Despite the economic disruption brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, the financial standing of real estate tycoon Manny Villar seems unperturbed as he remains on the list of the world’s top billionaires. He is the only Filipino to make it in the Bloomberg Billionaires Index list.
As of 11 January 2021, the former senator is on the 382nd spot on the index, with a total net worth of $6.76 billion or roughly P325 billion. The index, according to Bloomberg, “is a daily ranking of the world's richest people” and “is a dynamic measure of personal wealth based on changes in markets, the economy, and Bloomberg reporting.”
Electric automaker, Elon Musk, as of January 11, ranks #1 on the list with a net worth of $209 billion. He is followed by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos with $186 billion, and Microsoft Corporation’s Bill Gates at $134 billion. Villar actually dropped 122 spots from last year, when he placed 260th.
Source of wealth
Villar, 71, has amassed most of his wealth through real estate and retail. Bloomberg record shows he is the chairman and founder of Golden Bria Holdings Inc., which “engages in the development and sale of memorial lots across various parts of the Philippines.” One of its subsidiaries is Golden Haven Memorial Parks, which according to its website is now the largest developer of memorial parks in the country.
He is also the chairman of Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc., which according to its website has built over 400,000 homes in 49 provinces, and 147 cities and municipalities all over the country.
Villar is also the chairman of Vista Mall (formerly Starmalls) and retail businesses under All Value Holdings. AllHome—a one-stop shop for home builders and owners—which was launched in 2013, is the Villar group’s first foray into retail. AllValue’s retail portfolio has since expanded, giving birth to brands like AllDay Supermarket, Coffee Project, and Bake My Day.
Many are familiar with the Tondo-born Villar’s life story. According to the Philippine Senate website, Villar is the son of Manuel Montalban Villar, Sr., a government employee, and Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer. He is the second of nine children. He got his early training in entrepreneurship from his mother. He used to sell fish and shrimps in Divisoria as a young boy—an endeavor that helped send him to school.
Villar took up his undergraduate courses in accountancy and business management at the University of the Philippines, where he also earned his master’s degree. The Senate story goes that Villar, known for the campaign moniker “Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga,” would juggle studies with selling seafood.
After graduation, he had a brief working experience as an accountant at the Sycip Gorres and Velayo (SGV) and later on as a financial analyst at the Private Development Corporation of the Philippines. He quit his last job to pursue business, starting with sand-and-gravel delivery, which led him to a flourishing career in real estate.
Aside from being the country’s richest, members of the Villar family currently hold key government positions. Cynthia Villar, his wife, is a senator, while son Mark is the secretary of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH). Daughter Camille is a congresswoman of the lone district of Las Piñas City.