How ‘ekstras’ earn Vilma Santos’ respect

Loida Malabanan's fan moment with Piolo Pascual. The staff and crew appear to be fans of Papa P, too. (Photo courtesy of Atty. Joji Alonso)

Batangas governor Vilma Santos or Ate Vi (as industry insiders fondly call her), feels for “ekstras” or bit players.

The “ekstra” normally acts as a passerby, a vendor without speaking lines or a passenger sitting beside an actor playing a jeepney driver.  In other words, the “ekstra”  is hardly noticeable. And the sad truth is they’re last in the hierarchy of paychecks as well.
“Aminin natin, whether we like it or not, sometimes we take them for granted. Huwag naman,” Vilma told Yahoo! Philippines OMG!

Also read: Huh? Vilma Santos as an 'Ekstra'?

This reality was shown perfectly in the movie “Ekstra,” a Cinemalaya directors showcase entry by teleserye director himself, Jeffrey Jeturian (his latest project is “Be Careful with my Heart.”).

The biggest irony of the film is that it casts the Star for All Seasons herself in the title role – that of a lowly bit player.

Vilma saw “Ekstra” as her chance  to pay tribute to this often-ignored part of the industry.

“Sa tinagal-tagal ko na rin naman sa industriya, nakikita ko sila but it's about time bigyan natin sila ng importansya. They're also human. May pangangailangan din 'yan e,” she said.  “If you notice this [“Ekstra”] is one perfect example. May pamilya si Loida (her character) na nangangailangan ng tuition. And yet tatanggapin niya lahat para maibigay lang ang pangagailangan ng anak niya.”
Lower amusement taxes, please
Governor Vi also appealed to the government to do something about the ailing entertainment industry.
“Sana talaga masuportahan ng gobyerno ang movie industry. Ako kasi kailangan tulungan muna ng gobyerno [ang industriya], e.”

She added, “Kung kinakailangan medyo bawas-bawasan muna ang amusement tax, gawin natin. Kasi kailangan muna i-boom natin uli. Habang ganito ang stature ng movie industry it's about time na dapat the government should give their full support.”

A ‘little’ contribution
Money is the last thing  Vilma had in mind when she did her first indie film. After all, she has nothing to prove.  Her  body of work spans 50 years.
“This is a little contribution sa art at mapatunayan ko na hindi lahat kapag sinabing artista kailangan bayaran,” she noted. “Palagay ko 'yung reception kanina  (at the premiere showing of the film) 'yun na 'yung pinakabayad namin.”

She also drew the line between mainstream and indie.

“Ang pamilya ng indie hindi ito 'yung mainstream. Iba rin 'yung family ng indie. Kahit papa'no I was able to penetrate. Iba 'yung thinking nila. Iba 'yung gusto nilang mangyari.”