The lifestyle of Rep. Cynthia Villar
Third of a series of lifestyle features on presidential candidates' wives/partners
MANILA, Philippines – With their combined business savvy, political clout and billion-peso resources, presidential candidate Sen. Manny Villar and his wife Cynthia Aguilar Villar make a powerful pair.
Manny Villar described the 3-term Las Piñas Representative in a Probe Profiles interview as his “partner in all things,” whether in their 34-year marriage, their political campaigns or their real estate ventures.
Cynthia Villar told abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak that if she did not enter politics, she would rather be “in business with her husband.”
The Villar couple jointly own companies like Adelfa Properties, Camella and Palmera Homes and Fine Properties Inc.
Adelfa is one of the companies said to have benefited from the controversial C-5 road extension project.
Based on their 2008 Statements of Assets and Liabilities, Sen. Villar is the richest Senator (P1.05 billion) while his wife is the country’s richest Congresswoman (P1.046 billion).
Rags to riches?
Like her husband, Cynthia says her family came from humble beginnings.
Cynthia’s paternal grandmother was a betel nut vendor who was able to send all 9 children to college.
One of her sons, Filemon (Cynthia’s father), later became Las Piñas mayor in 1987. The Aguilar clan has ruled Las Piñas for over 20 years.
Cynthia married Manny shortly after graduating from the University of the Philippines where they were Business Administration classmates.
They have 3 children: Paolo, 32; Mark, 31; and, Camille, 24. All are finance or business management graduates.
In building their successful business empire, Cynthia said her husband has always been “visionary”, being one step ahead of their competitors, while she has always been a meticulous worker, with a flair for handling day-to-day operations.
Now, with a presidential campaign laid out before them, there is no doubt Cynthia will be playing well for the team.
Here are Cynthia Villar’s answers to some questions posed by abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak:
What’s your fashion sense? What makes your style unique?
I like clothes that are comfortable and simple – nothing unique or fancy. When I choose outfits, I tend to go for those that don’t require any special care or fussing over.
Who is your stylist or fashion consultant?
I don’t have a stylist nor a fashion consultant.
If a customs official were to open your bag right now, what would he or she find?
My compact, lipstick, perfume, eyebrow pencil, notebook, pens, wallet, medicine, business cards, eyeglasses, my schedule for the day, hairbrush, dental grooming kit, and a small flashlight.
Suppose your husband wins as president, which designer would you most likely approach for your Inauguration dress? Who is your favorite designer?
It will be my cousin Nolie Hans, who is close to me.
What is your secret to staying well-groomed and beautiful?
My schedule includes a monthly haircut, hair color every 2 months, visit to the derma[tologist] twice a month, and a quarterly dental appointment. On a daily basis, I follow basic facial and body care regimen using products formulated by my niece, Dr. Ivy Aguilar-Teo, who is the daughter of my brother, [Las Piñas] Mayor [Vergel] “Nene” Aguilar.
What are your favorite hobbies or sports?
I don’t have a sport, but I walk a lot. I enjoy the work I do, so that it doesn’t feel like work for me. In fact, it’s just like pursuing a hobby.
How do you relax after a stressful or hectic day?
No matter how late, I try to get a massage at home while watching a good show on TV.
During campaign sorties, what things can’t you do without?
I cannot do without water, my perfume, lipstick and powder.
What is your pet peeve?
My biggest pet peeve? Lazy and incompetent people.
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What are your tips for working moms who want to keep a well-balanced lifestyle?
Be systematic and organized when it comes to your time. Schedule your work, socials and family time so that you can fulfill all your obligations and still have time for your personal needs.
When you want something done, how do you get your way?
When I want something done, I just start doing it myself. In my experience, I have seen how my own commitment to any project or cause can be infectious. My district officers and staff have imbibed the energy and passion with which I see our programs through. The recognition, awards, and media acclaim that we receive inspire them to continuously improve how they do things.
Do you consider yourself a good cook? What’s your favorite dish?
Cooking is not really one of my skills. Cleaning is my forte. But as a family, we enjoy trying out different cuisines.
Describe your parenting stlye. Do you have tips for other parents?
I pray for my children everyday. I even light a candle for each of them in all the churches that I visit, as I pray special intentions for them.
Teaching by example is what I believe the best way that we can impart the proper values to our children.
Manny and I want them to know the value of perseverance and hard work, and we believe that they will learn it better through our example rather than lengthy lectures.
If they see that I work hard to attain my goals, then, they are more compelled to follow. As my only daughter Camille once said, “If I will only be half as hard working as my Mom, I’ll be alright.”
What books have you read lately?
“100 Simple Secrets of Happy People” by David Niven, Ph.D.; “Say it Like Obama” by Shel Leanne; “Winning Business Lessons of the Obama Campaign” by Barry Libert and Rick Faulk.
Who do you consider your role models and why?
My models are my grandmother and my Mom.
My grandmother was a sidewalk vendor in Divisoria. She sold “ikmo” (piper betel) in order to send her 9 children to school. My father and his siblings all became professionals – and successful in their chosen fields.
One of my aunties was even awarded as an Outstanding Physical Scientist of the Philippines.
My mother built small businesses together with my father. She was very conscientious in saving up enough so that we – her 6 children – will have good education and lead a comfortable life.
What do you usually do during the holidays?
Over the years, we take family vacations during the holidays. Without fail, we spend time together going to malls, browsing in bookstores, watching movies, trying out new restaurants – and we enjoy doing these in places where no one recognizes us, so our family vacations are usually overseas.
Describe your typical workday. Has your husband’s campaign for the presidency changed your lifestyle?
My typical work day begins at 6 a.m. and ends at 12 midnight.
Right now, my daily schedule revolves around activities related to Manny’s bid for the presidency. Prior to that, I focused on my work in my district – Las Piñas – and my work at the House of Representatives. Before I entered public service, I was preoccupied with business matters and personal advocacies.
So, my work hours remain the same, it’s just the focus that changes.
What is constant, however, is the time I spend with my family. Sundays are always for the family, and within the week, we try to have as many meals together.
If you did not decide to enter politics, where would you be by now? What is your dream job?
I will be in business with my husband. We are both BSBA (Business Administration) and MBA (Masters in Business Administration) graduates and we were both raised by entrepreneur mothers. I will continue working for my advocacies of: (a) helping women to become healthy and financially sufficient; and (b) protecting the environment.
What qualities do you most admire in your husband? What was your first impression of him when you met?
I admire most Manny’s dependability, industry, perseverance, and his ability to have a clear vision of how things should be in the long run.
To what extent, would you say, do you influence your husband’s decisions?
Manny asks me for my opinion on things. He also asks his consultants. But at the end, he makes the decision on his own.
What are your opinions on what the First Lady’s role should be?
I believe that the First Lady should focus on implementing programs that will help the poor, namely health, education, and livelihood skills training – especially those that will help women engage in home-based work. Working from the home enables women to help augment family income while they take care of the children. Report by Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak.