Those who have not heard much of ABS-CBN TV news reporter JV Villar over the last 15 years were pleasantly surprised to see him right before Christmas on SRO over DZMM Teleradyo, where he shared his experience in receiving the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine.
He sounded very positive and in high spirits. “Hindi masakit and I feel great,” he told hosts Alvin Elchico and Doris Bigornia. He also shared that he’s excited for his second dose, which he said was scheduled in two weeks. JV, now based in Houston, Texas, is a healthcare worker in one of the largest not-for-profit health systems there.
In the interview, JV sported a pair of dark-rimmed eyeglasses and a full beard— no longer the newsroom’s ‘boy next door’ as ABS-CBN viewers from the late 90s to the early 2000s would remember him. JV was a reporter for Hoy Gising!, TV Patrol, The World Tonight, Pinoy Exposed, and Kakasa Ka Ba?
He took up Nursing at Coleman College in Houston, but has yet to take up his board exams. He now works in resource management, coordinating a Covid/Medicine/Cardiac floor in a medical center in Texas.
Why he left the Philippines
“Year 2005, the peak of my career, without a word of explanation, I quietly left Manila. Like an escape. A secret,” he admits to ANCX.
He told his manager then, Aida Espiritu of TV Production, that he was in the US and might not go back soon. “My reason to her—I wasn't sure if I was still happy with what I was doing that time. But no complaints. I was thankful. I was blessed though felt empty inside. I thought I’d be happier to do the other things that I want. No restrictions. Live an ordinary life. No eyes.”
At 32, JV decided to start a new life in the US. He went back to school and studied nursing. He worked as a Math and English tutor to Vietnamese students in a middle school. He also started an online store for collectibles and vintage toys. “These part-time work helped me finance my education. It was difficult. Very humbling,” he shares.
He took a quick break and visited family and close friends back home in the Philippines but returned to the US soon after and immediately worked as a clinical coordinator for a home health company in Houston.
Taking up Nursing was not part of the plan, he admits. He finished a Communication Arts degree at the University of Santo Tomas, which led him to a career in broadcasting. But landing a job in the medical field wasn’t at all far-fetched because his parents are both physicians, a sister is also a doctor, and one is a dentist/nurse, “so that explains why I love this hospital job. I admire health care workers.”
But the career definitely tested his mettle during this recent Covid pandemic. “Working in a Covid unit is very challenging, exhausting, and made me appreciate life even more,” he says. “Blessed that we are healthy regardless of the difficulties. Our patients inspire us every day to stay strong.”
He works 12 hour days, thrice a week. On a typical work day, he keeps his activities to a minimum—work, eat, sleep, and exercise (if he still has the energy). On his free days, he makes time for and invests in self-care, which he says, helps him manage the stressors in his life. “I also make it a habit to run 2-3 miles, at least 3 days a week,” he offers. To get him into shape, he got a pair of 15- to 20-pound hand weights. “On days I do not exercise, I usually stay busy with lawn and house care.”
He seems to be enjoying supervising the upkeep of his 50s’ style home in Houston. He shares some photographs of the renovated house, which looks warm and cozy. “There is always something to do in the house. I find joy in little and simple things,” he says.
JV now lives alone after his divorce four years ago. He was married for five years. “Not afraid to be alone but would love to be married again,” he quips. “My ex-wife went back to Kansas, I stayed in Texas. Family members live in other cities in Texas and one sister lives in New Jersey.”
JV has not totally abandoned the journalism profession. He contributes stories to ABS-CBN News as the Texas correspondent. “I told TFC that after my school here, I can do TN News again. Always a journalist. I still love doing it. It’s in the blood.”
He looks back at his memorable news coverages in the Philippines—from covering the Michael Jackson concert to reporting from the provinces of Basilan, and Sulu in Mindanao. But working for TFC in the US is different. “There is no camera man, no driver. TFC reporters here are called video journalists. We do all the work.”
JV is turning 47 this coming New Year. His goal, he says, is “to stay forever young.” He’s planning to visit the Philippines in 2021. “If there is a very good reason for me to come back and stay in the Philippines, why not? I love the Philippines.”