What's Up


Tenors Miguel Castro, Arthur Espiritu, Dennis Gregory, Pete Avendaño et al and the Filipino audience

I miss Miguel Castro, the simple yet classy actor and singer that the late entertainment writer Bibsy Carballo had given her utmost professional management acumen to.


Miguel was one of the most reliable and sought after kundiman (Filipino love song or ballad) singers of the celebrated but now defunct “Aawitan Kita” of the iconic Armida Siguion-Reyna. I remember Castro was giving fellow singers Michael Laygo, Richard Reynoso, Rachel Alejandro, Lirio Vital etc. a run for their musical money.



Miguel is a tenor and when he was dabbling in acting for television, theater and film, he organized the Filipino Tenors, a trio who was beginning to be popular. As a matter of fact, the late fashion designer Goullee Gorospe would always invite the group to sing for his fashion shows with his matronly clients parading on their amazing frocks while Miguel and his four colleagues, namely Jenmar Buntalilid, Johann Enriquez, Christian Magano and Ezra Llamedo-Cruz (diva Dulce’s son) serenaded them onstage. When I produced a tribute to the late sultry singer Didith Reyes, “Remembering Didith Reyes” with Amazing Diva Armie Zuñiga singing all Didith’s signature songs at the Mowelfund Plaza, The Filipino Tenors (only three of them appeared, though), were special guests and the audience was mesmerized not only by Armie but with Miguel and company as well.


After sometime, though, Castro decided to migrate to Australia but still went on singing. He was featured in a Sydney version of “Noli Me Tangere” with him as Crisostomo Ibarra.


Until now, he is enjoying music however overseas. I was happy when I got to talk to him online. “Marami akong hindi magagandang karanasan sa showbiz sa Pilipinas kaya parang nakaka-frustrate (There were many not so wonderful and frustrating experiences in showbiz in the Philippines),” confessed Miguel.


Is the Filipino audience, especially the masses, ready to savor classical music? “We need more education about it,” said Miguel.


Aside from singing, Castro has found his way to producing Filipino musicals, one of them translating Philippine literary gems to operas like what he did to Dr. Jose Rizal’s “Noli Me Tangere” which according to ace Filipino fashion designer Albert Figueras (the wardrobe/costume maker and consultant of the stage play) was a success.


Miguel is also into endorsing products online and on broadcast. As a matter of fact, when he auditioned to be part of an ad which presented a local product in Australia, he was unanimously chosen by the company.


“I also do vlogs to vent my thoughts and feelings. I run a YouTube show which features Filipino stars I get to interview,” he informed.


Composer and frontliner in the US Francis Tanseco is also interested to have Miguel as his signature singer to interpret a song meant to pay homage to the former president of the Philippines Ferdinand E. Marcos. “I believe in Miguel. He should be given more breaks because he’s talented,” Francis opined.    


I also miss Arthur Espiritu, one of the most celebrated tenors in the Philippines who unfortunately is making a name not in his homeland but abroad. The last time I spoke to Arthur was early this year when he was featured in the Italian opera “Lucia di Lammermoor” which was presented by the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) in partnership with the Rustan Group of Companies and the Embassy of Italy.


CCP President Arsenio J. Lizaso, also known as Nick Lizaso, TV, movie and theater actor, director, writer and producer believed in Arthur so much so he tracked him down to play the lead role in the musical opposite an Italian opera star Melody Louledjian, a soprano.


According to Arthur, it’s more lucrative to perform abroad especially in Europe where the likes of him are appreciated so much. Aside from earning a lot, the audience is enthusiastic about his work and his art. No wonder he just pays the Philippines visits when he doesn’t have gigs in other parts of the globe. But the COVID-19 pandemic has also lent the classical music performances drab.


No worry for Espiritu who is already a Fil-Am and enjoys his life to the fullest. He regularly sees his family in the Philippines, though.


If he stuck it out here in the Philippines, Arthur said, he needed to work extra effort to make classical music a staple in the Philippine music industry because the audience has to learn more to appreciate the genre although Nick would counter that the Filipinos troop to the classics but they aren’t reported in the papers.


I always watch the video of Filipino tenor Pete Avendaño who is based in the United States of America. Pete has been garnering thousands of likes and shares in his rendition of “Pakiusap,” a love song kundiman written by the revered musician Francisco Santiago.


I could imagine Pete is content with his life abroad bringing Filipino music not only to his compatriots but to multiracial classical music aficionados who indeed appreciate the indigenous art of Filipino musicality.



Just recently, a versatile artist in the name of Joscephine Gomez virtually introduced me to a newbie tenor, Dennis Gregory. According to Joscephine, Dennis would debut in her production of “Serenade,” a solo concert that she billed a “miracle concert.” “It is because the show is prepared in only a month’s time. Imagine, Dennis got enrolled in my class at the Center for Voice Training and Wellnes on September 22, 2020 only. It was just a short preparation. After my teaching him the rudiments of classical music, Dennis was already ready to do a one-man show,” said Gomez.


Gregory is a choir master in a church in Cebu City and got interested in enrolling at Joscephine’s school online. He is ready to face up the challenge to entertaining the Filipino audience with his classic stuff with the help of Gomez.


“Ma’am Joscephine Gomez’s teaching style can be described in one word: Metamorphosis! She has the ability to transform you and create a beautiful work of art out of you.


"What I like about her is she is so equipped with a very good technique and is very cultured. She has travelled widely, speaks many languages and knows and understands different cultures.


“She is able to communicate her thoughts to us, her students, and makes it easy for us to understand them. I never really imagined doing a solo concert in this prime of my life but she has so much faith in me that I still have a place in the concert scene.


“She builds up your confidence even if there is so much work to do. She is a workaholic, I can say. Where does she get all that energy?


“She is truly inspiring. I look forward to being continually mentored by her,” Dennis beamed.


The concert was scheduled on October 21, 2020 at 8 pm in Gregory’s Facebook page.


“I am always challenged by new adventure even if it’s classical music,” said Gregory.    

Share this article