THE most important lesson that defeated presidential candidate Manny Villar learned from the 2010 race is that it does not pay to campaign early “since anything can happen along the way.”
For example, last year so many things happened in our country in a period of six months. We had the Zamboagan stand- off, the Bohol quake, the Napoles scandal over the Priority Development Assistance Fund and then Super Typhoon Yolanda, Villar said.
In an election campaign, you encounter so many attacks from all sides especially if you are leading very early. So it pays to get into the game “not too early and not too late either,” Villar told The Manila Times.
He said of all the tirades hurled at him when he was entering in the arena what hurt him most was he was being made to look like a liar about his youth, when he claimed that he was a squatter from Tondo who made it big in life through hard work and perseverance.
His ad agency came up with a jingle—that still rings a bell for many until now—of “lumangoy ka na ba sa tubig ng basura” which Villar said is still a reality from slum dwellers and those living in low lying areas of the metropolis whenever strong rains or high tides happen.
Why should they try to make it look like I was never from the slums and they even showed photos of a huge house, where they said my family acquired when I was small, he asked.
Villar said his opponents simply could not admit that it was a fight between a “landless poor boy from Tondo who made it big in life” against a “landed haciendero who did not need to work at all as he had everything.”
He also could not understand why his opponents would harp about his father being a government employee (whose highest position was a budget officer, nearing retirement) who took care of nine orphaned siblings and had to also provide for his own nine children.
Villar said he could not desecrate his father by admitting that because of his huge responsibility to care for nine siblings being the eldest, he nearly could not provide for his own family, which his shrimp vendor wife and eldest son (Manny) had to shoulder.
He also said he got stung by comments that he used his influence as Senate president to ensure that the Daang Hari, which connects major villages in Cavite to Alabang, Las Piñas and Parañaque all the way to Makati would benefit his real estate projects.
But he said he has forgiven all those who have maligned him and mocked his family. “I don’t harbor grudges because that occupies a vast space in my mind and heart and it disrupts my focus.”
Asked if he has already recovered whatever sums he lost in the campaign, Villar said, “that’s nothing. I have recovered it many times over. I have a business that keeps me and family busy and really afloat.”
“I am enjoying business now. I honestly don’t think about running now. But I am not saying I am not ever running. It is like destiny—if it is really for you then you will have it.”
“I was leading and so way ahead before. And then Cory [Aquino] died and then that’s it the fortunes changed,” he said.
He said whatever he invested in the campaign is not a loss because if you spend for your dream then that is not a problem. I have recovered far too much of what I sank in the elections, Villar said.