After completing her first Kapamilya teleserye, Pasion de Amor, where she earned praise for her portrayal of the lead female character Norma, she had since entered filmdom by storm with the blockbuster rom-com Always Be My Maybe opposite Gerald Anderson.
But little did those who raved about her knew a major mishap she suffered that could have even put an abrupt end to her blossoming career. And as she got into filming the movie, one person closest to her heart passed away so suddenly.
Opportunity of a lifetime
Pasion de Amor was certainly the biggest break for the actress, who nailed the role after an audition. It had been the opportunity of a lifetime she was waiting for, after a long layoff from the limelight since transferring from one network to another.
And it would have been such a waste had a freak accident at a rock concert would leave a permanent mark on her face.
As taping started for Pasion de Amor in October 2014, she attended a concert of Mr. Bones and the Boneyard Circus, whose frontman is her boyfriend Bones Frankenstein (real name is Badi Bolkiah, son of Brunei prince Jefri and Pinay wife Evangeline). Bones had invited Arci to go on stage during a number and obliged. And as she jammed with the band, she accidentally banged her head on a microphone that left her with a serious wound near the eye.
She was rushed to the hospital and underwent surgery that had her open wound on the eyelid stitched that led to a visible scar, which appeared to have altered her face altogether.
In an interview with PEP.ph last year, Arci feared losing the precious opportunity of advancing her career as part of Pasion de Amor.
“I’ve been given this rare opportunity ’tapos ganito pa yung nangyari. Kaya alam mo yun, nung time na iyon sobra akong depressed, hindi ko alam ang gagawin ko,” she said.
As it happened just after she got accepted and tapings were already scheduled to start, she feared production would drop her with the ugly scar that is clearly seen onscreen, given the pristine looks her character demands. Arci also noted that production would not have time to wait for her wound to heal as they have a strict schedule to follow.
Thoughts of leaving showbiz
“Sa isip ko, ‘Ano ba? Para sa akin ba talaga?’ Nung time na iyon naisip ko na, ‘Hindi na ba ako mag-aartista?’ she said. Arci indeed entertained the thought of leaving showbiz and instead concentrate on music as the lead singer of her band Philia.
Should ABS-CBN went on to decide in dropping her, it would have become the latest in a string of misfortunes she had experienced in the industry, including her exit from her last TV network, which opted not to renew her contract.
But a development concerning one of the teleserye’s leading men proved to be a blessing.
“Actually, nasakto din na Jake (Cuenca) went to New York to study for a month,” Arci tells PEP.ph further. “So sakto, like the day before he leaves to New York, naaksidente ako.”
Jake’s studies at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute gave her enough time to remove the scar through laser treatments.
“Sabi ko sa isip ko, ‘Jake, tagalan mo pa diyan [sa New York].’ Kasi kailangan ko talaga ng mahabang oras para magpagaling. Pero yun, thank God nandito pa rin ako.”
And, Arci indeed made the most of the opportunity, exceling in her craft and impressed Pasion de Amor audiences with her riveting, alluring, and intense on-screen performance throughout its near nine-month run. She has since turned out to be next Kapamilya star the network was molding and had become its next marquee personality in Star Cinema.
As she further crossed over to film, Arci further amazed producers with her irresistible charm and natural talent. Moreso the audiences when it was finally released as they gave Arci a rousing ovation. But in February, when she started filming the top-grosser, Arci suffered one painful personal blow, more painful than any of her previous setbacks—the death of her father, Manuel.
She said it was something she initially found difficult to accept. "Mahirap mag-move on, iba't ibang sitwasyon. Depende, e, hindi lang dahil iniwan ka ng boyfriend mo. Paano kapag iniwan ka talaga ng loved one mo?" she tells the Philippine Star. “Like for example right now... What I'm going through na my dad passed while I'm doing the movie."
But her dad’s passing brings her one poignant but important lesson that show would most definitely bear in mind, given the roller-coaster journey she’s been through.
"So it's really hard. You just have to accept na everything happens for a reason. And lahat ng nangyayari sa buhay natin may purpose. After this situation, you'll pass through this experience, you'll learn something from it, there's a teaching."