Was Manny Villar really ever poor?
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2010-02-07

“Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura? (Have you bathed in a sea of garbage?)” is the opening line of the jingle of Nacionalista Party presidential candidate Manny Villar which is featured in a television commercial that attempts to project him as having been one of the poorest of the poor. But was Manny Villar really one of the poorest of the poor as what his advertising has been projecting?

A Chair Wrecker reader from Tondo who claimed to know the Villar family when they still resided there debunked that notion of Villar ever having been poor. This information was relayed to yours truly via our response email address.

The former Villar family Tondo neighbor cited reference points to support his assertion that Manny Villar was never really poor — including the claim that Villar’s father used to have a “nikaladong (stainless steel clad)” private Jeep. During the 1950s, a nikaladong private Jeep is a status symbol in Tondo, definitely not the hallmark of a poor household.

Considering how Manny Villar has been dodging the serious issues pertaining to his use of public office in order to add immense benefits and profits to his businesses, your Chair Wrecker decided to do some investigating. Guess what Manny Villar’s online bio revealed:

“Manuel Villar Jr. was born on December 13, 1949 in Tondo, a densely populated district of Manila. He was the second of nine children of Manuel Villar Sr., a government employee, and Curita Bamba, a seafood dealer. As a young boy, he helped his mother sell fish, crabs, and shrimp in Divisoria to help earn money to pay for his education.

Villar finished his education at Holy Child Catholic School in 1962, and finished his high school education at Mapua Institute of Technology in 1966. He attended the University of the Philippines-Diliman and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1970. He returned to the same school to earn his master’s degree in business administration in 1973.”

In the early 1950s, the rich lived in the big compounds in Ermita and Pasay and what was called New Manila in Quezon City. In Tondo, you found the middle class and the poor as well. Former president Joseph Estrada also claims roots in Tondo but his family was never poor. Based on his online bio, Villar cannot really justify calling himself poor.

The Villar Tondo home, as shown on his 2009 TV commercials, was made of sturdy materials. It has lasted to this day. His father was employed while his mother operated a fish, crab and shrimp dealership in lucrative Divisoria Market. It may not be Class AB household income but it is definitely not Class E.

Proof that the Villar children were never really wanting is the fact that Manny Villar studied in private schools. The indigent kids went to public school. Enrolling one’s child in a private school is a middle class value and option. The indigent kids who do manage to finish high school would tend to immediately learn a craft in order to be able to earn money right away. Aspiring for a business administration master’s degree is not the usual post high school move of indigent kids.

Villar narrated on his 2009 TV commercial, with Boy Abunda interviewing him, that as a young kid he thought that corned beef was soupy because that was how they used to prepare it at home. This, he claimed, was their way to ensure that everybody had a share.

But the fact is that there are really two ways to cook canned corned beef. One is the dry sautéed type while the other is the soupy type where you can add potatoes and cabbage. Both the rich and the middle class enjoy corned beef both ways.

Also, poor folks, especially a family of eleven, CANNOT AFFORD to eat canned corned beef. For a family of 11 to be eating corned beef confirms that the Villar family is anything but poor. That was the case then and more so now when the poor go hungry or manage to eat only one meal a day. Up to the 1980s, people from the provinces consider it a status symbol to be eating corned beef. That is why canned foodstuffs, especially corned beef, are being displayed in the sala by many households in the provinces for these to be seen by visitors.

For Manny Villar to don this facade of being “poor” once upon a time just to gain political advantage should make every Filipino voter ponder as to what else he would be willing to do just to attain his objective.

Wisdom from a cherished

honest man

Tomorrow, our family will mark the death anniversaries of our Dad and Mom who both died on the same date, four years apart. Mom passed away on February 8, 1966 while Dad passed away on February 8, 1970.

Our Dad was the most honest person we knew. During the era of President Elpidio Quirino, a close friend and former classmate of Dad, an opportunity was given to Dad to make a cool P200,000 — a fortune then when Forbes Park lots cost a mere P50 per square meter.

The one-hectare government owned NAMARCO lot at the corner of what is now Claro M. Recto and Quezon Avenue in Quiapo, then considered prime property, was offered to Dad in a no strings attached and perfectly legal transaction by the cash strapped government. Dad could have easily bought and resold it to make P200,000.

But Dad turned down the offer because he sensed an impropriety owing to his closeness to President Quirino. Many of our family friends admired Dad for that but in the same breath they also felt that he was crazy not to grab it.

I can never forget two lessons about honesty which Dad taught me. Dad did warn me: “Be very wary of people who like to project that they are honest because they believe that honesty is the best policy. Honesty when used as a policy is the worst form of deceit. Be honest because you believe in the virtue of honesty and not because you need a policy for personal gain.”

Shifting to Filipino, Dad also said: “Ang MANLILINLANG ay kambal ng MAGNANAKAW (The deceiver is the twin of the thief).”

Dad was right. Our country’s biggest deceivers are also our biggest thieves.

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