It is common among actors to turn down a role at times for some reason or another.
As Batangas Congresswoman Vilma Santos recalled in a PEP Exclusives interview in April 2021, there were instances when she had to decline to do some projects owing to unavoidable circumstances.
She remembered backing out from the 1992 film Ikaw Pa Lang Ang Minahal, with Maricel Soriano, Eddie Gutierrez, and Richard Gomez in the lead roles.
It stood out in her memory because it caused a rift between her and the famed Armida Siguion-Reyna.
Vilma revealed that the movie was first offered to her by the late actress-movie producer also known as Tita Midz in the industry.
The movie was an adaptation of The Heiress, a 1949 Olivia De Havilland film, and directed by Armida's son Carlitos Siguion-Reyna for the family film outfit, Reyna Films.
Vilma said she accepted the offer but was unable to push through with the project.
She recounted to the editorial team of PEP.ph (Philippine Entertainment Portal), “In-offer sa akin iyon ni Tita Midz. Si Olivia De Havilland iyan, e.
“Ipinadala niya sa akin iyong tape, if I’m not mistaken ha, na gusto niyang i-adapt namin sa local na production ni Tita Midz ang magpo-produce, si Carlitos pa magdidirek.
“Unfortunately, what happened was ginagawa ko kay Regal Films iyong Sinungaling Mong Puso.”
Sinungaling Mong Puso was Vilma’s 1992 movie with Aga Muhlach, Alice Dixson, Aiko Melendez, and Gabby Concepcion under Regal Films.
She continued narrating to PEP.ph, “Ang nangyari noon, sinabi ko kay Tita Midz, alam niyo naman, very organized sila Tita Midz, di ba? Kapag sinabing 15 days, you’re done, 15 days you’re done.”
“'Oh, can we start after New Year?’ naalala ko sabi ni Tita Midz noon.
“What happened was hindi natapos iyong shooting ng Sinungaling Mong Puso, nasira iyong schedule ko.”
The movie was delayed because of some controversy the Regal Films matriarch Lily Monteverde, widely called Mother Lily, was facing at that time.
According to Vilma, Mother Lily pleaded with her, “'Vi, huwag mo naman akong iiwan ng ganito. Tapusin mo naman iyong movie kasi may problema nga ako.'”
In the end, Vilma chose to finish Sinungaling Mong Puso to the detriment of her commitment to Armida.
Vilma recalled her conversation with Armida, “'Tita Midz, baka hindi po ako makaumpisa ng January sa movie natin.'
“Naku, nagalit si Tita Midz. Nagalit po sa akin. Kasi organized sila, e. Ayos na iyong crew, ayos na iyong location, so ako ang makakasira.
“Kaya sinabi lang niya, ‘I didn’t expect this from you. I thought you’re professional.’
“Sabi ko, ‘Tita Midz, I’m sorry.’ Naku, umiyak po ako noon at sinabi ko kay Mother Lily, ‘Mother Lily, kausapin mo si Tita Midz.’”
A week after, Armida told Vilma she had given the role to Maricel.
Said Vilma, “Anyway, after a week, sorry sorry pa rin. Sabi niya, ‘Don’t worry, I gave the script na kay Maricel.’
“At si Maricel, mabilis nagdesisyon dahil nagustuhan niya iyong role.”
Looking back, Vilma noted that Maricel was “swerte” with the material.
She said, “Ang ganda naman talaga noon, ang suwerte ni Marya doon. If I’m not mistaken, nanalo si Marya noon ng Best Actress.”
Maricel won the Best Performance Award of the Young Critics Circle in 1993.
Vilma Santos is PEP.ph’s top pick in The PEP List of 15 Greatest Actresses of Philippine Cinema in Leading Roles, 2000 to 2020.
To read more about The PEP List of 15 Greatest Actresses of Philippine Cinema in Leading Roles, 2000 to 2020, click here.