(Editors' Note: Manuel Villar is ranked 11 on the 2008 ranking of richest Filipinos. He was the former Senate President of the Philippines who established Palmera and Camella Homes. His Net Worth as of 2008is US$ 425 million. His autobigraphy was taken from http://www.mannyvillar.com/)
The public life of Manny Villar straddles both the worlds of business and politics. He is one of the few who managed to excel in both.
Manny Villar was born to a simple family on December 13, 1949 in Moriones, Tondo, Manila. His father, Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr., a government employee, hailed from Cabatuan, Iloilo and his mother Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer, came from Pampanga and Bataan.
Manny is the second child in a brood of nine. At a very young age, he was already helping his mother sell shrimp and fish in the Divisoria Market.
(Editors Note: Divisoria Market is one of the popular flea market in the Philippines.)
With the burning desire for a better future and a strong determination to improve his family’s living conditions, Manny worked hard in selling shrimps and fish to be able to send himself to school.
“I learned from my mother what it takes to be an entrepreneur,” Manny Villar revealed. “And it means working really hard to achieve your dreams.” In Divisoria, he marveled at the volume of sales that Chinese merchants were making, thus he vowed early on to become an entrepreneur.
Hard work, persistence, and perseverance became his guiding principles in life. This earned him the title “Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga.” (Ed's Note: Sipag is Filipino term for hard work and tiyaga is Filipino word for perseverance)
Manny Villar continues to inspire Filipinos with his life story and encourages each and every kababayan(Ed's Note: countryman) to improve their quality of life and fulfill their dreams through the very values he believes in -- “sipag at tiyaga.”
Manny Villar was a working student at the University of the Philippines, the premier institution of higher learning in the country, where he obtained his undergraduate and master’s degree in business administration and accountancy. By then, he was also putting in long hours as a fish and shrimp trader, where the action starts at the ungodly hours of the morning when the catch lands in the market.
After graduation, Manny Villar tried his hand as an accountant at the country’s biggest accounting firm, Sycip Gorres Velayo & Co. (SGV & Co). He resigned shortly though to venture on his own seafood delivery business.
When a restaurant Manny Villar was delivering stocks to did not pay him, he printed out “meal tickets” which he persuaded the restaurant owners to honor. He then sold these tickets at a discounted price to office workers. It took him one year to liquidate his receivables.
He worked briefly as a financial analyst at the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines. His job was to sell World Bank loans, despite the attractive rates of which there were no takers. Convinced that he could make it on his own again, he quit his job and promptly availed of one of the loans.
So with an initial capital of P10,000 in 1975, Manny Villar purchased two reconditioned trucks and started his sand-and-gravel business in Las Piñas.
It is here while delivering construction materials to big developers that Manny Villar came up with the idea of selling house and lot packages when the convention then was for homeowners to buy lots and build on them.
Manny Villar became the housing industry leader, and the biggest homebuilder in Southeast Asia, having built more than 100,000 houses for the poor and middle class Filipino families.
He then initiated mass housing projects to achieve economies of scale. His various innovations practically created the country’s mass housing industry. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism calls him “the dean of the (Philippine) real estate industry.”
For his business achievements, Manny Villar was made cover story in the Far Eastern Economic Review. And his life story was also featured in Asiaweek, Forbes, AsiaMoney and Asian Business Review.
Manny Villar garnered various awards such as the Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (1986) by the Philippine Jaycees, Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management (1989), Most Outstanding CPA by the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (1990) and Most Outstanding UP Alumnus (1991).
Through the years, universities and colleges all over the country have conferred upon Villar honorary degrees in various fields in recognition of his exemplary performance in public service, his pioneering initiatives and innovations that revolutionalized the country’s mass housing and real estate industry, and his distinct role in the enactment of economic and social reform laws that are vital in sustaining the country’s economic momentum and improvement of the lives of Filipinos, particularly the cause of small and medium enterprises.
Among these universities and colleges that have bestowed Honoris Causa to Manny Villar are: Adamson University, Doctor of Science; Bataan Polytechnic State College, Doctor of Humanities; Bulacan State University, Doctor of Humanities; Cagayan State University, Doctor of Humanities; Central Luzon State University, Doctor of Humanities; Foundation University (Dumaguete), Doctor of Humanities; Laguna State Polytechnic College, Doctor of Humanities and Entrepreneurship; Pangasinan State University, Doctor of Development Management; Nueva Ecija University of Science and Technology, Doctor of Business Administration; Ramon Magsaysay Technological University, Doctor of Entrepreneurial Management; Romblon State College, Doctor of Humanities; Tarlac State University, Doctor of Public Administration; Wesleyan University-Philippines, Doctor of Humanities; and Western Visayas College of Science and Technology, Doctor of Technology in Entrepreneurial Management.
Senator Manny Villar, despite his numerous accomplishments and heroism, has remained simple and unaffected. A true family man, he is a devoted husband to Congresswoman Cynthia A. Villar (Lone District of Las Piñas), and a loving father to sons Paolo and Mark and daughter Camille.
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