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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Manny Villar, Not Poor?

I just farted. An e-hate about Manny Villar just tickled my stomach, and a bit of gas was the product. How embarrassing! But hey, to fart is normal when something funny comes your way. Case in point, this article that goes on and on about corned beef in order to discredit the integrity of number one Presidentiable candidate, Manny Villar.
“Manny and his family were never really poor.” This is the claim of humor man, The Chair Wrecker. He goes on to say that Manny Villar is obviously lying when he is promoted by his camp as a poor boy who rose from rags to riches.

According to the article, the Villar family owned a private, shining steel jeep- a status symbol in Tondo when everyone else used only their legs in order to travel. Their house was a lofty three-storey building where the Villars, a brood of 9 siblings and their parents, lived comfortably. The children went to private schools, with Manny attending the Holy Child Catholic School in particular despite numerous public schools more accessible in their area. But the thing that distinguishes the Villars the most from the poor, would be their food- delicious, canned corned beef, apparently already a luxury during their time.

A Problem in Semantics
The thing that disturbs me about this article is the fact that the writer obviously has problems with English semantics. He seems to be blinded by the reality that there are varying degrees of “poorness.” It’s just like being fat. There are those who are overweight, while others are bordering obese, or obese themselves. But they all fall in the same category- fat. They are not thin, nor are they merely chubby. Their bodies experience and display an excess of something, and the world around them label it as so. The Villars owning a private jeep may not be associated with the “poorest of the poor” of Tondo, but it is certainly not associated with the rich either. Nor is it associated with the middle class. To have a private jeep is still an experience only a certain group of people hold, and that group is the poor, may it be the poor of Tondo, or the poor of Philippine society in general. Will you consider manong, the one who drives the Zapote jeep or the Commonwealth jeep, of the middle-class? Nope. Never was, never will.

Another untruthful story being propagated today is that Manny, and the rest of his family, lived in what seemed like a comfortable three-storey home. In a different article, one that the Chair Wrecker did not author, the writer portrays the old, Villar home as spacious; one that had three floors and where Manny and his siblings can run around and play freely. Correction, the house that the Villars occupied in Tondo cannot even be called a “house” by the way we understand the word. It is a makeshift structure wherein materials were pieced together so that something can hold 11 people from below, and something can shelter the heads of 11 people from above. In that house, when Manny or one of his siblings carelessly stretched an arm, he may be scolded for punching someone in the cheek; it was that cramped. There was a leak in the roof almost all-year-round. The fact that it still stands today is testament to the ingĂ©nue of the Villar family: it shows that Manny Villar comes from a breed where one can indeed make something out of nothing; where one can take rubbish and turn it into something as sturdy and strong as a makeshift home for 11 people.
And finally, the mindless talk that Manny and his siblings feasted on luxury food- corned beef. Yes, corned beef in the 1950’s was luxury food indeed- to the poor. Manny Villar on certain days may have skipped salt and rice. On those rare occasions, a small can of corned beef was available. That small can of corned beef would then be savored by Manny together with 10 other hungry people. The poorest of the poor may never have tasted corned beef in the 1950’s. But the poor who get lucky enough to get a hand on one must sacrifice and share the smallest can with 10 other hungry mouths. What’s so rich and luxurious about that?

Look At It Again
Indeed Manny VIllar and his family were poor, that is why all they could afford was a jeep and the smallest can of corned beef. Indeed Manny Villar and his family were poor, that is why they forced the genius out of them and created a makeshift home; a makeshift home that cramped 11 people in one floor yet still stands to this very day. Indeed Manny Villar and his family were poor, and so for him to have been able to study in a private school is proof that sipag and tiyaga do work. How in the world could a government employee and a seafood vendor (take note, vendor, not dealer; no wholesale!) send their child to a private school? The answer is a nine-year-old Manny, going with his mother in the ungodly hours of the morning to the dirty, not-so-fragrant market place, in order to earn extra. Such work ethic of Manny Villar has helped his family, and he himself, to escape the poverty that, sadly, knocks out many Filipinos up to today. Yes, it is precisely due to the poverty that Manny Villar experienced that he is the man he is today: masipag at mapag tiyaga. Lahat nagagawan ng paraan; lahat, kaya.

To be honest, when I look at the person that is Manny Villar, the labels that people append to him are no longer that important to me. It is what he experienced, the stuff of what he went through, and the type of people who resonate and relate to that experience, that matter to me. Like Michael Jackson said, it don’t matter if you black or white. In the end, it don’t matter what people call Villar. I know the man by his life.


  1. Manny VIllar was in TV Patrol tonight. He showed their "home" in Tondo to those skeptics who continue to doubt his roots. He vowed to tour Noy Noy in his then neighborhood given that he gets a tour of the Aquino's Hacienda Luisita.

  2. he said that he experience poverty when he was young

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