What do Mayor Isko Moreno and Gardo Versoza have in common? Those who got to watch ‘90s Filipino movies would know that they were part of Robbie Tan’s stable of talents over at Seiko Films. The film production company was known for its ST (sex trip) movies during that decade, and also for that memorable tagline, “If it’s from Seiko, it must be good.”
The former Seiko boys recalled their good old days on FYE Channel’s “Bawal Ma-stress Drilon” program on Kumu Monday night, with host Ces Drilon and veteran singer and songwriter Jose Mari Chan. The channel is celebrating its first anniversary this month and so is the show. Gardo, Joe, and Yorme were actually three of the most popular guests Ces had on her livestreaming program the past year so the episode became a fun Kumu-stahan.
Gardo, now 52, and Isko, 46, weren’t exactly contemporaries, the mayor of Manila was quick to point out during the interview. “Senior ko si Gardo. Sinundan ko lang sya,” Isko says laughing.
Gardo, the “Machete II” hunk (it was Cesar Montano who starred in the first Machete), recalled one of his unforgettable experiences while doing a screen test for a movie with actress Rita Avila. The love scene was supposed to happen in a powder room. Still a newbie, Gardo innocently asked one of the production people, “Asan na po ang costume ko?” The reply given to him was, “Dyan ka lang [muna]. Kita mo busy kami e. Wait ka lang dyan.” Gardo remembered he also requested to see the script and he was told again to wait. “Inaayos pa ang set.”
After a while, the new actor was approached by a member of the production team as the shoot was about to start. Gardo again asked, “Yun pong costume?”
The answer to his question was inside a small envelope. The sexy actor, thinking it was the script being handed to him, told the person who gave him the envelope: “Nakita ko na po ang script.” Gardo was mistaken. He was told, “Ayan na yung costume. Sige na, magbihis ka na, male-late na tayo.” He realized then that what “magbihis” meant was “maghubad na.”
The costume was actually a leaf. The actor didn’t expound what kind of leaf it was and how big.
Gardo volunteered the information that even the current mayor of Manila had a similar experience back in the day. In the latter’s case, however, it wasn’t a leaf, but a small piece of cloth. “Sa Seiko Films noong araw, kami ni Gardo, mahal ang tela,” the mayor said laughing. “Kaya tinitipid ang tela.”
Ces, incredulous, said, “Ibig sabihin ganoon ka kainosente at naïve? Come on!”
“Totoo yung sinasabi ni Gardo,” said the Manila mayor. “Hanapbuhay lang yan.”
“Inosente kami!” insisted Gardo, now a sought after character actor and, of course, a TikTok star. He confessed that they would buy Leukoplast Tape to keep their privates in place. “Para hindi lumabas, [para] pigilang humulagpos,” he said.
“Para walang chismis,” Mayor Isko added.
“Nung time na yun, grabeng dumikit ang plaster,” Gardo explained. “Ngayon yung ginagamit sa mga lapels hindi na madikit. Pag yung Leukoplast ang ginamit mo disgrasya ka…”
“Walang sinabi ang Brazilian,” said Yorme laughing, referring to the waxing job.
The young Isko starred in Seiko such as movies “Exploitation” (1997) with Priscilla Almeda and Natasha Ledesma; and “Tukso Layuan Mo Ako” with Priscilla Almeda, Leandro Baldemor, and Francine Prieto.
Gardo, once tagged as “Asia’s Sexiest Man,” made Machete II (1994) with Snooky Serna and Rosanna Roces; “Sabik Sa Halik” (1995) with Priscilla Almeda and Roy Alvarez; “Halimuyak Ng Babae” (1996) with Priscilla and PJ; and Kirot 2, again with Rosanna.
In 1998, Isko Domagoso first ran for public office as councilor of Manila’s District 1 and chose to focus completely on public service. He is now one of the most admired public officials in the country. Gardo, on the other hand, has made a ton of movies with some of the best talents in the industry. He continues to star in TV and film projects, which include the more recent series “The House Arrest of Us” and “First Yaya.”
Robbie Tan wasn’t joking, after all, when he coined that tag line— “If it’s from Seiko, it must be good.”