He has been called one of Manila’s most eligible bachelors, a status that is about to change soon.
People usually attach the tag "eligible bachelor" to a man who is personable and rich or one whose family is rich. But Mark Villar is more than that. He is an art collector, a dog lover and a US-educated public official who is considered political royalty. Oh, he also plays the saxophone and he loves (and plays) basketball.
Mark grew up in the public eye because of his family. But, at the same time, he has remained under the radar because he really isn't the type who wants his face splashed across society pages.
“We also didn’t grow up thinking we were that rich. Our parents certainly did not indulge us in the most lavish manner. They would buy us toys but it would be one toy each maybe for your birthday and another for Christmas. I remember even thinking how lucky my friends were because they got everything they wanted,” shares Mark.
Mark Villar was not coerced into choosing public office. Growing up in a family of politicians (the Aguilars and the Villars of Las Piñas) meant he was exposed to the realities of life early on.
"We weren't sheltered at all. We grew up in politics and, even when I was younger, I thought I would help people someday, too," says Villar, the first-term Las Piñas congressman.
His maternal grandfather was Dr. Filemon Aguilar, who was the mayor of Las Piñas from 1964 to 1986. Mark's father is former senator Manny Villar while his mother is Sen. Cynthia Villar, who was a three-term Las Piñas congressman. Las Piñas Mayor Vergel Aguilar is his mother's brother.
Manny Villar now heads the Villar Group of Companies, which is into property and retail.
Mark and his siblings Paolo and Camille may have attended the International School Manila and schools abroad (in Mark's case, the University of Pennsylvania where he majored in Economics, Philosophy and Political Science) but like many political scions, they went on campaign trails, shook hands and became sunburnt during the summer.
After college, Mark worked for 10 years in the family's real estate business where, like any employee, he put in regular hours and was paid a salary.
It was when he was already earning his own keep that Mark started to get into two things that have always been of interest to him since he was young—art and dogs.
On the day of the interview, he brings Hercules, an adorable eight-month-old English bulldog who is so fat that he prefers to be carried instead of running around. Mark likes bigger dogs. He has three others, aside from Hercules—another Bulldog and two Mastiffs.
On the day of the interview, he brings Hercules, an adorable eight-month-old English bulldog who is so fat that he prefers to be carried around. Mark prefers bigger dogs. He has three others, aside from Hercules—another Bulldog and two Mastiffs.
"Looking at dogs and interacting with them is really very therapeutic," says Mark.
Art is another subject that lights up the congressman’s face. He started collecting artworks by upcoming visual artists 10 or 11 years ago. This is something Mark probably inherited from his father who has an impressive collection. Art is also something that lights up the congressman's face. He started collecting art 10 or 11 years ago. Art appreciation is something Mark probably inherited from his father who has an impressive collection.
"My father likes works by the masters while I collect modern artworks. The first painting that I bought with my own money was one by Geraldine Javier. Yasmin Sison was also one of the artists whose works I bought when I was starting out as a collector. I first bought paintings by Bernie Pacquing before his works became very highly coveted," says Mark, who admits he has over 100 art works in his collection.
Change of status
He also loves to travel; his favorite city in the world (aside from Las Pinas) is Los Angeles where the Villar family normally spends the Christmas season.
“I have a lot of memories of LA. I love Spain for the food, too,” says Mark.
As a public official, his goal is to “leave Las Pinas a better place.”
He doesn’t know whether he is a political lifer.
“Politics is unpredictable; one never knows what will happen next. There are also financial considerations. Everyone knows being a politician is not the best-paying profession. But I like working with people and helping them. It feels good to make a difference.”
The low-key congressman and his brother Paolo are considered two of Manila’s most eligible bachelors. That is going to change for Mark who is engaged to Diwa Partylist Rep. Emmeline Aglipay. The wedding has been set for later this year.
We asked Mark where he and his fiancé would live after the wedding and the answer was, “Las Piñas, of course.”
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