Celebrities bat for Eddie Garcia to be named National Artist

Anjo Bagaoisan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 23 2019 01:46 PM | Updated as of Jun 23 2019 08:53 PM

MANILA – (UPDATE) Outpouring love and tribute from local celebrities met the passing of veteran actor Eddie Garcia.

This is no surprise since the late actor is widely regarded as one of the most liked and professional Filipino actors ever.

Because of Garcia’s remarkable contributions in the entertainment industry owing to his 70-year experience as an actor and director, some of his showbiz colleagues are pushing that he be honored as National Artist.

Among them are Senator-elect Lito Lapid and Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos-Recto, who both shared to reporters on Sunday that they have known Garcia ever since they entered the industry.

Santos-Recto was 11 years old when she was directed by Garcia in one of her earliest movies, the Marcos family biopic "Pinagbuklod ng Langit" in 1969.

Garcia also helmed her classic films like "Imortal" and "Sinasamba Kita."

Lapid said he owed a lot to Garcia for guesting in his breakout movie as his uncle Jess Lapid Sr. in "The Jess Lapid Story" in 1978 and even played Lapid's father in the 1980 Fernando Poe Jr. movie "Kalibre 45."

Lapid said he admired Garcia's versatility as an actor.

"Kahit ako idolo ko 'yan eh. Kasi lahat ng nagagawa niya sa pelikula, hindi lahat ng artista ay magagawa [na] pwedeng magkontra-bida, pwedeng magbida, pwedeng medyo gay, ano ang labas niya at kahit ano, kahit mahirap, matanda."

He note that this, along with Garcia's longevity, was reason enough for honoring him with the award.

"Dapat siguro. Wala pang nakakakuha sa rekord niyang ganyang edad na '90 tapos nakakapag-action pa siya, 'yun nga, wala pa siyang sakit," he said.

Lapid said he would talk to Senate President Tito Sotto on what they can do in Congress to support this move.

Santos-Recto, on the other hand, said she would help co-sponsor a bill in the House of Representatives toward what she believes is a rightful honor for Garcia.

"Siyempre alam naman ng lahat that Tito Eddie is an institution. Nararapat lamang na ibigay sa kanya 'yung para sa kanya kasi, kung meron man tayong dapat hangaan, up to his last breath ay nasa show business,” she said.

Another fellow action star, senator-elect Bong Revilla, also said he would back a Senate initiative for the proposed National Artist award when he and his wife Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla visited Garcia's wake on Saturday. 

"Kung may tataas pa doon ibigay na natin because there is only one Eddie Garcia. I'll push for that," Revilla said.

While Garcia’s professionalism and credentials qualified him to be recognized as a National Artist, some of his colleagues lamented that it is an award that was already too late

For Christopher De Leon, the National Artist honor being pushed for Garcia now should have been accorded him earlier.

"Ba't di niyo binigay nung buhay pa siya? 'Di ba? He could have appreciated that when he was still alive, and now he’s up there... beyond," he said. "All the credentials are here."

Senator-elect Imee Marcos agreed. "Nakakahiya, sobrang late na natin, bakit pa posthumous. Medyo na-delayed. Siguro sa isipan natin, Eddie Garcia will be there forever. Hindi na natin naisip na overdue na overdue na ang National Artist award," she said.

Actor and Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez said on Friday the National Artist was an honor fit for a "legend" in the business like Garcia, but would still come too late. 

When Garcia himself was asked about a possible National Artist nod in 2018, he said awards including that were only bonuses to his work. 

"Well, it's up to them. Para sa akin kung ano ang dumating na grasya, tatanggapin ko," Garcia had said at the time. -- With a report from Ganiel Krishnan