From closeted gay man to virile chauvinists and the most despicable of machos. From bachelor to doting dad to grandfather roles. It would be safe to say Eddie Garcia has played it all. With a mindblowing 600+ movies to his name, it wouldn’t be wrong to conclude acting was the man’s great calling. If his personal mantra holds true— “Whatever role is given to me, I do it well because that’s the best recommendation for your next project"— it could only mean he kept getting better with every film. Despite the combination sinister stare and cigar-and-cognac voice which he carried with him to any role because, well, that's part of the Eddie Garcia DNA, he was able to give each of his screen personas a unique flavor and dimension that make them memorable and always utterly watchable. Of the 600+ performances, here are the ones we’d be hard pressed to forget.
More on Eddie Garcia:
1. As Don Benito in Tubog Sa Ginto, 1971
In this straight-from-komiks drama directed by Lino Brocka, Eddie plays a married businessman who carries on a secret affair with his driver played by a young Mario O’ Hara.
2. As the film director in Pagdating Sa Dulo, 1971
In this satire on the moviemaking industry, Eddie plays the idealistic helmsman who refuses to be called ‘Direk.’ “Hindi ba sinabi ko sa;yo tumatayo ang balahibo ko kapag tinatawag akong Direk?” It is said the film’s director Ishmael Bernal fashioned Eddie’s character as his mouthpiece, expressing his displeasures and frustrations on the movieworld through the sophisticated and temperamental Direk. “Hindi ako katulad ng iba na puroshort-cuts!”
3. As Cesar Blanco in Tinimbang Ka Ngunit Kulang, 1974
In this small town drama that mirrors the ills of a larger society, Eddie plays the lawyer with a failed career in politics. His selfish motives eventually turn the lead character Kuala (Lolita Rodriguez), whom he gets pregnant, into the village idiot.
4. As the philandering husband in Huwag Pamarisan: Mister Mo, Lover Boy Ko, 1975
Bernal’s exploration on the changing sexual mores of the mid-70s has Eddie playing both Mister and Lover Boy where, according to film critic Joel David, he gets to bring out “the comic and sinister aspects of the philandering husband missing in the usual love triangle movies.”
5. As Don Tibor in Ganito Kami Noon, Paano Kayo Ngayon? 1976
In this epic romantic drama set during the Spanish colonial era, Eddie plays a member of the landed gentry who teaches the peasant Kulas (Christopher de Leon) about the ways of the upper class.
6. As Adrian in Star? 1979
In this dramedy about the rise and fall of an actor who slept his way to the top, Eddie (sporting micro shorts, tank tops and a fabulous perm) plays Adrian, the flamboyant director with legs for days, competing with three women for the heart and body of Tony (Rudy Fernandez). Watch out for the opening scene—Tony’s wake—where Adrian, looking down on his former lover’s dead body, delivers the line: “So young. So handsome. So macho. So dead.”
7. As the rich patriarch in the early Sharon-Gabby movies, 1981
He played dad to Sharon Cuneta first in Danny Zialcita’s Dear Heart,then to Gabby Concepcion, in P.S. I Love Youwhich he also directed. In the former, he begins as an endearing father to her doting daughter. “Why ba do you want to make bunot my balbas?” he says, lovingly mimicking the Taglish talk of April (Sharon). Towards the end, he becomes an unreasonably controlling father who wouldn’t let just any coño (Gabby’s character, of course) near her unica hija. In P.S. I Love You,he plays the wealthy widower putting financial pressure on the widow (played by Boots Anson-Roa) left to deal with the debts of her dead husband.
8. As Dimitri de Joya in Nagalit Ang Buwan Sa Haba ng Gabi,1983
In this ensemble drama on infidelity, Eddie plays the rigidly polished husband hiding his homosexual affairs from his bombshell of a wife (Gloria Diaz). At the beginning of the film, recently restored and remastered by ABS-CBN, Dimitri faces a double whammy: he is visited by a former flame who threatens to tell his wife everything, as his current lover prepares to exit his life—for a woman. “Joey, ang kuwintas ko,” he tells a young Michael de Mesa. “She doesn’t deserve it.”
9. As Cenon in Minsan Pa Nating Hagkan ang Nakaraan, 1993
In Marilou Diaz-Abaya’s first and only foray into komiks material, Eddie plays the cuckolded man in this love triangle that includes Vilma Santos (Helen) and Christopher de Leon (Rod). When Rod returns to the country from studies abroad, his romantic past with Helen begins to encroach on Helen and Cenon’s present. When Cenon learns of the affair, he falls apart, takes up drinking and, eventually, murder.
10. As Lauro in the sex comedies of Danny Zialcita, 1984
In these two films, May Lamok Sa Loob ng Kulambo, and May Daga Sa Labas ng Lungga, Eddie plays the virile Manoy to the hilt, proving he can still be oragon and willing despite his advanced age (by this time Eddie was a very fit 55), finding ways and means to fool around (with Lyka Ugarte, Marilou Sadiua et al) even when his wife is the tempestuously attractive and terribly possessive Gloria Diaz. Watch both movies on iWant.
11. As Mang Tibo in Tinik Sa Dibdib, 1985
In this Leroy Salvador komiks drama, Eddie plays the good-for-nothing father of a dutiful daughter (Nora Aunor). Watch out for his scene with Lucita Soriano who plays his wife. “Hindi ko naman sinasadya eh,” Tibo tells her endearingly, caressing her face—after he intentionally hits it with a beer bottle. And of course, more famously, he gets to be the one Lorna blames for her miserable life. “Oo nga pala, marami kayong naibigay sa akin,” she tells her father who has remained cold-hearted despite losing both his legs. “Marami, Itay: mga tinik sa dibdib.”
12. As Venancio Herrera in Miguelito: Batang Rebelde, 1985
In this melodrama about a mother’s (Nida Blanca) quest to avenge the injustices done to her, Eddie plays the oppressive mayor seeking to pass on his political influence over to his son (Aga Muhlach).
13. As Judge Valderrama in Kapag Puno na Ang Salop, 1987
In this FPJ vehicle, Eddie plays a corrupt court judge out to silence Poe’s upright Sergeant Isagani Guerrero.
14. As Boyong Mañalac in Boyong Mañalac, Hoodlum Terminator, 1990
In one of a number of action biopics he starred in the 90s, Eddie plays a hooligan turned do-gooder policeman suddenly faced with hoodlums in uniform. Famous line: “Hindi Bu-yong,” he corrects Maita Soriano. “Bo-yong. May lambing sa dulo.”
15. As Edmundo Guatlo in Gumapang Ka Sa Lusak, 1990
In this dramatic thriller whose main characters echo those of the Marcos administration’s main players, Eddie plays the powerful mayor with a controlling wife.
16. As Colonel Valderrama in Bakit May Kahapon Pa? 1996
In this suspense drama which reunites Eddie with Nora Aunor (Karina), he plays Colonel Valderrama whose murderous past—he was chief executioner of a massacre of peasants that included the family of Karina—is about to catch up with him, just when he needs to keep his reputation at its most impeccable.
17. As Sgt. Gregorio Marcial in Tigasin, 1999
In this action comedy, Eddie is the older half of a police duo investigating a series of deaths believed to be caused by the ingestion of fake Viagra. Dodo Dayao, film director: "Eddie Garcia in Action Hero mode where he moves from tough to funny with ease but for some reason the material seemed to loosen him up more. If I remember it right, it's about a serial killer who uses a super-viagra to kill his victims. Eddie was just in on the joke and rolling with it. Not surprising he made a lot of comedies in the 70s. He really had a flair for it."
18. As Lolo Sinat in Deathrow, 2000
In this controversial MMFF entry, the veteran actor drops all the glamour of his younger years to play a convict who takes in a young prisoner (Cogie Domingo) under his influential wings.
19. As Rene in Bwakaw, 2012
In this dramedy that gave Eddie two Best Actor awards (55th Asia Pacific Film Festival and 7th Asian Film Awards), he plays a cynical gay man who rediscovers the joys of living when his adopted stray dog falls ill. “Stellar performance,” wrote the critic Philbert Dy. “A performance to be treasured,” raved The Hollywood Reporter.
20. As Colonel Dela Cruz in ML, 2018
In this tale about the horrors of martial rule, Eddie plays a menacing retired soldier who kidnaps a student and tortures him, convinced he’s still living in the days of METROCOM. “Garcia completely dominated this film with his screen magnetism,” said ABS-CBN News. He also won the Cinemalaya Best Actor trophy that year.
Photographs courtesy of Isidra Reyes and Video 48.