Manny Villar through the eyes of a classmate

I’d like to share this a guest post by Danny Daguio. The article was first posted in – Koenig

I wrote this to a friend of mine who works with NEDA sometime in September 2008. He wanted me to give him an idea of the kind of person MBV is so he could share it with some of his kababayans from the north of the Philippines. I am re-posting this for the benefit of the new members of this site. Thank you to those who took their time to comment and sent me emails of encouragement.

We all need to carry our belief in THE MAN, the only one left who can really give our beloved country the chance it deserves. If we all feel it, think it, believe it…… WE WILL SUCCEED!!!!

Manny used to tell us, his close friends from UP BA, that he enjoyed our company a lot more than being with politicians. I guess he was a lot more comfortable with us because we never would ask him for anything, we just enjoyed his company and being just what we are, no pretenses, we would laugh a lot, sharing jokes. At times , we would be talking about the state of our nation, the problems, and he always felt that he gets honest feedback from us. You very well know that politicians can be your friend one day and be on the opposing side the next.


Even When in College, Manny Villar already had the attributes of a topnotch leader. Here is a photo taken at the old UP College of BA. Manny is at left, towering over all of us.

He also told us about the gaunlet of vested interest people and groups, that for one to get to the pinnacle of government…to the highest office, you need to be able to ride through murky and troubled waters, you have to play politics sometimes and you try to get a consensus as often as you can. Many never get to be President even if they have honest intentions and good aspirations for the country because they get waylaid very early by these interest groups and ambitious politicians who only think about themselves.

He would also say, if you try to get mileage from other’s mistakes or you attempt to brush others as though you have all the answers and only you can solve the problems, you sometimes fall into the trap of not getting to the bottom of the problem and coming up with a half bake solution. Also, in the end, you will be found out as someone who really jumps the gun in every opportunity to get political score or, as they say, instant publicity.

We would ask him why go to the trouble of inheriting the big problems that the country face, when in fact he is already a made man, very rich in his own right. Why the need to run for President? To that he says, he has always wanted to be remembered as having brought the country to greater prosperity amidst the quagmire of worldwide upheavals. He does not want to be remembered as a rich businessman but someone who has done something for his country. I heard him say once, the famous Kennedy line, “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country”.

He says, the biggest problem that a Presidential candidate faces is the huge expenditure for the campaign. Most often, the President-elect gets indebted to the rich businesses or vested interests groups. The President’s hands then get tied once payback time comes. Because he is willing to fund his own campaign, he believes this will be good for the country as he can then make decisions for the good of many, if not all, without having to worry about succumbing to political pressure. He welcomes financial support from anyone but, in the final analysis, he does not want these to carry any sort of political blackmail.

I am very close to his brother, Jojo, and was once with him and another brother Cesar, who now has passed away. Jojo told me that he and Cesar cannot get favours for other people with their big brother…it is so difficult and oftentimes have given up. One thing you must know about Manny is that he abhors nepotism but will not shy away from giving a friend a position of responsibility if that friend is qualified for the job and is of good character.

All his siblings are successful people in their own right. Jojo, for one, was the Managing Director of a multinational German medical supplies company in their Philippine operations just before his retirement early this year. One of the sisters is a successful grocery and fish vendor for whom we bought our weekly food budget when my family was still in Manila.

You work with NEDA and I know that Romy Neri used to be your boss there. Romy is also a classmate and we would be together in reunions hosted by Manny for whenever I visit Manila. That is why, when this thing about ZTE broadband scandal came out, I would not believe that Romy would have profited at all from that deal. I know he is an honest person like all of us, his classmates. You just have to look at me…I am just like you, like many of us, simple not rich inspite of my close connection to Manny.

Manny is a very honest person. He does not believe in instant richness, You have to work for it. If one supports Manny because he thinks he can benefit from this support financially, he is in the wrong camp. But, if you think, you want the best for our country and you believe you can contribute something concrete, then you are right in supporting Manny Villar.

Loyalty is also something that Manny values highly. You can be a simple man but if you are a loyal friend to Manny, he will treasure that friendship.

I also remember a time when we were having a get together at a classmate’s house. At that time, many of us were preparing to leave the Philippines to try our luck in a foreign land. Some of us went to Canada, the USA, and I, for one, to Australia. Another of the guys was going to Singapore for an employment stint covering a few years. Manny commented (he was not yet in politics at that time), “what is it that you all know (that you are all leaving) that I don’t?” We told him, Manny…you are already made, we are not anywhere like you. He told us he was going to stick it through, for better or worse. A few years later, he became a Congressman.

I have been looking at all the Presidentiables but nothing or no one among them gets anywhere close to his qualifications. He is the only one who has been Speaker of the House, a three termer in Congress before becoming Senator and eventually Senate President. He also is bred educationally on Philippine soil and hence his perspective is genuine Filipino.

Personality wise, Manny is laid back, not prone to bouts of excitement and stress, very calm. He does not jump on issues simply to score points against his rivals. He thinks positive all the time and is not into destroying others for his own benefit. He wants success for everyone and he is proud of what others achieve.

He is approchable. One time, when he visited Sydney, he had no bodyguard when we were in Chinatown. We were waiting for Cynthia to get a few grocery items with Camille, I was with Manny standing at the door to Market City. We were just chatting when two young girls from the Philippines recognised him and said, Sir… pwede bang mag pakuha ng photo. Sure, sabi ni Manny, and he posed with the two..and guess who took the picture ;-))

Sa airport, he lines up like any other person does and goes through the checkpoint when this happens during his holidays. When I visit the Philippines, even if he knows I am coming, I too go through Customs like any other citizen does. My bags are checked like everyone else. I then go to the car park where my sundo is but I have to follow the law. He wants everyone to follow the law and also expects those working in government to follow the law.

At UP, we used to go out on Thursdays, kasi Fridays, we had no classes, this was reserved for exams. We formed the Thursday Club…(in the Senate, ito ang naging prototype ng kanilang Wednesday Club). We would go out to relax after a week’s study. Kakain kami sa Hong Ning, mami at siopao, then over to Fun Center sa Cubao. We would usually come home sa bahay namin sa Project 6, kasi mahirap na siyang makauwi sa Tondo at yung iba sa Malabon..para kaming tropa, nakahiga sa sahig, may banig naman at kutson…when we woke up, my mother would prepare breakfast for us. He remembers these and does have a soft spot for my Mom. (My mom, Estela Fermin Daguio is now 90 years and is the widow of the late Amador Taguinod Daguio; poet, nationalist, short story writer, teacher)

A bit late now…so I hope I have been able to convey my own understanding of the person that someday will be our President.
Cheers,  Danny


2 Responses to “Manny Villar through the eyes of a classmate”

  1. - Are You Riled Up? - » Blog Archive » Manny Villar Through the Eyes of a Classmate « Sipag At Tiyaga Says:

    […] Kakain kami sa Hong Ning , mami at siopao, then over to Fun Center sa Cubao. We would usually come home sa bahay namin sa Project 6, kasi mahirap na siyang makauwi sa Tondo at yung iba sa Malabon..para kaming tropa, nakahiga sa sahig, …[Continue Reading] […]

  2. Kristine Says:

    Kudos for this story!

    Ito ang mga kailangan ng tao, upang malaman nila ang puso ng isang MANNY VILLAR.

    because ‘they need to know!’

    God bless our heart!

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