The actor I love to hate

By Blas Bernaldez 

Eddie Garcia was the actor-director I love to hate most. As a kontrabida, he was mean and despicable. But he was also strong and principled, naughty and carefree. All of them in one package both as bida and kontra.

To me he was the “real” King of Philippine movies because he was never stereotyped. He was so versatile and brilliant that any role given to him he delivered with flying colors. I despised him as a villain and rooted for him as a patient, principled leading man.

Like fine wine, the older he became he turned an excellent actor and a consummate director. He was a classic example of what a real artist is—patient and humble of getting recognition unlike mediocre and young ones hungry for fame and pretentious titles like doctor, chief, master, etc.

Garcia was a true professional and should be emulated by any artists in all fields of art and culture. It is funny and sickening that many young pretenders call themselves artists when they don’t even have discipline and vision for their craft and their colleagues. They are pseudos and that is why they don’t last long and vanish forever.

What I admired about Garcia was he honed his acting before he turned to directing.

That is a mark of a sensible and ego-less artist. His first directorial stint was a Nora Aunor starrer, “Atsay” which to many was a high-voltage drama. It won for Nora a best actress award, beating Vilma Santos. Eddie of course got the best director and picture awards. That was when the Metro Manila Film Festival was highly respected unlike today which has become a festival of trash. Ask the critics.

One unforgettable movie I remember he was part of and as lead actor was “Palabra de honor,” where he played a millionaire widower getting a second wife (Gloria Diaz) with a past catching up on her. There was romantic and tragic pressures all over but Eddie’s character stood out that you cannot help admire him. Such “cool” performance from a veteran.

I know that the actor, director and real king is gone. Pinoy movies, mainstream and independent, will never be the same again.

Photo courtesy of Ralf Capacio

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