Mother. Wife. Actress. Public Servant. Etcetera. Not necessarily in that order. Does it take a superwoman to excel in those roles? Not really. All it takes is Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos to pull such a feat. As she turns 55 today, Ate Vi (she’ll always be that to her fans, won’t she?) has 55 (actually, more) good reasons to celebrate, to wit:
1. She has Luis “Lucky” Manzano.
2. She has Ryan Christian.
3. She has Ralph Recto.
4. She has her mom, Milagros Santos, still around to guide her.
5. She has a province-ful of Batangueños who believe in her.
6. She has Girl Friday Aida Fandialan at her beck and call.
7. She has a beautiful house in Corinthian Gardens, Quezon City.
8. She has a beautiful resthouse in Batangas.
9. She has trusted employees.
10. She has true friends.
11. Her career is going great (even if she now rarely does movies, the latest being for Star Cinema, with John Lloyd Cruz, for which she’s going to New York end of January 2009 for a two-week shoot to catch the snow).
12. Her endorsements (for, among others, Ariel, Cheez Whiz, Eskinol, Smart, Bear Brand, Cherifer and Ponstan) are growing in number.
13. She has won so many awards that she has lost count.
14. She’s remembered for several classic films (to name a few: Sister Stella L., Aida Macaraig, Relasyon, Anak, Ipagpatawad Mo, Dolzura Cortez Story, Miss X, Tagos ng Dugo, Burlesk Queen, Dekada ‘70 and Bata, Bata, Paano Ka Ginawa?).
15. She had starred with all the great actors (among them: FPJ, Joseph Estrada, Rudy Fernandez, Eddie Rodriguez, Christopher de Leon, Dindo Fernando, Richard Gomez, Aga Muhlach, Dolphy, Phillip Salvador, Cesar Montano and Gabby Concepcion.).
16. She has been directed by great directors (Lino Brocka, Ishmael Bernal, Celso Ad. Castillo, Carlo J. Caparas, Mike de Leon, Laurice Guillen, Maryo J. delos Reyes, Leroy Salvador, etc.).
17. She has survived turbulent romances (you know the men she has loved before, don’t you?).
18. She has remained a good friend with her “exes” (guess how many).
19. She has hurdled the hardest blows of life (she bounced back from being bankrupt, remember?).
20. She tried producing movies (Mga Rosas sa Putikan and Pagputi ng Uwak, Pagitim ng Tagak).
21. She has graced the covers of all magazines.
22. She has hosted a variety TV show (V.I.P. in which she wore a sexy outfit in her opening numbers and she popularized the parting shot “I love you, Lucky!”).
23. She has loyal Vilmanians all over the world. (Hello, Alan Trambulo of New York!)
24. She is idolized by her colleagues (Sharon Cuneta and Kris Aquino are avid Vilmanians, or have you forgotten?).
25. She has released an album (remember Sweet Sixteen, etc.?).
26. She’s contented to be five-feet-flat tall (small but terrible!).
27. She has conquered insomnia.
28. She’s hypochondriac but she’s dealing with it very well.
29. She was given a clean bill of health during her last executive check-up.
30. She has been conferred a Doctor of Humanities degree, honoris causa, by the Lipa City Public College.
31. She took up a special course in Public Administration in UP Diliman.
32. She has her ubiquitous hanky.
33. She has successfully crossed over from showbiz to politics.
34. She has maintained her youthfulness.
35. She’s the only child star who metamorphosed into an enduring superstar.
36. She’s a Star For All Seasons.
37. She has a “highly-satisfactory” sex life.
38. She starred in two classic kiddie films, Trudis Liit and Ging.
39. She did things her way (as the song goes, “I faced it all and I stood tall and…”).
40. She’s comfortable being 105-pound heavy.
41. She sleeps soundly in loose shorts with a pajama top, usually from 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.
42. She did well as mayor of Lipa City and is doing just as well as governor of Batangas.
43. She doesn’t smoke.
44. She doesn’t drink anything harder than “two glasses of milk” per day.
45. She doesn’t harbor ill feelings (bad for the health…ask your doctor).
46. She has peace of mind.
47. She has passed the tests of time and trends with flying colors.
48. Very, very few (if there are) actors of this generation can hold a candle to her.
49. She has remained “flawless.” (“No big-deal beauty regimen; before I sleep, I just wash my face with cold water and, before I put on my make-up, with warm water.”)
50. She doesn’t owe anybody anything (only perhaps some debt of gratitude).
51. She has her future and that of her loved ones beautifully tucked up.
52. She is Vilma Santos and not anybody else.
53. She has no plans (just yet?) of doing a Sarah Palin in 2010.
54. She has remained at the top. And, last but not the least…
55. “I haven’t resorted…yet…to cosmetic surgery.” – Ricky Lo, Phil. Star, Nov. 3, 2008