The Audacity to Dream
Last week, we inaugurated Villar Avenue, a 10-kilometer, 10-lane road that we envision will help decongest traffic and reduce travel time from Las Piñas City to portions of Bacoor and Dasmariñas in Cavite province. In addition, we see this road as an important component in creating jobs for our people, opening up more economic opportunities thus paving the way for growth and expansion.
I said during the inauguration ceremonies that “the opening of Villar Road is an important milestone for us as this signifies our strong commitment to help spur progress in more areas in the South.” This is also proof of our confidence in the country’s growth trajectory and the current administration’s economic policies.
But more importantly, Villar Avenue will serve as an important corridor to my legacy project: Villar City, a 3,500-hectare masterplan that I envision to become Metro Manila’s new center of gravity, an integrated development that will traverse 15 satellite cities where economic, lifestyle, cultural, and leisure activities converge.
Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to young people about entrepreneurship, I would always advise them to dream big. Libre ang mangarap kaya lubos-lubusin niyo na. Well, Villar City is me dreaming big. When I made that small loan in 1975 so I can start gravel and sand business, my goal was to eventually build houses for people who have simple dreams of providing a home for their families.
Over the years, we were able to build thousands of residences, communities, offices, and commercial complexes, which in turn, created jobs, and contribute to our struggle against poverty. From a small gravel and sand company we were able to established Camella, Vista Residences, Crown Asia and Brittany Corporation which allowed the Villar Group to put up residential projects in 147 towns and cities in 49 provinces. And these are not simply structures of houses that we built. We built “vibrant havens with curated amenities, thriving green spaces, and thoughtfully designed recreational facilities that do not only foster a sense of belonging but also elevate lifestyles.”
I believe that our people deserve to have their own houses. But I also believe that Filipinos deserve beautiful things, to live in beautiful homes and safe communities, without needing to travel abroad. I remember when I first stepped foot in the University of the Philippines, I was amazed to see and be surrounded by all those huge Acacia trees spread across the campus. I grew up in the slums and for me, to be surrounded by all that greenery was refreshing.
Some of my friends would tell me: “Manny, magpahinga ka na; mag-retire ka na and enjoy the pleasures of life.” That is the problem with dreamers, we will never stop dreaming. Even if we achieve a dream, we know that we have a bigger dream to realize. Villar City is really a continuation of my dream which probably began in that miniscule stall in Divisoria where I spent my childhood helping my mother sell shrimps and fish. There my mother taught me valuable lessons in entrepreneurship among others. One of the things she told me was this: “Boy, never shortchange your customers. Always give them your very best.”
This is the reason why in everything that we do in the Villar Group, we are guided by the vision of transforming our country to be truly world-class in every way. In the case of our real estate projects, I want to take it to the next level and provide Filipinos with the best that we can offer.”
This is why I am embarking on this legacy project, this landmark development that is Villar City. This will be a culmination of all the best practices, the valuable learnings, insights and expertise that we have gained from being in the business of real estate over the decades.
Villar City is a dream that has already taken root. Of the 3,500 hectares, close to 900 hectares have already been developed by Vista Land. The remaining 2,600 hectares will serve as a sort of blank canvas where we can bring to life the city of my dreams. This multifaceted, multifunctional development will be in a class of its own. We have seen such communities abroad and we hope to have it also here, to be experienced by our fellow Filipinos. Villar City will serve as the central urban area that will have satellite centers or districts that, on their own, are already self-contained, self-sufficient neighborhoods.
It is a project of titanic proportions, some would say it is overly ambitious. I do not take that as negatives. I take that as a challenge. As the entrepreneur Richard Branson said, “If your dreams don’t scare you, they are too small.” The development of Villar City will probably extend beyond my lifetime — although I hope to be able to see it rise — but I believe this is my legacy and I am willing to bet big on it. It is my way of bringing the beauty and greatness of the world closer to more Filipinos.
More importantly, this my way of telling my mother in heaven, “Nanay Curing, sinunod ko lahat ng payo mo. Salamat and I hope I made you proud.”