Camille Villar, only daughter of former senator Manny and incumbent Sen. Cynthia Villar is now in
charge of Evia lifestyle center, the flagship community development of Vista Land and Lifescapes
Inc. —PHOTOS BY JILSON SECKLER TIU
Camille Villar got her persuasive charm from her father Manny.
The 30-something youngest child of the former senator, who helms the successful Vista Land and Lifescapes, Inc., has been put in charge of the family’s nationwide Vista Mall chain.
She talks about making personal visits to the Bataan, Pampanga and Cagayan de Oro branches as part of her job (“dad’s minion”), which she actually enjoys.
Her daily routine includes looking at lease agreements, retail activities, “helping dad finish stuff and getting it all together.”
Camille understands her role in the family business. There are second-generation scions who would rather find their destinies elsewhere when given responsibility. Not this young woman, though.
As head of Vista Land’s retail component, Camille is excited about being put in charge of Evia Lifestyle Center, the flagship community development at the heart of the 1,500-hectare Vista City in the southern metro.
(Elder brother Paolo, meanwhile, is president and CEO of Vista Land’s real estate arm, while middle child Mark, a former Las Piñas representative, is now public works secretary of the Duterte administration.)
Camille is a director of Vista Land and managing director for Vista Malls, whose founding in 2013 was spurred by Sen. Villar’s acquisition of a handful of Star Malls around Metro Manila from his wife’s family after retiring from politics.
There are now 20 Vista Malls around the country. Camille sees to it that Evia, specifically, lives up to expectations as south Metro Manila’s newest upscale hangout.
Vista City’s topography is spread out like an enormous pizza, with slices occupying Las Piñas, Muntinlupa, Cavite and Laguna. Surrounding the flagship mall are Vista Land’s residential projects, including Portofino by Vista Land’s high-end Brittany Corp., Ponticello by its middle-range Crown Asia and Cerritos from the low-end Camella Homes.
Evia occupies five of 20 hectares that Vista Land intends to transform into a business and commercial hub. The mall has three storeys of spaces to be fully occupied by top local establishments and international chains by yearend.
There is spacious parking, and a cavernous atrium welcomes visitors at the lobby. On the second floor is a piazza that features ceilings with changing Sky Art reminiscent of a European skyline.
On the top floor are four world-class cinemas, including one with the first MX4D feature and moving seats that engage the viewer with a unique sight-and-smell experience.
Camille said a second Evia building is already in the works. This one would have five storeys, she proudly announced.
The surrounding Vista City, meanwhile, will accommodate a new campus of the University of the Philippines, one private school, private offices, hotels, a hospital and a Catholic church.
Camille said her father is now working overtime to catch up with contemporaries in retail and real estate. A direct result is her responsibility to oversee the family-oriented stores that her dad developed in various Vista Mall branches.
All Home provides household needs, from hardware and construction equipment to kitchenware and food. All Day is a next-level convenience store, while its 2.0 All Day Supermarket is a fully functioning grocery. All Shop is a department store.
“When dad returned to the business, he started a chain of restaurants, small things. The dining area of All Home has the Coffee Project. I don’t want to call it a coffee shop, but that’s his pet project. Some people like cars or watches, my dad likes creating small businesses. It’s fun for him,” Camille pointed out.
Dad, however, would rather downplay his own role. He described Camille as “hardworking,” adding that she obviously likes her job handling Vista Land’s retail arm.
“We have a very good partnership. Camille is president of retail. Ako lang ang dad niya,” the proud father said.
The daughter’s exposure to the family business helped her adapt the work ethic that came with it.
Camille remembers her mother, Sen. Cynthia Villar, going all out in helping her put up a Sanrio kiosk when she was 12. “She also encouraged me to write,” Camille said, hence a stint as lifestyle columnist.
Growing middle class
Still, Camille made a choice at a young age to get involved in the family business. After finishing business management in Ateneo, she flew to Barcelona to earn an MBA.
“My dad said I was free to do what I wanted, within reason, after I finished my business degree. At one point I even took up accessories design at Central Saint Martins. But I realized here in Manila is where I want to be. I found myself back and content with the decision,” she said.
One reason Camille is excited about retail is the country’s growing middle class.
“Consumer purchasing power is increasing. We see it in our communities. People want to try things out, and a lot of different concepts from around the world are being brought here. We’re catching up fast with other Asian tigers, so you see competition and developers at their best, building big and beautiful malls, condos, everything,” she said.
Camille added that unlike Europe, whose economy is “fairly stagnant” at present, “we are moving fast and it’s great to be part of that. I feel very lucky to be where I am at this time in my life.”
People would remember that Camille once tried show biz as a cohost of Willie Revillame’s nightly game show “Will Time Big Time.”
The experience taught her to genuinely care for fans who show up at the studio at ungodly hours for the chance to win cash or appliances.
She said hosting and retail operate similarly: Love the people and they will love you back.
“I learned to love the people who watch the show. My dad, in turn, told me to ‘love what you do.’ With retail and housing, we give them the best house they can afford, or the best experience. Do something, create something beautiful and the income will follow.”