By Beting Laygo Dolor | Contributing Editor
When actor-director Eddie Garcia passed away last week, 12 days after an accident where he fell and broke his neck, tributes poured in from such varied quarters as Malacañang, to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), to the Senate and the House of Representatives, to just about the entire show business industry.
The 90-year-old Garcia passed away at the Makati Medical Center on June 20, after being in a coma since the June 8 accident in Manila while he was filming a scene for the GMA-7 teleserye Rosang Agimat.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said Garcia left “an indelible mark” in the hearts and minds of Filipino movie-goers.
The showbiz legend, he said, “died with his boots on doing what he loved most – acting.”
During his memorial service, the Philippine Army sent soldiers to guard Garcia’s remains. They honored him by placing a folded Philippine flag in front of the urn bearing his ashes.
Garcia had joined the Army Scouts at the end of World War II and was deployed to Okinawa, Japan as an MP.
In the House of Representatives, a coalition of party-list lawmakers announced on June 21, that they would nominate Garcia for a post-humous conferment as National Artist.
Bagong Henerasyon Party-list Rep. Bernadette Herrera-Dy, speaking for the Partylist Coalition Foundation, said, “We mourn but we also celebrate Eddie Garcia and his life well lived.”
1-Pacman party-list Rep. Mikee Romero was Garcia’s stepson by his longtime partner, Lillibeth.
At the upper chamber of the bicameral Congress, Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto, said the Senate was planning to craft a resolution to honor the fallen actor.
Himself an actor, Sotto said he and his fellow senators were thinking about a resolution “so that it befits him.” He also welcomed the House move to declare Garcia a National Artist.
A longtime friend of Garcia – they worked together in the presidential campaign of the late Fernando Poe Jr. – Sotto recalled the professionalism of the man everyone called ‘Manoy.”
“His talent is a given, his aura and character are given…but his professionalism is something to be proud of,” Sotto said.
There was no public viewing of Garcia’s remains as he had instructed his family to have his body cremated within 24 hours of his passing.
That wish was followed. Garcia passed away at 4:55 p.m. on Thursday and was cremated at 11 p.m. of the same day.
There was, however, a wake held at the Heritage Memorial Park in Taguig City, attended by his family and friends from the industry that he had been a part of for almost seven decades.
Among the first visitors at the wake were the likes of Gloria Romero, Tirso Cruz, Coco Martin, Bibith Orteza, Jestoni Alarcon, Ricky Davao and Rez Cortez, among others.
Orteza recalled that on the day of the fatal accident, Garcia had been up as early as 4:30 am and was on the Tondo set by 5:30 am. His call time was 9:30 am.
“That’s the kind of professionalism he had,” Orteza said.
Despite his age, Garcia never stopped working. From the time he entered show business in the late ‘40s with a role in Manuel Conde’s Siete Infantes de Lara up until the accident, Garcia never stopped working, either as actor or director.
He co-starred with almost all of the Philippines’ biggest stars, including Fernando Poe Jr., Joseph Estrada, Vilma Santos, and Nora Aunor.
He won more acting and directing awards than anyone, racking up no less than 20 wins in the FAMAS Awards, the Philippine equivalent of the Oscars. He also appeared in all kinds of roles, from drama to action to comedy and fantasy.