What you probably didn’t know about the late industry icon Eddie Garcia
With his unflagging discipline and the lofty professional standards he held himself to as an actor and director, the late industry icon Eddie Garcia could have very well been a soldier—his childhood dream.
In a world where being fashionably late can sometimes seem like a privilege earned by virtue of status or popularity, Garcia was unfailingly punctual—so much so that he would arrive on set, or at an event, hours ahead of the call time and everyone else, sending production staff scurrying to attend to him.
For instance, last year’s Parade of Stars—the glitzy motorcade that ushers in the annual Metro Manila Film Festival—was set to start at 1 p.m. Garcia arrived at the venue at 9 a.m. “Good thing I was there very early myself,” a publicist for the movie “Rainbow’s Sunset,” told the Inquirer. “But he was just chill and told us not to worry. We sat together in a waiting area and had a chat.”
The value he put on his and everyone else’s time was a byproduct of his training as a contract artist of Sampaguita Pictures, he recalled in past interviews. They were required to clock in; tardiness resulted in fines. “(Actor) Romeo Vasquez’s take-home pay would be almost down to zero because of the penalties,” he told the Inquirer in a 2012 interview.
And he didn’t even have a manager or a handler. “We dealt with him directly,” the publicist added. “You text him and he would call you back as soon as possible.”
Abiding by rules was something Garcia didn’t have trouble with, it seemed—he had been doing so since his childhood. In a profile by former Inquirer Entertainment editor Emmie G. Velarde in Celebrity Magazine in the early 1990s, Garcia recalled his mother requiring him and his siblings to be at dinner at a certain time. He rarely dared disobey.
“I almost always obeyed, because she blew up a storm with every infraction. All my playmates were not worth my mother’s displeasure. So I have always followed rules,” Garcia said. “That, I think, has served me well.”
Garcia was also health-conscious. He ate well, had a strict fitness regimen and regularly took his vitamins and supplements. The veteran thespian maintained this lifestyle, allowing him to actively work and turn in award-worthy performances well into his 80s.
“If I don’t have a taping, I exercise and read. I watch my diet,” he told Inquirer Entertainment in 2013, when asked how he manages to stay fit. “I’m not into meat that much and I prefer eating fish and vegetables. I sleep early and I don’t have any vices.”
Again, Garcia’s ethic paid off. In his last 10 years alone, the veteran still managed to put together a resume that could dwarf other celebritie’s entire filmographies. He appeared in at least one television show or movie every year and, in the process, collected awards, both international and foreign.
Among Garcia’s recent victories, the most notable ones were: best actor for “Bwakaw” (2012) at the Asian Film Awards, the Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the Cinemalaya Film Fest; and best actor for “ML” (2018) at the Cinemalaya, Famas and the Gawad Urian, which he won two days before he passed.
By his own count, he had amassed about 36 awards and dozens more nods. He didn’t think much of it, however—he didn’t yearn for them, much less expected to get them. Which isn’t to say that he didn’t value them. It’s just that, for Garcia, trophies are mere bonuses for a job well done.
Unlike other artists, Garcia didn’t have a romanticized image of the industry or his profession. Acting and moviemaking, as he so often stressed, is simply a job. And it was perhaps this no-nonsense, almost Spartan, approach that made him one of the most prolific stars in the business.
In the late 1980s, when local cinema was averaging over 200 films a year, he did around 22, he recounted in a group interview for “ML” last year. He wasn’t fussy. He didn’t have a favorite film or a dream role. There’s not one film he regretted doing, either.
“I don’t have a limit. If there’s an offer, I take it. It’s a job. I have never been choosy—well, unless you make me play a 15-year-old,” jested Garcia, who resolved to continue working until the industry needed him. Retirement was a word that didn’t exist in his vocabulary.
For Garcia, there were no big or small roles—he did attack all of them with equal fervor. “I make the most out of every job I get. I see to it that I give credible performances,” the actor told the Inquirer in 2013.
A great performance, as the late actor so often stressed, “is the best recommendation for the next job.” And with over 600 acting credits to his name, it’s perhaps safe to say that he never ran out of one.
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