Vilma Santos, Ang Ulirang Ina

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Whether in reel or real life, Vilma Santos is an epitome of an ideal mother. This is my tribute to Vilma Santos, ang Ulirang Ina.  She has had faults or wrong choices in life. Like her, we all make mistakes. As the years go by, we learn from those missteps, wisen up and change for the better.  I could write a book about Vilma, and perhaps one of the most poignant chapters will be about her as a mother. Oh yeah, we’ve had ‘mother’ role figures in showbiz via the late Ms. Rita Gomez, the original bad girl, or her ‘arch rival’ Ms. Celia Rodriguez.  Then there’s Mother Lily, the matriarch of Regal studios.  There is the protective Amalia Fuentes, who at daughter Liezl’s prime, was the best known mother/actress of the Philippines.  At one time, Nora Aunor was a picture of a happy family with real son Ian De Leon and a battalion of adopted children who appeared on movies together with either Christopher De Leon or Tirso Cruz as father figures.  In films, some of Nora’s most memorable characters are mothers: Bulaklak sa City Jail, Andrea, and Pacita Madrigal.

But no one is as beloved a Mother Figure than the QueenStar, Ms. Vilma Santos.  Remember the “I love you Lucky!” days when, after a grueling VIP/Vilma live show, mother Vi would say those endearing words to her son waiting at home?  Those were the most famous greetings that were heard every Friday, from Luzon to Mindanao, year after year.  “I love you, Lucky!” The words say it all, from a loving, doting, responsible mother. At the height of her TV (top rating Vilma!) and movie career (prime movie roles and box-office triumphs in the 90’s), Vilma mad a tough choice: to give new husband Sen. Ralph Recto a child.  In her farewell Vilma! show, she tearfully said goodbye to fame and fortune, and her fans, to give way to family/motherhood. Why even megastar Sharon Cuneta was all praises to the Real Queen for the tough but wise decision she ever made.  No success in life can ever replace a failed family. Even then, Ms. Vilma Santos was admirable for her brave, smart decisions.  Risking her career, even her life, she went through a most delicate pregnancy the Philippines had been a voyeur to.  She had to be literally carried to the bathroom in order not to bleed and lose the baby.  What a sacrifice from a mother and wife.  And how God blessed her with a new son, Ryan Christopher Recto.  And oh how avid fan Sharon Cuneta followed in her idol’s footsteps. Two great mothers.  Two great superstars.  When they appear in a film 2gether?

As to films, no other actress has essayed a gamut of credible mother roles, than Vilma Santos.

  • “Broken Marriage” – failure as a wife, but Never as a mother.
  • “Aida Macaraeg” – her poignant moments with her son, unforgettable. Lino Brocka could not have found a better Macaraeg.
  • “Dolzura Cortez” – on her deathbed, dying from AIDS, she tells her mother Charito Solis (SLN) – “ang mga anak ko, huwag ninyong pababayaan ang mga anak ko.” Urian was won over. Bow! Award, oh! Grand slam number two, oh!
  • “Saan Nagtatago ang Pag-Ibig?” – as a ‘surrogate’ mother to Val (Tonton Gutierrez). Remember the lines, “si Val, si Val!?” Best picture!
  • “Ipagpatawad Mo” – “si Jun-Jun!”. Ugrian jurors made the right choice. Best actress of ’91.
  • As Lea in “Bata Bata Paano Ka Ginawa” – son screams “hindi totoo ‘yan. ‘hindi totoo ‘yan!” Mother and son scenes. Mother and daughter scenes. Mother and children scenes. Unforgettable. Grand slam nga, eh! Number three!
  • As Josie in “Anak” – wa na ko say. BOW! WOW! POW! PMPC Star, PASADO and CMMA did the right thing. Awards! Oscar foreign language film entry.
  • Amanda Bartolome in “Dekada ’70” – Mother Courage, Nestor Torre describes Vilma of her character and brilliant performance. Grand slam number four. Second trip to the Oscar foreign language film category as an entry.
  • Lilia “Mano Po 3” – “Pati ba ikaw iiwan mo ako? Sabagay, sanay na ako ng iniiwan?” A well written role for Vilma (si Nestor Torre ulit, oh!) as mother, wife, abandoned girlfriend, anti-crime crusader.

The envelope, please! Kayo, may maidadagdag pa ba kayo? Vilma Santos has done it all. Been there, done that. Next stop, the MMK role as mother to a child with cerebral palsy. And the mother of three gay sons in Flores de Mara. Kapanapanabik! As for me, Vilma’s best mother role is that of being mother to sons Lucky and Ryan, and to her constituents in Lipa city who voted her, in a landslide, three times, for being an excellent, incomparable Ina Ng Lipa. Bow! Happy Mother’s Day, Mayor Vilma Santos-Recto! – Mar Garces, V Magazine, April – May 2005 (READ MORE)

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