Saturday, June 22, 2019


I should have known better.  I have a habit of watching movies alone.  There are some movie shows that you must not and cannot see all by your sweet self.  You do not want to be cringing and screaming by your sweet self in a suspense or horror film like A Quiet Place. Nor do you burst out into uncontrollable laughter in comedic highlights, right?

But nobody prepared me for Rocketman, a retelling of the life of singer and pop icon Elton John through the thread of his most memorable songs.  Yes, friends already told me that the film was good --- better than that Freddy Mercury bioflick --- but then I always felt they were biased.  Belonging to the High School Class of 1972, our youthful memories are all stuffed with the songs of Elton John together with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, Carole King, Carly Simon and, uh, Jim Morrison and Carlos Santana.

Yet all these givens in my life should have been a telltale sign of how I was going to react to his film, seated alone on D-16 Cinema 4, inside a movie house where less than 30% of the seats were occupied. OK, right.  The kids of nowadays may have never heard of Elton John or his music. Generations have their own preferences and benchmarks and maybe the lyrics of Bernie Taupin and the melodies of Elton did not come across to them as relevant to their tastes and mindsets.  But still.

What I did not know was that this was a musical.

No, it is not your usual cut-and-paste jukebox musical featuring all the famous songs of a group threaded together to make a story.  Not Rocketman that used the songs of an artist to narrate the highlights and lowest points of his life, to illustrate his relationship with family, friends and colleagues ... and to blueprint that arc of his rise and fall and resurrection.  

And because these songs are the songs of my youth --- the memories of my high school and college days --- I was this pathetic piece of sponge absorbing everything and by the time Your Song was played to illustrate how this classic was reimagined in its creation, I found tears uncontrollably streaming down my face under the comfortable darkness of a cinema.

This was not merely a movie for me but an experience. It was a unique experience of understanding a man in his music without the sanitation and safety nets found in the Freddy Mercury biography.  Here was a barenaked look at a life of an artist, a composer and his relationship with his lyricist --- and the price he had to pay for his fame as well as the pain he had to go through to be able to create his art.

My friends who saw the film earlier were right.  This was not only about our generation --- but a beautifully crafted depiction of the making of an idol and his musical creations.

When the movie ended and the lights went on, I realized that fifteen minutes into the film I was not seeing a Welsh actor named Taron Egerton but Elton John.  The man was not lipsyncing original recordings ... but doing his own singing. It was even shocking for me to find out that that familiar face I could not categorically identify was Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton's mother.  

OK, enough said.  This afternoon, alone in the cinema, I must have watched what could be my best film for the year. And I wish that this film directed by Dexter Fletcher receives not only the accolades but also the audience that it so deserves.

Excuse me, but I am putting on my headset and listening to Your Song for the umpteenth time.


In one of his more recent interviews, Eddie Garcia said that when you die, then it is the end.

You will disappear then you will eventually be forgotten.

I dare say that he was wrong.

That was the Eddie Garcia we all knew and gave the highest respect.  Through the span of seven decades of film work, his feet never left the ground although his love for the art and craft enabled him to soar in uncharted bounds of the heavens.

Unlike other "stars" who gave such brilliance for the limited moment they are allowed to float in that imaginary infinity.  If there was one thing that Eddie Garcia proved, then it was his longevity in his career because of his professionalism and ability to adapt, embrace and reinvent himself with the roles he portrayed through the passage of generations.

From Siete Infantes de Lara which ushered in his career as an actor to ML and Rainbow Sunset, Garcia showed no fear, did not cower to the demands of image that actors of lesser talent are obsessed with in the choices of roles or how they presented themselves to the public.  What made Garcia resilient through the ages was the fact that he was an actor, an artist and not merely a celebrity whose concern is public perception rather than personal fulfillment.

I only had one chance to work with Eddie Garcia: that was a project called I Want to Be Happy where he appeared with Gloria Romero, Marissa Delgado, Cherry Pie Picache among others.  And what I remember the most about the Man was that he would be on the set ahead of everybody else, prepared for the day's shoot and would show utmost respect for literally everybody on the set.

This was the measure of greatness.  It was his humility, his accessibility and openness to people he worked with making everyone feel that he was one of them.

Joel Lamangan and I were discussing about the events that transpired leading to the accident that eventually took Garcia away from us.

Joel said that Eddie was like that: he was 90 years old but never used his age as an excuse or a license or a form of entitlement for him to fulfill his work.  He will insist on doing what was demanded by the role because it was part and parcel of what was expected from him as an actor.  He wore that jacket under the sweltering heat of the June midday sun: he complied with the instructions for him to run carrying a gun --- never complaining nor asking to be treated any differently.

He would always say that yes, he was old ... but he was not an invalid

And you do not find people like that any more in the business.  You do not find such commitment and dedication to work as that found in the actors of previous generations.  These are the living treasures of Filipino cinema:  Anita Linda, Gloria Romero, Gloria Sevilla. They are the last of the immortals in a business of dispensable.

We will miss Eddie Garcia.  He is now with Fernando Poe Jr and Dolphy ...the great icons of Filipino cinema who shaped the industry as we understand it today.

We will miss the man. We will miss this Ultimate Gentleman.  We will miss this Great Artist.

Tomorrow, the 24th of June 2019, his ashes will be laid to its final rest. 

But, Sir ... Tito Eddie, you are wrong.

You will never be forgotten. Kings are etched in the annals of history.  They are remembered to give dignity and pride to those they leave behind.

Paalam po.