Most of my followers on Twitter know me as Edu Manzano’s nephew since I mentioned it on my Twitter description hence the Edu Manzano Biography. Well, I have been into theater for years now but it’s still a different world compared to the showbiz career that my uncle Edu still keeps. So before he got parodied in the Facebook page Putangina mo din, who is Edu Manzano as a film star?
Born Eduardo Barrios Manzano, he decided to go to the Philippines to try his luck in showbusiness. It is safe to say that he is one of the young Filipinos with American citizenship that thought of capitalizing their immigrant status to try acting.
The “Leading Man” Years
Gifted with good looks and a striking sex appeal, one of the film production companies that gave him the leading man break was Viva Films. One of his earliest films was the 1987 remake of Mars Ravelo’s “Jack and Jill” starring Ms. Sharon Cuneta and current Quezon City Mayor Herbert Bautista. He played the role of the guy that converted the boyish Jack into a feminine figure later in the movie (not really a spoiler).
Most of the movies he got into ranged from romantic drama to romantic comedies. In “Nakagapos na Puso” (Tied Heart), he was one of the leading men where one of the major characters was also played by Ms Cuneta. In “Misis Mo, Misis Ko” (Your Wife, My Wife), his role is less villainy and more human as a husband who discovered that his wife started cheating on him in retaliation to previous affairs that the character had. Maybe the closest role he got to an action hero during the 80’s was when he played the role of “Captain Barbell”, the alter-ego whenever the lead character Teng Teng (also played by Bautista) would transform with the help of the barbell.
But the most memorable role he had in this era was his role as the clueless, nerdy conservative boss in “Working Girls”. The character is not gay, just a consummate professional. It’s one of the roles that I can say he really owned since he really provided the right facial expressions and nuances that the role needed.
If this served as the peg for the next string of movies for him to shoot, it seemed like just a wait-and-see thing for everyone. And just when you thought he would be doing adult dramas and comedies for the rest of his career, well the action movie boom of the 90’s came along.
The “Pinoy Action Movie Hero” Years
During the 90’s, his movies became mostly action-packed either playing the villain or the hero himself. He was not always the bad guy. In fact if you would take time to follow his filmography you’d realize that he did not fall into the cardboard type of villain where he shoots people and laugh maniacally as usually seen in portrayals popularized by Paquito Diaz and Romy Diaz.
The only movie where he was laughing as loud as he could was when he played the villain Conde in the action fantasy film “Dugo ng Panday” (Blood of the Blacksmith) opposite current senator Bong Revilla. In the same manner that not all roles where he sported stubbles meant that he played the villain, there are roles where he wore corporate casual attire while donning the villain role.
But perhaps what served as a peg for the admin of the Facebook page of “Putangina mo din” was the action movies where his characters always would cuss in Tagalog (the infamous clip “Putangina mo“), hence the name of the page. Most of the characters he played that cussed onscreen were the villains. Although some “heroes” in these action films cussed too, it doesn’t have the same effect when it’s the villains who do. It proved that action movies in the 90’s really served a niche where cussing is allowed. It’s a man’s world so bed scenes are already expected and he was no exception to that.
Almost Typecast as a Villain
In between the 90’s and the 00’s, even if the movie genre is no longer under action, the roles he assumed still leaned towards villain territory since he has become very convincing in it. From adult drama to comedies, the commanding presence and that deep voice helped a lot in coming across as a domineering figure in roles that he assumed.
In “Ang Kabit ni Mrs. Montero” (loosely based on the erotic novel “Lady Chatterley’s Lover”), he played a sugar baron with a trophy wife (played by Patricia Javier). He almost had no mellow moments except for those instances where he was sleeping with his therapist (played by Sunshine Cruz). But even when he’s trying to go mellow, the deep voice still exerts that authority. It made such roles effortless for him.
There are roles that I can call “almost villain” due to the circumstances that the character he played like in the movie “Minsan Minahal Kita” (I Loved You Once) where he played the estranged husband to the character wife played by Ms. Sharon Cuneta. And this is where you realize the evolution of roles he played throughout the decades. While his earlier projects with Ms. Sharon Cuneta earned him the role of the romantic hero, in later movies, he was either the estranged husband or the romantic rival villain. The latter role was seen in his action-drama movie with Ms. Cuneta entitled “Pangako Sa Yo” (Promise to You) where the romantic hero was played by Mr. Bong Revilla.
The other signature role that got stuck with him was his role as the estranged husband in “Separada” (Separated) where the title role was assumed by Ms. Maricel Soriano. While not many casual film goers will know the title of the film where they heard these lines, they would sure know that it’s the characters played by the former couple that uttered these lines.
Get out of my house! I don’t need a parasite!
“And I don’t need a part-time wife!
The title alone is a spoiler. But at least the estranged husband is not the cookie-cutter type of villain where he can’t do anything right. This might be his film that co-starred with Ms. Soriano where he’s the least evil.
The comedies he starred in this era of his career was very different to the uptight (but still funny) portrayal he had in “Working Girls”. Well I can say that his role in “Wanted Perfect Father” as villain to the character of then Comedy King, Dolphy, is also uptight but not intended much to be funny. His role as an erratic husband stuck in a stale marriage in “I Do I Die Dios Ko Day!” was where he really let himself loose as he was one of the top-billed stars in that film alongside Agot Isidro, Redford White and Babalu.
I then realized that, upon closer look, if his roles in action movies almost got him typecast into machine-gun-wielding goons, his most popular roles in drama films almost got him typecast as the bad husband. Either he’s a cheating husband (in “Ang Kabit ni Mrs. Montero”, “Minsan Minahal Kita” and “Separada”) or a full-blown evil spouse (in “Abandonada”, also with Ms. Soriano). While almost typecast, I can manage to say that not all the villain roles he accepted are the same. This is testament to the kind of acting talent that he possessed.
As of this writing …
He just went out of his self-imposed retirement and returned to ABS-CBN to give it another shot at making movies and TV series as reported by the Manila Bulletin. Previously, he was one of the hosts of the afternoon talk show “Face The People”. He also returned to acting in movie via the romantic thriller “Halik sa Hangin” (Air Kiss) starring Julia Montes, Gerard Anderson and JC de Vera.
Do I see a collaboration with him in the future? I hope so. It would be an honor to finally work with a man known for being a consummate professional and a dedicated servant to the people. We’ll never know. But there are ways for you to be constantly updated. Just like my Facebook page, Kuya Manzano Fan Club, and follow me on Twitter @KuyaManzano to be constantly updated. Gracias!