There is one Filipino, unknown to many, who may have been missed by Forbes Magazine among its list of billionaires. This Filipino with his Filipino wife, who lives in Atherton, California in a $20 million house, is estimated to have a $5 billion fortune. According to those who knew him, he built his wealth from a computer chip he invented which is now used by every computer in the world market.
His name is Conrado “Dado” Banatao. He was born in an Ibanag barangay in the town of Iguig, north of Tuguegarao, Cagayan province. He had to work as a sacristan in a local parish to be able to pay for his tuition and other needs as a student at the Ateneo de Tuguegarao.
According to one classmate at Ateneo, Banatao belonged to “Class C” of average students. After graduation in 1961, he went on to study electrical engineering at Mapua Institute of Technology, after which he was hired by Philippine Airlines to work in California. Soon enough, Banatao worked at the Silicon Valley where he made his fortune.
Banatao flies his two Lear Jets to New York and other US capitals and has about 20 venture capital firms to his name. He is relatively unknown, because he doesn’t go around publicizing his name.
He had been to the Philippines several times, trying to interest tycoons like Jaime Zobel de Ayala to join hands with him. He is in fact, a trustee of Ayala International Bank.
Insurance taipan Alfonso Yuchengco wanted Banatao to be his partner at Mapua Institute of Technology, but the latter declined because he had no time for the academe.
Banatao is willing to share with Filipinos his experience. He has donated substantial amounts to worthwhile Filipino projects. Banatao’s story could well go down in Philippine history as the tale of a poor boy who worked real hard, had a vision, patience, fortitude and discipline and would well be the richest Filipino alive, but is never mentioned by Forbes.
He holds a B.S.E.E., cum laude, from the Mapua Institute of Technology in the Philippines and an M.S. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from Stanford University.
Banatao is most known for introducing the first single-chip graphical user interface accelerator that made computers work a lot faster and for helping develop the Ethernet controller chip that made Internet possible. In 1989, he pioneered the local bus concept for personal computers and in the following year developed the First Windows accelerator chip. Intel is now using the chips and technologies developed by Banatao. He now runs his own semiconductor company, Mostron and Chips & Technology, which is based in California’s Silicon Valley.