MANILA, Philippines — Camille Villar, a lawmaker, young entrepreneur, loving daughter, lovely wife and doting mother rolled into one, inspires ladies to own their achievements, no matter how big or small.
As we continue to celebrate International Women’s Month, it is a welcome reminder to celebrate all the efforts women make. In this case, we put a spotlight on her achievements and how this young girl boss forges a gender-equal world in her own right.
She is strong yet compassionate, sweet yet intense. When it comes to doing her job as a representative of the lone district of Las Piñas, she’s an achiever and a doer.
With her various efforts in promoting public welfare during the pandemic, Camille was named “Government Hero of the Year” by the prestigious Stevie Awards for Women in Business in Las Vegas, USA, in 2022. She was honored under the COVID-19 response category for her remarkable work during the pandemic.
Female executive of the year
Camille also bagged the Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand for her expertise as president and CEO of AllValue Group, the retail arm of the Villar Group of Companies, as well as the firm’s significant contribution to the community during the pandemic.
The Stevie Awards also recognized AllHome Builds and bestowed the Bronze Award for Community-Involvement Program of the Year for Women-owned or Women-led Organizations.
Camille thanked the Stevie Award judges for the important recognitions, and paid tribute to those behind the Villar brands, especially women employees and female executives who were with her in ensuring the success of the Villar Group’s retail brands.
Camille hails from a family of entrepreneurs and public servants. She is the unica hija of former Senate President Manny Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar.
She obtained her MBA from IESE (Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa) Business School in Barcelona, Spain, one of the world’s best business schools, and studied Business Management at the Ateneo de Manila University.
MSMEs, education, women & children
Camille currently serves as Deputy Speaker at the House of Representatives. On her second term as representative of the district of Las Piñas, she proved her mettle in public service, presenting an impressive report card showing her service to the people.
Since joining public service, she made very clear her brand of leadership: one that is committed to the education and welfare of women and children and the empowerment of micro, small and medium enterprises as a path to poverty alleviation.
It is this caring brand of leadership that aims to give agency to those who have so little of it and humanizes and empowers those in desperate need.
At a young age, Camille was introduced to the adversities faced by different communities.
Manifesting her soft heart for the MSME sector as an important driver of the Philippine economy and a major contributor for the country’s growing labor force, she advocates for the growth of small entrepreneurs in the House of Representatives and in her private life as the top executive of AllValue Group.
Perhaps her love of public service is gleaned from her parents, who started the Villar Foundation that helps pluck people from poverty through livelihood programs, training, education and market support. She has actively participated in the discussion of relevant legislation that would provide increased government loan funds for pandemic-hit MSMEs, including the Bayanihan Law and other policies strengthening the Small Business Corp.
She also authored a bill that mandates entrepreneurship to be taught as a separate subject in the K-12 program in public and private secondary schools nationwide.
With the new generation becoming “the most entrepreneurial generation ever,” introducing entrepreneurship at a young age would pave the way for more startups that would help shape brighter prospects for the country and thereafter allow the domestic economy to flourish.
With her steadfast advocacy in serving her constituents, she principally authored a law increasing the bed capacity of the Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center to 500 from the current 200.
Construction for the new hospital building, which sits on a 1,500-sqm property just beside the hospital, is ongoing and expected to be completed soon for the benefit of her constituents and nearby localities.
Republic Act No. 11497, signed into law on November 13, 2020, seeks not only to increase the bed capacity but also upgrade the hospital’s professional healthcare services and facilities. Its workforce, which includes doctors, nurses and support staff, will also be increased. The 12-story new hospital building will include the provision of 300 additional beds, as well as much-needed healthcare services and facilities, and state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
The lawmaker noted that this initiative is in response to the pandemic, which “put a lot of strain” on health systems, and is a “crucial aspect in our COVID-19 response and enables us to be more equipped in case of a resurgence while maintaining the urgent care and treatment of patients with other illnesses.”
Walking the extra mile for her constituents
Consistent with efforts to increase vaccine uptake, in mid-2021 Camille launched a vaccine incentive program dubbed “May Bahay sa Bakuna,” which effectively helped increase vaccine coverage in Las Piñas, as vaccinated residents were incentivized with non-monetary benefits like a brand-new house-and-lot package, motorcycles and grocery items, among others.
As such, Las Piñas was among the local governments that passed a vaccine milestone and was recognized for having achieved herd immunity early on.
Staying true to her advocacy of helping her constituents, Camille distributed personal protective equipment and ayuda and ramped up the city’s health infrastructure by installing modular hospitals, isolation centers and mega vaccination hubs during the pandemic.
As for the proposed Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP), which Villar co-authored along with several other legislators, this would be a game-changer with how the Philippines deals with emerging diseases.
She urged Filipino experts working abroad to help establish the proposed agency, stressing that she would ensure that “competitive compensation and incentives” be extended to “Balik Scientists” who would participate in the proposed VIP.
For her, part of a broader array of measures that would tide Filipinos over tough times include advancing the welfare of women, children and senior citizens, boosting employment generation, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting community livelihood programs.
Supporting Filipino talent
Camille, who has previous experience in showbiz, is also eyeing any form of state assistance to filmmakers vying for the coveted Oscars. She believes the country has a vast pool of talented actors and filmmakers worthy of an international nod, and getting financial backing on the road to the Oscars would be a huge boost for the campaigns of Filipino filmmakers abroad.
Through House Resolution 451, the lady legislator wants to reinvigorate the Philippine cinema industry and ready it for the international arena by creating a seed fund to support the government’s Oscars Assistance Program intended for the development and marketing campaigns of world-class Filipino films as part of efforts to bring those films to the US for screenings.
There was momentum with the recognition of Filipino actress Dolly de Leon in various prestigious international film festivals for her role in Triangle of Sadness, Camille said, and this should have provided an impetus for the government to continue supporting filmmakers for an Oscar pick, and eventually securing a nomination or even a shortlist would provide more job and livelihood opportunities for Filipinos, she pointed out.
Ayuda for graduates
Similarly, it is graduation season again in the country. Camille filed a measure to give one-time P5,000 financial assistance to fresh graduates who are looking for jobs after they graduate.