The 89-year-old Eddie Garcia’s tenure of seven decades in Philippine cinema lined with remarkable roles and so many awards is a feat nearly impossible to match.
But being able to keep his feet on the ground throughout, that trumps all and makes him a true icon.
In an interview, he casually said when asked that he has won at least 39 awards. The actor is the most awarded and nominated person in the long history of the Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences (FAMAS) Awards.
Eddie has garnered a total of 34 nominations – 13 for Best Supporting Actor, 10 for Best Actor, and 11 for Best Director. Out of these, he got six Best Supporting Actor wins, five Best Actor wins and five Best Director wins, three Hall of Fame Awards, 1 Lifetime Achievement Award and the Fernando Poe Jr. Memorial Award. He is the only individual inducted in three categories in the FAMAS Hall of Fame: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director.
Also, he is the only performer in local movie history to win three consecutive FAMAS Awards: Best Supporting Actor awards for “Taga Sa Bato (1957),” “Condenado (1958),” and “Tanikalang Apoy (1959).” In the 1980s, Eddie was able to make 22 films in a year.
The actor is active in the movies and on TV to this day. And he has no plans of stopping anytime soon.
“As long as there’s work for me, as long as people still want to watch me, I will go on,” he said. “I’m not very picky with roles. Ultimately, it’s just a role.”
These include a gay guy, priest, soldier – name it, he’s likely done it.
“Well, except to play leading lady,” he pointed out with a smile.
Turning serious, Eddie said he gives his all in every role because it would be “the best recommendation for the next project.”
Asked to pick favorite film in his catalogue, he said that numbering 600 now, that’s just impossible to do.
“Basta ginawa ko, gusto ko kasi bakit ko tinanggap,” he said.
Eddie is so professional that even now, he has no qualms waking up early for work even if he stayed up late taping a series of shooting scenes for a movie.
The actor recalled directing this movie which required him to work for 72 hours straight!
And, no, he isn’t the type who would throw the director’s chair at you even if you mess up your lines several times.
“Because if my mood suffers, then everybody suffers,” he said, then joked, “Then no one will eat on set.”
So, for the record, he is not strict?
“No. May pagka-Hitler lang,” he said with a laugh.
Three time’s the charm?
In 2005, on the first year of the Cinemalaya Film Festival, Eddie starred in the official entry “ICU Bed No. 7.” Seven years, the actor headed the Cinemalaya film “Bwakaw.” He won Best Actor for both performances.
This time, Eddie stars in the Cinemalaya film “ML” (short for “Martial Law”), written and directed by Benedict Mique.
Asked if he expects to win again, Eddie simply said if it’s meant to be then it will be.
“Awards, though always welcome, are just bonuses for jobs well done,” he said to that effect.
In “ML,” Eddie plays the role of retired Metrocom Colonel who has slight dementia. He believes it is still the era of Martial Law and when Tony Labrusca’s character approached him, he mistakes him for an activist.
“I believe this film has an intriguing concept and it’s good to be shown to today’s generation,” he said. They will like it.”
How was Martial Law for him?
“Kapag hindi ka makikialam, walang mangyayari sa ’yo. Kapag nakialam ka, may mangyayari sa ’yo,” was how the political actor put it.
Eddie praised Tony’s work in “ML,” calling him a “consummate actor.”
Eddie was asked what his job would be if not as actor.
“Retired sundalo or patay na (dahil sa gera),” he joked. Note that Eddie was a member of the Philippine Scouts in Okinawa in World War II. The Philippine Military Academy Marangal (Honorable) Class of 1974 also adopted him as one of their honorary classmates, alongside First Gentleman Mike Arroyo.
Doing “ML” kind of brought him back to the past. The actor is into target shooting and he owns several licensed guns.
“If it’s not licensed then it’s against the law and I’m a law abiding citizen,” he said.
Does he have a violent streak, we asked on a lam.
“Hindi ako violente, dapat nga nag-pari ako eh dahil mabait daw ako at parang anghel,” he said in jest.
We believe him.