Another sad/happy B-day for Gov. Vi

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo (The Philippine Star) - November 3, 2014 - 12:00am

Like last year, it’s again a sad/happy birthday for Batangas Gov. Vilma Santos as she turns 61 today.

“I look like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer,” Ate Vi (as she always will be to her fans and friends) told Funfare in a phone interview yesterday, her voice nasal as if due to a bad cold. “My nose is swollen, pulang-pula.”

That’s why even if she wants to, Vi will not (since she cannot) be spending her birthday as she used to, limiting her celebration to having dinner with immediate family members just to observe the tradition.

On the eve of her 60th birthday last year, Vi was vacationing in Tokyo with husband Sen. Ralph Recto, their children Luis and Ryan Christian, and other relatives and friends when she got the sad news that Ralph’s mother Carmen Gonzales-Recto, died in her sleep in Cambodia where she was on a holiday with her friend Cely Fajardo and Cely’s family. Cely used to be the chief of staff of Carmen’s late husband Raffy Recto.

Ironically, it was Vilma’s accountant/Girl Friday Aida Fandialan who broke the news to Funfare in a text message, confirming that her Ma’am Carmen and company were scheduled to fly back to Manila that morning of Nov. 2 (All Souls’ Day). Aida, who would have celebrated her birthday on Thursday, Nov. 6, died last July 20.

According to the story, Carmen woke up early, dressed up and had coffee in her room while waiting for her companions to pack up. She took a nap and never woke up. She died peacefully at age 72.

Vi and Ralph were shocked, crying in each other’s arms as they struggled to make sense of the tragedy that has turned Vi’s birthday a sad/happy event.

“While having dinner at a Tokyo restaurant as asalto for Vi’s birthday,” Aida recalled at that time, “we were all quiet. What was supposed to be a happy day turned out to be very sad.”
For 40 years, Aida served not only as an accountant but also as Girl Friday and confidante to Vi.

“She was like a sister to me,” said Vi on the phone yesterday, her voice cracking a bit. “She was a member of our family.”’

Aida’s passing came as déjà vu for Vi who was in London with Ralph purposely to look for a school for Ryan who graduated from La Salle High School last March. It was the first time Aida didn’t travel with the couple because she kept Ryan company while his parents were away.

A few days before Vi and Ralph were scheduled to come home, Aida suffered a stroke (she was hypertensive) and was confined at the ICU of Asian Hospital, dying barely 20 hours before Vi and Ralph arrived.

A family member actually texted Vi that Aida had died but by then, Vi and Ralph were already on the plane to Manila. Her celfone was turned off and she got the message only when they arrived at the NAIA. Vi and Ralph hoped to check on Aida at the ICU but learned that her remains were already being prepared for the wake.

It took Vi two days to gather enough guts to go to the Manila Memorial Park Chapels (in Parañaque City). Upon seeing Aida’s coffin, Vi broke down and had to be helped back on her feet by those around.

“I haven’t recovered from Ate Aida’s death,” confessed Vi, her voice choking again. “Imagine naman, 40 years kaming magkasama, and then she had to die so suddenly. We didn’t even have a chance to say goodbye to each other.”

Her over-drawn grieving has taken a toll on Vi’s health. Her ulcers started acting up and she had to be confined at the hospital. Then, pimple-like growths sprouted around her nose, causing it to swell and, as she puts it, making her look like Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer. Worse, she cannot orally take antibiotics because of her ulcers so the medicines have to be administered intravenously.

“That’s why I haven’t been visible these days,” explained Vi. “I have to politely turn down invitations to appear as guest on ASAP and other TV shows. Hindi ako puede mag-make-up; I can’t even stay under the sun even for a while. My doctors told me that sobrang stressed ako and I have to slow down. I told myself, ‘Give yourself a break; remember that health is wealth.’”

As public official, Vi said that she can’t be effective if she’s not physically, mentally and emotionally okay.

So tonight, Vi will celebrate another sad/happy birthday with close family members but she plans to treat her staff and “my constituents” at the provincial Kapitolyo to a salu-salo and, as usual, her friend-movie writers to a get-together.

“Please, paki-thank you na lang d’un sa mga bumabati sa akin and those who are praying for my health,” said Vi.

(E-mail reactions at both rickylophilstar@gmail.com and entphilstar@yahoo.com.)

From the Global Vilmanians with love

On behalf of his fellow Vilmanians, Ronald M. Garcia (of Musaffah, Industrial City of Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates) has composed a poem specially for Vilma’s birthday. Here it is:


VILMA...Dito Sa Aming Mga Puso


Hindi namin malilimutan ang iyong kaarawan,

Gaya din noong ika’y bago pa lang sa tanghalan,

Unang kita pa lang sa iyo’y nabighani sa kariktan,

Lahat kami ay sumaya, kalungkutan ay naparam.


Ang matamis mong mga ngiti ay palaging nakikita,

Maging sa aming panaginip, amin pa ring kasama,

Mga larawan mo’y iniipon, binabasag ang alkansiya,

Lahat ng bagay tungkol sa iyo’y binibili, inuuna.


Kapag kami’y may problema, nakikinig sa iyong kanta,

Kahit ika’y hindi singer, ang tempo mo’y naiiba,

Sulirani’y nawawala, pumapalit ay halina,

Masaya ang paligid, walang kahulilip na ligaya.


Salamat sa talent mong kaloob sa iyo ng Diyos,

Dahil minahal mo ito at nagsikap ka nang lubos,

Hindi mo inabuso at ginamit nang maayos,

Kaya naman pagpapala ay hindi matapus-tapos.


Salamat din sa pagiging mapagmahal na kapatid,

Inaaruga mo silang lahat tulad din nang sila’y paslit,

Hindi ka nakalilimot sa obligasyo’y walang patid,

Kaya naman mga blessings, sa iyo lahat bumabalik.


Mapagmahal ka ring anak sa iyong mga magulang,

Ang nagawa mo sa iyong ina’y hindi nagawa ng iba dyan,

Bilang ina ng Batangas ay hindi mo sila pinabayaan,

Pagpupuri ay dapat lang sa iyo ay lubos na  ialay.


Ngayong marami sa amin ay nasa ibayong dagat na,

Sobrang pananabik na makita ka namin Vilma,

Kalungkuta’y dinadaan sa panonod ng iyong pelikula,

Kahit paano’y nababawasan ang aming pangungulila.


Inaabangan araw-araw ang mga balita tungkol sa iyo,

Salamat sa mga online sites at kami’y hindi nabibigo,

Na maging updated, sa Vilma news ay on the go,

Balitang politika man o maging sa showbiz mo.


Mag-iingat ka na lamang palagi aming mahal na Vilma,

Dahil kaming mga fans mo sa iyo’y palaging nakasuporta,

Ipagtatanggol ka palagi at sa kalaban ay dedepensa,

Hindi ka namin bibiguin habang kami’y may hininga.

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