Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos shows no sign of slowing down despite her many responsibilities with her professional, political and personal life. She has been in show business for 50 years, a public servant for 15 years, and on top of that, a doting mother to her two sons and wife to a prominent public official, Sen. Ralph Recto.
Case in point, Ekstra, her first-ever indie movie, is expected to be shown this July, as an official entry to the Directors Showcase category of the 9th Cinemalaya Philippine Independent Film Festival.
She is now on her final term as governor of Batangas after she was elected in the May 2013 elections, and which she intends to finish with flying colors.
But amidst her thriving political and showbiz career, she has made it clear that her top priority is still her family.
AGEING GRACEFULLY. Turning 60 this coming November 3, Ate Vi, (as she is fondly called in showbiz) is still bursting with energy and zest for life, which lends her youthful aura.
In a recent press conference, the seasoned actress was even playful with some members of the press when she mentioned thrice that she is 37 years old, instead of revealing her real age, which is 59.
When someone asked how she was doing and how did she manage to still look good, the governor quipped, “It’s so nice, just be careful with your diet and do exercise, because when you turn 37, makakaramdam na rin po kayo ng mga pain.
“But again getting old, lahat tayo tatanda, but it’s good to grow old gracefully.
“Para bang kasabihan, di baleng tumanda basta meron kang pinagkatandaan.”
When asked about her health, she replied, “Awa ng Diyos, awa ng Diyos, so far so good.
“Medyo busy pero I see to it that I have time for myself.
“I eat everything pero in moderation.
“Pagka-37 ka na, mag-iingat ka sa food intake, kailangan ayusin mo ang food intake mo pag 37 ka na, nakakaramdam ka na ng mga back pains.”
LONGEST VACATION. Last June 27, at the press conference of the fight against micronutrient deficiency campaign launched by the powdered milk drink that she is endorsing, Ate Vi seemed to be in high spirits and there was no trace that she had gone through a gruelling campaign in the May 2013 elections.
“Nakapahinga na siguro ako dahil right after the campaign, nung pagpalain tayo na manalo muli, medyo nagbakasyon muna ako.
Isa sa mga pinakamahaba kong bakasyon; 21 days with my family. Heaven-bonding again with the family,” she explained.
“Alam naman po ng lahat na ang kargada ko ang pamilya ko, so talagang walang araw yata na di kami lumakad.
“But I guess ang pinakaimportante doon is bonding namin ng family.
She said that they went to Las Vegas and Los Angeles in the US, and she took the chance to visit her sisters who are based there.
“Kung meron man po akong pinakamasaya, I was able to rest, I was able to take a break in preparation for another three years in serving Batangas,” she said.
Ate Vi started her political career as mayor of Lipa City, Batangas and served from 1998 to 2007. She also made history by becoming the first female mayor of the town, before she went on to become governor of Batangas.
Although it is her last term as governor, the actress-turned-politician made it clear that her focus is to spend her last three years as governor to the best of her ability, and is not keen on pursuing higher office in the 2016 elections.
“At the end of the day, ang importante yung report card,” she declared, referring to her performance rating.
“I will be graduating. Sana gusto ko maging first honor, cum laude, iba yun, e,” she related.
She has not talked to any politician that may be interested in making her a possible running mate in the 2016 presidential elections.
“No, hindi ko ine-entertain. I want to concentrate on Batangas first,” she stressed.
“Kasi mahirap kapag masyado kang nag-ambisyon, baka dumating yung time na matakot kang matalo and then sa gagawin mo, hindi ka na puwedeng mag-no.
“Gusto kong [ang] maging desisyon ko maging yes or no, hindi ako natatakot na baka di ako iboto niyan, hindi, e.”
Vilma also pointed out that she does not put all her time and energy into politics because she also wants to devote time for her family and for herself.
“Nanay pa rin po ako, gusto ko pa ring pumunta ng ibang bansa, mag-enjoy with the family.
“I'm still a wife, I still have my boys, so gusto ko may time din ako for myself.”
“YOU CANNOT ARGUE WITH DESTINY.” She believes that destiny plays a big role if she eventually pursues higher office.
Looking back, Vilma said that she never dreamt of entering entering politics, but fate led her to be part of it.
“I’ve been working since I was nine, but how can you argue with destiny?
“Kung ba’t ako andito as a governor, di ko alam e, bakit ako naging mayor, di ko rin alam.
“So, it’s destiny.
“You cannot argue with destiny.
“Iba yung destiny sa nagplano ka.
“So pag binigay sa ‘yo at wala ka namang nagawa [kundi sumunod], why not?
“Pero pag ipaplano mo at kailangan ganito, hindi po.
“Marami pa po akong planong gawin sa buhay ko, I deserve to be happy too.”
Not that she is unhappy with being a public servant. Being a government official gave her opportunity to leave her legacy too, she said.
“The mere fact na pinagkatiwalaan ka, especially in my case, I’m a woman and barako country ang Batangas, and yet when you talk, they listen to you, they follow you, that’s legacy.
“Hindi nababayaran ng pera ‘yon.”
She added that just like in showbiz, she also finds fulfilment in being a public servant.