For the past few months, Manny Villar’s “humble origins” were laid into question by pundits and commentators. The likes of Billy Esposo and Solita Monsod – and recently, Conrado de Quiros – have refuted Villar’s statements about being poor, illustrating the many different disconnects in what he’s presenting on television, and documented evidence. It seems that from death certificates to places he lived in, right down to mosquito nets and sleeping mats, Villar is anything but poor.
On the one hand, the critics of Villar’s personal history may be right: we all expect a modicum of honesty from the personal histories of our leaders, and that blur between fact and fiction – between literary license and the honest sense – makes it difficult for some people to interpret Villar’s story as truth or myth. On the other hand, maybe Villar really did pull himself up from the bootstraps, swam in his sea of garbage and slept in a bench in the market, and wants us all to be inspired by that rags-to-riches tale that turned him from fishmonger to (probably) the nation’s next leader.