Manuel “Manny” B. Villar Jr, chairman of Vista Land & Lifescapes Inc, has been named as the Real Estate Personality of the Year by the editors of Property Report, Asia’s leading luxury real estate, architecture and design publication.
Over the years, Villar has built about 300,000 quality houses for all market segments in 95 cities and municipalities across 36 provinces around the Philippines. The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) has, in fact, dubbed him “the dean of the (Philippine) real estate industry.”
Building homes and communities – he prefers the term “Communicities,” or integrated urban developments combining lifestyle, retail, office, healthcare, education and leisure components – that have raked in honors at the Philippines Property Awards, would have been unimaginable for Villar, who grew up in a small rented apartment in Tondo, one of Manila’s impoverished districts.
“I am deeply grateful for, and profoundly humbled by, this recognition from the Philippines Property Awards,” Villar tells Property Report. “For me, the Real Estate Personality of the Year award is a testament to how Vista Land has been an instrument in improving the lives of Filipinos by providing them homes to live comfortably and communities where necessities are within their reach. “
He adds: “Because for every Filipino, it is a fulfillment to see a tangible fruit of their hard work. This is a recognition of our contribution to the industry and our continuous effort to build quality houses and “Communicities” across the Philippines.”
Building quality houses for Filipinos has always been the priority for Villar, and with the outlook for the property sector still looking promising in 2016, Vista Land has a strong competitive advantage given its widest geographic presence.
“Rising middle class bodes well for the real estate development in the foreseeable future,” he says. “The business process outsourcing (BPO) will also help sustain the growth of the industry. The sector is still growing at a healthy pace, as favourable economic trends will continue.”
With Vista Land reporting a record year in 2015 with a 14 percent growth in profits amounting to PHP7.2 billion (USD156 million), “the dean of the Philippine real estate industry” truly has come a long way from his roots in Tondo.
“I want to be remembered simply as a man who built the most homes for Filipinos,” he says.
Through perseverance and dedication, Villar helped in supporting his family’s education while growing up. He eventually received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of the Philippines Diliman.
In 1975, he established his construction supplies business that would become today’s Vista Land.
Villar’s company now operates several subsidiaries including Camella Homes, Communities Philippines, Crown Asia, Vista Residences, Brittany, and the newly acquired Starmalls Inc.
Outside of Vista Land, Villar’s family also ventured in retailing businesses, with AllHome, a one-stop shop for home essentials; All Day, a convenience store; and AllShoppe, a department store. As part of the diversification of business activities, the family also has memorial parks (Golden Haven), schools and hospital (VitaCare).
For his achievements, he was recognised as the Most Outstanding UP Alumnus (1991) and Most Distinguished UP Alumnus (2004). He is also the recipient of several national awards, including: Ten Outstanding Young Men Award (1986) by the Philippine Jaycees, Agora Award for Outstanding Achievement in Marketing Management (1989), Most Outstanding CPA by the Philippine Institute of Certified Public Accountants (1990).
A self-made man and one of the prominent billionaires in the Philippines, according to Forbes, with a net worth of USD1.37 billion in 2016, he has been a central figure in the housing sector.
Aside from his distinguished career in business, he also has an exemplary record in public service as the first and only post-war public official who became both Speaker of the House of Representatives (1998-2000) and Senate President (2006-2008). He is also the president of Nacionalista Party, the country’s grandest political party.
Villar and his wife, Senator Cynthia Villar, have three children following in their footsteps. Their eldest son, Manuel Paolo, a graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, is currently the president and CEO of Vista Land. Their middle child Mark received his MBA from the University of Chicago and is now a congressman for the district of Las Piñas. Their youngest, Camille Lydia, finished her MBA at the prestigious IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain and is the managing director of Brittany Corp.
Villar will receive the prestigious Real Estate Personality of the Year award at the black-tie gala of the Philippines Property Awards 2016, organised by PropertyGuru Group. on Thursday, 7 April at the Fairmont Makati.