Manuel “Manny” Bamba Villar Jr. is now the richest man in the Philippines, with a net worth of $8.3 billion, according to Forbes. The 72-year-old Villar, who currently chairs the Villar Group, is a former fish monger who was born and raised in Manila’s slums.
Grit and determination
Villar’s journey from a poor boy selling shrimp and fish in Manila’s crowded Divisoria public market to the pinnacle of wealth is a story of grit and determination. He helped his mother sell seafood in between classes and worked hard to improve his family’s lot.
Despite growing up in Tondo, one of the poorest and most crime-ridden areas of the Philippines, Villar did not let his circumstances define him. He attended the University of the Philippines Diliman and earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1970.
After completing his degree, Villar started his professional career working as an accountant for Sycip, Gorres, Velayo (SGV) & Co. But in 1975, with an initial capital of only Php10,000 (about $1,422 at the time), Villar purchased a reconditioned truck and started a business delivering gravel and sand for construction companies in Las Piñas.
From that humble beginning, Villar’s business empire grew, with the Villar Group involved in property development, retail, and mining. The conglomerate has built over 200,000 homes, making it the largest homebuilder in the Philippines. Villar is also the chairman of Starmalls, one of the largest mall operators in the country.
Rise to the top
Despite his success in business, Villar remained grounded and pragmatic. He focused on housing and construction, but also set his sights on retail. Villar’s companies have created jobs and contributed to the economy, and he also served as the president of the Philippine Senate.
Villar’s rise to the top is a testament to his hard work, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit. He never forgot his roots and used his success to give back to his community.
Manny Villar’s inspiring story shows that anyone can achieve their dreams with hard work and perseverance, no matter how humble their beginnings.