Vilma Santos is living proof that women must not let their age become a cage. She has redefined the art of aging gracefully. After celebrating her nth debut last Nov. 3, Ate Vi still spreads her joie de vivre around so well. Ah! What that Vilma charisma can do.

As a postbirthday tribute, I would like to thank Ate Vi for not being too much of an icon to be a friend. I am so touched when she sends me a “thank you message” every time I feature her in this column. For someone of her stature who does not really need publicity anymore, it’s so heartwarming that she appreciates my write-ups about her.

Ate Vi is one of the reasons why I’m glad to be in the entertainment industry. She is so down-to-earth that it almost makes me forget how famous she is. The Star for All Seasons makes the maddening “show biz circus” a kinder place to be in.

Vilma Santos

Here’s my chat with Ate Vi:

What was your biggest realization as you turned a year lovelier?

That I have long stopped growing in inches and years (laughs). On a serious note, I realized that there are two precious gifts from God each day. The gift of “now” and the gift of “one another.” While in the midst of these challenging times, I realized that practicing gratitude daily helps maintain a steady sense of calm and happiness in my life.

What can you say about Sharon Cuneta’s birthday tribute to you?

Tuwang-tuwa ako sa mga sinabi ni Shawie. My heartfelt thanks to her. Even if we haven’t seen each other for quite some time, our friendship has remained steadfast.

Are you game to shoot a movie amid the pandemic?

I am not brave enough to take the risk. But who knows, by mid-2022, after I’m done with my duties in Congress, the conditions might improve. When my congressional term is over, I will have more time to focus on my almost neglected show biz career. I also want to direct a movie. That’s a longtime dream of mine.

How do you feel that cinemas are reopening?

I’m not too keen about it. Watching a movie on the big screen with state-of-the-art sound system while munching popcorn is an experience that’s incomparable to watching movies via streaming platforms at home.

But eating inside cinemas is prohibited now. That’s sad. Even with masks on and social distancing, what about ventilation and filtration? Cinemas are enclosed spaces, so a lot of safety concerns must be considered. Besides movie screenings with limited audience is not profitable.

Tom on Carla: Commitment is a choice

After the ballyhooed breakups of LJ Reyes and Paolo Contis, and Kylie Padilla and Aljur Abrenica, the wedding of Carla Abellana and Tom Rodriguez was sort of a saving grace for celebrity couples. It restored our belief that true love can indeed be found in the “make believe” world of show biz.

Catch Tom, Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Alden Richards in the latest season of “The World Between Us” on GMA Telebabad on Nov. 22.

Tom Rodriguez (left) and Carla Abellana

Here’s my chat with Tom:

How will you and Carla ensure that you won’t give up on your marriage like other show biz couples did?

It’s hard to speak in definite terms since every couple goes through its own journey. All I know from my experience is that attraction may not be a choice, but love or commitment definitely is. So we will have to keep Christ as the glue that binds us, and we will have to choose each other every day.

We are not perfect and misunderstandings will be part of the deal in our union, so we have to be mindful that whatever turbulence our relationship might encounter will not define the love we have for each other.

Please share any cute anecdote about your first day as a married couple.

In our seven-and-a-half-year relationship, I have long felt that we were already husband and wife. But every time I would call her my “wife” or “asawa,” Carla would be quick to remind me na “Hindi pa! Girlfriend pa lang!”

Pero ibang-iba ‘yung kilig na, finally, you wake up together after your wedding. I was able to call her my wife without protest, and it was so touching to hear Carla finally call me her husband. We were like giddy teens blushing.

What’s your advice to bachelors who are wary of getting married?

When it is the right time, they will know it. Don’t rush … get to know each other. I have long wanted to propose to Carla, but my insecurities and anxieties would always get in the way. Waiting for the right moment might make you miss it all the more, so when your whole being screams at you that “IT IS TIME!” don’t let your fears stop you.

What is Carla’s love language and what’s yours?

We both share the love language of affirmations, but we also differ in other ways. I am more of a touchy feely person. Meanwhile, Carla responds through acts of service. Just because you don’t have the same love language, it doesn’t mean you are not compatible.

Jay Manalo (left) and Angeli Khang

Hidden desires and untold truths in ‘Mahjong Nights’

The erotic drama movie, “Mahjong Nights” (now streaming on Vivamax), serves as the baptism of fire for Angeli Khang. What hotter way for her to get started than by being paired with seasoned hunk Jay Manalo and sexy young star Sean de Guzman?

The sensual film directed by Law Fajardo is about hidden desires and untold truths. Aside from mahjong, there are dangerous games of lust and passion night after night. Wanna play?

Here are quotes from Angeli (A), Law ( L), Sean (S) and Jay (J):

A: I don’t consider other new sexy stars in Viva like AJ Raval as competition. Each of us has her own forte. We stand together and cheer each other on.

L: Beyond the steamy scenes in our movie, it tackles violence against women, especially during this pandemic, when women are cooped up with their husbands at home. As a filmmaker I might as well use my voice right.

J: I feel I am too old to be as daring in my sexy scenes as I was during my “Totoy Mola” days. But I am glad to guide a newbie like Angeli in our intimate scenes. I’ve portrayed so many bold roles, so now I feel like a guru showing Angeli the ropes (laughs).

S: My role as a “boytoy” in our movie was easier for me to portray than my role as an “anak ng macho dancer” in my previous film.

A: I will fall for a guy who has a mature way of thinking and is fun to be with. Someone who is neither too old nor too young.

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