|published from http://www.philstar.com/Article.aspx?articleId=686203&publicationSubCategoryId=63
By Evelyn Macairan
Manila, Philippines - After building more than 200,000 houses, the Villars are now building churches.
Sen. Manuel Villar and his wife, former Las Piñas representative Cynthia Villar, together with their children, recently led the ground-breaking for the building of the Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno and the Villar Foundations Social Institute for Poverty Alleviation and Governance (SIPAG) Center.
The Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno and the SIPAG Center will be erected inside the Golden Haven Compound at the C5 Road Extension in Las Piñas City.
The project would occupy four hectares of the 15-hectare Golden Haven Memorial Park owned by the Villar family.” We have received a lot of blessings from God and we want to honor him. So we thought of building churches. For the last 30 years, I have been a homebuilder. I have built more than 200,000 houses and I have even built homes for the dead. What would be a good thing to do now is to build homes for God,” said Sen. Villar.
The Villars are building 12 churches in various provinces nationwide.
Earmarked for early completion were the Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno in Las Piñas and the Santuario Madonna del Divino Amore in Alabang.
10 churches in Tagaytay
The 10 other churches will be built in Crosswinds in Tagaytay; Camella Provence in Malolos, Bulacan; Maia Alta in Antipolo, Rizal; Tierra Nevada in General Trias, Cavite; Plantacion Meridienne in Lipa, Batangas; Azienda in Cebu; Savannah in Iloilo; and at the Gran Europa in Cagayan de Oro.
Their first church, Santuario de San Ezekiel Moreno, is named after a Spanish Agustinian Recollect who served as parish priest of Las Piñas from 1876 to 1879.
The design of the church would be inspired by the architecture of the Spanish colonial period. It would have 700 seats and a grand adoration chapel.
Cynthia, who is also managing director of the Villar Foundation, said that the church was built in honor of Fr. Moreno, a priest whose four years stay in Las Piñas was tested by four major calamities such as drought that damaged the rice fields and caused food shortage; small pox outbreak that claimed the lives of 126 children, and a fire that destroyed the poblacion.
After he died on Aug. 19, 1906, Fr. Moreno’s remains were exhumed and were found to be incorrupt. He was canonized by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 11, 1992. Moreno is regarded as the patron saint of cancer patients.
Fr. Moreno stay in Las Piñas for four years was filled with problems but he remained strong and he helped us out. Moreno became a saint because of his works and for the first time Las Piñas will build a church for him, Cynthia added.
The SIPAG Center, on the other hand, would house a resource center for poverty reduction, a reception hall, a theater, an exhibit hall and a Villar memorabilia hall.
Advocacy to continue poverty reduction
The Villar couple said that even if the senator lost in the presidential race last year, they would continue with their advocacy of poverty reduction through the foundation, which has been operating since 1995.
The senator said that it was during the 2010 presidential campaign, when he toured the country, that he saw the extent of poverty.
“It was right after the elections when we realized that we could not turn our back on the poor Filipinos,” he said.
The foundation offers courses on processing of meat, native kakanin, candles, fruit juices, condiments, soya products, and pickles, as well as growing chicken and herbal medicine.
The Las Piñas-Zapote River System Rehabilitation program, one of the programs of the foundation, recently bested 38 other countries for the United Nations Water for Life Best Practices Award.
Villar’s term in the Senate expires in 2013. His wife said he might retire from politics then. Maybe no more, Cynthia said when asked if her husband would continue his political career.
In last years election, Villar ran as the standard bearer of the Nationalista Party. Cynthia has retired from politics and has let her son Mark succeed her as representative of Las Piñas.
“I will no longer run. My son is the new congressman,” she said.
“Now that I am no longer a congresswoman and Manny will retire from politics, it is time we do our private initiatives.”
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