At whatever age, she will always be Ate Vi

Ricardo F. Lo, The Philippine Star, 3 Nov 2020

Note: This was Ricky F. Lo’s last birthday article for Film Legend, Vilma Santos-Recto.

As she turns 67 today, Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos (shown on her birthday last year) says she thanks the Lord for all the blessings, ‘Life has been very good to me’

Whether she was six ( when starting out in showbiz as Ging and Trudis Liit) or sixty- seven ( as she turns today, Nov. 3), Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos will always be Ate Vi not only to her Vilmanians but also to showbiz- watchers. She hasn’t changed at all and not a part of her was altered by science ( contrary to what some people may claim). Her life is an open book read and reread and dissected inside- out, every detail bared in public.

Her birthdays have always been a private affair with her husband, Sen. Ralph Recto, and their children Luis Manzano (“I love you, Lucky!” Remember how she would greet him at the end of her then show VIP?) and Ryan Christian ( who is getting good marks in school), and other members of the family ( her siblings and close friends).

But due to the pandemic that has kept her at home ( attending sessions via Zoom), Vilma is celebrating her 67th in another way. Here she is in an exclusive interview with Funfare: How different will your birthday be this year? “It will just be a very intimate celebration at home with my family unlike in the past years when we would go out- of- town for short trips to celebrate my birthday. Basta we are all together and healthy, happy na ako kahit dito lang kami sa bahay.” What are your thoughts as you turn 67? “It is yet another year for being grateful, for new learnings, of facing new challenges, for appreciating and loving the Lord, my family, friends and the people around me.”

As you look back, mayroon ba dapat baguhin sa buhay mo?

“I can’t wish for anything else, except for the continued protection and safety of my family, as well as continued guidance on how to properly serve the people who have trusted me. I am very grateful to our Lord for all the blessings. Life has been very good to me. Salamat, Lord!” Do you have any regrets about something that you did or didn’t do?

“I have been saying ever since that I do not have any regrets in life. For every downfall I experienced, there were always lessons learned. Ito ang nagpatibay sa pagkatao ko.”

During this pandemic, have you assessed what are the essentials that you have to focus on or things that you have taken for granted?

“I have learned to value and cherish life more, and not to take anything for granted. Life is a gift. Being healthy is a gift. Makalakad lang sa labas ng bahay mo is a gift. Magkaroon ka lang ng trabaho is a gift. Mabigyan mo ng pagkain ang pamilya mo is a gift. Patuloy akong nagdarasal na matapos na ang mabigat na pagsubok na ito hindi lamang sa atin kung hindi sa buong mundo.”

Among your many achievements, what are the three that you are proud of?

“As a wife and mother, my family. As an artist, my acting and box- office awards. As a public servant, my Presidential Lingkod Bayan award.”

Nasa iyo na ang lahat, ano pa ang kulang sa buhay mo? “Apo!” What are the top things on your bucket list? “To become a full- fledged grandmother, to visit the Holy Land and to become a film director.”

Aside from your famous panyolito, what is in your bag every time you leave the house? What’s the story behind your famous hanky?

“My rosary, cellphone, wallet, cologne, lipstick and powder. As for my panyolito, I have so many, I have lost count. I have given so many away. Dami humihingi! I was still single when one day, my very good friend Coney Reyes saw me na pawis na pawis. She advised me to always carry and use a handkerchief to keep me looking fresh. Since then, I always have a panyolito with me. It’s my ‘ security hanky’.” Are you not worried about getting old? “Of course, I am worried but I tend to focus more on how to live and lead a meaningful and fulfilling life. These are what matter more. Lahat tatanda pero ang mahalaga ay meron kang pinagkatandaan.” How do you want to be remembered? “I want to be remembered as a God- fearing woman who tried her very best to become a good wife and mother, a loving daughter, a supportive sister, an artist who has hopefully made relevant contributions to the industry, and a public servant who cared for and gave honest service to the people she served.” (READ MORE)

E- mail reactions at rickylophilstar@ gmail. com. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www. philstar. com/ funfare or follow me on Instagram @ therealrickylo.

About Ricky: – Ricardo “Ricky” Fua Lo (April 21, 1946 – May 4, 2021) was a Filipino entertainment writer and commentator, and TV host. Lo died on May 4, 2021, from a stroke.

Lo, born of Chinese descent, was a native of Las Navas, Northern Samar, where he finished grade school. He finished high school at the bilingual Tabaco Pei Ching School in Tabaco, Albay, and took up AB English at the University of the East. A fan of feature films, he aspired to be a gardener of actress Susan Roces.

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