Villar SIPAG: Helping hard-working Filipinos rise from poverty

Published October 26, 2019, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

Husband-and-wife Manny Villar and Sen. Cynthia Villar inspect the finished product of school chair made from recycled plastics which their foundation is starting to manufacture to be donated to some schools nationwide.
Husband-and-wife Manny Villar and Sen. Cynthia Villar inspect the finished product of school chair made from recycled plastics which their foundation is starting to manufacture to be donated to some schools nationwide.


By James A. Loyola

Manuel B. Villar, founder of one of the country’s top developers Vista Land & Lifescapes and emerging retail giant All Value Holdings, had a humble beginning in Tondo where he grew up as a working student helping his mother sell shrimp and fish in Divisoria.

“I learned from my mother what it takes to be an entrepreneur. And it means working really hard to achieve your dreams,” said Villar who was second in a brood of nine.

With the burning desire for a better future and a strong determination to improve his family’s living conditions, he worked hard in selling shrimps and fish to be able to send himself to school.

He eventually enrolled in the University of the Philippines, taking up business administration and accountancy — a double major and one of the toughest courses in UP — even as he continued to work ungodly hours as a shrimp and fish trader.

Joining the workforce after graduation as an accountant at SGV and then as a financial analyst, Villar could not repress his instincts as an entrepreneur and eventually took out a ₱10,000 loan to go into the sand and gravel business.

This introduced him to the housing business where he was inspired to build affordable houses for the working class and overseas Filipinos. After overcoming major obstacles and challenges, Villar is now the country’s richest Filipino, according to Forbes Magazine, thanks to his instincts as an entrepreneur and his trademark “Sipag at Tyaga.”

Not one to forget his humble beginnings and believing that entrepreneurship will lift hardworking Filipinos out of the more of poverty, Villar and his wife, Senator Cynthia A. Villar established the Villar Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance or Villar SIPAG which is also the Corporate Social Responsibility arm of Vista Land.

“My Nanay Curing taught me a simple lesson in life: hard work and perseverance (sipag at tiyaga) are surefire ingredients to success. From the time when I had to wake up early in the morning to help her sell shrimps to juggling work and school to my career as an entrepreneur and public servant, I have always believed that we Filipinos can win the war against poverty. That is what the Foundation is about. It’s about personal stories of triumph. It’s about spreading a culture of hard work and perseverance. It’s about ending poverty one Filipino at a time,” said Villar.

The Foundation aims to help empower Filipinos to overcome poverty in all its forms and manifestations. It is anchored on “sipag” or hard work coupled with “tiyaga” or perseverance, which are values that the Villar family holds in high regard in themselves and in other people as well. There are the same values that they believe can uplift the lives of Filipinos.

Villar SIPAG’s key advocacies are livelihood generation, jobs creation, environment protection, assistance to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), development of community enterprises, church- building, agricultural training through the Villar Farm Schools, and recently construction of training schools to address the shortage of skilled workers in the construction sector.
Having been born and raised in Moriones, Tondo, Villar has never forgotten his roots and in his personal capacity has extended help to residents of poor communities in the said area in the City of Manila.

Likewise, Villar SIPAG has been implementing numerous outreach programs and project assistance to Gasangan, Barangay 649 in particular in Baseco, Tondo for nearly two decades. The residents of the underserved community rely mainly on scavenging and garlic-peeling for livelihood.

Besides the usual feeding program and medical assistance, Villar SIPAG has established long-term and sustainable projects, mostly provision of jobs and livelihood opportunities, for the barangay beneficiaries.

Livelihood caravans are organized regularly in partnership with various government departments and private organizations.

The projects are aimed at providing sustainable livelihood opportunities to help improve the lives of barangay residents and empower them to become productive members of the society. These include agricultural livelihood (aquaculture, vegetable (edible) garden, smoked fish-making among others) as well as environment-related livelihood such as recycling garlic peels.

Meanwhile, Villar SIPAG has established Farm School, located in an eight-hectare lot in the boundary of Las Piñas City and San Jose Del Monte, Bulacan in line with the vision of Senator Cynthia Villar to provide continuous training and education to farmers and folks and their families and communities to help them become more competitive and increase their income and resources.

Villar SIPAG has also been consistent in providing assistance to a group that holds a special place in Founding Chairman Manuel B. Villar Jr.’s heart – the OFWs.

Villar SIPAG’s assistance to OFWs and OFW returnees includes repatriation of distressed OFWs; medical/financial assistance; livelihood assistance; skills-up training with Ople Policy Center on employable skills such as housekeeping, commercial cooking and bartending; workshops or symposia on relevant topics such as financial literacy, how to avoid investment scams among others; and the yearly OFW and Family Summit.

Investing in the country’s future, Villar SIPAG launched the 1st Villar SIPAG Youth Poverty Reduction Challenge on September 2016, a friendly competition among Filipino youth and their social enterprises or community organizations that help alleviate the poverty situation in the country.

The Villar SIPAG has been providing livelihood to Filipinos and their families for over a decade already. Its award- winning efforts to clean up the Las Piñas River have given birth to livelihood projects. The livelihood projects are coco net weaving, water lily handicraft weaving, organic fertilizer making, handloom blanket weaving, charcoal briquettes making, parol (lantern) making, handmade paper making and making school chairs from waste plastics.

From Las Piñas, the livelihood projects have been duplicated nationwide. As of latest count, the Villar SIPAG has set up over 1,700 livelihood projects all over the country. The ultimate goal is to put up at least one livelihood project in each city and municipality all over the country.

The Villar SIPAG also provides skills training to people or groups who want to learn about the livelihood projects.

Another notable project which the foundation has started is the manufacture of school chairs from recycled plastics. Tapping a technology provided by the Department of Science and Technology, the foundation is mass manufacturing these chairs to be distributed to many schools nationwide. Starting with a pilot project in Las Piñas, the undertaking is now being expanded to answer to the needs for such chairs for schools nationwide. At the same time, the project provides employment to underprivileged workers.