Maria Rosa Vilma Tuazon Santos-Recto, more commonly known as Vilma Santos-Recto, or Ate Vi, and now Governor Vi, has made a stellar name for herself both in showbiz and in the political arena. Recognized as one of the original movie queens of Philippine cinema, she rose up to become one of the most versatile actresses in the industry. Throughout a career that spans nearly five decades, she has portrayed many iconic roles – from the heroine Darna, the rebellious Sister Stella L, to AIDS patient Dolzura Cortez – she has given a face to the plight of Filipino women amid the changing moral values of society. She did not only earn the title of “Star for All Seasons” – she has lived it. In fact, she has transcended beyond the “Star for All Seasons” title as she has also proven to be a “Star for all the right reasons.”
Mother of all – Gov. Vi might have shifted her priorities when she entered politics almost 14 years ago, yet she instills the same kind of passion in government service as she does in her acting career. She comes across as a no-nonsense public leader who is determined to serve her people—a job she takes so seriously that, as a consequence, made her sacrifice the showbiz career she had loved dearly. “Acting will always be in my blood,” she said. “But that’s now behind my task as a public servant. My first priority is of course my family. My family is my inspiration,” Gov. Vi told reporters during a press conference for her Nutrition Campaign with Bear Brand. This positive family values that she plainly manifests, combined with the guidance of her senator-husband and her approachable, pleasant personality, win over both her fans and her constituents. She considers the public that she serves as an extension of her family; the nurturing she gives her family is replicated in the larger context of her community. Together with Nestlé Philippines Chief Executive Officer John Miller and Councilor Joseph Juico of Quezon City, Gov. Vi attended the “Laki Sa Gatas Nutrition Education Advocacy,” program held on September 9 at the Bago Bantay Elementary School.
“I believe that health is no. 1,” she told reporters. “That’s why my priority programs are geared toward health. Before, education used to be my top priority, but I soon realized, how can our students learn if they are not healthy? How can they become competitive if they do not get the proper nutrition? “That is why in Batangas, I am initiating programs for the rehabilitation of hospitals, for the promotion of health cards and various nutrition programs,” Gov. Vi explained. For the past several years, the governor has become a staunch supporter of the said campaign that promotes the importance of proper nutrition. The campaign tours schools all over the country encouraging school kids, along with their moms, to drink milk, eat nutritious yet affordable food, and perform well in their studies so they could achieve their goals in life.
Lucky and movie matters – After promoting her advocacy, Gov. Vi then spent time with a very curious entertainment press to get her statement about certain issues. On the possibility of doing a movie with Superstar Nora Aunor, Vilma says she is not closing the doors, but admits that it would be very hard because of their schedules. “She has her own schedule and I have mine,” Gov. Vi explained. She adds that being a public servant has made it her even busier as she now has to attend to the needs of her constituents. “Let’s see, its better yung hindi mo alam na bigla na lang kayong nagkita.” As for her son Luis or “Lucky” who expressed his intent on following her political footsteps, Vilma said she wouldn’t do anything stop him. “Hindi ko naman siya mapipigil, but I told him that being a public servant isn’t easy.” “The first thing I asked him was if he’s ready to sacrifice his talent fee in exchange for a modest salary and he said ‘Yes.’” She added that her being a public servant of Batangas for the past 14 years probably had that effect on her son. “I bring him along whenever there are important occasions, so I guess he has an idea of the job I am doing. If he does decide to pursue politics, I think he has a good foundation already.”
“But if that is really what he wants, then I will be there to support him,” Gov. Vi promised. The beloved governor of Batangas gave the same answer when asked about Luis and Jennylyn Mercado. “When it comes to his lovelife I’ll just be here to support him,” she said adding, “I am here not to meddle or not to impose on anything when it comes to his lovelife.” She then gave her fans something to look forward to, announcing that shooting for her upcoming movie The Healing will begin next month. Joining her in the movie is Kim Chiu and it is said to be a horror movie about Filipinos strong belief in the power of alternative medicine. Whether it is in showbusiness, family or politics, Gov. Vi has proven that she has truly become not just a Woman for all Seasons but simply, a Woman for All. – Ed Uy Manila Times 16 September 2011 (READ MORE)
Vilma Santos, ‘di pinagbabago ng panahon! – “…Gusto lang naming batiin ang isang artista na hindi ipinaramdam sa amin kung anong posisyon meron siya ngayon. Kaya nga love na love namin siya, dahil ever since, mas gusto niyang “ate” ang itawag sa kanya kesa sa “Gov”. Sino pa nga ba ang aming tinutukoy kundi si Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto na ang edad ay hindi na namin itatanong, dahil mortal sin ‘yon. Pero sa amin, si Ate Vi ay hindi pinagbabago ng panahon ang mukha. Saka ang ugali, in fairness, kahit yata ano ang marating ng taong ito, nananatiling nakatapak sa lupa ang mga paa. Nakatrabaho ko na ang mga “stars” at si Ate Vi ‘yung talagang she will go out of her way to reach you, kaya nahihiya kami sa kanya pagka gano’n. Si Ate Vi ay lagi rin naming ka-BBM. At siya rin ‘yung nanay na paalala nang paalala na kami na raw ang bahala kay Luis habang wala siya, kaya nagpapaka-feeling madir naman kami rito kay Luis. At this point (me at this point pa kaming nalalaman, huh!) ay gusto naming pasalamatan si Ate Vi for being a good daughter to her mom, a good sister to her siblings, a good mom to Luis and Ryan Christian, a good wife to Sen. Ralph Recto, a good public servant to her cons-tituents in Batangas. And a good person. Thank you, Ate Vi! Lagi mong iingatan ang iyong kalusugan, dahil kaila-ngan ka pa ng industriya, ng iyong nasasakupan at ng iyong pamilya. Love na love ko ‘yan, promise. I’m sure, ganu’n din ang feeling n’yo…” – Ogie Diaz, Pinoy Parazzi, 04 November 2011 (READ MORE)
Taong 1962 nang pumasok si Vilma Santos sa showbiz bilang child actress. Ilang taon po kayo noon?
“Walo. Una kong nakuha for ‘Anak, ang Iyong Ina’ with Gloria Romero. Rosa Vilma pa ako, my real name. Eh ang dami ng Rosa sa showbiz like Rosa Mia, Rosa Rosal, Rosa Aguirre. So inalis yung Rosa. Tapos nakuha ko for ‘Trudis Liit’ na siyang mas unang naipalabas noong 1963 and now considered my debut movie.” Ipinagdiriwang niya ngayon ang kanyang ika-50 anibersaryo sa showbiz. May isang TV special na inihahanda ang ABS-CBN at ipalalabas sa Nobyembre kasabay sa pagdiriwang din ng kanyang ika-59 na kaarawan sa Nobyembre 3.
Ano ang masasabi niyang highlights ng 50 taon niya sa showbiz?
“Teka, hindi kaya nagkamali sila ng bilang? 50 na agad, eh 39 pa lang ako, ah. Ha-ha-ha! Naku, napakaraming highlights ng career ko. Sa dami lang ng nagawa kong movies na pwede ko ipagmalaki. Eh yung TV career ko pa. Naging recording star pa akong kumakanta ng ‘Sweet 16’ at ‘Bobby, Bobby, Bobby’. Eh yung mga na-link pa sa’kin? Baka maubos ang pahina ng interview mo. First movie ko pa lang, nanalo na kong best child actress kaya di ko na mabilang ang trophies ko. Very proud din akong lahat ng top directors natin, nakatrabaho ko, from Bernal and Brocka to Guillen, Abaya, Rono. Pero syempre ang proudest highlight is yung narito pa rin ako after 50 years. Hindi ako tumigil sa pag-aartista. Tuloy-tuloy ako sa pag-arte hanggang nag-teenager ako. And up to now, heto, aktibo pa rin sa showbiz. Nagpapasalamat ako’t sinuportahan ng tao at naging big hit ang last movie kong ‘The Healing’. Dahil dito, may bagong offer ako from Star Cinema to do another movie. May offers din ako from indie producers and directors. Pero syempre, priority ko ngayon is serving my constituents in Batangas as their Governor. Tuwing gagawa nga ako ng pelikula, nagpapaalam muna ako sa kanila.”
May balak ba siyang sulatin ang kanyang autobiography?
“Maraming nagsa-suggest, memoirs daw. Naku, eh hindi pwedeng isang libro lang, sa dami ng nangyari sa buhay ko. Sa showbiz pa lang, ilang volumes na. Eh sa public service at politics pa? Nang mahalal akong Mayor ng Lipa in 1998, minamaliit ako ng detractors ko pero napatunayan kong mali sila. Ngayon, second term ko na as governor ng probinsiya namin and I’m proud sa dami ng nagawa ko for my HEARTS program, which stands for Health, Education, Arts, Roads, Technology and Science.”
Sa isang survey, lumabas na isa siya sa top choice as Senator sa 2013 Elections. Tatakbo ba siyang senador?
“Naku, hindi. May isang term pa ko as governor. Tatapusin ko muna yun dahil marami pa kong plans for Batangas. Wala sa isip kong tumakbo for a national post. Sa bagay, wala rin sa isip ko noong mag-politics, but the Lord willed it. So, Siya lang ang nakakaalam.”
Anong masasabi niyang maraming nagreklamo na hindi the usual drama movie ang ginawa niya sa “The Healing” kundi isang horror-thiller?
“Kasi ine-expect nga nila, drama uli ang gagawin ko. But ako talaga ang nag-request kay Direk Chito Rono ng horror para maiba naman. Oh, tinangkilik din naman ng tao, ah. At napansin ko nga, pati mga kabataang dati`y hindi naman mahilig sa drama movies ko, aba, barka-barkadahang pumapasok dito sa mall theatres. I’d like to think na dahil dito, I’ve reached a wider audience.”
Totoo bang siya ang pumipili ng simbahang pwedeng pagkasalan sa panganay niyang si Luis Manzano at sa kasintahan nitong si Jennylyn Mercado?
“Naku, hindi. Nakailang girlfriends na yan pero never akong nakialam sa lovelife ng anak ko. But I’m happy kasi nakikita kong happy siya ngayon kay Jen.”
Paano niya ilalarawan ang sarili niya bilang isang ina?
“Very liberal ako. Never akong namalo. Para lang kaming magkakaibigan. Kasama sa mga pinakamaliligayang sandali sa buhay ko ang pagsisilang ko kay Luis noong 1981 at kay Ryan Christian noong 1996. And I’m so proud of my boys kasi pareho silang lumaki ng maayos at never kaming binigyan ng problema. Si Luis, successful sa showbiz career niya ngayon as actor and host. May iba siyang businesses. Si Ryan naman is doing well in school. Pareho siyang attracted sa showbiz and politics at bahala na siyang magdesisyon later on pag tapos na siya ng college.”
May regrets ba siya sa buhay niya?
“Kung meron man, siguro yung di ako nakatapos ng college. Pero bumawi ako roon through self-study. And also, I have a good teacher sa husband ko, si Sen. Ralph Recto. He really guided me well hindi lang tungkol sa politics kundi life in general pati na yung how to speak in public.”
Paano siya nagre-relax?
“The best talaga sa’kin ang travelling with my family. Nalibot na namin ang iba’t ibang Asian countries pati U.S. and Europe, nakapunta na kami. It’s the best way to recharge and for family bonding. After a hard day’s work naman, I watch TV, syempre, para updated tayo, and also soaps or movies. To keep myself fit, I exercise everyday by dancing, like Zumba, gusto ko yung tumatagaktak ang pawis ko. Tapos shower, tulog. Dati, insomniac ako, pero mula noong I kept regular office hours as mayor and now, as governor, naging regular na ang tulog ko.”
May balak ba siya to resort to cosmetic surgery para mapanatili ang youthful looks niya?
“Sa ngayon, wala. Ayoko noong ooperahan ako o gagalawin ang mukha ko. Pero kung kailangan na talaga, why not? But as of now, hindi ko pa napi-feel na kailangan ko. Wala namang ila-lipo sa’kin, eh. The best way to look beautiful is to have peace of mind. May nagsa-suggest nga ng stem cell therapy. Uso raw kasi. Ginawa na nina Manay Lolit Solis, Lorna Tolentino, and others. Sabi ko, I will observe them muna. Takot ako sa side effects eh. Pag wala talaga, I might try it. Pero ako, I’m not afraid of growing old. We can grow old gracefully naman.We cannot look young forever naman. Ayoko lang noong Alzheimer’s, gaya ng nangyayari sa mama ko ngayon. May times kilala kami, may times na hindi. That’s sad. Ayoko ng ganun.”
May mahihiling pa ba siya sa buhay niya?
“Materially, wala na. God has been so good to me all my life. Wala akong mairereklamo. Ngayon nga, tuloy-tuloy pati endorsements ko. But I do pray na my family and I will always have good health. Mahirap yung may nagkakasakit. And I also pray na sana patuloy niya kong i-guide para mas mapaglingkuran ko pa ang mga taga-Batangas. And yes, tuloy-tuloy pa rin ako sa showbiz. Kung pwede lang, on to another 50 years.” – Mario E. Bautista, Philippine Digest (READ MORE)