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Vilma Santos-Recto on MMFF, indies, LGBT, and why she voted ‘No’



Actress-turned-public servant Vilma Santos is taking on a new role as one of 24 newly appointed members of this year’s Metro Manila Film Festival (MMFF) executive committee (execom).

Vilma Santos (

Vilma Santos

In a recent interview, the Star For All Season said she intends to share with the other members her “experiences” as industry veteran.

Vilma has won several MMFF best actress trophies. Among these were for the movies “Burlesk Queen” (1977), “Karma” (1981), “Imortal” (1989), and “Mano Po III: My Love” (2004).

“Baka mayroon din akong pwedeng ma-i-suggest, mai-share (sa MMFF execom),” she humbly told Bulletin Entertainment. “Baka may inputs ako na pwedeng sabihin sa kanila.”

She certainly looks forward to working with colleagues she hasn’t seen for some time.

“Excited ako du’n,” she said. “Siyempre matagal na rin kami hindi nagkita-kita. It’s really a great feeling to be part of showbiz again (through the MMFF).”

As Batangas 6th District representative, Santos initially expressed concern she might not be able to attend all the meetings of the execom.

“Pero sabi ko, sa mga major meeting, hindi ako mawawala d’yan,” she said. “I assured the MMFF that there is no need to worry.”

Vilma’s appointment is part of the changes being implemented to this year’s festival. Recall that last year’s box-office result was far lower than in previous ones.

She hopes to be able to contribute to make things better.

“We cannot expect everything to be perfect. At the end of the day, kung ano naman ang gusto ng mga tao ’di ba? Maraming pwedeng
she noted.

Nonetheless, Santos sees being part of the execom a huge privilege.

“Malaking pribilehiyo ’yung pinagkatiwala nila sa akin, so gagawin ko lahat ng kaya kong gawin para makatulong sa industriya,” she said.

Joining Santos in the execom are industry leaders: Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares, Mowelfund chair Marichu Maceda, actress Boots Anson-Rodrigo, Film Development Council of the Philippines Chair Liza Diño, Movie and Television Review and Classification Board Chair Rachel Arenas, Optical Media Board Chair Anselmo Adriano, and producers-distributors Wilson Tieng, Jesse Ejercito and Victor Villegas.

Vilma Santos quote (

Also appointed are industry members: movie directors Jose Romero IV and Mel Chionglo, scriptwriter Ricky Lee, documentarian Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, talent manager Noel Ferrer, critic Rolando Tolentino (representing academe), and executive director Ed Lejano of the Quezon City Film Development Commission, Taguig Mayor Laarni Cayetano (representing Metro Manila mayors), Philippine National Police Director Oscar Albayalde, and Jun Romana of the Bureau of Broadcast Services.

Completing the roster of execom members are Edgar Tejerero of SM Lifestyle Inc., Rolando Dueñas of Ayala Cinemas, Christina Caparas of Vista Mall Cinemas, and Evylene Advincula of Robinsons Movieworld.

Theater chain representatives were included in a bid to balance the interests of theater owners and movie producers with artistic demands and audience preference.

Meanwhile, pro-indie members writer-producer Moira Lang and academician Edward Cabagnot were not reappointed to the executive committee.

Note, the two were instrumental in introducing radical changes in last year’s MMFF.

Though saddened by his exit, Cabagnot expressed his gratitude for the chance given to him and vows to continue to be active in pushing for quality movies, while ensuring the last year’s changes will not be ignored.

On Facebook, he posted: “I am supremely grateful and honored to have been part of the change edition of this yearly celebration of Pinoy artistic excellence in cinema.”

“Moira (Lang) and myself shall continue to monitor the evolution of the festival from the outside and make sure that this year’s edition shall build on last year’s revolutionary changes,” he added.

Indie fan

From “Trudis Liit (1963)” to “Everything About Her (2016),” Santos revealed she has done at least 300 films.

Along the way, she has held different titles including Grand Slam Queen and Queen of Queens, among others.

Santos was also hailed as the Enduring Grand Dame of the Philippine Film Industry by a legitimate foreign critic at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the first Filipina actress to have ever been bestowed such a title.

Despite being busy with her political duties, Santos is open to doing another movie in the future.

(Clockwise): 'Burlesk Queen,' 'Mano Po III: My Love,' Vilma and Angel Locsin,' Vilma and Jessy Mendiola, and 'Imortal' (

(Clockwise): ‘Burlesk Queen,’ ‘Mano Po III: My Love,’ Vilma and Angel Locsin,’ Vilma and Jessy Mendiola, and ‘Imortal’

“Kung may magandang storya, bakit hindi ’di ba?” she said.

Given the chance, Santos revealed she wants to do another indie film saying: “Fan ako (ng indies) eh.”

Talagang nagre-rent ako ng (CDs ng mga indie films) para makapanuod,” she maintained, adding she looks forward to working with award-winning directors Brillante Mendoza and Lav Diaz.

“I love watching indies kasi ino-observe ko kasi how they do it. Mula sa umpisa, lahat ng ginagawa ng bida, talaga nakasunod lang ’yung camera,” she said.

It was in 1998 when Santos entered politics and ran for Mayor of Lipa, City. She won three consecutive elections, becoming the city’s first female mayor.

If and when she decides to end her political career, Santos shared she wants to produce an indie film.

Supporting LGBT

Having portrayed several lesbian roles in the past, Santos understands and fully supports the LGBT community.

“Kung maaari nga lang sana, may exclusive laws para sa LGBT, kasi naiintindihan ko situations nila eh,” she noted.

“Kasi ang LGBT, may discrimination talaga eh. Parang kapag sinabing lesbian (o gay), may (negative) connotation na agad ang mga tao (sa kanila). (Pero) ang sa akin lang, ‘What’s wrong with that (being gay)?’ Buti nga ngayon, mas libre na sila mag-expose (ng mga sarili nila).”


Santos was among the 54 legislators who voted against the re-imposition of the death penalty in the country.

“’Yun kasi ang prinsipyo ko sa buhay. Iba din ang prinsipyo ng iba na dapat din natin igalang,” she said.

The Batangas representative added: “At the end of the day kung anong makakabuti sa mga tao, ’yun ang sundin natin. Since naninindigan ako sa no, I am ready to accept the consequences of my decision.”

On Jessy, Luis

Vilma was also asked about the issues surrounding two women being linked to her son, Luis Manzano.

Angel Locsin was Luis’ ex while Jessy Mendiola is the current girlfriend.

“Lumaki din naman ako sa showbiz, kapag may ganyang intriga parang Vilmanian o Noranian lang ’yan at nasanay na ako du’n,” she said. “At the end of the day naman, kung ano at sino ka talaga, du’n ka tatagal.”

She considers both Angel and Jessy her good friends.

“I’m also happy to see my son Luis that he is very happy with Jessy. ’Yun naman ang importante sa nanay, masaya ang anak ko, masaya sila ni Jessy. Pero hindi ibig sabihin nu’n na kagalit ko si Angel.” (With report from Jojo P. Panaligan)

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  • lawrence

    good read! viva vilma! the greatest actress in phil cinema