Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga and Mrs. Hanapbuhay: a love story

Kim Arveen Patria
Kim Arveen Patria
Yahoo! Southeast Asia Newsroom

It was not love at first sight, but that hasn't been a problem for the political couple popularly dubbed 'Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga' and 'Mrs. Hanapbuhay.'

It was not love at first sight, but that hasn't been a problem for the political couple popularly dubbed "Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga" and "Mrs. Hanapbuhay."

In fact, senatorial candidate and former Las Pinas Rep. Cynthia Villar said the love between her and husband Senator Manny Villar is better.

"We were classmates in college, we graduated from the same school, we share so many interests," Villar said in an interview with Yahoo! Southeast Asia.

"I guess our love was not at first sight--it was developed so it's better," she added.

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The power pair, both business administration graduates of the University of the Philippines, are also partners in growing their company.

The Villars are now considered among the wealthiest politicians in the country, owing to their successful real estate ventures.

"We have been supportive of each other since the start of our marriage... We work together," Villar said.

She added she also had been beside her husband since he ran as Las Pinas congressman in 1992 until he ran for the top position in the land in 2010.

"And now that I'm going into politics and he's moving to private life, he's very supportive of me," Villar said.

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Even the nicknames they used in their campaigns matched, with Manny being "Mr. Sipag at Tiyaga (Mr. Hard Work and Perseverance)" and Cynthia "Mrs. Hanapbuhay (Mrs. Jobs)," riding on her nationwide job creation drive.

Their relationship has grown so strong, Villar said, that she seems certain they can withstand any storm that may blow their way.

Not even her husband's loss to President Benigno Aquino III in the last polls shook their marriage, Villar said.

In fact, the senatorial bidder said they've been through worse.

"I think the 2010 election is not our worst experience together. I think the recession of 1997 is much worse," Villar said.

"I told him that life has been very gracious to you...  If [God] doesn't give you the presidency, you have nothing to complain about," she added.

"We have overcome that and we will overcome everything," Villar said.

Also read: Where single Pinoys can best find romance

But the mother of three children (at least one of whom also joined politics) said the secret to their happy married life is simple.

"I guess it's common interest and maybe true love for each other, and patience with each other," Villar said,

Despite their busy lives, Villar said they make it a point to spend time alone as a couple.

To unwind, Mrs. Hanapbuhay said she goes home to watch TV, read and have a regular massage--but also to watch movies with her husband.

"Senator Villar is fond of comedies and I like action, so we [watch both]," Villar said.

Asked if she ever gets lonely, Villar paused for a moment, enumerated what she does to get lift her spirits but suddenly thought of a better answer.

"I guess if you have a partner there's no real loneliness," Villar said.

"...When you're lonely you can rely on your husband to be with you so it's not so bad," she added.