By By Pablo A. Tariman
posted 30-Sep-2018  ·  
1,576 views  ·   0 comments  ·  
Eddie Garcia as gay businessman in a 1971 Lino Brocka film, "Tubog sa Ginto" with Mario O'Hara as his lover.

He has just wrapped up another film (Rainbow Sunset), his Cine Malaya starrer, ML (Martial Law), was one of the top grossers in the CCP-spearheaded film fest.

As of this writing, there is no sign Eddie Garcia will retire.

“For as long as they need me, I will be there,” said the 89-year veteran actor from Juban, Sorsogon. “There is only one role I have not tried and that is to become a leading lady,” he added in jest.

He has appeared in more than 600 films, received some 39 awards and recipient of several Life Achievement Awards.

He has played father to Susan Roces, Amalia Fuentes and Tessie Agana in the ’60s and the ’70s but in the ’80s and the ’90s, he’s husband and lover of local filmdom’s young and sizzling sex goddesses.

Everything about him embodies what he has been known for in showbiz in the last 69 years. — well-groomed, punctual, relaxed, the epitome of Mr. Cool and a gentleman of the first order.

In his Cine Malaya film, he has time to recall his boyhood days and admitted he had true-to-life gay encounter in the forest of Juban, his hometown in Sorsogon. “I was 16 then and innocent,” he jokingly told media persons. In his youth, he would cross Juban rivers naked with his clothes up the air on his one hand for a night of dancing.

Experience teaches one to become better actors, he rued and one surmised, this is the reason he shines even in gay roles.

He was a gay businessman in Lino Brocka’s Tubog Sa Ginto in 1971. He won another acting trophy for his role as the retired, aging gay in Bwakaw.

Some years back, I saw an old film of his, Paru-parung Buking on TV where he played a closet queen director whose take-home stud was played by Ricky Davao.

Still, his most memorable was his role as the closet gay in Lino Brocka’s Tubog Sa Ginto.

When the role was offered to him by Brocka, he had no qualms accepting it. “It was a very unusual role that comes once in an actor’s lifetime. What I particularly liked about the part was the role is not the caricature of the Filipino gay. The parts often played in the movies are the beauty parlor type and the town-screaming faggot. In the role, nobody knows I was gay because I was married, I have a teenage son (played by Jay Ilagan) and I have a respectable job. It was when I started looking for pick-up boys that my gayness comes to the fore. It was Mario O’Hara who played my lover.”

Eddie intimated he researched quite a lot to prepare for that Brocka assignment. “I asked my gay friends about what gives way to a fag even if they looked macho.”

Like it or not, the role in the 1971 Brocka movie was far more substantial than his foray into the Paru-Parung Buking category.

But obviously, Eddie is one actor who will try everything to explore his acting possibilities.

In his acting lifetime, he has played swashbuckling priest, closet father, gay director, aggrieved police officer and a small-town priest on Darna.

To be sure, his joining the movies came by accident.

In the late ’40s, he was with the Philippine Scouts with stints in Okinawa and was about to go on another assignment with the US Army when his aunt told him Sampaguita Pictures was looking for new actors.

Recalled the actor: “The movie was Siete Infantes de Lara and they needed seven guys for the part. There were 40 of us who applied and I got one of the seven parts.”

That successful movie audition ended his tenure as Philippine Scout where he worked for close to three years. For his first movie role, he was paid P300.

“Of course, I had ambitions to work behind the camera but I told myself I’d spend 15 years as an actor and then turn to movie directing later. It came sooner than I thought after 12 years in 1961 — when I directed Mario Montenegro, Rita Gomez and Marlene Dauden in Karugtong Ng Kahapon.”

For that first directorial chore, he was paid P5,000.

Born a Taurus (May 2), Eddie says there is nothing earth-shaking about his life worth exploring for movie projects. “People born under the sign of Taurus are probably the most passive people on earth,” he pointed out earlier.

At age 89, Eddie has no set formula for active and healthy living except the ones he does to this day. “I exercise regularly, I stick to a diet of fish and vegetables and of course I take some supplemental vitamins.”

Eddie’s presence in the industry remains baffling as he continues to make exceptions rather the rule in tinsel town.

An autobiography is out of the question and even suggestions of the important highlights in his life and career the actor tosses to the wind. “Let other people decide what makes my life interesting,” he intimated earlier.

Talk of living all over again and trying another life. “If a new life is offered to me, I’d probably explore a full military officer’s life interrupted in my younger days by a movie career.” 

Eddie Garcia with co-star in his Cine Malaya entry, "ML." Strong and focused at 89.
Eddie Garcia in his latest film, "Rainbow Sunset" with Glo-ria Romero and co-star.
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