Gov. Vi for vice president?

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There’s an offer, yes, for her to be the runningmate of Vice Pres. Noli de Castro in 2010 and she’s flattered but Vilma Santos said she’d rather focus on her job as governor of Batangas than give it a thought at the moment.  She said this and more during the launch of her partnership with Pfizer as celebrity endorser of the pain reliever Ponstan. The well-attended event was held at the Isla Ballroom of Edsa Shangri-La Hotel in Ortigas the other day.  

Governor Vi, looking dainty and fresh in a red suit, was her usual candid and articulate self when she answered questions from columnist Cito Beltran who hosted the launch.   As to how she handles responsibility, she said “hindi madali but I always give my best, binibigay ko buong-buo serbisyo na kapalit ng pagtitiwala ng mga tao sa akin…” If she said it’s not easy for her to do this, it’s because she’s also a wife (to former Sen. Ralph Recto who’s her mentor and senior adviser she said) and mother to Luis who’s now making a name for himself as actor, TV host and as celebrity product endorser too, and Ryan who she described as very intelligent, “laging nasa honor list.” 

“But it’s really inspiring to be given trust and confidence,” she stressed. Though diminutive in size, Vi has always been feisty and strong, as she proved her mettle in everything she does, first as a no- nonsense actress who amassed accolades and awards and later as a politician.   At the start of her political career, many expressed misgivings and doubts. But the challenges only made Vi stronger, and more determined, to prove her detractors wrong. She stressed: “Lalo akong tumitibay sa mga challenges, kaya kong salungatin ang mga paghamak,” and Cito likened her to the famed Batangas knife, “tumatalim kapag hinahasa.” 

She never thought she’d be a politician “but I finished three terms as mayor of Lipa, and I should say, with flying colors,” she proudly stated. It was a gargantuan task becoming mother to more than 200,000 Lipeños. “On my first year, I did housekeeping for Lipa, and I succeeded naman. Maraming problema at hindi sabay-sabay nagagawan ng solusyon ang mga ito but nagawan ko naman ng paraan ang lahat.” 

Now, as governor of her province, Vi is mother to more than two million Batangueños. Her biggest concerns as governor are embodied in the acronym HEARTS – Health, Education/Environment, Agriculture, Roads or infrastructure, Tourism and Security. The biggest bulk of the province’s budget “sa HEARTS napupunta,” the lady governor said.  Kung may enough time, comfortable na ang province, kung okay nang projects ko, pag-racket naman sa pelikula, duon ako kikita naman. 

Her job is physically, emotionally and mentally draining, she admited but she isn’t complaining. She finds it amusing that sometimes in the middle of an important meeting, she would be called out of it because a group or even a busload of visitors wanted to see her in person even if only for a minute.  “Entertaining people, tapos picture-taking pa na walang katapusan, talagang nakakapagod, nakakastress but it’s all part of the job ika nga. At pag nakaramdam na ako ng sakit, sakit ng ulo, sakit ng katawan at ano pang sakit, that’s when I take Ponstan. My mother taught me to take pain reliever when needed, at usually she recommended Ponstan, at hindi lang pala sakit ng ipin ang nagagamot nito. Para sa akin, if you don’t feel well, huwag ka na humarap sa constituents mo, kasi your condition will reflect in your person.” 

She related that when Pfizer approached her for a possible endorsement of a product, they didn’t tell her what product it would be. But when Vi learned that it would be for Ponstan, she accepted without second thoughts, having used the product almost all her life and having proven for herself its effectivity as a pain reliever. “Hindi na kami nahirapan nag-negotiate,” Vi said.  “We are very excited and honored to have Governor Vi as our celebrity endorser. We could not have chosen anyone else to effectively communicate the brand’s message to the public,” said Laiza Filart, product manager of Ponstan SF. She added that the choice to have Gov. Vi as the latest face behind Ponstan is the striking parallelism between the highly-effective brand and the hardworking public official. “They are really fit to be unstoppable partners. – Written by Crispina Martinez-Belen, Manila Bulletin 2/22/08

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