In 2005, during the birth of Cinemalaya Film Festival, there was already an Eddie Garcia starrer among its pioneer lineup of finalists – “ICU Bed No. 7” by Rica Arevalo. Seven years later in 2012, the award-winning actor (and director) again topbilled an unforgettable Cinemalaya film, “Bwakaw” by Jun Robles Lana. In both films, the “great” Eddie Garcia grabbed the much-coveted Cinemalaya Best Actor awards.
This year (2018), another six years later, the seasoned thespian returns to the popular independent film festival in the country. His third Cinemalaya film is “ML” (short for “Martial Law”), written and directed by Benedict Mique. The film also topbills new Kapamilya actor Tony Labrusca, also with fellow newcomers Lianne Valentin and Henz Villaraiz.
ML is about three teenagers get more than what they bargained for when they learn about the dark days of Martial Law straight from an old retired soldier.
Now on its 14th year, CINEMEALAYA 2018 is slated on August 3-12 in CCP Theaters and select Ayala Cinemas (Trinoma, Glorietta, Greenbelt 1, UP Town Center, and Legazpi Cinema in Bicol).
What is his role in “ML”?
“I play a retired Metrocom Colonel with a slight dementia, that’s why I believe that currently, it’s still the era of Martial Law. So, I thought, the kids were activists.”
Does he believe that the concept of Marial Law still caters the millennials?
“I believe that the film has an intriguing concept and it’s good to be shown to today’s generation. Dapat talaga itong mapanood ng mga kabataan ngayon.
“I think the film is very timely too, so it will be good if it will be seen by the youth of today. Magugustuhan nila ito, lalo na ang mga taong hindi pa buhay nu’ng panahon ng Martial Law. Para makita nila kung ano ang nangyari.”
In a legendary status like him, how was it working with these newbies?
“Well, they were good. Everyone was disciplined. To break the ice on the set, we chat in between takes and everything went fine.
In his own opinion, does the Philippines need Martial Law?
“Well, kung ang mga tao ay wala nang disiplina, kailangan. Dapat, may latigo! Parang ‘yung role ko dito sa pelikulang ito, ako ang magdi-disiplina. Well, it’s just a role.”
Looking back, how was his personal experience during the Martial Law days?
“Kapag hindi ka makikialam, walang mangyayari sa ‘yo. Kapag nakialam ka, may mangyayari sa ‘yo.”
At his age of 89, what makes him doing films until now, especially that it’s his third in Cinemalaya?
“Well, whatever is offered to me, I accept it. It’s just a job. Ako kasi, kahit na anong i-offer, tinatanggap ko, eh. Walang masamang damo sa akin.
“There’s something in Cinemalaya, because naiiba ito kesa sa mga ordinaryong film festivals. But it’s just a job. If awards come, it’s just a bonus.”
Is there a plan to retire from the showbiz industry?
“None. As long as they need me, I’ll be there. If they don’t need me anymore, I will quit,” says the iconic Eddie Garcia.
For the record, Eddie Garcia has been in the industry for 69 years now (his first film was in 1949), has made around 600 films, and has a total of 39 awards (local and international), the only Filipino actor who’s been elevated to theFAMAS Hall of Fame (as best actor, best supporting actor, and best director), and other Lifetime Achievement Awards.
He joked that the only role that he has not done yet is to become a “leading lady.”
ML is one of the ten full-length finalists of Cinemalaya 2018, which will run on August 3-12 at the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) and select Ayala Malls Cinemas.