How Manny Villar Went From Tondo Fishmonger to Top Filipino Billionaire and Politician

Richest Filipino is half the story.
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Former Senate President Manny Villar once again topped the list of richest Filipinos in 2022 according to Forbes, with a net worth of P426.55 billion, leading the country's captains of industry.

While known for his various business ventures, Villar is also powerful in the field of politics, with his family holding key positions both in the legislative and executive branches of government.

Villar started his political career in 1992 when he was elected congressman of the district of Las Piñas-Muntinlupa, a position he held for two consecutive terms. In 1998, he was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives as he represented the newly-established lone district of Las Piñas.

In 2001, Villar was elected senator placing seventh overall, riding on a wave of public support for his efforts to impeach then President Joseph Estrada.

Five years later, he was also elected Senate President, making him the first lawmaker in the post-World War II era to be chosen House Speaker and Senate President.

Manny Villar, photographed by Ralph Mendoza for Esquire. 2018.
Photo by RALPH MENDOZA.
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Carrying the slogan "Sipag at Tiyaga", Villar ran for president in the 2010 elections where he most famously appeared in a campaign ad asking voters if they had tried to swim in a sea of garbage, an ode to his humble roots as a fish vendor.

Villar placed third in the elections, after the late President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino III and former President Joseph Estrada. He has not ran in any elections since as he returned to being a full-time entrepreneur, although he remains the president of Nacionalista Party, the oldest political party in the country.

While Villar is not holding any government position, members of his family continued his legacy in politics. His wife Cynthia is currently a senator and placed first in the 2019 midterm elections, while his daughter, Camille, is running for reelection as representative of Las Piñas City.

Villar's son, former DPWH Sec. Mark Villar, is also running for senator under the slate of Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte-Carpio. Mark Villar's wife, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, was also elected representative of DIWA party-list before being appointed justice undersecretary.

Last week, Villar announced that the Nacionalista Party is endorsing the tandem of Marcos and Duterte-Carpio in the 2022 elections, saying their message of unity "is crucial in binding our country together and inspiring our people."

Earlier this year, Villar acquired the rights to use the channel 2 frequency previously held by ABS-CBN as he expanded his family's business ventures to broadcasting.

FromReportr World

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