Vista Land chairman Manny Villar is shown inside the All Day convenience store.
MANILA, Philippines - A former House Speaker, Senate President and one-time presidential aspirant, Manny Villar is looking much more relaxed these days, perhaps because he's no longer in politics.
Villar admitted doesn't miss politics, joking that he has to deal with "heavy" problems such food tasting and deciding which siopao to be served at his chain of All Day convenience stores.
But he recently made headlines for being one of 11 Filipinos who made it to Forbes magazine's Billionaires List. He ranked 11th in the Philippines with a net worth of $1.6 billion, and 1190th globally.
His inclusion on the list, which was dominated by Filipino-Chinese tycoons Henry Sy, John Gokongwei, Jr., Andrew Tan and Lucio Tan, prompted his good friend and Senator Joker Arroyo to release a statement.
"Manny Villar should be congratulated. He is the only pure-blooded Filipino among the 11 Filipino billionaires on Forbes' roster of worldwide billionaires. Tondo boy, Tondo raised, Tondo bred. UP educated. Poor boy. Rich man," Arroyo said.
Villar, who grew up in Tondo, posted Arroyo's statement on Facebook and thanked him.
Once called the "brown taipan" early in his business career, Villar said being included in the Forbes Billionaires List is his "comeback."
"After five years of rejoining business, I accomplished something. It gives you a sense of accomplishment kasi it was independent, hindi naman ito hinihingi, hindi mo nai-influence, they just do their thing... Now, it's like a comeback... Kasi I was there once, then I went to politics. Naisip ko, will I ever come back? I'm glad it tells me, 'you're back, you made it.' That's a few years after rejoining the business," he told ABS-CBNnews.com.
Villar left politics after losing to Benigno Aquino III in the 2010 presidential elections. He resumed his role in his businesses which include Vista Land & Lifescapres and StarMalls.
"I was there (on Forbes list) already before I joined politics. Kaya naghirap ako, when I joined politics. Now, when I left politics, nabalik na naman ako. I think the conclusion is, mas mahirap ako nung pulitiko ako," he said, with a smile.
Being back in business for the last five years, Villar said he is more convinced now that he should really be a businessman.
"The fundamentals of the business were still there when I rejoined. I haven't lost it. I'm more convinced I should really be a businessman, to help the country... At least dito, kontrolado mo ang area mo, kung ano magagawa mo, mas macocontrol mo ang destiny mo. Unlike in politics, hindi masyado," he said.
Although he's happy about the way the business is growing, Villar is not content to sit on his laurels.
"I'm happy what I'm doing now... I still want to be the leader in my industry, and I like the feeling of employing more people now. The number of employees of the group has almost tripled since I joined. That made me feel good, mas marami business ko, dumadami ang natutulungan ko. Mas maraming projects," he said.