Affiliated at different points in his career with both the Force of the Filipino Masses and the United Nationalist Alliance parties, he began serving in the Philippine Senate in 2004. From 2007-2013, he served as the Senate's President Pro Tempore; in 2013, he became Senate President.
While studying economics at the University of the Philippines-Manila and law at the Lyceum of the Philippines University, he held office as Vice Mayor of the City of San Juan. Several years later, in his late twenties, he was elected Mayor of the city.
A screen actor as well as a politician, he appeared in more than twenty Philippine films between 1985 and 2009 and even received a Metro Manila Film Festival acting award in 2007.
He was born in Manila to Joseph and Loi Estrada. He later married Ma. Presentacion Vitug; the couple raised four children: Julian, Janella, Joseph and Julienne.
He and Cynthia Villar both served in the Senate of the Philippines.