By Beting Laygo Dolor i Contributing Editor
The sun may soon set on the acting career of Eddie Garcia, who was active in Philippine show business since the 1950s.
Now 90, Garcia suffered a serious injury on June 8 while shooting a scene for his latest role in GMA-7 telenovela Rosang Agimat. Garcia suffered a cervical spine fracture after slipping and falling on a ground cable. He failed to get up prompting bystanders to rush to his aid.
First rushed to the Mary Johnston Hospital, Garcia was later transferred to the Makati Medical Center where he remains in comatose condition.
As of press time, Garcia’s condition was listed as “very, very critical,” according to family spokesman Antonio Rebosa.
Garcia’s family signed a do-not-resuscitate order but refused to removed him from life support.
“They’re slowly coming to grips with reality,” Rebosa said of Garcia’s family.
The actor’s personal physician, Regina Macalintal-Canlas, said Garcia “is in a comatose state with minimal spontaneous respiration.”
Initial reports on social media said he had died of a heart attack or a stroke but this was immediately denied by his family. However, they could not deny that the beloved acting legend was in dire straits owing to his age.
Garcia’s longtime partner is Lillibeth Romero, mother of 1-PACMAN party list Rep. Mikee Romero.
The congressman asked for prayers not only for his step-father but also for his mother, who he said was devastated by the accident.
Adding details to the on-set incident, Romero said that as far has he knew, Garcia fell face down and his C1 and C2 bones on his neck snapped, causing the actor to lose consciousness.
Romero said his step-father was in good health despite his age, even campaigning for his re-election in the May 13 polls.
While refusing to point accusing fingers at anyone, Romero’s mother asked why no one from GMA-7 was manning the set at the time of the accident. Lillibeth wondered if it was “an accident that could have been avoided.”
Fans and friends also asked why there was no doctor or nurse on site, since the shoot was taking place in a public place.
Known to fans and friends as “Manoy” Garcia was one of the most talented Filipino thespians ever, adept at all kinds of roles, from comedy to drama to action to fantasy. He could play hero or villain, often injecting humor in his roles.
Blessed with a powerful speaking voice, Garcia also possessed a wicked sense of humor. He was well aware that the nickname of Manoy that he adopted mid-career was actually slang in some Philippine dialects for penis.
His most recent movie shot last year, Hintayan ng Langit (Heaven is Waiting), is now showing on Netflix. He appears with another legend of Philippine cinema, Gina Pareno, who came out of retirement. The two play former lovers who married others but run into each other in purgatory after they die. There, they rekindle their love.
Aside from being an actor, Garcia was also a director.
He has won every major acting award in the country, many of them on multiple occasions. He has won the FAMAS awards – the Philippine version of the Oscars – six times for best supporting actor, five times for best actor, and five times as best director.
Garcia joined the Philippine Army Scout Rangers at the tail end of World War II. He joined show business in the 1950s as a character actor but his star rose in the ’60s and ‘70s when he co-starred with the country’s biggest starts, including the late Fernando Poe Jr., Nora Aunor, Vilma Santos, and Joseph Estrada.