In 1998, she entered politics and ran for mayor of Lipa City, Batangas where she won by landslide victories in three consecutive elections. As the first woman mayor of Lipa City, she helped bring not just economic progress and infrastructure development to Lipa City, but more notably her various programs on public health, education and environment, which again earned various local and international awards and recognitions.
In 2005, the University of the Philippines conferred her the Gawad Plaridel Award for her achievements and contributions both as an actress and a public servant. In the same year she was conferred with honorary doctorate degree (honoris causa) in humanities by the Lipa City College. She was again honored in 2006 by the University of the Philippines as one of the four awardees in UP’s First Diwata Awards.
Dr. Vilma Santos is married to Senator Ralph Recto, who belongs to a well-known political clan in the Philippines. Together they have a son, Ryan Christian. She is also a mother to actor/model/television host Luis ‘Lucky’ Manzano, from previous marriage to actor Edu Manzano.
Mayor Santos-Recto – ran for Governor in the 2007 elections challenging incumbent governor and jueteng lord Arman Sanchez and even her brother-in-law, Vice Governor Richard Recto (who is said to be not in good terms with his brother). People in Batangas were eagerly waiting for this match up. Mayor Santos-Recto’s decision to run for governor of the province of Batangas resulted in a family feud as Ricky,his brother-in-law, also said that he will run for the same post. After spending some time thinking about the predicament she was in, Mayor Santos-Recto said that she opted to give way to to Ricky but left people hanging as she said that she had until March 29 to decide and that it was still a long time before that date and anything may still happen. Mayor Santos-Recto was then being said to be interested in running as Congresswoman representing the 4th District of Batangas. To add spice to the situation, Vilma’s husband re-electionist Senator Ralph Recto announced to the media that they would not support the candidacy of Ricky.
During the weekly flag-raising at the Lipa City Hall last March 5, 2007, political leaders from different parts of the province gathered at the Lipa City Hall grounds to announce their support and ask Mayor Vilma Santos to run as Governor. Mayor Santos-Recto was too emotional to make a decision at that point and asked for a week to make up her mind.
She made her promise good to announce her decision, and on March 12, she announced before a jampacked crowd at the Lipa City Cultural Center that she will accept the people’s challenge and run for provincial governor. Banker Edwin Ermita, the son of incumbent Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, will be her runningmate.
She ran under the banner of Lakas CMD after being endorsed by Speaker Jose de Venecia as the official candidate of the majority party. Kampi adopted her as their official bet for Batangas Governor instead of incumbent Governor Arman Sanchez.
Governor of Batangas was proclaimed as the duly elected Governor-elect of the province of Batangas on May 21, 2007 after garnering 475,740 votes against Sanchez’s 344,969 for a winning margin of more than 130,000. She will be the first female governor of Batangas (READ MORE).
On November 16, 2009, along with her husband Ralph Recto, she moved from Lakas-Kampi-CMD to Liberal Party.
Santos Recto won the May 10 (2010) gubernatorial derby as she earned almost 60% of votes casted in the country’s first automated elections. Sen. Recto has also been proclaimed as among the victorious senatorial candidates, while Vice Gov. Mark Leviste and all re-electionist Board Members prevailed over their respective rivals. – Wow Batangas (READ MORE)
Former Pres. Cory Aquino bilib kay Gov. Vi – “…Tita Cory sometimes sounded like she was making bilin to Kris. “She was telling me to plan my career the way Ate Vi (Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos) planned hers,” Kris continued. “Ate Vi was among the first ones who sent their words of support for my mom. Sabi ng mom ko, I should have another career after showbiz.” Helping Kris entertain her mom are Joshua and James Jr. “Josh keeps on telling my mom, ‘Lola, you’re not sick naman, eh!’ Tuwang-tuwa naman ang mom ko kay James who is fond of giggling. Sabi niya, si James daw is growing up to be like me, very jolly and very outgoing…” – Ricardo F. Lo, Philippine Star, March 27, 2008 (READ MORE)
On politics.“…It was not written in the wall that I would get into politics. As a movie star, everything is given to you. In politics baliktad. You give everything. But it’s the fulfillment that you are able to make a difference. My focus is on Batangas. No, I am not entertaining thoughts about the Vice Presidency…” – Boy Abunda, The Philippine Star, July 31, 2009 (READ MORE)
Rep. Aga – “…In the same presscon, “Rep. Aga” also defended showbiz personalities like him who seek public office, and cited those who have vindicated themselves in local and national levels. “Just look at Vilma Santos,” he noted. “She served three terms as Mayor of Lipa City and now she’s the governor of Batangas.” When Vilma entered politics, several people were saying that she would amount to nothing and that proved to be a big challenge to her. She proved them wrong. “She’s performing really, really well,” Edmund quoted Aga as saying. “Also, look at Jinggoy Estrada and Bong Revilla, maayos ang track record nila as senators. But those actors who critics say join politics because they no longer have a showbiz career and would just want to make money, that’s beyond me. I don’t want to comment on that. I just want to assure you that I’m on top of my game as an actor and I’m banking on my name and my reputation to win this…” – Ricardo F. Lo (READ MORE)
2012 Presidential Award for Public Service – “…Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos is being given the 2012 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Award. It’s Pres. Noynoy Aquino himself who will hand over the award to Gov. Vilma on Wednesday, Sept. 19, at rites to be held at the Rizal Ceremonial Hall in Malacañang Palace. Administered by the Civil Service Commission, the awards ceremony highlights the celebration of the 112th Philippine Civil Service (PCS) anniversary. The search covers outstanding public officials and PCS employees who have shown exemplary service to the public. Gov. Vilma is one of the public officials being awarded. In a letter to Gov. Vilma, PCS chairman Francisco Duque III wrote, “The Civil Service Commission is deeply pleased and honored to have you as one of the 2012 Presidential Lingkod Bayan Awardees for Outstanding Work and Exceptional Service in this year’s search for Outstanding Public Officials and Employees…” – Ricky Lo (READ MORE)
2013 Landslide Win – “…In Batangas, Vilma Santos-Recto was proclaimed governor after a landslide win against her opponents, Marcos Mandanas and Prexedes Bustamante. Santos, now on her last term as governor of Batangas, garnered 902,827 votes against Mandanas’ 50,888. Santos’ running mate, vice governor Mark Leviste, garnered 530,389 votes, way ahead of his rival, broadcaster Rommel Arguelles…” – Jaime Laude, The Philippine Star, 15 May 2013 (READ MORE)
No Political Plans – “…Happy, because not all are being given this kind of trust,” the actress-turned politician told reporters after the Commission on Elections officially proclaimed her at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan building here on Wednesday afternoon. She said being the first female Lipa City mayor and first female Batangas governor was a “legacy itself.” Santos-Recto has been undefeated since entering politics in 1998, having served three terms or nine years as mayor of Lipa City and six years as Batangas governor since 2007, for a total of 15 years as a local politician. Not everyone has the chance to be given the kind of trust she is getting from Batangueños, she said. Saying she will always treasure the trust she has earned in Batangas, Santos-Recto said, “Though my service here will end soon Batangas will always have a big big part in my heart.” Now that Santos-Recto is on her third and last consecutive term, rumor has it that she is eyeing a higher office in 2016. She told reporters, however, that she had “no political plans at all” after her new term ends and denied she was eyeing the Senate in the 2016 elections…” – Jerome C. Balinton, Inquirer Southern Luzon, Saturday, 18 May 2013 (READ MORE)
3rd Doctorate Degree – “Pinangunahan ni Batangas State University President Nora Lumbera Magnaye kasama ang BSU Board of Regents ang Conferment Ceremony of Degree of Doctor of Humanities Honoris Causa kay Batangas Governor Vilma Santos Recto para sa kanyang adbokasiya ng malinis at makataong pamamahala bilang Gobernador ng lalawigan ng Batangas. Ang tagpong ito ay naganap sa isinagawang BSU 46th Commencement Exercise na may temang “ Global Mobility; BatStateU Quest towards Excellence “ noong ika 2 ng Abril 2014 sa BSU Main campus, Batangas City…” – Elfie ilustre, Province of Batangas, Photo: Edwin Zabarte, 02 April 2014 (READ MORE)
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