Vilma on burnout, disrespectful newbies, return to movies
With topics like career burnout, creative freedom, and respect for elder colleagues dominating show biz discourse these days, Vilma Santos cited three things that helped her get past the inevitable slumps: “Hard work, smart work and grace from God.”
“There should be hard work because you really have to do the work; smart work because you need to think about where you want to be and plan your career; and grace from God because, somehow, you also need to pray for some guidance,” Vilma said at a recent press launch as the new celebrity endorser of the motorcycle ride-hailing platform Angkas.
“So for these newbies — our soon-to-be stars and superstars — love your career and it will love you back,” the acclaimed artist and former politician added.
As illustrious her career has been for the past 60 years or so, it was never without hardships and challenges. Like many artists today, she also felt tired, burned out, and boxed in at certain points in her journey in the industry. But it’s about how you pull yourself out of a rut.
“There came a point in my career when I wanted to quit. I felt boxed in. I grew up in the biz; it was all I knew. Whenever I picked up a newspaper, I would skip the front page and head straight to the entertainment section,” the 69-year-old star said. “We will all go through challenges. But you have to learn to face and carry them.”
And then politics beckoned. After sitting as Lipa City mayor from 1998 to 2007, Vilma went on to serve the province of Batangas as a governor (2007-2016), then as a house representative (2016-2022).
“It was meant to be. That’s when I realized the realities of life … that you grow up, that you mature and continuously evolve as you face new challenges in life—it never stops,” said Vilma, who’s now enjoying life as a private citizen after 24 years of public service. “Interesting things continue to come my way and I entertain them.” As for young celebrities who disrespect their seniors and more established actors, Vilma stressed that how you interact with people and coworkers off-screen can be just as important as the talent you display on-screen.
‘Respect your colleagues’
“To those who don’t show respect to their seniors, please don’t be like that. You won’t last long in showbiz, where longevity is valued. You might be a star for a year or two, but how long can you sustain that? With so many new aspiring actors coming out, you need to stand out by having the X factor, and at the same time, respecting your colleagues,” she said.
“Every two months or so, a new face comes out. If you don’t have the X factor and don’t respect your colleagues, I don’t think you will go anywhere. Show biz is such a small world,” she said.
Indeed. Scanning the people who attended the conference, Vilma saw lots of familiar faces and writers who have been chronicling her journey since her teens.
“I guess 60 years is no joke! I feel elated. Not everyone gets a blessing like this. I’m very thankful,” said Vilma, who has been dabbling in vlogging recently. “As you can see, I’m continuously evolving or trying out new things. Learning never stops.”
Vilma is expected to do a special project with Angkas in the future. Will it be a movie? That’s for the fans to find out. But for now, she will be supporting the motorcycle taxi app’s goals of providing jobs and giving people a safe and faster commuting alternative.
“The first thing I asked when this was offered to me was, ‘How safe is this?’ You know how our roads and traffic situation is. But I was assured that the riders are well-trained. The passengers will have safety gear. I’m all for supporting organizations that provide jobs. And I was told that Angkas was able to do that for 30,000 people,” she said.
Now that she has fewer responsibilities and a much lighter workload, Vilma is willing to do more movies — something that had to take a backseat to politics for the past six years.
“Now I have more time to sleep! I don’t need to wake up at 3 a.m. because I have to visit an island, and then head off to another engagement,” she said. “I’m enjoying my private life.”
Immediately forthcoming is a romantic drama film with Christopher de Leon. The movie’s working titles are “I’m So in Love With You” and “True Love in Kyoto.” She’s also set to collaborate with Erik Matti on an action flick.
“Boyet will be co-directing, so I’m also excited about that. It’s a love story, but age-appropriate. It will be shot in Japan, so it’s new to my fans’ eyes. After six years, I will be doing movies again. I had to give that up for a while because I was so busy with my duties as a House representative,” said Vilma, whose last movie was “Everything About Her” in 2016.
She also looks forward to working with the current generation of stars.
“I heard that Nadine Lustre and some other artists want to work with me. And I’m elated by that. I look forward to working with them, really. As long as it’s for a good story, or something different. I have done so many movies, so a lot of them start to look the same to me. I just want to offer the audience something new,” she said.