Born in November 3, 1953 in Manila, she finished her primary and secondary level of education at St. Mary’s Academy. She has two children: Luis Philippe S. Manzano and Ryan Christian Recto. She is happily married to former Senator Ralph G. Recto.
Serving as Mayor of Lipa for nine consecutive years (1998-2007), she spearheaded the city’s socio-economic and cultural progress giving emphasis on education, health, employment, peace and order, tourism and technology among others. Undoubtedly, she earned the Most Outstanding Mayor in the year 2000 given by no less than the Civil Service Commission. In the same year, she was recognized Outstanding Mayor in Region IV by the Asusasyon ng Komentarista at Anaunser sa Pilipinas. In 2002 and 2003 respectively, she received the Sandugo Outstanding Local Government Executive by the Department of Health. The Presidential Commission for Urban Poor took cognizance of her effort in upholding the welfare of the marginalized sectors of our society by giving her the Gawad Parangal award in 2003.
In 2005, she received twin recognition as 2005 Hall of Fame Regional Sandugo Outstanding Mayor (DOH IV-A) and Finalist – 2005 Gawad Pangulo sa Kapaligiran - Component City-Category (DILG-IV-A). Her being conferred as Doctor of Humanities, Honoris Causa by Lipa City Public College in the same year adds another important recognition for her efficient performance in local governance. In the same year, her program for the poor constituents was cited by the Presidential Commission for the Urban Poor, thus receiving Special Award: Programs for the Urban Poor.
It is a public knowledge that Madam Governor Vilma Santos Recto has been an icon in the Philippine movie industry prior to her entry in the political arena. From FAMAS Best Child Actress (1963) to countless Best Actress Awards in almost four decades from the different recognized bodies in the movie industry to FAMAS Hall of Fame Best Actress (1990), URIAN Pinakamahusay na Aktres ng Dekada “80” (1990) at Dekada” 90” (2000), FAP Lifetime Achievement Awards (1996), FAMAS Lifetime Achievement Award (1998), Guillermo Memorial Foundation Lifetime Achievement Award (1998) and Brussels Belgium International Film Best Actress (1999), among others. No doubt, she was given recognition by the UP College of Mass Communication as Outstanding Cinematic Achievement Award, Feminist Centennial Filmfest and Gawad Plaridel (Film) in 2005. The following year, she received the Diwata Award from UP Film Institute.
Vilma Santos Recto is indeed not only an actress par excellence. She has proven her worth and received numerous awards as producer, musical variety host and singer. She has excelled in every endeavor she engaged herself into. In fact, the Boy Scout of the Philippines cited her leadership as Best Over-all Local Council Performance (2000) and the Quezon City Jaycees chose her as one of the Ten Young Outstanding Achievers (TOYA) 1992.
Kinilala siya hindi lamang sa salita kundi lalong higit na pinahanga niya ang maraming tao sa kanyang nagawa. Sa kabila ng kanyang katanyagan, nananatiling mapagkumbaba at mapagmahal sa kapwa. Kaya lalo pa siyang minahal at patuloy pang minamahal ng taongbayan.