Strong yet compassionate, sweet yet intense–the lawmaker, young entrepreneur, loving daughter, doting wife and mother is the epitome of a modern Filipina.
In line with International Women’s Month, we take a closer look at how Camille VIllar forges a gender equal world in her own right. As a representative of the lone district of Las Piñas, Villar is an achiever and a doer.
Achievements in business and public service
Her outstanding work in public service was recognized when she was adjudged as Government Hero of the Year during the 2022 Stevie Awards for Women in Business in the United States.
She was recognized for her role as president and chief executive officer of the retail arm of the Villar Group AllValue Group when she received the silver award as Female Executive of the Year in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand.
With an MBA from IESE (Instituto de Estudios Superiores de la Empresa) Business School in Barcelona, Spain, one of the world’s best business schools, and a Business Management degree at the Ateneo de Manila University and hailing from a family of entrepreneurs and public servants, she is the only daughter of former Senate President Manny Villar and Senator Cynthia Villar.
Commitment to education, women’s and children’s welfare, and poverty alleviation
She currently serves as Deputy Speaker at the House of Representatives. On her second term as representative of the lone district of Las Pinas, she has proved her mettle in public service, presenting an impressive report card that manifests her service to the people.
Since joining public service, she made very clear her brand of leadership: one that is committed to the education, the welfare of women and children and the empowerment of micro, small and medium enterprises as a path to poverty alleviation.
It is this caring brand of leadership that aims to give agency to those who have so little of it, if anything, is a worthy work that humanizes and truly empowers those in desperate need—a true embodiment of work as a service to the Filipino people.
At a young age, she was introduced to adversities faced by different communities. Manifesting her soft heart for the MSME sector as an important driver of the Philippine economy and a major contributor for the country’s growing labor force, she advocates for the growth of small entrepreneurs in the House of Representatives and in her private life as the top executive of AllValue Group.
Perhaps her love of public service is gleaned from her parents who started Villar Foundation that helps pluck people from poverty through livelihood programs, training, education, and market support. She has actively participated in the discussion of relevant legislation that would provide increased government loan funds for pandemic-hit MSMEs, including the Bayanihan Law and other policies strengthening the Small Business Corp.
She also authored a bill that mandates entrepreneurship to be taught as a separate subject in the K-12 program in public and private secondary schools nationwide.
With the new generation becoming “the most entrepreneurial generation ever,” introducing entrepreneurship at a young age would pave the way for more startups that will help shape brighter prospects for the country and thereafter allow the domestic economy to flourish.
With her steadfast advocacy in serving her constituents, she principally authored a law increasing the bed capacity of the Las Pinas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center to 500 from the current 200.
Construction for the new hospital building, which sits on a 1,500-sqm property just beside the hospital, is ongoing and expected to be completed soon for the benefit of her constituents and nearby localities.
Republic Act No. 11497, signed into law on November 13, 2020, seeks not only to increase the bed capacity but also upgrades the hospital’s professional health care services and facilities.
Its workforce, which includes doctors, nurses, and support staff, shall also be increased. The 12-storey new hospital building will include the provision of 300 additional beds, as well as much-needed health care services and facilities, and state-of-the-art equipment and technology.
Walking the extra mile for her constituents during the pandemic
The lawmaker noted that this initiative is in response to the pandemic which “put a lot of strain” on health systems, and is a “crucial aspect in our COVID-19 response and enables us to be more equipped in case of a resurgence while maintaining the urgent care and treatment of patients with other illnesses.”
Consistent with efforts to increase vaccine uptake, Camille had launched in mid-2021 a vaccine incentive program dubbed “May Bahay sa Bakuna,” which effectively helped increase vaccine coverage in Las Pinas as vaccinated residents were dangled with non-monetary benefits such as a brand new house-and-lot package, motorcycles and grocery items, among others.
As such, Las Pinas was among the local governments that passed a vaccine milestone and was recognized for having achieved herd immunity early on.
During the pandemic, Camille distributed personal protective equipment and ayuda and ramped up the city’s health infrastructure by installing modular hospitals, isolation centers and mega vaccination hubs.
As for the proposed Virology Institute of the Philippines (VIP) which Villar co-authored along with several other legislators, this would be a game-changer with how the Philippines deals with emerging diseases.
She urged Filipino experts working abroad to help establish the proposed agency, stressing that she would ensure that “competitive compensation and incentives” be extended to “Balik Scientists” who would participate in the proposed VIP.
Female Executive of the Year
With her various efforts in promoting public welfare during the pandemic, Camille was named “Government Hero of the Year” by the prestigious Stevie Awards for Women in Business in Las Vegas, USA in 2022. She was honored under the COVID-19 response category for her remarkable work during the COVID-19 pandemic and, as such, the judges have determined that the Gold Stevie Award be awarded to her.
Camille also bagged the Silver Stevie Award for Female Executive of the Year in Asia, Australia or New Zealand for her expertise as President and CEO of AllValue Group, the retail arm of the Villar Group of Companies, as well as the firm’s significant contribution to the community during the pandemic.
The Stevie Awards also recognized AllHome Builds and bestowed the Bronze Award for Community-Involvement Program of the Year for Women-owned or Women-led Organizations.
Camille thanked the Stevie Award judges for the important recognitions, and paid tribute to those behind the Villar brands—especially women employees and female executives who were with her in ensuring the success of the Villar Group’s retail brands.
For her, part of a broader array of measures that would help Filipino tide over tough times include advancing the welfare of women, children and senior citizens, boosting employment generation, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting community livelihood programs.
Empowering Filipino talents
Camille, who had a previous experience in showbiz, was also eyeing any form of state assistance to filmmakers vying for the coveted Oscars. The country has a vast pool of talented actors and filmmakers worthy of an international body nod, Camille believes, and getting much-needed boost by way of financial backing on the road to the Oscars would be a huge boost for the campaign of Filipino filmmakers abroad.
Through House Resolution 451, the lady legislator wants to reinvigorate the Philippine cinema industry and ready them to the international arena by creating a seed fund to support the government’s Oscars Assistance Program intended for the development and marketing campaigns of world-class Filipino films as part of efforts to bring those films for U.S. screening.
There is some sort of a momentum with the recognition of Filipino actress Dolly de Leon in various prestigious international film festivals for her role in “Triangle of Sadness,” Camille said, and this should provide an impetus for the government to continue supporting filmmakers for an Oscar pick.
And eventually securing a nomination or even a shortlist would provide more job and livelihood opportunities for Filipinos, she pointed out.
Financial support for graduates
Similarly, it is graduation season again in the country, which is meant to celebrate one’s achievements and travails of education. She filed a measure to give a one-time P5,000 financial assistance to fresh graduates who are looking for jobs after they graduate.
“We are investing in our youth because we are also investing for our future,” she said. The bill has recently been approved by a House panel, with a committee report being prepared and may be out soon in plenary.