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Manny Villar: The best President we never had


There’s a popular saying that goes, “When a door closes, another one opens.”


Such is not the case for the richest man in the Philippines, real estate tycoon and former Senate President Manny B. Villar. He does not wait for another door to open, he builds his own door of opportunity.


Sir Manny earned the moniker “Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga” because he embodies these principles. His success has always been anchored on hard work and perseverance.


He grew up dreaming of giving a better life for his family who lived in Moriones, Tondo. His father, Manuel Montalban, Sr., was a government employee, while his mother, Curita Bamba, was a seafood dealer. His parents’ career served as a forerunner of his own as a public servant and entrepreneur.


He knew that education was key to achieving his dreams. That’s why, at a young age, he would help his mother sell shrimp and fish in Divisoria which allowed him to send himself to school. It was also in seeing the hard work of his mother that Sir Manny sought to become an entrepreneur.


After finishing his studies at the University of the Philippines, where he obtained his bachelor and master’s degree in Business Administration, Sir Manny had a short stint as an accountant at Sycip, Gorres, Velayo & Co. (SGV & Co), before he ventured into his own seafood delivery business.


He also worked briefly as a financial analyst at the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines where he sold World Bank loans. Eventually, he quit his job and availed of the loan himself to start his sand and gravel business in Las Pinas.


Bigger Opportunities, Growing Dreams


Because he’s one who always sees bigger opportunities, Sir Manny’s dreams would naturally grow bigger. As he delivered construction materials to big developers, he noticed that the norm then was for homeowners to buy lots and build on them. That’s when he came up with the idea of selling house and lot packages instead.


He built houses and lots at an affordable rate, which allowed more middle-class Filipino families to own a home. Furthermore, using the economies of scale concept, he initiated mass housing projects.


Over time, Sir Manny dreams would expand to nation building.


It was in 1992 when his career in public service started as a member of the House of Representatives. He finished three terms and became Speaker of the House. He then ran for a Senate seat in 2001, won, served two terms, and became Senate President. He’s the first post-World War II public official to head both Houses of Congress, a testament to his exceptional leadership skills.


As a legislator, he authored measures that focused on eradication of poverty, protecting the poor, championing the welfare of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs), fighting graft & corruption, promoting equitable economic development, and advocating entrepreneurship.

Sir Manny also dreamed of leading the nation, but life had different plans for him. After completing his second term in the Senate, he came back to his first love—entrepreneurship.


Aside from being the Chairman of Vista Land, a publicly listed company and one of the leading integrated property developers and the largest homebuilder in the country today, and Golden MV Holdings Inc., Sir Manny has also set out to expand his company’s retail venture. He started world-class retail concepts under All Value, which includes AllHome, AllDay Supermarket and Convenience Store, Coffee Project, Bake My Day, AllToys, AllSports, AllBike, AllDigital, AllGreen, Green Centrale, Kal, Bread Basket, Dear Joe, Ruined Project, San Marco, Crossing Café, Napa and Windmill Lausanne at Crosswinds, among others.


While leading his enterprise, he also heads the Villar SIPAG (Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance), a non-stock, non-profit organization that has programs for OFW assistance, environment protection, entrepreneurship and livelihood, health and social services, culture and arts, youth, education and sports.


There’s no stopping Sir Manny from expanding, innovating, and improving. He is, after all, Mr. Sipag and Tiyaga. But despite being the richest individual in the country, Sir Manny is one who enjoys kamote for his birthday.


To young entrepreneurs, he shares this advice: “Don’t go into business to make money. Find what you love and make a business out of it.”

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