Celebs share little-known stories about Ate Vi
Vilma Santos turned another year fiercer on Nov 3. But one day is not enough to celebrate her birthday and all the wonderful things she is. Considering how many people adore her, November could very well be declared “Vilma Santos Month.”
It is rare that a celebrity of her stature makes you feel that she is still within your reach. It’s always a delight to receive text messages from Ate Vi full of emoticons. She always has that personal touch. I love visiting her in Batangas, because her warmth stays with me even when I’m home already.
Allow me to pay a (post) birthday tribute to a great actress—and an even greater friend.
Viva la vida, Vilma!
Aiko Melendez: When my dad (Jimi Melendez) had an emergency in Batangas and needed to be rushed to Medical City, Ate Vi sent an ambulance. She showed how concerned she was and arranged everything. She kept calling me to check if my dad was already in the hospital. That memory is etched in my heart forever.
One thing I learned from Ate Vi, which I practice to this day, is to apologize not just to my coactors, but also to the crew if I arrive even just 10 minutes late on the set.
Cherie Gil: The last film I did with her was “Ekstra,” where I did a cameo. I had two scenes with her. With her being such a great actress, one can’t help but put one’s best foot forward. There was one scene where she came in playing a bit player, and she delivered it perfectly. I couldn’t control myself that I blurted out laughing so hard until she and I just laughed together uncontrollably!
She has no hang-ups or issues about herself, whether it involves acting, dancing or singing with her in the variety shows she hosted. She exemplifies true professionalism, dedication and love for her work. It’s always an inspiration to see her do what she does—and how.
Rita Avila: I wore makeup and heels to look older just to be able to watch “Burlesk Queen.” When I saw her on her “Vilma” show, I froze. I couldn’t believe she was in front of me, and I was supposed to kiss her as a greeting. One day, Roderick Paulate told me that Ate Vi wanted me to be her friend. I told Dick, “’Di ko kaya. ’Di s’ya tao para sa akin.”
Eric Quizon: She doesn’t know how to cross streets. When we were in Hong Kong, I could tell that she was nervous when we were crossing the street, because she clutched my hand really tight, as a little girl would do.
John Arcilla: At the recent Film Academy of the Philippines awarding ceremony, when my name was called as winner of best actor award for “Heneral Luna,” Ate Vi stood up and clapped. She didn’t mind if she was the only one standing. Then, the other veteran actresses in her table stood up, as well. We made beso (kissed) on my way to the stage, and she said, “Uy, pinanood ko talaga ang movie mo ha. Bumili ako ng DVD, at hindi pirated ’yun!” And everyone laughed. I was so touched hearing such a sincere remark from a humble superstar. She’s truly one of a kind.
Coney Reyes: I will never forget the time many years ago when we prayed by the gate of my house. Vilma and Tina were on their way home after we had a lovely dinner and a meaningful time together, when we decided to pray for her earnest desire to have another baby.
God so graciously answered our prayer. He gave Ralph and Vilma their son, Ryan Christian! I miss those times when we would pray together … My love and birthday greetings to my dearest friend and kumare (she is also my son Vico’s ninang as I am ninang to Ryan).
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.