The strong bond of fathers

Published June 18, 2021, 3:47 PM

by Denice Sy Munez

Secretary Mark Villar and Dioceldo Sy talk candidly about how their friendship has evolved over the years

The Father of Build Build Build and the Father of Philippine Color Cosmetics look back to their six years of friendship and talk about what has kept their camaraderie strong.

Mark Villar was first approached by the Chamber of Cosmetics Industry of the Philippines (CCIP) in 2015 where Dioceldo’s brother, Silliman Sy, was an active member of the CCIP board. The CCIP had reached out to Cong. Mark for his help regarding an industry concern, to which the solon extended his full support eagerly. Quoting Silliman, “he helped willingly without asking for anything in return.” This cemented his reputation with the Sy brothers as a trustworthy and humble man, who is full of integrity.

Basketball ties
During the time when Cong. Mark was providing assistance to the local cosmetics industry, he learned that Dioceldo had a basketball team in the Philippines Basketball Association (PBA), Blackwater Elite (now Blackwater Bossing). They met for an exclusive dinner get-together hosted by Cong. Mark in his home where they learned that they shared a lot of things in common, such as love for family, service to others, and, of course, the love for basketball.

Mark Villar dribbles thru then-Blackwater Elite player, Bam Gamalinda in July 2015

Thus, they collaborated for an exhibition game held at the Starmall Alabang Gym in Muntinlupa back in July 2015, with Blackwater Elite competing against Cong. Mark’s local basketball team called the Las Pinas All-Stars where he was also a player. The event was part of Villar’s campaign to promote “YES to sports, and NO to drugs” in his efforts to guide the city’s youth towards more productive hobbies and activities.

Mark Villar at the dug-out with Blackwater Elite players in October 2015

As their friendship developed, Cong. Mark was invited by Dioceldo to Blackwater’s locker room during one of the team’s games against Alaska in October 2015. As per Dioceldo, “Sec. Mark looked really interested to see what it’s like to huddle and discuss strategies for a PBA game. I appreciated that he stayed for maybe 30 minutes to observe our dug-out procedures.” Sec. Mark also confessed that basketball is truthfully something he is passionate about.

Mark Villar extends token of thanks to Dioceldo Sy after the exhibition game between Las Pinas All-Stars and Blackwater Elite

Hope for Lupus
As the CEO of Ever Bilena Cosmetics, Inc., Dioceldo has been an avid supporter of causes that impact women’s health and wellbeing. Upon learning about the Lupus auto-immune condition of Sec. Mark’s wife, Usec. Emmeline Aglipay-Villar (then DIWA Party-list Rep), Dioceldo felt emotional about her story and was inspired to give back to the Villar family which he had grown close to.

(L-R) Silliman Sy, Dioceldo Sy, then Blackwater Elite player Mac Belo, Emmeline Aglipay-Villar, Emma Villar, and Mark Villar

Lupus is an immunity-related disease that more commonly affects women, and is also often not as widely talked about in mainstream media and in modern healthcare. As a Lupus survivor, Cong.Emmeline co-founded Hope for Lupus (HFL) to raise awareness about Lupus, and to encourage proper diagnosis for Lupus to support other women who could also be suffering from the disease.

Hope For Lupus Fun Run organized by CCIP and Ever Bilena

Ever Bilena’s involvement with HFL started when Dioceldo sponsored the non-profit’s book launch entitled “Living Better with Lupus” at City of Dreams in July 2017. Blackwater Elite also carried the Hope for Lupus logo instead of Ever Bilena on its jerseys for one conference that year, and also co-organized a fun run in January 2018 along with the CCIP to support HFL’s cause. Cong. Emmeline shares,“Ever Bilena is our first major sponsor, as well as the very first company to approach us and willingly partner with us. So we are very grateful.”

Sec. Mark and Usec Emmeline as Ninong and Ninang at the wedding reception of Jacob and Denice Sy-Munez in February 2018

The Villar and Sy families have formed closed ties as Dioceldo personally requested Sec. Mark and Usec Emmeline to be godparents for his daughter’s wedding in February 2018.

On their friendship
Dioceldo describes Sec. Mark as “very grounded, and someone I respect more and more as I got to know him better.” Despite being a member of the country’s richest family, “he acts like an average Filipino.”

Humble, down-to-earth, hardworking, and compassionate are a few more things Dioceldo says he likes about Sec. Mark. “He is like a younger brother to me, and I appreciate that in spite of the heavy burden his work entails and his busy schedules, he still makes time for his good friends, and that’s an effort that I cherish.” Dioceldo says their love for God, love for family, and genuineness as people are commonalities that have helped their friendship flourish.

Meanwhile, Sec. Mark refers to Dioceldo as “a genuine person and a true friend who has passion and vision.” And these traits are something he “admires very much” about Dioceldo.

Father’s Day Message to all
Straightforward and relevant, Sec. Mark urges fellow fathers to act in unity, “Let’s work together to build a nation we’d be proud to pass on to the next generation.” He also extends his veneration and appreciation for the strong Filipino dads. “Thank you for all the hard work you have been putting in to provide the best life for your children. Your efforts are not just felt by your children but they provide the building blocks for a better life for other Filipino children too.” And hopefully, make their tomorrows brighter.

On the other hand, Dioceldo reminds others to be prayerful, and have faith that this difficult time too, shall pass. “Share God’s love to our kids. Times are very hard. But please hold on. Let us hope normalcy will come soon. Vaccinations are ongoing, it will just be a matter of time. Just do not give up!”