At his solo press conference that announced his entrance to the primetime “hero-serye” Juan dela Cruz, a quiet but chirpy Eddie Garcia was asked in the Bicolano dialect how he was.
“Mabuti naman.Tumutuka-tuka pa!” quipped Eddie Garcia, drawing both laughter and endearment from a roomful of entertainment reporters.
Creases on the skin around his eyes and cheeks showed when he broke into a mischievous but charming smile.
The actor, who turns 84 on May 2, donned a black pinstripe suit and an eye-catching aquamarine shirt.
Manoy, as the proud Bicolano is fondly called, has been in the showbiz circuit for six decades now yet his presence felt like “home” to the people surrounding him.
At the moment, his accolades remain unparalleled in the industry.
Eddie Garcia, who starred in over 600 movies and series, is the lone FAMAS (Filipino Academy of Movie Arts and Sciences) Hall of Famer in three categories: Best Actor, Best Supporting Actor, and Best Director; as well as an Urian Lifetime Achievement Awardee with some 34 trophies and 23 nominations from different award-winning bodies.
Recently, the actor’s portrayal of the old gay grump in the independent film Bwakaw earned Eddie the Best Actor awards at the 2012 Asia-Pacific Film Festival and the 2013 Asian Film Award.
In a press conference proper held last February 28, PEP.ph captured the actor’s candid retorts as well as his priceless nuggets of wisdom regarding acting and growing old.
How do you feel about being cast in one role after another?
Ang pelikula ay trabaho lang iyan, e. Kung ano ang dumating, tanggapin.
Where do you draw strength?
E, siguro nagtataka ka kung bakit medyo kaya ko pa rin. Pinaglihi kasi ako sa sanggol, e.
What do your daily activities consist of?
Ang ginagawa ko kasi puro ka-anghelan lang, e. Well a, kung wala akong shooting, [I] exercise, read, and [keep a] proper diet. Hindi kasi ako masyado mahilig sa meat, e. Usually fish and vegetables.
Can you keep up with a 3-times-a-week taping schedule?
Sanay naman ako kung mag-MWF (Monday, Wednesday, Friday).
Don’t you get tired easily?
Ah, hindi naman. Dahil sa taping naman, ang mahaba ang oras ng pahinga, e.
How do you manage to work in the different TV networks without creating conflict?
Wala naman akong contract per network. It’s just per project. So pagkatapos na ang project, kung saan may opening, dun ka.
During your youth, back when you were a debonair bachelor, how many girls did you go out with?
Ako’y pa-isa-isa lang!
How did you live your life back in the 1950s?
Noong panahong iyon, Eddie Garcia was just a simple man. Wala akong pinakialaman na artista. Sabi ko nga puro ka-anghelan, e.
How about when you got older, did other actresses run after you?
Wala. Kung meron siguro man, mabubulgar, di ba?
You’re probably good at keeping secrets.
Kung meron yan… Di ba ang apoy may usok? Kung may usok may apoy.
Do you miss being a filmmaker? Are there offers?
Sa ngayon, wala. Noon kasi nung nagdi-direk ako, iniintay ko lang dumating ang offer. E, ngayon dahil … so medyo mahina ang… mga producer na gumagawa ng pelikula. Nung mga late '80s gumagawa tayo ng 220 films a year, e, ngayon, nakita mo naman, barely forty. May festival o ano, 'tapos bawat buwan meron tayong isa o dalawa.
Is it true that you become weak when not working?
Hindi naman sa nanghihina, pero nakakainip pag wala kang ginagawa.
How long do you see yourself acting?
Hanggang kailangan ako ng industriya. Kung hindi na ako kailangan, it's time to retire.
Despite the various roles that you played, do you still have a dream role?
Alam mo, hindi ako nag-iisip ng isang role na gusto kong gawin. Dahil isipin ko man, kung hindi maggagawa, kung hindi malalagay sa katuparan, it’s just a waste of time. So, hinihintay ko lang yung offer.
You are an award-winning director yourself, don’t the directors you get to work with feel intimidated by you?
Wala kasi akong balak na i-intimidate sila. Pagdating ko sa set, I’m an actor playing that role. Hindi ako nakikialam dun sa direktor. He’s the captain of the ship or she’s the captain of the ship, so nasa kanya yun. Kung anong sabihin niya, sinusunod ko. I don’t argue, I don’t try to take over as a director. I’m just a plain actor playing that role.
How does an Eddie Garcia do a character study?
Well, wala namang sikreto, siyempre yung character mo is based on the script. Pagdating ng script, pag-aaralan mo yung character mo na nakasulat doon and then you build it up from there.
Do you have a hard time letting go of your character outside the set?
Ako kasi, paglabas ko sa set, naiiwan sa set yung character. Kunwari isipin mo, ang role ko ay loko-loko, pagdating ko sa bahay, loko-loko din ako. Halimbawa ang role mo ay killer.
Do you still set career goals considering you're an accomplished actor?
Para sa akin kasi, ang bawat role na ginagampanan mo, [dapat] pagbutihin mo. Because it will be the best recommendation for another role. Kahit gaanong kaliit, pagbutihin mo. So, it will be your recommendation for your next role. Para bang kung isang karpentero ka lang na gumagawa ng silya, napakakinis ng ginawa mong silya. Tatanungin, ‘Sino gumawa niyan?’ ‘A, si Juan.’ ‘Makapagpagawa nga doon.’
Have you ever thought about undergoing stem cell therapy?
Takot ako sa stem cell dahil isipin mo halimbawa, hating gabi, imbes na humilik ako, baka, ‘meh, meh, meh.’ (imitates a goat’s bleating sound)
Have you ever undergone plastic surgery?
Ay, hindi pa naman. Hindi ako nagpaparetoke. You see the eyebags, you see the lines, puro natural iyan. Wala po akong balak magparetoke. Hindi kailangan magpa-retoke para mabawasan ng kulubot sa mukha… Gusto mo sabihin ko sa iyo? Pag natutulog ako, alam mo ba yung clip sa sampayan? Kini-clip ko yung batok ko! I-clip mo yung batok mo, matulog ka ng patagilid, maaalis yung kulubot mo!
Bwakaw, the award-winning film you starred in, tackled the theme of growing old. How does an Eddie Garcia perceive aging?
Well, ang pagtanda kasi, hindi mo maiiwasan iyan, e. Darating iyan, kahit ikaw ngayon, napakaganda mo. Fifty years from now, matanda ka na rin, di ba? Expected iyan, e. Sa Bwakaw, well, yung role ko dun nagkataon na yun ang script, it was a beautifully-written script. Naibigay sa akin, so sinubukan kong pagbutihin, kaya yun ang naging resulta ng Bwakaw.
What is your advice to the younger generation of actors today?
Wag mong bigyan ng sakit ng ulo ang direktor mo. Iwasan ang tsismis. Pag-aralan mabuti ang script. Wag kang makialam sa director because he is the captain of the ship. So it’s his/her baby, so hindi mo na papel yun. Basta gampanan mo yung role mo.
What keeps you going after all these years?
Ako kasi, I’ve always considered acting or directing as a job. So, you make the most of it. Give a veritable performance para magtagal ka. Para sa akin kasi trabaho lang ito.
With all the awards you’ve obtained, do you still study your role?
Of course, yes. When I get the script, I read it over and over again.
Who among the younger set of actors will go on to be like Eddie Garcia?
Mahirap sabihin iyan because ang kuwan kasi, nasa tao iyan, e— how he plans his career, how he behaves on the set, how he loves his work, how he respects his co-actors and director. Kaya nasa tao iyan, e.
You have always been the kind of actor who never gets involved in controversies. How do you maintain that?
Wala akong tinatago, e. Sa career kasi ng isang artista, palagay ko, it won’t help the box office any, it won’t add to pesos worth of box-office sa takilya dahil na-i-involve ka sa tsismis.