THE SIMPLE TRUTH ABOUT EDDIE GARCIA
Manila, December 6, 2002 (STAR) By Claire Agbayani - Few actors in Philippine movies today can lay claim to being as versatile and as enduring as Eddie Garcia. In his five decades on the silver screen he has been bida and contrabida, and starred in comedy, drama and even action films. And there have been numerous awards dotting that illustrious career. Other actors can only aspire to be like him.
Eddie was with the Philippine Scouts with the US Army during the Second World War. "I was stationed in Okinawa as a military policeman," he recalls. When he got out, he entered show business and he hasn’t left since.
Eduardo Garcia was born on May 2, 1929. That makes him 73. Many of his contemporaries, like Mario Montenegro and Johnny Monteiro (who were his co-actors in his maiden movie, Siete Infantes de Lara), have since passed on. Eddie knows only too well that "I can’t stay here forever. Somebody will have to take over." But that hardly means he’s thinking of retiring. Not just yet.
"It never crossed my mind," he says matter-of-factly, "as long as they still want me–producers, directors, the paying movie public. One day, when they don’t want me anymore, then it would be time to retire."
And it doesn’t look like the producers, directors or the "paying movie public", as he calls them, are ready to give up on him yet. Right now, he shoots on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in a mansion in Antipolo or another 100-year-old house in Batangas for the daily soap series Kung Mawawala Ka, where he plays the patriarch of the Montemayor family of politicians.
When he’s not doing that, he’s shooting movies, the most current of which is Regal Film’s Metro Manila Film Festival entry Mano Po, an epic tale about a Chinese-Filipino family in which Eddie plays the patriarch. Another Regal movie, Bahid, has just opened and in it, he portrays the role of the husband of Dina Bonnevie who still fools around with Dina’s younger sister played by Assunta de Rossi.
For someone so involved in this convoluted industry, Eddie displays a surprising detachment from his profession. "To me, my job as an actor is just a job... nothing high-faluting about it," he says. He also accepts the odd and often long hours the job demands, saying simply, "Your time is not your own." If he has to shoot the whole day and well into the wee hours, he just sleeps the next day.
And neither is he bothered by mediocre or undisciplined actors. "Why should it be my concern? Why should I rattle myself? It’s the director’s problem," he states.
Eddie counts among his memorable roles those with Ronnie Poe, and movies like Tubog sa Ginto, Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan and Death Row.
While he approaches every role with a seriousness and dedication that is the hallmark of a professional, one role that he has always given justice to is that of a politician, although it has never crossed his mind to become one–there aren’t even hints about an electoral bid for Eddie Garcia.
Another would be that of a military man, which is such a breeze for this man of regal bearing. "I’ve played the role of generals, coronels–and mayors too, like Mayor Climaco, Mayor Lim and Mayor Latigo," Eddie recalls.
He has also often portrayed the role of a philandering husband in romantic comedies, such as the runaway hits of the 70s May Lamok sa Loob ng Kulambo and May Daga sa Labas ng Lungga, produced and directed by Danny Zialcita and starring Miss Universe-turned-actress Gloria Diaz. With his dapper and dashing image, we wondered if there was a similarity between him and this role. While admitting to having had "some flings" in the past, Eddie is a one-woman man.
In real life, Eddie, a widower, has a partner. His wife died cancer in 1995. He has three children, two of whom died young–one in a motorcycle accident at the age of 22 and another of a heart attack when she was 39. He has seven grandchildren whom he sees often.
After half a century and countless roles in the movies, Eddie can be said to have played it all. "None," he answers when asked if there is a "dream role" that he would like to do. "I wouldn’t want to think of a role that would never materialize. It’s a waste of time and effort–I don’t wish for the moon–only things that could be achieved. If it is not achievable, forget it."
When Eddie first entered show business, "I said to myself, I’m going to give myself 15 years to be able to direct my first movie. Fortunately, it took me 12 years–or three years earlier than I had planned." He considers Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-Ibig as his most memorable directorial assignment.
Many have wondered about his secrets for looking so good. One thing Eddie cares about is his health. He takes over a dozen different types of supplementary vitamins daily, since "we don’t get all of the vitamins we need from the food that we eat."
He dyes his salt and pepper hair black, and when a role calls for it, he uses a spray from Cinema Secrets that gives him silver streaks.
"On my days off, I usually walk or jog around the subdivision (Alabang Hills)," he reveals. "I love the environment. I have planted trees in the lot across mine–ornamental trees, Caballero, red flowers, Talisay". He proudly declares that the trees are already six years old.
Eddie practices shooting twice a week. He joins competitions and goes to Fort Bonifacio, Valenzuela and as far as Cagayan de Oro and Marbel, Cotabato in Mindanao. He attended the World Shoot in Cebu in 1999, and regrets that he missed this year’s World Shoot in South Africadue to pressing movie and TV commitments.
Eddie is a member of the International Practical Shooting Confederation (IPSC). "We have a lot of gun clubs here. Filipinos love guns," he says. Lest you get the wrong idea, Eddie adds, "Gun-related crimes are usually from illegal guns. Shooters are careful. They don’t (flaunt) their guns in public. They only bring it out when they’re ready to shoot."
If you’re expecting a super-charged superstar when you meet Eddie Garcia, it’s going to be a pleasant surprise to meet such a down-to-earth, straight-talking, no airs-no nonsense man who wears his celebrity status with such ease. On the big screen he may be a tough guy or a good guy, a hero or a heel, a champion or a fool, but in real life Eddie Garcia is his own man–a man with two feet solidly planted on the ground and a true eye for what life is really all about.
Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi
2002 by PHILIPPINE HEADLINE NEWS
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