VILMA Santos is so busy at the wake of her late mom, Mama Milagros Santos, who left for the great beyond at 93 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease. People from showbiz and politics, along with relatives and friends, come to condole and they all think it’s time for a photo op with the Batangas Representative. She obliges and poses with all of them, including us.
At 65, Ate Vi has surely aged gracefully. And after 56 years as an actress (she started at the age of 9 as a child star in films like “Trudis Liit” and “Ging”), plus 21 years in public service (9 years as Lipa mayor, 9 years as Batangas governor and 3 years as congresswoman), you can say that she has truly lived a very fruitful and productive life. May pinagkatandaan talaga. She should be a shining example to all movie stars on how to handle themselves through the years. Ate Vi, talagang bukod kang pinagpala!
She’s happy that her two sisters Tess and Winnie and brother Sonny Boy all came home for their mom’s wake at Loyola Sucat, Paranaque. “Yes, kumpleto kami, we’re all here. Malungkot kasi wala na si Mama. But then, siya na rin, on her own, ang kusang umalis, kasi 15 years na rin siyang may dementia, then Alzheimers. Nitong last two years, in and out of the hospital na siya. So ngayon, at peace na siya.”
There’s talk that at the next presidential elections, she’ll be running for a national position and will no longer just be confined to Batangas. “Not true. Wala akong balak. Ilang beses akong inalok to run for vice president, ayoko. Never akong nag-ambisyon ng kahit anong posisyon. 'Yung Batangas lang, mahirap na, buong Pilipinas pa? But I’m enjoying my stay in congress. Kasi before, executive positions ang hinawakan as mayor and governor. Now, nasa legislative ako, gumagawa kami ng batas, and I’m learning so much. Nag-aaral talaga ako and I’m glad to tell you na 'yung naipasang universal health care bill, I’m one of the principal authors sa Congress. Makikinabang dyan nang husto ang seniors, PWD and the poorest of the poor.”
How about going back to showbiz? “Okay lang ako. Sana this year kasi, my last movie, ‘Everything About Her’, was 2016 pa. The problem is wala pa akong material na nagugustuhan ko. Ang dami nilang pini-pitch sa akin, but so far, wala akong mapili. I need something really different at 'yung age appropriate na rin for me. I’m really glad si Tita Glo (Gloria Romero), she still gets roles na bagay sa kanya, at nananalo pa ng awards.”
She calls her youngest son, Ryan Christian, and introduces him to us. He turned 23 years old on March 29 and is graduating from college by next year. The young man has fantastic PR and looks like he will be following in the footsteps of his dad, Sen. Ralph Recto, as a politician. “Sanay na sanay 'yang humarap sa tao. Hindi mahiyain,” adds Ate Vi.
We tell her: “Baka mauna pa si Ryan bigyan ka ng apo kaysa kay Luis.”
“Noooo!” says Ryan, laughing.
“Luis is turning 38 on April 21. Pero sabi ko, huwag siyang mag-asawa just because pine-pressure siya ng mga tao to get married na. In the end, siya pa rin ang magde-decide kung kailan niya gusto. Naunahan pa nga ako ng sister kong si Winnie na magkaapo. Apat ang anak niya at apat din ang apo niya.”
How does she find Luis’ current girlfriend, Jessy Manzano? “I like her, mabait na bata. Sa bagay, lahat naman ng naging girlfriend ng anak ko, nakasundo ko. But although gusto ko na ring magkaapo, I will never pressure them na magpakasal na. Decision nila 'yan.”
Mama Santos has been cremated and her urn was deposited yesterday in a columbary in a church in Alabang. “We plan to exhume the remains of our dad who passed 34 years ago na nakalagay dito sa Loyola at ilipat para magkasama na sila ni Mama sa Alabang.”