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Roles that got away

VILMA Santos

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ROOTS – As promised some issues back, Highspeed writes more about Vilma Santos, who I talked to in Batasan, where she holds office. Don’t have to tell you that Ate Vi is congresswoman representing Lipa City in Batangas.

She likes to say again and again that showbiz is her roots, starting as a child star in Sampaguita’s “Trudis Liit.”

And that whatever she is today she owes to showbiz – fortune and fame, including being mayor and governor for a total of 18 years.

Ate Vi says she loves watching indies and hopes to produce someday an indie…and perhaps even star in it. She did one, “Ekstra,” but then it had an armada of guest stars, including Piolo Pascual and Marian Rivera. All for the love of Ate Vi.

GOT AWAY – The informal chat with Congresswoman Vi veered to roles that got away, the latest of which is a Mike de Leon film. The story is focused on the De Leon-Buencamino family saga, centered on Mike’s grandmother, Doña Sisang (Narcisa Buencamino vda. de Leon), founder of LVN Pictures.

Ate Vi loved the script sent by Mike, but she couldn’t do it right away as that time she’d hardly warmed her seat in Congress. “And I had so much to study and learn as a legislator.”

Mike wanted to shoot right away. Mike told him it was his last movie. They earlier worked on the landmark movie “Sister Stella L.” Mike opted to do “Citizen Jake” (in pre-production) starring ABS-CBN talent Atom Araullo.

Well, hopefully Mike can still do the family saga with Ate Vi as Doña Sisang.

‘THE HEIRESS’ – Another role that got away was the rich and lonely spinster in “Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal,” inspired by “The Heiress,” which gave Olivia de Havilland an Oscar.

She said yes to producer Armida “Tita Midz” Siguion Reyna and her son, director Carlitos. She read the script and was eager to do it. Then came a snag, the shoot of “Sinungaling Mong Puso” was delayed. Maryo J. de los Reyes was directing it for Regal’s Mother Lily Monteverde, who was also facing some problems that time.

Ate Vi had to say no, although she was already committed to shoot “Ikaw Pa Lang ang Minahal.” Naturally, Tita Midz was furious. She decided to get Maricel Soriano who did the role very well.

The fortune hunter leading man was Richard Gomez (played by Monty Clift in “The Heiress”).

“DO IT!” – Vilma and Richard would later team up in “Kapag Langit ang Humatol,” produced by Charo Santos and directed by Laurice Guillen. But that’s another story where this columnist had a role, in a manner of speaking. I’ve written about it before and, with readers’ indulgence, writing it again.

Ate Vi was offered two scripts. The first one to be directed by Lino Brocka about a crusading lady doctor and “Kapag Langit,” a popular radio serial about a woman used and abused by the rich family who couldn’t imagine an unico hijo marrying a maid.

She was inclined to do the Brocka movie, “pang-award.” But this columnist “ordered” Ate Vi to do the Laurice film, reasoning “Ang dami mo nang award, you need a box-office hit. Do it!” Ate Vi heeded this columnist’s advice (order?) and true enough “Kapag Langit” was a blockbuster. And even critically acclaimed, giving Laurice a best director trophy from the Urian.

Vilma never forgot me for that wise advice.

What do you think?

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