Ate Vi Amidst Mortals

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From an old article of Good Housekeeping Magazine, June 2000 issue. Here’s their interview to Ms. Vilma Santos during the press conference of her movie “Anak”

What is your greatest fear as a Mother? Siguro yung time na malalayo na sila sa akin. Mga lalake ang anak ko eh, so sila yung aalis. Ang talagang takot ko eh baka pag may sariling pamilya na sila, they’ll already forget about me. That’s why I’m enjoying my time with them right now. I would say na maswerte ako especially with Luis. He’s a very good young man Liberated but with limitations. Yung Mama ko hinawakan ako dati sa leeg. Ngayon kailangan kang sumunod sa generation. Dati 2 o’clock uwian na ang mga bata. Ngayon kainitan pa lang nila yan. Inaabot sila ng umaga, mga 6 am kung umuwi. You have to adjust.

What’s your greatest joy? Being a mother is my greatest joy.

How would you handle it if your kids were to rebel? I think rebellion is part of growing up. Ginawa ko rin yan nung bata pa ako. Alam ninyo yan. But I think there will come a point when the child will get tired of it. So as a parent, you have to be understanding. Like my Mama! Mama ko hanggang ngayon magkasama pa rin kami.

They’re calling you the mother of Lipa. Has being a mother helped you in your functions as a mayor? Yes, I think my being a mother is a plus factor. I run Lipa as I would run my household. Sa bahay, ang importante ayusin ang budget, yung edukasyon ng mga bata, at kung may pagkain syempre. Ganon din sa Lipa. First, I put the house in order, meaning City Hall. And my priorities are health and education.

Does being a movie star helped? I guess, advantage din if you come from showbiz, kasi napapatawad ka nila. If you commit a little mistake, may allowance sila. Kasi they still see me as Vilma Santos the actress.

How would you differentiate the fulfillment you get from showbiz and politics? It’s different. Sa showbiz, spoiled ka dito. There’s a lot of adulation but in politics, you get respect. Ibang kind of fulfillment. But I don’t have a political agenda. Bahala na ang partido diyan. That’s why I’m not comfortable with these politicians. They still have a year and a half left but they’re already preparing for the next election. They can still do so much more.

They say that your kumare Nora Aunor is planning to run. What do you think of this?Anybody can run. Pero hindi madali. Madaling tumulong pero iba yung nasa gobyerno ka. When I was starting out, I had to learn everything. These politicians, they always talk in acronyms. I had to learn that. The procedures, the budget, the legislations. Ralph used to give me these tutorials. We would talk every night. Finally, I just said, “Ralph, enough! My brain is full!”

 How do you balance your political career with your home life? My first priority is still my family. My constituents know this. When Christian was hospitalized, I stayed by his bedside the whole week. It did’nt matter if all the paper works had to be brought to Manila everyday as long as I could be there when my son needs me.

How do you spend special time with Luis and Christian? Sunday is really for the family. Yan yung tipong walang liguan. Kung ano ang hitsura mo sa umaga, ganoon ka pa rin sa hapon. We go swimming, we eat out, watch TV or just play around the house. My sons are both in their formative years. Christian is four, Luis is 19. That’s why it’s very important that I’m there when they need me.

Would you mind if we talk about Luis? I don’t have the right to talk about his life. Oh, he goes out with girls and he tells me, but I’d rather not say anything. Buhay niya yan eh.

How would you react to news, for example that Luis gone to bed with this or that girl? What makes you think that he hasn’t yet? Please naman, my son is already 19.

How would you characterize your relationship with Luis? Every other Saturday, I would have one-on-one talks with Luis. I think that now, our relationship is more like friends than mother and son. I ask him kung anong gimik niya. Minsan, nag-aaway din kami. Sometimes, he would say, “Mommy, you’re not listening to me.” So, I keep quiet. He has a radio but I’m not the type who would call him every now and then and ask, “O nasaan ka na?” I trust my son, the radio is for emergencies. There are rules. He can’t go out on school days. And no overnight with friends, pero sila, pwedeng matulog sa bahay.

How about Edu? Edu still takes care of Luis’s education, and they always talk. If he feels that he can’t tell something to Edu, he’ll go to Ralph. Hay naku, mas mataas na si Luis kaysa kay Edu, malapit nang abutan si Ralph. Edung-Edu siya pati pag-joke, yung mga mannerisms, mga actions, pero mas maputi si Luis kay Edu.

What about Christian? I think siya ang artista. Yung bully. Haharap yan sa salamin, mag-e-emote. Sabi nga ni Mama parang ako daw nung bata. Mahilig sa picture taking. Siya pa nga ang tatawag sa iyo. Luis was never like that.

GH: With that, I packed my bags, and said a quick thank you to give way the tons of other reporters milling around the studio. But Ate Vi was not going to let me leave in a hurry. She looked me straight in the eye, waved goodbye, gave one of her easy smiles and said, “I’ll see you! I’ll see you!” And I believed. Source: Good Housekeeping Magazine, June 2000

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