KEY POINTS

  • Manny Villar is the richest person in the Philippines with his PHP245 billion or $4.9 billion net worth
  • Villar owns Starmalls, Golden Haven Memorial Park and Vista & Landscapes
  • His wife Cynthia Villar is a senator 

Manny Villar is the richest person in the Philippines with his PHP245 billion or about $4.9 billion net worth.

Villar has been the richest person in the Philippines for quite some time now. He is a self-made billionaire who owns a lot of businesses in the country. Villar’s success did not happen overnight as he literally went from rags to riches through the years. 

He used his early struggles in life as part of his election campaigns, and they proved effective since he was elected senator in the Philippines. He was able to leverage his entrepreneurial success to secure a seat as a congressman, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate President from 2006 to 2008. 

In a third world country, stories of success through hard work and perseverance resonate strongly to the voting public. Filipinos put trust to people who they think can alleviate them from extreme poverty. The billionaire CEO actually ran for the Philippine presidency in the 2010 elections but lost to Benigno Aquino III.

Villar started as an accountant for a private firm and later shifted to corporate business as a financial analyst. According to Tatler Philippines, he started a business that supplied materials to construction companies. Years later, it would become one of the biggest conglomerates in the Philippines. Villar owns Vista Land & Lifescapes, which established its presence all over the country. He is also the chairman of Starmalls, which has branches nationwide. 

Aside from malls and real estate, he expanded his ventures to developing parks. The family-run Golden Haven Memorial Park became public in June 2016. Members of the Villar clan have also entered politics. His wife, Cynthia Villar, is currently a senator while their son and daughter are also public servants: Mark Villar serves as secretary of Public Works and Highways and Camille Villar is a congresswoman. On the other hand, the eldest, Manuel Paolo Villar III, focuses on running the family business. 

The 70-year-old ranked 286th on Forbes’ billionaires 2020 list. Aside from Villar, there are other Filipinos who made the list such as International Container Port Terminal Services Inc.’s Enrique Razon Jr. and the Sy siblings from SM Prime Holdings and SM Investments. 

Villar’s revenues apparently are not affected by the ongoing crisis as his net worth gained $5 million as of June 2020. A lot of businesses in the Philippines are devastated by COVID-19 and it is not helping that the number of cases continue to go up despite implementing what has been already the longest coronavirus lockdown in the world. 

Rodrigo Duterte Manny Villar This photo taken on May 16, 2016 shows Philippines' president-elect Rodrigo Duterte (seated R) looking at a document with property magnate and former senator Manny Villar during a press conference in Davao City, in the southern island of Mindanao, while villar's wife, Senator Cynthia Villa (2nd R, standing) and their son, Congressman Mark Villar (L, standing) look on. Also seen is Senator Peter Cayetano (background C, in glasses), the vice-presidential candidate of Duterte. Business titans, turncoat politicians, celebrities and rebel leaders are descending on the long-neglected far southern Philippines, hoping to gain favour with the nation's shock new powerbroker. The remote and dusty city of Davao has suddenly become the country's new seat of power after hometown hero Rodrigo Duterte won last week's presidential election in a landslide. Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images