By Zsarlene B. Chua
LEGENDARY actor/director Eddie Garcia died as a result of an accident while doing what he loved most — acting — after suffering a neck fracture on the set of his new television series. He was 90 years old.
He died on Thursday, June 20 at 4:55 p.m. at the Makati Medical Center. His death was confirmed by the hospital.
Mr. Garcia fell during a taping of the show Rosang Agimat on June 8 in Tondo, Manila and was rushed to Mary Johnston Hospital before being transfered to the Makati Medical Center.
Rosang Agimat was Mr. Garcia’s come back series at GMA Network as his last project with the network was 2015’s Little Nanay. He starred in ABS-CBN’s long-running program, Ang Probinsyano, before he moved on to the GMA project.
His last award before his death was just this week, a Gawad Urian for Best Actor for his work in Benedict Mique’s ML (2018).
Mr. Garcia portrayed the role of a retired colonel who — in a state of dementia — tortures young people in his household basement, thinking the country is still under Martial Law. Mr. Mique enjoined the audience to work towards making Mr. Garcia “a National Artist” for film.
Cebuana actress Gloria Sevilla, who won the Natatanging Gawad Urian Award (lifetime achievement award) for her roles ina Madugong Paghihiganti (1963) and Badlis sa Kinabuhi (1969) said during her acceptance speech that Mr. Garcia’s on-set accident is a “a wake up call [for the industry].”
She said that movie workers ought to be given protection at work; and upon retirement, financial aid should be made available to movie workers, production people, and even media covering the film industry.
Mr. Garcia is survived by his partner of 33 years, Lilibeth Romero, his stepsons Michael and Nikki Romero, and daughter Lisa Ortega.
Born Eduardo Verchez Garcia in Sorsogon on May 2, 1929, he started his more than half a century career with Siete Infantes de Lara in 1949. Among his films during his first two years in the industry were Kahit Ang Mundo’y Magunaw in 1949, Huling Patak ng Dugo and Kilabot ng Langit shown both in 1950.
Before acting, Mr. Garcia was a member of the Philippine Scouts and was posted in Okinawa after the Second World War. He was roped into auditioning for Manuel Conde’s Siete Infantes de Lara together with a fellow Scout.
Though he is known mostly for his villainous roles, the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino’s Lito B. Zulueta noted in a post on the organization’s website that Mr. Garcia is a man of many faces.
“The sheer variety of roles he has done runs the gamut of genres, formulas, and typecasting. He has done drama, comedy, action movies, fantasy, and musical. The list of his acting jobs reads like a history of Philippine cinema in the last 50 years,” Mr. Zulueta wrote.
His International Movie Database (IMDb) page lists 653 acting credits to his name from films to TV series.
At first, due to his Hispanic features and bearing, Mr. Garcia was typecast into playing villain roles. One of his films was named just that — Contravida (1955) by Olive La Torre.
He was so effective as a villain that he won the FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) award for Best Supporting Actor for three straight years from 1957 to 1959. The same award-giving body would eventually give Mr. Garcia six best supporting actor trophies, five best actor trophies, and five best director trophies. Mr. Zulueta wrote that “FAMAS had to invent the Hall of Fame just to put him out of the running and give others the chance to win!”
“He is the only one in the history of the FAMAS to win the Best Supporting Actor trophy for three consecutive years (1957, 1958 and 1959); was the first to be inducted into the Best Supporting Actor Hall of Fame; and is the only one to have also been inducted into the Best Actor and Best Director Halls of Fame, in addition to a Lifetime Achievement Award,” Greg Macabenta’s wrote in his June 11 column in BusinessWorld.
The consummate artist that he was, he eventually ventured outside the villain role and accepted more controversial roles — he played a closeted gay family man in National Artist for Film Catalino “Lino” Brocka’s Tubog sa Ginto.
The film, according to Mr. Zulueta, “broke new grounds in depicting the secret life of a homosexual husband and family man,” and that before Tubog, “the gay man is presented in comic terms; the figure was a standard laughing stock… but when Eddie Garcia took on the role, the figure was recast in stark terms, portrayed in a keen light.”
Mr. Garcia won a best actor trophy from the FAMAS for his work in Tubog sa Ginto.
During the period of what is commonly called the “Second Golden Age of Philippine Cinema” (the 1970s to the early 1980s) when seminal works of Nationals Artists Mr. Brocka and Ishmael Bernal among others abound, Mr. Garcia was an intergral part of the movement.
He was in Mr. Brocka’s Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang (1974), Eddie Romero’s Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon (1976) and Mr. Brocka’s Miguelito: Ang Batang Rebelde (1985), to name a few.
Mr. Garcia also starred in more social dramas like Mr. Brocka’s Gumapang Ka sa Lusak (1990), Joel Lamangan’s Bakit May Kahapon Pa (1996) and Deathrow (2000). In Deathrow, he played an aged convict who shielded a young prisoner from harsh prison life. He won a Gawad Urian for Best Actor for his work in the film.
Gawad Urian, considered the country’s answer to the Academy Awards and awarded by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, gave Mr. Garcia a Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006.
Mr. Garcia, fondly called “Manoy” was also a comedic actor and action star: for much of the 1980s and 1990s he acted opposite Fernando Poe, Jr. in Kapag Puno na ang Salop (1987) and its sequel, Ako ang Huhusga (1989) which Mr. Poe also directed.
Mr. Garcia’s love affair with the screen didn’t stop at acting as he was also a muti-awarded director — among his directorial credits were Karugton ng Kahapon (1961) and Historia un Amor (1963). His most recent directorial credit was Abakada… Ina in 2001.
In 1969, Mr. Garcia directed Pinagbuklod ng Langit, a biopic about former President Ferdinand E. Marcos which won him his first Best Director award from FAMAS. In 1978, he directed Atsay which won Best Picture at the Metro Manila Film Festival. Atsay starred Nora Aunor.
IMDb lists 37 directorial credits to his name.
When the new millenium came, Mr. Garcia once again reinvented himself, this time as a supporter of independent cinema. He starred in Raymond Red’s Anino which won the grand prize in the short film category at the Cannes Film Festival in 1999 and in Rica Arevalo’s ICU Bed #7 where he won best actor in the first Cinemalaya Film Festival in 2005.
Some of his last works were ML (2018) by Benedict Mique Jr., Hintayan ng Langit (2018) by Dan Villegas and Rainbow’s Sunset (2018) by Joel Lamangan.