Manny Villar scares the heck out of me.
And this is for reasons I will enumerate later. First, the good news.
Manny Villar is almost your typical Cinderella success story. Born in Tondo, a notorious place in Manila known for its slums, his father was an ordinary government employee, while his mother was a Seafood Dealer. As a child, Manny often accompanied his mother to sell fish and shrimp in the market to help pay for his education.
Thru hard work and his inate, God-given intelligenc, he worked his way thru college, eventually getting a Business Administration degree at the presitigious University of the Philippines, a school known for providing excellent education to less privilleged, but deserving students. It was also from the same institution where he earned a Master’s degree in Business.
He went into various jobs and businesses after college. Some details about how he first got his big break are a bit sketchy, since none of his online bios mentions it (or perhaps none dares to mention it), but what we do know, is that in 1975, he got married to Cynthia, who belongs to a relatively wealthy family.
That’s not necessarily bad, because Manny is no ordinary person, he does bring something into the table also in his marriage to Cynthia, and that is because he is also a smart person. You have to be, to get into UP, get a Master’s degree there also while being poor.
It was also the same year he got married when he first ventured into the construction industry, very likely with help in terms of capital from his well-off in-laws. In time, though, Manny Villar eventually became a housing industry leader in the Philippines, and the biggest homebuilder in South East Asia.
To stress that point – Manny may have married to a wealthy family, but he wasn’t just a freeloader: He brought his in law’s wealth, as well as his own, into unprecedented heights.
On his way, he became the toast of Asian business, with his life story being featured in prestigious magazines like Asiaweek, Asian Business Review, etc.
He also garnered countless awards, including one of the “Ten Most Outstanding Young Men” in 1986. He has also been conferred dozens of honorary degrees in recognition to his contributions in the field of business.
So from a poor boy peddling seafood in the public market, to a Billionaire on top of the world, all earned on his own merit.
No fancy, exclusive and prestigious private schools for Manny. No “Haciendas”, and no old family wealth for him to lean on to. He did it mainly on his own.
Manny’s story, should be every single Filipino’s dream: To make it on your own, by your own merits.
(Next: The dark side of the Manny Villar Story)