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Villar offers Noynoy a tour in Tondo

(Updated 7:43 p.m.) Sen. Manny Villar Jr. has a challenge to his colleague and closest rival to the presidency Sen. Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III: Go with me in Tondo. At a press briefing in Mandaluyong Tuesday, Villar said he would show Aquino how he, as a young boy, lived in poverty in Tondo, Manila. "Hinahamon ko si Noynoy, sasamahan ko siya sa aming bahay sa Tondo at ipapakita ko sa kanya kung paano kami namuhay doon, kung paano kami tabi-tabi ng kulambo at banig," Villar, a self-made billionaire, said. (I dare Noynoy to join me in visiting Tondo. I will show him how small our house was there.) Villar made the challenge after Aquino’s political group, the Liberal Party (LP), questioned the veracity of his claim that he came from a poor family. "Ako dumaan sa lahat ng hirap. Ikukuwento ko sa kanya, sa sinuman na nagsasabi na hindi ako dumaan sa hirap ang naging buhay ko sa loob ng 10 taon. Ikukuwento ko sa kanya ang aking naging buhay palengke ko, buhay dun sa aming bahay," he said. (For 10 years I lived in poverty. I’ll tell him and those who doubt me how miserable our living condition was back then.) Villar also lamented that even the schools he went through were being questioned. He said that his parents transferred him to Holy Child Catholic School (formerly known as Tondo Parochial School), a private school beside Sto. Niño Church, after he dropped out from the Isabelo delos Reyes Elementary School. "Dahil sumasama ako sa nanay ko natatamad akong mag-aral talaga nun, nag-drop out ako nung Grade 1. Pinilit niya akong pumasok sa eskwelahan, merong eskwelahan yung mga pari, Tondo Parochial para sa mahihirap na bata, doon ako dinala ng nanay ko. Doon na ako nag-aral," he said. (I was helping my mother sell shrimps so I lost interest in my studies, I dropped out from school. My parents then enrolled me at a school run by the priest, the Tondo Parochial School.) Over the weekend, columnists Winnie Monsod (Philippine Daily Inquirer) and Billy Esposo (Philippine Star) questioned Villar’s poverty claim by citing a transfer of certificate of transfer (TCT) that showed the senator’s family owned a house in a posh village in Navotas and his dying brother was brought to Far Eastern University for treatment. An email that circulated early this week also accused Villar of lying about his childhood days. The sender, "Truth be Told," disproved in great details and with supporting documents all of Villar’s claims in his television ads. The LP has denied being the source of the email. Sought for comment on Wednesday, LP campaign manager Butch Abad said Villar should not put the blame on Aquino, noting it was Monsod and Esposo who came out with the documents allegedly disproving that Villar came from a poor family. “Ang kausapin o debatihin ni Sen. Villar ay si Prof. Winnie Monsod o si Billy Esposo. Sila ang nagbunyag nung mga impormasyon na malinaw na pinapakita na hindi mahirap ang pinagmulan ni Villar," Abad said in a text message. (Villar should not blame Aquino. It was Professor Monsod and Mr. Esposo who came out with the revelations.) Abad added that the LP considers Monsod and Esposo as credible journalists. - - Johanna Camille Sisante/KBK/RSJ, GMANews.TV