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My personal renaissance

In 2010, I experienced a rebirth.

I distinctly remember facing members of the media in one of the coffee shops in Starmall in Mandaluyong City to announce that I had conceded the 2010 presidential elections to the winner, President Benigno S. Aquino III.

A day later, I was presiding over a meeting of the officers of Vista Land and I told them that I was ready to rejoin the company after two decades of serving our people.

Of course, I would rejoin Vista Land in 2013 after my second term as senator of the republic ended, but that event in 2010 was the beginning of a renaissance for me. It was like returning home. I felt rejuvenated.

As I went back to my status as an ordinary citizen, I immediately fell in love with entrepreneurship again. It was like a reunion I was so excited about. I felt like an apprentice. It felt like my first day at work.

Upon my return to business, I began to see the world differently. I loved comparing it to watching television. When I was in politics, my view was hazy, it was in black and white, it was blurry. In entrepreneurship, I saw the world in super high-color definition!

I began to study the lay of the land of our business. After all, I was absent for a long time, but it did not take long for me to find a new challenge, a new opportunity – retailing and malls.

When I broached this idea, many people in Vista Land shook their heads. “Sir, this does not make sense. There are already heavy players in that field. It will be difficult to compete.” One look and it did seem corporate suicide to embark on retail and malls already dominated by a number of big players.

They doubted. Not me. I love challenges and giving up is not in my DNA.

This is what keeps me going. I could have easily retired and do what retirees do but this new challenge keeps me up. I leave my house at 5:00 a.m. to go to work. It’s a 24/7 job. Even on Sundays, I would go to the gym, have a light breakfast, and then start my meetings for the day.

Of course, I know how to balance life and work. I find time to have our weekly lunch with my family, the Sunday night movie with Cynthia, and play with my two new grandchildren.

But I never imagined doing anything else other than business. Entrepreneurship is fun. I read an article a long time ago that says that many workers are not happy with their work. My advice to them: “Set up your own business and be happy being your own boss!”

At this age, I feel like I am starting all over again. Of course, I can now combine the experience that I had acquired over the years and the joys of experimentation on my new projects – malls, retail, and now, coffee!

This has also changed my attitude towards travel and shopping. When we travel abroad, aside from appreciating the attractions, I also like to observe and study how things are done in other countries. I have made the transition from a tourist to an observant traveler.

This is what I call the fun of entrepreneurship. This is something that I love doing. I will probably be doing this the rest of my life. I do not think I can ever retire from this.

I like the fact that my daughter Camille has embraced this new challenge and is prepared to immerse herself in our retail group.

I have always believed that entrepreneurship is the key to both personal and national progress. Despite many success stories, our society is still designed to train our young people to work as employees. We need to push for a radical change in the way our people, especially the youth, view wealth creation and progress.

It is not about working for a big corporation, dressing in a coat and tie or some hip corporate attire, sitting behind a desk, buying the latest smart phones when you get your bonus. That is not success.

Rather it is when you build something from the ground up with your blood, sweat, and tears. When you can set up something that can provide you profit, give other people jobs, and help in building our nation.

That is success. That is the Filipino dream!

(For comments/feedbnack email to:mbv.secretariat@gmail or visit www.mannyvillar.com.ph.) (Senator Manny Villar)