Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.
When one has reached the top of his game, what is left to conquer? For businessman-turned-congressman Sam "SV" Versoza, it is now his turn to help others rise.
"I want people to remember as Sam Versoza who grew up in the streets of Sampaloc, Manila and dreamed, worked hard and raised his status in life. With God's mercy, with faith in God and His blessing, I overcame all those problems. And I turned it all into opportunities that changed my life, so now I'm the one who will change more people's lives," he said during a media interview when asked why helping others has always been his priority throughout his rise to success.
Change seems to be the theme of SV's life. His childhood was not easy. His parents struggled to put all five children through school. "It was really difficult for them kasi magkakasunod kaming magkakapatid eh. Every enrollment time was a problem."
Thus, education brought about the first change in SV's young life. He realized that he shouldn't take his studies for granted. He studied diligently and became a top student, earning the admiration of not only his friends and younger siblings but also his teachers. They knew he had his "naughty student side" but SV never lost his focus to do well in his studies.
He believes that, "Education is a pathway out of poverty. It brings us opportunities and also enables us to help our parents."
Donating computers and other school supplies to his former schools, setting up Internet "hubs" to help neighborhood kids with their schoolwork and sponsoring the E-Skwela Act bill in the House of Representatives to help provide educational resources to students from all walks of life are some of the ways SV walks his education talk. Even in his multi-level marketing company Frontrow's corporate social responsibility arm, Frontrow Cares, education initiatives are given a priority.
Although definitely a man of the future – with his eyes set on progressive ways to elevate people's lives – SV also looks back at his past and his struggles as a way to ground him. One of his elementary school teachers, Mrs. Regino says about SV, "We're super proud of him because he's on a pedestal but what makes me even prouder is that he looks back at where he came from."
Indeed, SV's life of abundance now is a glaring change from his early years of struggle. He had to work hard for everything. He recounted a funny story during his college years at UP Diliman when he and his friends wanted to go to Boracay but they didn't have enough money to buy a plane ticket. He ended up taking a bus and roro and claimed it was the worst commuting experience of his life. Contrast this to the present day, where he has a garage full of luxury cars and is at the helm of Maserati Philippines.
The roro story gives everyone a glimpse of SV's drive and determination. He wasn't born with a silver spoon in his mouth but when he has a goal, he sets out and doesn't stop until he achieves it.
Nowadays, his ambitious goal is poverty alleviation for Filipino families. From his company's sponsorship of Tutok to Win show prizes that helped his fellowmen during the difficult time of the Covid-19 pandemic, to serving as vice-chairperson for the Poverty Alleviation Committee in the House of Representatives, he sincerely wishes and works hard to create life-changing and sustainable programs so that people can achieve success as he has.
Aside from the Poverty Alleviation Committee, he is also the vice-chairperson for the Disaster Resilience Committee, the Social Services Committee and the Welfare for Children Committee. In addition, he is a member of the majority in committees on housing development.
Since 2008, thousands of people have already benefited from his work at Frontrow Cares through its numerous outreach programs, disaster relief help, scholarships, livelihood aid and many other kinds of charity programs. This humble boy from Sampaloc is now doing legislative work to ensure sustainable programs that change people's lives are in place within the government.
Recently, he has found another platform from which he could help even more Filipinos. "Dear SV" is a public affairs TV show on CNN Philippines that features inspiring stories of ordinary Filipinos who, despite the struggles of life, come out victorious and become even stronger. This also reflects SV's life story, and so it was a perfect fit for him to host the show. His name has become synonymous with service that even the Miss Universe Philippines has tapped him to become its director for charity. In this capacity, SV spearheads the organization's various initiatives that uplift the welfare of those in need.
In the past four years, he has been one of the judges in the pageant, looking for the right Filipino woman with an inspiring story and an advocacy that can represent the country on the global stage.
People who know SV also know how much he values health and a healthy lifestyle. It's nothing less one can expect from a business mogul that built his empire on health and wellness products.
He believes that sports can also change people's lives. He grew up playing basketball in his neighborhood and in school. Now, he sponsors youth members with a potential to become national athletes.
Through the recent London Marathon 2023, held last April 23, SV was able to combine his passion for sports and charity. He joined the 42km event in order to raise funds for the Smile Train Foundation which helps children with cleft lips and palates undergo the necessary surgery so they may live normally and thrive.
He has done so much for his community and the Filipino people that his good deeds didn't go unnoticed. He was named Philanthropist of the Year twice (2020 and 2021) by the American Association of the Philippines.
His most recent awards also include the Humanitarian of the Year (2022) given by People Asia Magazine to him and his business partner RS Francisco for their philanthropic work during the days of the pandemic.
Asia Leaders Awards 2022—the Philippines and Southeast Asia's largest business awards event— also named SV as one of its Top 50 Rising Tigers in the Asia Pacific. He was recognized for his success as a multi-awarded entrepreneur and multimedia personality who empowered Filipinos and raised the bar of Pinoy entrepreneurship.
What is to expect from SV in the future? More than business growth, more than legislation, he says it is to continue his father's legacy – to help the helpless.
This core value is what he carried with him ever since he was a boy who had big dreams despite the obstacles life threw his way. And this same core value remains with him as a congressman as he rolls up his sleeves, prepared to do the hard work it takes to change people's lives.
According to SV, "We do all this not just to help. But also to inspire and encourage others to do the same."
Truly, SV exemplifies the quote "we rise by lifting others." His initiatives changed the lives of not only those around him but many Filipino people all over the nation. His real success story is the story of his big heart.