- His business empire spans property, retail, mining — and media.
- Wife Cynthia, who belongs to "super" majority bloc, seen the next Senate President.
- His son Mark, too, is a frontrunner in the May 9 Senate race.
Manny Villar Jr, 72, currently the Philippines’ richest man, will see his business and political power go a notch higher this year.
The reason: two of his family members — wife Cynthia, 71, and son Mark, 43 — will both be sitting in the powerful 24-member Senate, the Philippines’ upper house of Congress.
Villar Jr, whose net worth is estimated at $8.3 billion by Forbes, chairs the Villar Group, a business empire involved in property development, retail and mining. His biggest asset is his stake in Golden MV Holdings (formerly Golden Bria), a developer of mass and urban housing complexes.
Now, the Filipino billionaire is making forays into broadcasting, too. In January 2022, Advanced Media Broadcasting Systems (AMBS), which he controls, took over the TV broadcast frequencies previously used by ABS-CBN, once the Philippines’ top media company — until the government forced it off the air two years ago.
The Villars are allies of both Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and presumptive President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. Villar Jr is himself a former lawmaker and once served as Senate president (he was Senator from 2001 to 2013).
The addition of media to his sprawling business empire could cement the family’s status as one of the most politically influential clans in the Asian country.
Over the last 50 years, Villar Jr built an empire which enabled him to lead Filipino business tycoons on Forbes' billionaires list today.
2 Villars in the Senate
Villar’s wife Cynthia ran and won as a member of the House of Representatives of Las Piñas, Manila, from 2001 to 2010 before winning a seat in the Senate in 2013, placing 10th. In 2019, Cynthia was re-elected for a second term in the Senate, topping the race with 25 million votes, a record. As part of the new "super majority" in the 19th Senate, she’s seen as the chamber’s next president.
Their son, Mark, won a Senate seat in the May 9 elections, landing on the 6th spot (with 18,927,520 votes), according to partial and unofficial results.
The younger Villar worked in the family’s real estate business for 10 years after completing his master’s degree from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree at Wharton.
He then served as congressman of Las Pinas, Manila, and later gained national prominence as head of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) after being handpicked by President Duterte.
Companies controlled by the Villars have built over 200,000 homes. The Villars have listed their home improvement chain AllHome and convenience store chain AllDay Marts. Plans are also afoot to move some of Vista Land’s commercial buildings into a real estate investment trust (REIT).
Besides the Villars, two other families will have more than one member in the incoming Senate: Pia Cayetano and her brother Allan Peter who forms part of “Magic 12”, while JV Ejercito (15,428,651 votes) currently sits at No. 10, and his brother Jinggoy Estrada (14,693,932 votes) at No. 12 in the unofficial count.
Villar Jr. did not seek any post in the 2022 elections. He lost to Benigno Aquino III in 2016. President Duterte once told Villar that he would back the billionaire’s campaign if he ran a second time for president.