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Manny Villar among Forbes Asia’s ‘Heroes of Philanthropy’

Published 11:50 AM November 11, 2020

by By: Katrina Hallare – Reporter / @KHallareINQ

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MANILA, Philippines — Billionaire businessman and former senator Manny Villar was hailed as one of Forbes Asia’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” for the year 2020, which highlighted outstanding 15 altruists in the Asia-Pacific region.

In a statement on Wednesday, Forbes Asia said Villar, who is the chairman of Vista Mall and Vista Land and Landscapes, gifted more than 2 hectares of land to Manila’s Saint Jude Catholic School in 2019, as well as finalized the donation of 5 hectares of land to his alma matter, the University of the Philippines (UP), for an innovation campus.

This innovation campus is UP Alabang which, according to the website of the UP Resilience Institute, will serve as an innovation campus for technology entrepreneurship and design engineering.

The donated land have a combined value of P8 billion, Forbes Asia said.

“Education can uplift our people from poverty. It can provide dignity and jobs,” Villar, who is known for his rags to riches story, told Forbes Asia through email.

Aside from his donation of land, Forbes Asia said that the 70-year-old businessman also made smaller donations that have gone to churches, poverty alleviation, and the fight against coronavirus disease (COVID-19), which included protective equipment and converting buildings into quarantine facilities.

Forbes Asia said that aside from the arts and education, some of those who made the list donated their personal fortunes to help in the fight against COVID-19.

“Several were prompted to build hospitals, provide protective equipment or fund medical research,” Forbes Asia said.

One of those who made the cut were Singapore’s property tycoons and brothers Robert Ng and Philip Ng, whose Hong Kong-based Ng Teng Fong Charitable Foundation contributed ¥50 million (or $7.4 million) in March to Tsinghua University in Beijing to support COVID-19 research.

Other donations made by the brothers included 7 million masks, 60,000 meals, 4,200 care packs to elderly home workers, 20 ventilators, and two mask-making machines in Hong Kong and Singapore, among others, Forbes Asia said.

Meanwhile, Vietnam’s richest man, 52-year-old Pham Nhat Vuong, was said to give away $77 million in the first nine months of this year.

“The funds were directed largely to helping needy people in Vietnam and included scholarships for underprivileged children and free healthcare for those unable to afford it,” Forbes Asia said of Pham’s donations.

This year’s list, Forbes Asia said, “encompasses entrepreneurs committed to causes in the Asia-Pacific region.”

“Our goal is to capture individual philanthropists who are donating from their personal fortunes,” Forbes Asia added. “Thus the list doesn’t include donations made by companies of Asia’s richest tycoons (unless the giving was made through a privately held company in which they are the majority owners).”

In last year’s list, actress Angel Locsin was hailed one of the magazine’s “Heroes of Philanthropy” for her advocacy of aiding victims of violence, natural disasters, and the conflict in Mindanao.