Ricky Lo’s 57 VIPs in Vi’s Life (Repost)

Fifty-seven looking Sweet Sixteen (to borrow the title of her hit song way back when she was, uhm, fresh as a daisy and thought that she could sing. Well, she could carry a tune but she eventually turned out to be not a singer but a great actress who has dozens of awards that have left no more space to display in. Name it, she has won it. Looking at her, it seems unthinkable that Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos, still called simply and fondly Vi for short, is seven years and half a century old on Wednesday, Nov. 3. How does she manage to look so young?  “Positive attitude,” she said. And exercise and a healthy diet.

Did you know that Gov. Vi works out every day in one of the rooms of her houses (one in Corinthian Garden and another in Lipa City where she served as mayor for three terms)? She would close all the windows, turn the aircon off and sweat it out. Some detractors may refute it but Vi insists that every part of her body is original, untampered by needle and scalpel. A member of the household staff gives her a massage after a hard day’s work, whether at the Provincial Capitol or on a movie set. “I eat anything,” she said, “but in moderation.” Asked what her priority is, Vi replied, “Family, Batangas and showbiz.” She and her husband, Sen. Ralph Recto, are partners at home and at work. Her son Luis “Lucky” Manzano (from a previous relationship) is like a friend to her. Ryan Christian, her son by Ralph, is growing up to be the sum total of his parents’ best traits.

Successful as a woman and as an artist, what more can Vi ask for? “Maybe a good sleep,” laughed the former insomniac. The journey from Trudis Liit (which she did for Sampaguita Pictures when she was that little, recently adapted as a teledrama by GMA) to, uhm, Governor Liit was fraught with high drama both on the personal level and the professional level, and all sorts of tests and trials which she survived very beautifully. She’s her own glowing trophy.

To mark the 57th milestone in her life, Conversations asked Vi to do a list of the 57 VIPs in her life. Forever Vilmanian Alan Trambulo, who works at the front desk of Radisson Hotel in Manhattan, helped conceptualized this piece. (As of this writing, Vi and Ralph, with son Ryan Christian and close friends and relatives, are vacationing in Seoul. They came back Friday night.)

    1. Amado Constantino Santos (deceased), my father
    2. Milagros Tuazon Santos, my mother
    3. Luis Philippe S. Manzano, my son
    4. Ryan Christian S. Recto, my son
    5. Ralph Gonzalez Recto, my husband
    6. Emelyn Tuazon Santos, my sister
    7. Ma. Theresa Santos, my sister
    8. Conrad Lopez, my brother-in-law (Ma. Theresa’s husband)
    9. Ana Norwina “Winnie” Santos, my sister
    10. Willie Herber, my brother-in-law (Winnie’s husband)
    11. Joel Tuazon Santos, my only brother (the youngest)
    12. Rafael R. Recto (deceased), my father-in-law
    13. Carmen Gonzalez Recto, my mother-in-law
    14. Dr. Edwin Argonza (my cousin who assisted and attended to me when I gave birth to Luis and Ryan)
    15. Dr. Connie Argonza (same reason as above)
    16. Eduardo “Doods” Barrios Manzano
    17. Adrian Manzano (deceased), Dood’s father
    18. Rosario B. Manzano (deceased), Dood’s mother
    19. Amaury Agra (my uncle who introduced me to Starmaker Dr. Jose R. Perez of Sampaguita Pictures where he was a cameraman)
    20. Dr. Jose “Doc” Perez (deceased), my discoverer
    21. William Leary (deceased), my one and only business & appointments manager
    22. Cardinal Gaudencio M. Rosales (the first church personnel who gave me trust to be a public servant)
    23. Bishop Salvador Quizon (who officiated at my wedding to Ralph)
    24. Monsignor Alfredo Madlangbayan (who also officiated at my wedding to Ralph)
    25. Boss Vic del Rosario Jr. (producer of my Viva films…and thanks to his late better half, Ate Mina del Rosario)
    26. Fr. Lito Malibiran (my adviser, critic and friend)
    27. Atty. Espiridion D. Laxa (deceased), my legal adviser and one of my producers.
    28. (Regal Matriarch) Mother Lily Monteverde (who produced most of my acclaimed films including Relasyon, Broken Marriage and Sister Stella L)
    29. Father Remy Monteverde (Mother Lily’s husband who has also been supportive)
    30. Ishmael Bernal (deceased), who was responsible for my winning my first Best Actress grand slam (for Relasyon)
    31. Lino Brocka (deceased), who directed me in some of my most memorable films including Rubia Servios, Adultery and Hahamakin ang Lahat
    32. Douglas Quijano (deceased), whose well-meaning pieces of advice have paid off
    33. Mina Aragon del Rosario (deceased), my dear Ate Mina who carefully and lovingly chose the scripts and stories for the films that I did for Viva Films
    34. Helen Vela (deceased), my gangmate
    35. Coney Reyes, my gangmate
    36. Tina Revilla, my gangmate
    37. Roderick Paulate, my BFF (Best Friend Forever)
    38. Marichu Vera Perez Maceda, my ever-loving and ever-thoughtful Manay Ichu
    39. Marie Babacui, my companion during my younger years, in my escapades, disappearances and rebellious days
    40. Viring Morada (deceased), another kasama sa lahat ng lakad starting from my younger years
    41. Federico M. Garcia (FMG), who negotiated for my contract with Channel 7 for my TV show VIP right before he transferred to Channel 2
    42. Chit A. Guerrero, my EP (Executive Producer) for 15 years in VIP of Channel 7 and 2
    43. Cory Valenzuela Vidanes, the PA (Production Assistant) at that time who almost caused my rift with Ricky Lo (Note: During her show, Vi made a joke about the sartorial taste of Cory V who was a Valenzuela and not yet a Vidanes at that time; she’s married to TV director Bobit Vidanes. That was in 1986 when Cory Aquino was only a few months into her presidency. I mistook Cory Vidanes for Cory Aquino because Vi didn’t mention Cory V’s surname. Vi lashed back at me on camera, very angry and very hurt. Hehehehe!)
    44. Maribeth Bichara, who honed my dancing prowess
    45. Super Morales, who patiently guarded my diction and my grammar in reading spiels for my variety shows
    46. Christopher de Leon, my perennial leading man with whom I made more than two dozen movies; he’s now OIC governor of Batangas while I am in Korea and Vice Gov. Mark Leviste is in UK
    47. Edgar Mortiz, my first love interest on and off the screen
    48. Jose Mari Chan, one person and gentleman whom I truly admire
    49. Ricardo F. Lo, the very first movie writer who interviewed me when I was 12 pa lang yata and who even paid the fare for the taxi that he, my mom and I took to the Manila Times building on Florentino Torres St. in Sta. Cruz, Manila, where we did the cover pictorial for Variety, one of the paper’s Sunday magazines
    50. Malou N. Santos, whom I thank for believing so much in me
    51. The Star Cinema Team
    52. The Regal Family
    53. Batangueños, my constituents
    54. Movie/Showbiz world — the producers, directors, leading men, co-stars, production staff and crew
    55. The media guys who helped package my career
    56. The Vilmanians whom I thank for their unwavering faithfulness and admiration
    57. And all my friends whose names slip my mind at the moment I’m doing this list and from whom I ask forgiveness even as I thank them because they, too, played a very important part in my life.

Written by Ricky Lo, The Philippine Star, Oct 31, 2010 (Philstar)