Vilma ‘heals’ ailing fan

FUNFARE - Ricky Lo - The Philippine Star
Vilma âhealsâ ailing fan
Meeting her idol, reelected Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos, is the fulfillment of 78-year-old cancer-stricken fan Dorotea ‘Mommy Toots’ Purino's long-cherished dream. The meeting was held at Vilma’s office in Congress.

In a sense, that was what newly-reelected Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos did to her fan who is battling the Big C.

“I felt well after I met my idol,” related Dorotea “Mommy Toots” Purino, 78, a widow whose husband, a colonel, died in 2012.“Gumaan ang pakiramdam ko.”

It was a long-cherished dream come true.

Since time immemorial, Mommy Toots has been moving heaven and earth to meet her idol in the flesh — to no avail — not even when the Cebuana fan practically “stalked” Vilma during her shows in the US.

Last Monday, Mommy Toots couldn’t believe that her dream was coming true. The meeting was arranged by your Funfarer and Nathalie Tomada (Mommy Toots’ fellow Cebuana). One text message and Vilma said that Mommy Toots could see her at her office in Congress. Accompanied by daughters Pearl Purino-Campbell (who works for the US military as a psychotherapist) and Majorie (a Philosophy professor at University of San Carlos) and granddaughter Christi Mae, Mommy Toots arrived in Manila Monday morning (May 27) and, after an almost one hour with Vilma, they flew right back to Cebu that same afternoon.

A former beautician who lives in Talamban, Cebu City, Mommy Toots said that she has religiously watched all of Vilma’s movies and TV shows.

According to Pearl and Majorie, they had been trying to find a way to make their mom’s wishes come true since she underwent a Stage 3 colon-cancer surgery in 2011 and then another one for Stage 2 colorectal cancer in October last year.

The effort to make their mom’s wish come true became urgent last year when she got seriously ill. They were already told by the doctor that all they had to do was palliative care.

“But we want a curative procedure,” added Pearl, “so our mom had an operation but then everything that could go wrong happened. One week after her operation, she developed pneumonia, vomited bile, was put on dialysis and confined at the ICU for one week. She became okay after 32 days.”

After that, the sisters thought, “What can we do for our mom?,” said Majorie. “My manang (Pearl) thought of writing a book. The idea lingered but never materialized until last year when the first book came out. My mom started becoming weak at about that time. The gastro specialist suggested palliative care, although our surgeon (Dr. Rogelio Kangleon) suggested curative not just palliative because my mom has the willpower. After the (second operation), it was full blast effort to make mom’s dreams come true.”

Vilma and Mommy Toots with (from left) her granddaughter Christi Mae, and daughters Majorie (a Philosophy professor at University of San Carlos) and Pearl Purino-Campbell (who works for the US military as a psychotherapist).

Pearl published the trilogy of books inspired by her mom and Vilma with Lipa, Batangas as setting — Love Comes Around, To Love Again and Memories of Love (available on Amazon.com and Kindle). These books were presented to Vilma.

The closest (non) encounter Mommy Toots had with Vilma was in the 1980s when Vilma had a show at Raging Waters in L.A.

Majorie told Vilma, “We were supposed to go to Vegas, but my mom convinced everyone to go to Raging Waters just to see you. But there were so many people. It seemed like all Filipinos based in North America were there.”

“Hindi na tayo nagkita kaya umuwi na lang ako,” Mommy Toots told Vilma.

Mommy Toots said she had watched all of Vilma’s movies. She even had a Vilma Santos scrapbook that was sadly destroyed by a typhoon years ago.

Among Vilma’s leading men, her favorites were Dindo Fernando, Christopher de Leon, Romeo Vasquez and Fernando Poe Jr.

“Noon, nakikipag-away ako sa fans ni Nora Aunor. Siempre, sinasabi ko si Vilma ang idol ko kasi si Nora singer, si Vilma actress naman.”

Vilma: “Mommy, meron din akong ginawang recording, golden record ‘yun, Sixteen ang title. Pero ang mga nagmamahal sa boses ko, mga Vilmanians lang, hahaha. Pero sabi ko nga, kahit ganito ‘yung boses ko, bayad ito ha…hahaha.”

Mommy Toots: “Sabi ko nga, marunong rin pala kumanta. Pero pagdating sa pagsayaw, wala kang kapantay.”

Majorie told Vilma, “Before, you had a variety show every Friday. We had only one TV and the rule was, the only show to watch was your show.”

Vilma replied, “I miss my show. I’ve been a public servant for 21 years and I think it was meant to be. God may have a purpose for putting me in politics, I don’t know. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I would end up a politician.”

To which, Mommy Toots replied, “Sana ikaw na ang president!”

Vilma laughed, “Mommy, president ng senior citizens, hahaha! I don’t envy our president, believe me. Modesty aside, I was offered already thrice to run as Vice President, but thrice ko rin tinurn-down. I said I will be unfair because I have my own priorities. No. 1 is my immediate family. Pag-Vice President ka, as an executive, halimbawa may kalamidad na nangyari, and they’ll ask you to go there and it so happens that your son is sick, ay sa anak po ako. I said that if ever I ran, I would settle for a position in which I would be effective. My first priority is still my immediate family. Nanay kasi, eh.”

Vilma last did a movie, Everything About Her (with Angel Locsin), in 2016.

“I miss acting. I’ll do a movie again maybe this year, or maybe next, basta when I get a good script kasi minsan lang ako gumawa, eh gawin ko na ang maganda with good co-stars.”

Vilma noted that Mommy Toots reminded her of her own mom, Milagros Santos, who died last month because her mom was also posturera.

“Si Mama ko ganyan din…short hair, always with red lipstick. Even if she was bed-ridden, nakaayos pa rin. She wanted to always smell good with her hair well done. Kahit nung hindi niya kami nakikilala, kapag may naka-flowery dress, she would say, ‘That’s very pretty.’ In the hospital, naka-ayos, naka red lipstick, may konting blush at naka-eyebrows.”

Before bidding goodbye, Mommy Toots said that God gave her the chance to live because she had yet to meet her idol. “Alam ng Diyos na magkikita pa tayo.”

To which Vilma said, “Mommy don’t say that, we will see each other again soon, I’ll pray for you and you will get well. You look so good and just keep it up, through prayers, healthy living, God is good. I tell you, you look good, honest. You don’t even look sick. Look at you, you look so young.”

“Praise the Lord, nagkita tayo!” said Mommy Toots, adding that she always includes Vilma in her prayers.

“I need it Mommy, for my family and as a public servant for guidance.”

* * *

Ang Hupa (The Halt), Lav Diaz’s new film was shown at Cannes’ Directors Fortnight.

A retrospective at the just-concluded Cannes Film Festival presented 24 images, Hors champ and the Cinémathèque québécoise, in collaboration with Conseil des arts du Canada, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, and the Film Development Council of the Philippines in celebration of the 100 Years of Philippine Cinema.

Here’s the story titled Lav Diaz — Cinema on its Own Time:

The impressive films of Filipino auteur Lav Diaz make him one of the great filmmakers of the 21st century. Considered the spiritual father of the new Filipino cinema, he has made more than 15 features since the early 2000s, most of them epic in length; it is a body of work of exceptional aesthetic rigour. His films immerse us, unflinchingly, in the collective traumas of the Filipino people, who have experienced multiple calamities in the form of Spanish colonization, Japanese occupation and American rule, the ultra-violent dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos – echoed in the current, brutal Duterte regime – and countless natural disasters.

The radical stretching of runtimes in Diaz’s films has a three-fold political purpose: total freedom from industry constraints; exploring a sensibility grounded in Filipinos’ Malaysian cultural heritage and indifference to the monetary value of time – a trait crushed by centuries of colonial exploitation and Western capitalism; and physically confronting the viewer with the burden of suffering carried by his people. Filming with natural light, refusing to edit scenes and often shooting in black and white with modest equipment, Diaz has created an idiosyncratic aesthetic that takes us to the Philippines’ neglected spaces – jungles, slums, and cities and islands far from the capital. This partial retrospective includes eight films. It is an excellent opportunity to discover some of Diaz’s most important works, at the Cinéma Moderne and the Cinémathèque québécoise.

Shown at Directors Fortnight was Lav’s new film Ang Hupa (The Halt), a nearly five-hour film depicting the dangers of fascist government. Assistant Opinion Editor Cole Fowler wrote, “(The Halt), which takes place about 30 years in the future, is a low-budget, sci-fi film that covers everything from the psychology of the Philippines’ dictator to Diaz’s fear of a drone-based police force. While the film’s length may have discouraged people from attending the screening, Diaz’s work was one of the most awe-inspiring films of the festival.”

(E-mail reactions at [email protected]. For more updates, photos and videos, visit www.philstar.com/funfare or follow me on Instagram @therealrickylo.) duri



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