Villar: Become a leader, not just an employee

/ 07:52 AM March 03, 2012

To become leaders, Filipinos shouldn’t be contented with being employees, said Sen. Manuel Villar yesterday.

“Our culture is so secure just following. We are a nation of employees. We have to stop that way of thinking. It’s about time we change that mind-set. We can lead, we can be independent,” he said during the Gullas Leadership Lecture Series at the Cebu Country Club.


The lecture series is sponsored by the University of the Visayas (UV). Its first lecturer last month was Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile.

Villar, who ran for president in 2010, said Filipinos need sincere, independent leadership to move the country forward.


Poverty should not be an obstacle.

“I didn’t know I could be a leader. I just wanted to get out of poverty, get my sisters to school, help my mother. But I realized that in all the organizations I joined, I ended up the leader. Then I was elected,” Villar said.

The senator grew up in the slums of Tondo, Manila, and worked his way up by selling fish and bread.

Villar then became a sand and gravel contractor, which opened opportunities for him to enter into housing development.

Villar told participants that success means being persistent, working hard and standing up every time one falls.

The youth shouldn’t be contented being employees; they should aim to be their own bosses, he said.

“Do not assume that if you are poor, you cannot be a leader. Just show sincerity, do your work well and your peers will see it and elect you as a leader,” the senator said.


Villar said popularity and sentimentality shouldn’t influence Filipinos in voting for leaders, something he said that happened in the 2010 elections.

“We have used emotions and popularity in electing our officials. This is probably the reason we haven’t moved forward in the last decade,” Villar told the audience that included students, government officials and the academe.

The senator ran for president under the Nacionalista Party but lost to Benigno Aquino III, who ran after constant prodding from party mates following the death of his mother former president Corazon Aquino.

Villar said his determination to rise above poverty should inspire youths to do the same.

He said it’s the person’s track record and not popularity that should be the gauge in electing a leader.

“Look at the person. Has she or he led anything? Has he managed anything? Then that’s the time to decide who we should elect,” he said.

Even if he lost in the 2010 elections, Villar said he isn’t retiring from politics.

He said he will focus on supporting NP candidates and helping others through the Villar Foundation.

Retirement isn’t an option, the senator said.

“Success can be redefined. Sometimes you shift arenas. And working on a nongovernment organization is one area I haven’t led. I haven’t decided really which I will focus on more, business, philanthropy or politics,” Villar said.

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