mark Carpio, naging conductor ng Philippine Madrigal Singers so yun yung unang-una kong experience sa singing," he added.

Like many people gifted with a special voice, Ferrer does his best to enrich his talent. Part of his daily routine is to check on his voice, rehearse, and do a lot of workouts.

"Paggising na pagising ko I’ll check kung may boses ako o wala kasi usually, lalo na -ber months so rehearsals, rehearsals, rehearsals, performance after performances so I would do, vocal warm ups para lang ma-check kung may boses," he said.

"And then I go to the gym like everyday because as theater artists or singers, we use our bodies so kailangan warm up siya, para ready to go and to avoid injuries."

Last year, Ferrer did his first solo concert at the Tanghalang Ignacio Gimenez of the Cultural Center of the Philippines, as part of the "Triple Threat" series, which also featured Markki Stroem and Poppert Bernadas.

He started in performing as a professional in 2010, playing Tenyong in Tanghalang Ateneo's adaptation of "Walang Sugat".

He has given life to a lot of characters over the years, but there were special roles that became more memorable for him.

"Marami, we have Aguinaldo nga because that was my first theater award and I really love the role and then of course Maynila sa Kuko ng Liwanag kasi nag-pass out ako doon," he said. 

"Sa hirap ng choreography then you have to sing and dance then mayroon ka pang action scene and then you have to sing then nagpass out ako, di na kinaya. And then I also worked with Lea Salonga and Jett Pangan for Sweeney Todd which is also very memorable kasi after the Philippine leg, nag Singapore tour din kami with Atlantis," he said.

Ferrer said it takes blood, sweat, and tears to perfect one's craft in the arts, as it requires grit, passion, and commitment.

"I dedicated most of my life perfecting what I have now and dapat nakikita din yung sacrifice effort and yun na nga cliche na naman, blood sweat and tears ng isang artist para makarating doon sa pwesto niya kasi walang artist na overnight believe me, walang artist overnight," he said.

He also said that while there is a growing appreciation from Filipino audiences, the art scene in the Philippines has a lot to improve on.


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"Alam naman natin na in the Philippines, it is appreciated but hindi kasi standardized ang, na para siyang day job, kasi in the US we may unions di ba, so protected yung artists," he said. 

"Dito kasi wala so parang, magiging protected kalang kapag mayroon kang management di ba. But for everyone medyo mahirap so ayun medyo struggle ng artist yun," he said.

"Dito lang sa Pilipinas yung, kapag hindi ka pa sumikat abroad, hindi ka pa papansinin, kapag sumikat ka na abroad biglang, 'Huy Pilipino 'yan 'di ba?' Bakit pa natin hihintayin yun? Bakit hindi tayo maghomegrown talents, i-promote natin yun tapos ilabas natin abroad," he added.

Shiela Valderrama-Martinez, who's been Ferrer's leading lady in many productions, said despite being a veteran, Ferrer still is open to learning from fellow performers.

"He’s a hard worker and he’s open into learning new stuff because of course I’m older than him so he’s not naman, he’s the not the type to take offense when, he actually asks me for my notes and whatever my opinion was in. He’s very open to that," said Shiela Valderrama-Martinez.

Ferrer hoped to use his voice in inspiring other people, especially young artists.

"Ako kasi naniniwala ako na kapag binigay sayo yung talent, it’s a big responsibility so kailangan mo siyang gamitin, kailangan mo siyang ishare, kailangan mong iinspire yung other people," Ferrer said.

"Mission niyo yan and I’m sure na mag-eenjoy kayo, I mean hindi man siya financially rewarding now but the enjoyment that you get, fulfillment that you get from your passion and your work is priceless," he ended.