About Manny

Manuel “Manny” Villar Jr. was born in Moriones, Tondo on December 13, 1949 to Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr. of Cabatuan, Iloilo and Curita Bamba of Orani, Bataan. As the eldest male child in the family, he was tasked to rise early and accompany his mother when buying fish and shrimp at the Navotas fish port which they then sold in Divisoria market. After his market duties, he attended school at the University of the Philippines where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration and Master’s degree in Accountancy.

Hard work, persistence and perseverance drove him to survive and overcome the most difficult odds as a young entrepreneur – from delivering seafood in restaurants and construction materials to housing developers. Gifted with a keen mind, optimism and foresight, he pioneered low-cost housing in the Philippines. His small housing business in the ‘70s grew to become the one of the most successful homebuilders in Southeast Asia, providing affordable yet decent housing for many Filipinos.

His phenomenal rise in Philippine business did not escape the world. He became a cover story of the Far Eastern Economic Review and he also landed the pages of other prestigious publications like Asiaweek, Forbes, Asia Money and Asian Business Review.

The desire to help the Filipino people on a greater capacity fueled his drive to enter politics. In 1992, he ran for a seat in the House of Representatives for the District of Las Piñas and Muntinlupa – receiving the most overwhelming mandate among congressmen in Metro Manila. His economic and managerial acumen was harnessed to the fullest as a key member of the House’s economic team.

In service of his constituents, Manny steered Las Piñas and Muntinlupa into cityhood, which meant bringing these places and his constituents the necessary infrastructure, livelihood, education, health and other social services. Being the great innovator that he is, he also launched the “Manpower on Wheels” program which did the rounds of depressed areas to teach livelihood skills to those who cannot afford to go to school.

As a man who put great value to cultural heritage, he embarked on an ambitious project to rehabilitate the famous historic landmarks in Las Piñas like the world famous Bamboo Organ which is housed in St. Joseph Parish. He also promoted the preservation of the local cultural heritage through his “Las Piñas Historical Corridor” project.

As a staunch environmentalist, he personally supervised a privately funded tree-planting project in his city. Under this project, trees were planted in open spaces with the objective of transforming the place into an urban oasis of exceptional beauty. His personal tree-planting program to date has caused more than 1 million trees to be planted nationwide.

Manny ran for reelection in 1995, again posting a landslide victory. Being an entrepreneur himself, he continued to champion the cause of small and medium-sized industries. He became the father of the landmark New Magna Carta for Small and Medium Enterprise (Republic Act 8289).

His innovative projects and excellent managerial skills won his colleagues’ respect and admiration in the House of Representatives. He was elected House Speaker during the 11th Congress, with 171 votes in favor out of 220 congressmen. Under his leadership, the “Clean Air Act”, stalled for more than ten years was finally passed, along with other major pieces of legislation anchored on economic reforms like the Retail Trade Liberalization Act, the New Securities Code and the New Banking Act.

On May 14, 2001, Manny was elected to the Senate of the Philippines. On the first day of office, he filed 204 bills covering a comprehensive legislative agenda - the first among neophyte Senators and the third highest filer among Senators of the 12th Congress of the Philippines. He was elected by his colleagues as Senate President Pro Tempore, the second highest official of the Chamber. He also served as Chairman of the Committee on Finance, which is tasked to review and conduct deliberations concerning the national budget, as well as the Committees on Public Order and Illegal Drugs, and Agriculture and Food.

His personal crusade to improve the plight of poor Filipinos which started at the House of Representatives found its right niche in the Senate. The Upper Chamber, being national in scope, afforded Manny to introduce bills that provide every Filipino access to basic health care, decent shelter, responsive social services and high quality education.

In July 2006 during the Third Regular Session of the 13th Congress, Manny became President of the Senate of the Philippines. He, however, resigned on Nov. 17, 2008.

He holds the distinction of being the only post-war public official who became both Speaker of the House of Representatives and President of the Philippine Senate. He is also President of the Nacionalista Party, the grandest political party of the Philippines.

Manny is serving the remainder of his second term until 2013. He currently chairs the Senate Committees on Economic Affairs, and Trade and Commerce.

In spite of his professional and political success, Manny remains humble and modest and often spends quality time with his closely knit and God-fearing family – wife, former Congresswoman Cynthia A. Villar , sons Paolo and Congressman Mark (Las Piñas City) and daughter Camille.