Camille Villar - A soon to be First Daughter ( If her Sen MAnny Villar Wins this Presidential election)
'Most Eligible Bachelorette' Camille Villar on C-5, Imee, Kris, Chris Tiu, Bro. Eddie, Erap & her dad's singing
By Wilson Lee Flores (The Philippine Star) Updated January 31, 2010 12:00 AM
ďLife is cyclical, itís not good to be mean when youíre up there, sometimes youíre down also. I believe people shouldnít be mean to others,Ē says Camille Villar.
MANILA, Philippines - During a charity art project in the lobby of Congress late last year organized by Quezon City Councilor Winnie Castelo and wife Precious, special guest Quezon City Vice-Mayoral candidate Joy Belmonte-Alimurung in her speech described one of the VIPs in the audience as ďthe Philippinesí most eligible bachelorette.Ē This person is none other than self-made billionaire Senator Manny Villarís only daughter and Ateneo-educated executive in their familyís realty business, Camille Aguilar Villar.
This writer recently had lunch with the 25-year-old Camille at EDSA Shangri-La Hotel for this exclusive interview, especially now that her father, Nacionalista Party presidentiable Manny Villar, is in the headlines due to acrimonious Senate battles over the C-5 controversy. The second lunch interview was arranged by Pilipino Star Ngayon columnist Lolit Solis. Some excerpts from the no-holds barred interview:
PHILIPPINE STAR: What is your reaction to Joy Belmonteís publicly describing you at the start of her speech as ďthe Philippinesí most eligible bacheloretteĒ?
CAMILLE VILLAR: (Laughs) I feel flattered, but itís very untrue, or letís just say I donít know if that is true, but as a person, I just try to live my life as best I can.
Do you now have a boyfriend? If so, who is he?
What kind of man would you want to become your boyfriend and future husband?
Iím kind of looking for someone who is like my dad, whoís a family man. Especially when youíre in politics itís not easy to be a family man. No matter how busy our dad is every day, we always have breakfast together, we go to movies together. I actually get to spend more time with my dad compared to my many friends with their own dads. Itís amazing. He really is a great father. If he has time, he calls me for lunch, movies, dinner. He likes to eat a lot, especially street food, not expensive food.
What are his favorite foods?
Not expensive but delicious food. His favorites include kamote (sweet potatoes), saging (bananas), mojitos. He likes all kinds of bananas, especially turon.
If Senator Villar likes to eat a lot, how come heís not overweight?
(Laughs) He exercises a lot. Now he runs, but he used to do tennis and swimming. Itís funny, even when he was still playing tennis, my Tito Jojo said he wasnít an excellent tennis player, but he really makes habol every ball. In short, Dad is very competitive. He likes to always stay active.
So Senator Villar is a health buff?
They were originally five siblings in my dadís family, but three passed away young because they were poor in Tondo. The youngest died when he was only four years old, because he was sick and the family was so poor, they couldnít afford medical treatment. Thatís why Dad is such a hypochondriac.
Going back to your being ďthe most eligible bachelorette,Ē what advice on romance have your parents given you? Are they strictly guarding you from many suitors?
Never. (Laughs) Joke onlyÖ My mom said, ďTake as much time as you need, because I want all of you to make the right choices.Ē I believe itís because nowadays itís so hard, because siguro (maybe) thereís a lot going on or maybe lots of people have problematic marriages. She just wants all of us her kids to have a similar happy married life like they have.
Is it true that your dadís supporter, Willie Revillame, courted you last year, as reported in the tabloids?
No, itís not true. Itís funny, Willie and I, weíre really just good family friends. Itís just people see us together. Heís not courting, heís really mabait (friendly) to everyone naman talaga (really).
If your dad wins the election, youíll be First Daughter. What are your impressions of our past First Daughters?
I look up to all of them as good First Daughters, because all of them had so much grace. Most of them are simple, like Jackie Ejercito Lopez, like Luli Arroyo-Bernas and even Jo Ramos.
Do you also look up to Kris (Aquino), who was embroiled in some controversies before?
Yes, actually, even Kris Aquino, I look up to her. Actually every one of our First Daughters, I felt they handled themselves well. I particularly look up to Tita Imee Marcos, I know her and sheís very intelligent. Tita Imee is very funny, too. I love her!
You admire Kris, even if sheís the sister of your dadís arch-rival for the presidency?
I like Kris, in fact, Iím a fan of her SNN and The Buzz shows.
Iíve always been a fan of Kris even as a kid. I watched her Pido Dida movies and Love Ko Si Kris. I tell you, Iím the most tsismosa (gossipy) ever, I like local showbiz. You know, after the death of her mom President Cory, iyak ako nang iyak sa (I kept crying in the) Sunday interview niya by Boy Abunda on The Buzz.
You look prettier than other actresses, would you like to enter showbiz ó say, act in the movies?
(Laughs) Not for now. Siguro (maybe), maybe never showbiz, but Iíd be interested in TV.
Thatís what Ateneo basketball
star Chris Tiu also told me, he turned down showbiz offers, but heís okay with just TV hostingÖ
Weíre together in a commercial. Chris Tiu is one of the most intelligent persons Iíve ever met, and he has a very inquisitive mind.
What are your hobbies?
I like to watch movies, I love to travel and I like to eat. I love reading a lot, particularly non-fiction books.
What type of non-fiction books?
I have a thing about the Kennedy family, so I try to read every book about them. I also read biographies of people who inspire me, like Bill Clinton, Queen Noor and Ranya of Jordan, Nelson Mandela. Kasi (because) I like history. I like reading about the past.
Does your father Manny Villar remind you of the Kennedy clan patriarch Joseph Kennedy? He was also a self-made man, a tycoon who eventually entered government service as SEC head and ambassador, also active in politics?
I agree, Joseph Kennedy was a self-made man and similar to our dad, but I donít think Dad is as conniving as Joseph was. My dad can be sharp and shrewd in business, but he is a good person, and unlike Joseph Kennedy who was a playboy, my dad is a one-woman man. Also, my dad doesnít do anything illegal, unlike the ancestors of the Kennedys who were bootleggers. But you know, all that being said, the Kennedys werenít perfect, but magaling talaga sila (they were really outstanding). They really revolutionized campaigning and politics in the U.S. Back then, they were the first to successfully use TV for nationwide campaigning. And more important, the Kennedys inspired a whole nation. Even until now, when people look at them, they feel proud about their country, so sana (hopefully) someone can also do that here for the Philippines.
Since you mentioned TV campaigning, your dadís TV commercials are quite good.
One thing we learned is that you have to be yourself and to be truthful, because if you put something in TV commercials which is not true or you put someone there who is really not, it will show. People will see.
My college students and even my grade school nephews can memorize your dadís TV commercial jingle.
Yes, nakaka-LSS talaga the song di ba (the song gives people ďLast Song Syndrome,Ē doesnít it)? Another reason for our dadís good TV commercials is that you should have a message, especially a substantial and meaningful message.
Your dad has many rivals for the presidency. What are your impressions of them?
I wonít say anything about them, but I admire them for having achieved what they have today. A lot of them really are competent.
Can you please name who among them you think are competent?
When I see Brother Eddie Villanueva and Gibo, I admire them, magaling sila (they are good). I also admire ex-president Erap, heís one of the most charming and charismatic persons Iíve ever met. Yes, weíre now competing, but wala namang personalan (thereís no personal enmity). We just have our own goals, itís not about us competing with each other, but us reaching out to more people. Even with Dadís rivals or others, I always try to see the best in people.
What do you think are your dadís success secrets that made him rise from a poor boy in Tondo to become one of Asiaís wealthiest billionaires?
Itís really hard work and tiyaga (perseverance). He has the gift of foresight, heís able to see things that a lot of people do not see. He can see the bigger picture. Heís very patient, calm, steady. Heís blessed with intelligence. Heís very good at numbers, but he really likes marketing. Heís a visionary ó it is important to have vision in order to be an industry leader. And malakas ang (strong) fighting spirit, because after all that heís been through ó his early life of poverty and struggles in Tondo, the 1997 Asian financial crisis ó he became resilient.
So despite his innate intelligence, itís his drive and work ethic you consider more important?
Yes, the hard work and perseverance of our dad is more important, and something you cannot stop. Sometimes intelligence is not inherent in some people, but working hard and not giving up, all both are within your control.
What are your reactions to the political foes of your dad now hitting him in this heated election season, especially on C-5 accusations?
Ay naku, Iím learning now to just accept all those cruel and unfair attacks on my dad. I always subscribe to this thinking: itís okay na silang manakit kaysa tayong manakit (itís better that theyíre the ones hurting us instead of us hurting others). Life is cyclical, itís not good to be mean when youíre up there, sometimes weíre down also. I believe people shouldnít be mean to others when theyíre up.
Critics say that your dad is spending so much of his fortune for the campaign, so babawiin daw niya (he will allegedly recoup it) after he wins?
Itís unfair and not true, it doesnít make sense na babawiin (recoup), what for? My dad is a self-made man who earned everything he has all by himself through years of hard work and perseverance. We already have everything that we need. We donít live extravagantly. Our lives will not change after the May election, regardless of the outcome. We donít ask for much, we donít need much in life. My dad and our family could have opted to live a quiet, comfortable life outside politics, but he has chosen the calling of public service. Weíre a simple family with simple needs.
So the charges by your dadís political foes are totally unfair?
Public service is really his lifelong dream. If one wants to really get wealthier, itís best to just stay in business and focus there, so itís almost insulting for my dadís political critics to unfairly attack him, saying that he will make bawi (recoup). Thatís not his goal in running. His goal is to help change the destiny of our country for the better.
Are the attacks now on your dadís C-5 case in the Senate the worst crisis for him and your family?
No, the worst was the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It was a test of his character. That crisis made these C-5 accusations and other crises bearable. The year 1997 was the most difficult time in our lives.
How did your father react to that crisis which threatened to wipe out all your family fortune?
During that time, I remember my dad would often come to my room and just watch me sleep the whole night. He wouldnít sleep, he couldnít sleep, but he never told us kids the enormity of his problems then, because he believes when youíre a family man, you have to be strong for your family. Thatís why in our family, sanay na kami na aping-api kami (weíre already used to being browbeaten), and it makes victory sweeter.
How did you and your dad react to the amazing success of your company Vista Landís 2007 IPO which raised P21 billion?
We were all teary, our whole family. Itís not about the money, but itís how we recovered and bounced back.
How wealthy is your family right now?
I donít know. (Laughs) I work in the marketing aspect of our family business, ask my brother Paolo, heís the chief financial officer.
You mentioned that you lead simple lives. So you and your two elder brothers were not spoiled by your parents?
My mom was very adamant about not spoiling us, even when they were entering politics. To us, they are just Mom and Dad. Our parents brought us up with simplicity and discipline, even with regards to money. As kids, we had to sign vouchers every time we would get money. That way, we were taught the value of money early on in life. We had to sign vouchers all throughout our student days. Our parents didnít spoil us, but the one thing they never scrimped on is our education. Our parents said they can cut costs on food, travel, but never on education. They told us, ďYou can have the very best education.Ē
How did your parents raise the three of you and teach you?
They teach mainly by example, how they live their lives. Our mom and dad have wake up at 6 a.m. and work until midnight. They have no weekends, so itís parang nakakahiya (seemingly shameful) if youíre a bum. Despite their busy schedules, they spend a lot of time with us and theyíve been together more than 30 years. Life nowadays is so complicated, we see lots of people get married and break up, and we see our parents happily married. So you donít compromise, you believe that you can also have a good life. I guess one has to work at it.
How is Senator Manny Villar as a father? Are you his favorite child?
He is a very loving and caring father. You know, my dad writes me letters, I also write him letters. A few days before my birthday last year, he sent me a letter written by him on his Senate stationery and he mentioned that he was scribbling this while someone ó I think it was Senator Juan Ponce Enrile ówas then talking.
Anything you can tell us about your dad that we donít know?
Actually, my father is really funny, but heís shy, so people think heís serious. Heís got a good sense of humor. My dad is very malambing (affectionate) and a romantic at heart. He likes to sing, he likes music. Sometimes we have Villar family reunions and we all sit around and sing.
What does Senator Villar love to sing? What songs?
The songs of Frank Sinatra.
Do you also sing very well?
No, I wasnít blessed with a good singing voice, but I do love to sing.
It seems my dadís love of music has rubbed off on me. Iím an old soul because I like Sinatra, Tony Bennett and my brother Mark loves Broadway songs from Phantom of the Opera.
Do you collect art like your dad and brother Mark?
I canít afford to collect paintings yet, but whenever my dad and Mark go to art exhibits or galleries, they bring me along.
Your dad and brother collect whose works?
My dad collects Filipino masters and Mark collects contemporary artists. My dad seems to like Onib Olmedo, lalo na (especially) his early works. My brother Mark likes Yasmin Sison, Marcel Antonio, Luz, he also likes both Ronald and Olan Ventura ó theyíre brothers.
If you were not in business, what career would you probably have right now?
(Laughs) If I were not in business, Iíd probably have a career in history. If I were not in real estate business, maybe Iíd also be an interior designer.