1. Hawaiian Medley
2. Beyond The Reef
3. All Alone Am I
4. Why Don’t You Believe Me
6. My World Is Your World
1. Aloha Oe
2. Seven Lonely Days
3. Mandolins In The Moonlight
6. Two People In Love
Photos: Nar Santander
The success of Sixteen brings out another facet of Vilma Santos’ talent. Everyone knows that she is a good actress and a wonderful dancer but nobody expects that she will be able to succeed as a singer. At the early stage of her young career, the rivalry between her and a more established singer, Nora Aunor was lapse sided because Aunor was the number one singer in town. The success of Sixteen brings about an even playing field between the two young stars. Vilma’s record breaking sales positioned her career into high grear. She continued to act in several musical films and at the same time recorded fun-filled songs. To her critics, Vilma’s recording success were attributed to pure luck. And so, to prove them wrong, Vilma’s manager smartly plotted follow-up recordings. Not only did Vilma record her follow-up album, she recorded a string of mini-LPs. Mini-LPs are shorter version of the big vinyl record with two songs on each side. She ventured into Tagalog songs, recording six songs that include instants hits like Isipin Mong Basta’t Mahal Kita, a theme song to a film she did opposite Filipino chess grand master, Eugene Torre; Palong-Palo, where she received a golden record award in 1974 and an up-tempo opm, Tok-Tok Palatok, another theme song from one of her comedy film with the same title opposite Jojit Paredes. Vi and Bot also released two mini-LPs, “Something Stupid,” a song that they regularly sings at their TV show, D’Sensations and “Christmas Tiding,” a collection of famous holiday songs like Silver Bells and Vilma’s now famous version of Santa Claus is Coming to Town and Mommy Kissing Santa Claus thats been circulating in the internet in recent years. In addition, Vilma recorded Baby Vi, another mini-LP. She also shared equal billing with Edgar Mortiz, Esperanza Fabon, Ed Finlan, Hilda Koronel and Sahlee Quizon in a Christmas compilation album titled, Christmas Carols.
Willears Records continued Vilma’s recording projects with two albums, Sweethearts and Aloha My Love both featured her with off and on screen love partner, Edgar Mortiz. The company who introduced the resurgent singer, Vilma in Sixteen followed up her solo success with Sweet, Vilma, Sweet, a much more ambitious offering with Vilma doing popular cover songs. Songs that are mostly identified with more established singers, like Nora Aunor. It is worth noting that during the peak of the musical genre in the early 70s, the musical films relied heavily on foreign influence. Maybe this was the reason why Vilma’s rival Nora Aunor doesn’t have a signature song. Recorded songs are mostly versions of the foreign recordings. Tom Jones, Frank Sinatra, Connie Francis, Neil Sedaka are the usual suspects. Instead of original simple composition, Willears selected songs like Mama, Sad Movies, and Our Day Will Come and let Vilma create her own version. The result was a disappointment not because Vilma didn’t work hard for the project but because it lacks the originality of her first album. Vilma’s thin voice also didn’t help.
But despite this visible contrast to her first album, Sweet Vilma Sweet was a successful follow-up. She continued her singing stints with an album most Vilmanians seems to forget, All I See Is You carried the folk song, Ati Cu Pung Sing-sing and Wonderful world of Music. The later song became a title of a musical film that paired Vilma with Edgar and co-starred with Snooky, Tony Ferrer, and Boots Anson Roa. The demand for Vi & Bot’s recordings increased and Willears produced Sweetheart, perhaps a confirmation album of the real score between the two young teen stars. Out of 25 films Vilma and Edgar made in 1970, both Sweethearts and Sixteen stands out as two of their certified hits both as films and recorded albums.
By 1972, Vicor Music Corporation took over Vilma’s singing career and smartly went back to the original fun-loving carefree theme that suited Vilma’s voice and made her a successful recording artist. With the guidance of Orly Ilacad, Vilma recorded original compositions that were light hearted, up-tempo and simple. Sing Vilma Sing arrived at the radio airwaves with the carrying single, “Bobby Bobby Bobby.” Despite the declaration of Martial law in 1972, the album became another instant hit. Also, Vilma and Edgar recorded their third album together, a follow-up with the hit, The Sensations. Aloha My Love came afterwards which also became a film and appropriately shoot entirely in Hawaii. Aloha was artistically packaged and contained Hawaiian and popular cover English songs like All Alone Am I and Eternally.
Unfortunately, all good things must end. By 1973, Vilma made her move. After almost one hundred films with Edgar Mortiz, she decided, it was time to venture out of the love team and test the water as solo star. This move also signaled the end of her singing career. At the same time, the musical genre started to subside as more turmoil politically spreads around the country. The bomba films exploded in mainstream local cinemas in mid 70s. Movie theatre owners illegally inserts porn clips in the middle of film. It was so popular back then that even the first Manila International Film Festival organized by former first lady, Imelda Romualdez Marcos allowed the bomba or sexy films to be shown during the midnight time slots of the festival. The bomba period created a long line up of respectable sexy actress like Elizabeth Oropeza, Daria Ramirez and Chanda Romero. Even former beauty queen, Gloria Diaz ventured into the sexy film. The emergence of sexy or “bold” films as what they referred to by local film buff challenged the now solo superstar, Vilma Santos. Tagalog Ilang Ilang production transformed her into an action super hero as the new Darna, Philippines version of Wonder Woman. Lipad Darna Lipad (Fly Darna Fly) defeated entertainment giants Fernando Poe Jr and Joseph Estrada, both have films being shown at the same time and the usual bomba films. A very long line-up snake down the streets of Claro M. Recto Avenue’s Cinerama theatre. It was recorded that Tagalog Ilang Ilang Production distributed Darna dolls and Coka-Cola bottles to the massive patrons during the film showing. Lipad Darna Lipad became the most successful Darna film ever. It broke box office records and solidified Vilma’s clout as the new box office queen of Philippine movies. Vilma’s stature as the most bankable artist of that time validated her decision to leave her love team with Edgar Mortiz and the singing stints to her closest rival, Nora Aunor. She became more adventurous and accepted roles that showcase her versatility. And this move cemented her position as the actress to watch, the actress on top of her game.
Remarkable History – As a singer, Vilma’s thin voice didn’t stop her to become a successful singer. Her hard work paid off and earned her a piece of history. The reluctant singer recorded strings of solo albums that created her signature songs, “Sixteen” and “Bobby, Bobby, Bobby.” Signature songs that enlisted her together with famous singers like Imelda Papin (Bakit), Eva Eugenio (Tukso), Claire DeLaFuente (Sayang), Sharon Cuneta (Mr. DJ), Didith Reyes (Nananabik), Aiza Siguerra (Pagdating Ng Panahon), Freddie Aguilar (Anak), Florante (Handog), and Gary Valenciano (Di Na Natuto). Her sweet and child like voice reflected the innocence of her original up-tempo songs that tackles teenage issues like dating, sexual education, body images and adulthood. Teenage issues that are still remarkably relevant today. – RV (READ MORE)