Vilma Santos on movies, awards and campaign to make her national artist

Vilma Santos on movies, awards and campaign to make her national artist

Vilma Santos arrives at the Frassati auditorium of the University of Santo Tomas for the “CCP Cine Icons” event.  —PHOTOS BY GAVIN NAVARRO/UST SHS LA STAMPA

Award-winning veteran actress Vilma Santos called on both the government and the private sector to help raise funds intended for the safekeeping and restoration of movies, particularly those produced from the ’70s to the 2000s and recorded in film format.

“This is really for the Z generation,” Vilma told reporters after the special screening of the restored version of Rory B. Quintos’ “Anak” at the Frassati auditorium of the University of Santo Tomas, where she and the film’s writer, National Artist for Film Ricky Lee, were the guests of honor. “This is for them to learn from and be inspired by. I want them to know what happened to their mothers and grandmothers, to us, during these times.”

‘My advocacy’

The event, titled “CCP Cine Icons,” was a collaboration between the university and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and in cooperation with Sagip Pelikula, a film restoration initiative of ABS-CBN and Central Digital Lab.

Another restored film, “Bagong Buwan” by National Artist for Film Marilou Diaz-Abaya, also written by Lee and starring Cesar Montano, was screened on that day.

National Artist for Film Ricky Lee

“This has now become my advocacy. I feel like I’m in heaven when I am able to reach out to the Gen Z crowd here, as well as to the millennials. Today, I saw how excited the students were to hear about my experiences. “Communication is important between today’s seniors and the new blood. I’m glad that the young ones are open to adjusting—they can’t just keep relying on technology to learn. They also have to make time to listen to stories of what it was like when everything was done manually,” said Vilma, who engaged senior high school students and faculty in an hour-long Q&A session.

CCP Cine Icons, which was launched in March 2023, offers free film screenings in different venues of the works of Lee, Diaz-Abaya, and National Artist for Film Nora Aunor.

READ: Vilma Santos bags 2nd trophy for ‘When I Met You in Tokyo’

“Another advocacy that I intend to take is the safekeeping and restoration of old films. Sayang ang mga ito. Now that I’m watching my movies again, like ‘Anak’ and ‘Tagos ng Dugo’ that are both digitally restored, I am able to appreciate them more. I kept thinking, ‘I did that?’ I now get to analyze them, but already from a different perspective, especially their message. It’s amazing,” said Vilma.

Santos (left)with Leo Katigbak, head of ABS-CBN’s Sagip Pelikula initiative

“Leo Katigbak, who heads Sagip Pelikula, agreed with my plan to seek financial help from the government for the restoration. Their work was stopped when ABS-CBN closed down. Another organization, the Sofia (Society of Film Archivists for Film), is also doing this, but its funding is even more limited. We need to save these films. They don’t necessarily have to be just mine alone. I know they’re just out there, waiting to be restored. A lot of them are projects that we can be proud of as Filipinos. You’ve seen the reactions of the students. This will be good for them.”

Vilma also pleaded to those from the private sector, “Those who are willing to be part of this goal to save arts and culture. This is a costly endeavor, but it’s all worth it,” she said.

Studying options

The veteran actress was also asked for her reaction to the clamor for her to do a collaboration with archrival Nora. “It’s true that I’ve received several scripts meant for me and my kumare. I’m still studying my options. We can’t just be so gung ho about it and regret our decision in the end. We can’t do a project just to say that we have one together,” Vilma pointed out. “It has to be something that will make the audience say, ‘Wow!’ like ‘T-bird at Ako.’ Give us something different, something that will challenge us … a script that we can be proud of.”

This was the same reason she turned down a pitch by ABS-CBN for her to do a sitcom with her son, actor-TV host Luis Manzano. She said the same about the request of actor Alden Richards to do a project with her. “We saw each other at an event organized by Mowelfund. He said, ‘Ate Vi, let’s make a movie.’ I said, ‘Alden, give me a good script.’ He even said it could be the second project he would produce, after his movie with Julia (Montes, ‘Five Breakups and a Romance’),” she recalled.

Santos agrees to do a video greet for the grandmom of a senior high school student–GAVIN NAVARRO/UST SHS LA STAMPA

Vilma was supposed to do an action movie with director Erik Matti, “but we’ve not spoken with each other since [he pitched the concept to me]. The last thing I heard, he has yet to finish a number of projects. He has been working on a movie with Anne Curtis for two years now. He also has a TV series. Ours is a zombie movie, so it is kind of interesting. But what is really the pulse of the audience today? I can’t do a movie just for the heck of doing one. If it’s not challenging enough, then it’s better to just wait for the material that’s perfect for me.”

Vilma was last seen in the screen drama “When I Met You in Tokyo,” opposite Christopher de Leon. It was shown during the recent Metro Manila Film Festival, where she won the best actress award.

Vilma also said that she was aware of the concerted effort to push for her nomination as national artist. “I’m thankful to them, especially to my Vilmanians. For that, I already feel like a winner. But I also believe that if it’s not meant to be, it will not happen. It’s much like when they say I will win best actress, but only if I attend the awards ceremony. I always answer back with, ‘If I deserve the award, you will give it to me whether I’m present or not. If that title is for me, it will be mine, eventually.” INQ