Eddie Garcia.
Photo by Dix Perez courtesy of PeopleAsia magazine
‘Manoy of the Hour’
PEOPLE - Joanne Rae M. Ramirez (The Philippine Star) - June 25, 2019 - 12:00am

Last Thursday, at 4:55 p.m., Eddie Garcia, after two weeks in a coma due to a neck fracture, passed away at the Makati Medical Center. He was 90.

I cannot think of any other Filipino movie actor who had terrified me out of my wits by portraying villains, made me cry, made me laugh — by being a person other than himself on the big screen. I used to get scared of him when I was little because he always played a contrabida. Then he impressed me by tackling comedy with the same ease, leaving me in stitches. As for drama, well, he was a virtuoso in that, too.

The 2012 movie Bwakaw was a drama but Eddie Garcia mixed it with his impeccable comedic timing. You laugh and cry with him in Bwakaw.

According to Cinema Evaluation Board member Büm Tenorio Jr., “His movies Bwakaw, Rainbow’s Sunset and ML, which were screened by the Cinema Evaluation Board, got a grade of A — a big factor was credited to the acting ability of Eddie Garcia.”

I am sharing the following article written by the late Greggy Vera Cruz on “Manoy” (literally “elder brother” or an elder in Bicolano, his native dialect), when he was chosen one of PeopleAsia magazine’s “People of the Year” in 2013.

Like Eddie, Greggy was inimitable. Living up to his moniker as PeopleAsia’s “title holder,” Greggy coined the title of this piece, “Manoy of the Hour,” plus its sidebar Hello...Garci(a)? published in PeopleAsia magazine’s December 2012-January 2013 issue.

*  *  *

At the ‘People of the Year’ awards night at the Dusit Thani Manila in 2013 are (from left) then PeopleAsia chairman Choy Cojuangco, publisher Babe Romualdez, ‘People of the Year awardee Eddie Garcia, then member of the board Beaver Lopez, Volvo’s Albert Arcilla and the author.

On the silver screen, he has practically essayed all imaginable roles, both lead and supporting. As a director, he has churned out memorable and blockbuster hits. In the awards circuit, he has amassed a collection from credible award-giving bodies and boasts the most Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) awards in history. Indeed, as far as the movie industry is concerned, Eddie Garcia is the “one and only.”

Aside from his multitude of credentials, his impressive record from the FAMAS alone speaks for itself.

To date, Eddie Garcia is the most-awarded and nominated person in the long history of the FAMAS, garnering a total of 34 nominations (13 for Best Supporting Actor, 10 for Best Actor and 11 for Best Director). From these, he was bestowed six trophies for Best Supporting Actor, five for Best Actor and five for Best Director.

That makes him the only person in the Philippines to be a Hall of Fame inductee of the FAMAS in three categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor and Best Director. He has also received one Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fernando Poe, Jr. Memorial Award.

If that isn’t worthy of any deserving plaudit or recognition; heck, I don’t know what is.

From the Scouts to the silver screen

“As far as I’m concerned, I have had no memorable roles (during my almost 63-year stint) in the movies. It’s up to the people who have seen my movies to say which they find memorable,” begins Eddie Garcia.

In this exclusive interview for PeopleAsia held in Cainta, Rizal, during one of his TV projects, the multi-awarded performer was in his usual cool and suave self. This, despite the fact, that production was destined to finish shooting until the wee hours of the night, or until dawn of the next day.

Eddie started in the movies in 1949, through his breakthrough role in Siete Ynfantes de Lara under Manuel Conde Productions. A former member of the Philippine Scouts under the US Army, his eventual re-enlistment was haltered by a friend’s invitation for him to apply for a screen test.

After a week, the late Manuel Conde finally cast Eddie among seven (including the late Mario Montenegro and Johnny Monteiro) out of the 40 hopefuls who auditioned. Our Taurean military man had no choice then but to write to his commanding officer that he had joined the glitterati. The rest, as they say, is history. 

“It was Doc Perez and Sampaguita Pictures, however, who gave me a break in directing; my first movie was Karugtong ng Kahapon,” he reminisces.

To date, he has directed some of the finest actresses Philippine cinema has ever produced, including Nora Aunor (Atsay, 1978), Lorna Tolentino (Abakada...Ina, 2001), Sharon Cuneta (P.S. I Love You, 1981) and Vilma Santos (Palimos ng Pag-Ibig, 1986 and Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-Ibig, 1987).

Staying power

“It just makes me laugh when people say I’m a living icon,” he snickers. “For me, after all, movie-making is just a job. You finish one project; you move on to another. It’s a nice way to make a living.

“I give my thanks to the people who look up to me as a role model. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing highfalutin about being an actor or a director. It’s just a job.”

For the 83-year-old thespian, who hails from Buhi, Camarines Sur and Juban, Sorsogon, there is no such thing as a dream role or a dream project.

“After all, if it doesn’t come into reality, then it’s just a waste of time. Whatever role or project is offered to me, I grab it. I also don’t have any ready script to peddle. Producers just approach me to do the job,” he states matter-of-factly.

He is also nonchalant about the issue of leaving a legacy to his hordes of followers and to showbiz chroniclers. “I don’t intend to leave a legacy. Whatever they see when I’m doing or directing a film, if they enjoy it, then that’s my legacy,” he concludes with his distinctive grin and a wink of an eye. Spoken, indeed, in true Manoy form.

Eddie Garcia’s mere enigmatic presence, after all, is a legend in itself!

The late Greggy Vera Cruz and Eddie Garcia in 2014.

Hello…Garci(a)?

Known to be quick in discerning amusing insights and catchy one-liners on relationships, our multi-talented “Man of the Hour” dishes out some of his picks that have, indeed, made him extraordinary and incomparable in the industry. To wit:

If you were not into acting or directing, where would you be?  I would have been a retired colonel, or probably six feet under either in Korea or in Vietnam.

Business or politics? None of the above. I’ve been offered positions in the government from way back but it’s simply not my cup of tea.

Nora Aunor or Vilma Santos? I’ve directed them both, and they are very good actresses.

Your type of woman: foreigners or Filipinas? Filipinas. But it really doesn’t matter because I’ve had foreigner girlfriends as well.

Divine or Diva? Divine. I like my woman to be a homebody.

Day or night? Either. Whenever you feel like it; time is immaterial.

Lights on or lights out? It doesn’t matter. But dim lights would probably be more romantic (grins).

(You may e-mail me at joanneraeramirez@yahoo.com. Follow me on Instagram @joanneraeramirez.)

EDDIE GARCIA
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