Renz Mareon Fernando: Gold mined from far-flung Tawi-Tawi Islands

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GARNERING four medals in a highly contested international talent competition such as the World Championships of Performing Arts (WCOPA) was one feat hard to duplicate but for a determined risk-taker and an indomitable dreamer like Renz Mareon Florendo Amirul, simply identified as Renz Fernando in the entertainment arena, it was the outcome of long-range preparation, unmeasured perseverance and unreserved commitment.

From the 21st WCOPA event held at the Long Beach Performing Arts Center of the Westin Long Beach Hotel in California, twenty-two-year-old Renz emerged a winner in four categories he entered as part of the Philippine contingent: gold in Pop (Writing’s On The Wall by Sam Smith), silver in Soul (I Who Have Nothing by Tom Jones), Bronze in Broadway (Bui Doi / Dust of Life from Miss Saigon), and another Bronze in World or Ethnic / Original regional song (Orde-e, a Cordillera chant).

Renz high-spiritedly left the stage with, aside from the 4 medals, a whopping $10,000.00 scholarship grant courtesy of the New York Film Academy where he enrolled in Musical Theater.

His long stint in the school choir made him appropriately developed his vocal technique aside from learning how to blend and adjust his range. “I also learned varied genre where my voice would best fit and, most importantly, I personally embraced the truest essence of professionalism and group camaraderie,” he shared.

Confidently armed with a tenor vocal range that could shatter a crystal, Renz gained the comprehensive rudiments of vocalizing while a student of Bachelor of Science in Tourism at the Polytechnic University of the Philippines where he was active in the school’s Choral Group.

“Actually my college days were filled with physical, emotional, and mental anguish and torments since it was my first time to be away from my family and lived all alone by myself. But those challenges molded me into a strong-willed being that I am now,” the swarthy vocalist candidly confessed.

Noticeably possessing a well-built physique, the intrinsically reticent Broadway hopeful was quick to explicate his long battle with the bulge.

“You won’t believe me when I say I was extremely overweight during my formative years… almost obese, to be precise. Yes, I was about 250 pounds until personal concerns crept in and I indulged in basketball and other strenuous physical activities. Another reason was when I joined Mr. & Miss NDB (Notre Dame of Bongao, my hometown school) which motivated me to slim down. Then the tensioning college bustles and hassles aided in gradually trimming me down to my current ideal weight of 170 lbs. which I try to maintain,” he narrated.

Aptly armed with unambiguous professionalism, strict discipline, and being aggressively resourceful, Renz achieved every aspect of endeavor he had aimed for. .

“My body’s defenses kicked in to high gear in rapid succession that vigorously motivated me to be essentially focused on what I did with clenched fist to ultimately overcome and survive all trials. Actually, to this day, I don’t really know how I was able to surmount all those challenges,” Renz admitted.

Unlike a raw mineral that needs extensive polishing to uncover its facets and luster Renz was “unearthed” (almost) perfectly refined just waiting to be tapped. His unquestionable stage exposures since his early years progressively honed his proficiency and readily paid off the very moment opportunity knocked. His unprecedented dedication to his craft all the more fortified and strappingly motivated him to reach the seemingly elusive dream he earnestly chased and desired.

If the Guinness Book of World Records listed USA’s Tim Storm as the male with the highest and widest vocal range at 10 octaves (who interestingly also holds the record with the lowest vocal note) while Mike Patton has 6 octaves, Axl Rose of Guns and Roses and Freddie Mercury of Queen have 5 octaves, Arnel Pineda and Steve Perry’s voices reached 4, then where does Renz Fernando’s voice fall?

`Easily that would be anywhere at par with Arnel’s or slightly lower by an octave. His vocal rendition of Tom Jones’ “I, Who Have Nothing,” according to music aficionados, is a couple of notes higher with more exciting arrangement.

Watching him from a distance gives the audience a faultless vantage point and visualization of his arresting personality that Renz is physically equipped with: shrouded with a commanding presence and outfitted electrifying stature, skillfully engaged presence, and adept with his performance. His innately strong stage charisma is fundamentally equated with magnetism that draws attention and curiosity. There’s something invisibly perceived that kept all eyes glued on him before he could even sing a note.

His energy level is consistently strong enough that it builds progressively toward the denouement and effortlessly controls its sustained range until he reaches the final note.

“I have learned to develop the ability to size up my audience…be  aware of its composite assemblage, and exert an effort to reach out to the last person seated at the last row,” Renz uttered with well-defined coyly manner. “I always see to it that I directly deliver the message of my song while simultaneously entertaining them,” he added with indisputable tone.

Just recently the multi-medalist tenor performed at PAFCOM’s 2018 Grand Marshal Gala (in honor of Jersey City Council President Rolando Lavarro) at the Harbor Side Atrium along Hudson Street in downtown Jersey City. The thundering applause was more than sufficient substantiation that Renz is indubitably a total performer. His sostenuto (sustained slowing of tempo) and legato tempo (the smooth flowing manner without breaks between notes) were very much effortlessly applied when he belted out his own vocal interpretation of Tom Jones’ “I Who Have Nothing” and Broadway’s Jekyll and Hyde’s “This Is The Moment.”

Since diversity spices life’s social status, it is easy to comprehend Renz’s leaning towards up-to-the-minute styles. His inherent flair for fashionable wardrobes inevitably made his entry into the entertainment arena glitzy since his status plausibly requires just the right outfits. His commanding stature at 5’11” devoid of rural traces straightforwardly makes him a potential ramp mannequin… proving his limitless potentials.

To create a clear vision and to better know the real Renz Mareon Fernando, let’s size up the Bongao, Tawi-Tawi-born lad by how he candidly answered the following interesting inquiries.

Asian Journal (AJ): How was your childhood like?

Renz Mareon Fernando (RMF): I guess I was just like any other ordinary kid… but the only difference was I grew up in one of the remote southwesternmost islands in the Philippines. Our playground used to be the open sea and the bountiful nature that surrounded us. It was already a big treat for us to go to Zamboanga City, about 6 hours travel, for pleasure and shopping.

AJ: When did you start to embrace music?

RMF: I became familiar with singing even before grade school but my exposure during a program while in Grade 6 opened the doors for me. I started to sing-along via karaoke and joined several town fiesta’s amateur singing contests where winning the championship with matching thousand pesos cash motivated me to further hone my craft.

AJ: How was your first Manila stint?

RMF: After high school I aimed for college in Manila and ended up in PUP (Polytechnic University of the Philippines) after auditioning for scholarship. My initial choice was Architecture but unfortunately there was no more slot left so I opted for Broadcast and Communications Research, a two-year course, then later I shifted to Tourism.

AJ: How was college life away from home?

RMF: It was actually something new to me and quite complicated at first. Life was fast-paced but it made me a better man. I totally learned to be on my own. It was a sagaciously preferred independence!

AJ: When was your first public exposure in Manila?

RMF: That was during the Inter-school National Musical Contest, although it wasn’t actually my solo exposure…it was a duet number. Then small projects followed until the WCOPA audition.

AJ: Who influenced you to join WCOPA?

RMJ: I was inspired by Erik Santos and Jed Madela. I auditioned in Makati on November 19, 2016 and luckily chosen to join the more than 80 Philippine delegates to the 2017 WCOPA.

AJ: How was it after winning?

RMF: The feeling was overwhelming! I was like walking on cloud nine. I celebrated my victory with some friends in Las Vegas and Orange County in California before flying back to Manila.

AJ: How did you cope up living in New York City?

RMF: It was a totally concrete jungle struggle. Boredom and idleness kicked in during the height of winter chills but my studies at NYFA ably provided comfort and kept me active. Luckily, I’ve the opportunity to do what I loved best— singing. I’ve done a couple of shows and met new connections. 

AJ: How do you prepare for a gig?

RMF: (Rolled his eyes trying to grasp the right response…) Well, I take a complete rest and try to get an eight-hour sleep. I stay hydrated, vocalize a lot, and, if possible before my performance, I take a shot of brandy to smoothen my laryngeal muscles.

AJ: Other than techniques you personally learned through experience, what did you formally learn?

RMF: There were a lot being taught in school but so far breathing and air support, phonation, posture, vocal resonation and projection, and vocal control are very useful pointers that I constantly remember.

AJ: Any current shows?

RMF: I can only perform when I’m free from school…but my weekends are open. I will be part of Mountaintop Entertainment Productions’ “This 15 Me”  concert of Sarah Geronimo on May 6.

AJ: What are you future plans?

RMF: After my course there’s no other path for me to tread but towards the Broadway stage. I could only hope to get my Artist’s Visa and pray to see my name etched on the marquees of the Great White Way!

For comments and suggestions, please email to: [email protected].

1 Comment
  1. Very impressive and excellently written article on Renz Fernando!
    Kudos to Mr. Bobby Yalong!!! ????????????

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