Home Features EXCLUSIVE: A close encounter with Cagayan’s pride, Dado Banatao

EXCLUSIVE: A close encounter with Cagayan’s pride, Dado Banatao

EXCLUSIVE: You want to interview ‘Bill Gates of the Philippines”? Fine, just don’t asks about his billions, he’d rather talk about education, critical thinking and the Jesuits.

For the only Filipino major player at Silicon Valley, Dado, a term of endearment, has been all over after he developed the first 10-Mbit Ethernet CMOs with Silicon coupler data link control and transreceiver chip. His unit at the 40-storey Rizal Towers was abuzz with Swedes nationals as we were welcomed by his Batanguena wife he calls Babes.

When he came, he was all smiles as we introduce ourselves.

“Mangang kayu labbit (you eat first),” was his first words. I assured him we’re not there to talk about his worth in dollars as we came to rediscover the man for his charitable works in Cagayan and the world over. So many have written about the life of this man; his rise to financial and philanthropic fame. The technocrats and those who mattered in his kind of business have never left their eyes on him after he catapult to technology stardom via his various inventions.

“I have always wanted to be a design engineer and it was Ateneo de Tuguegarao who convinced me to become an engineer because of my aptitude in mathematics,” he began after we settled inside The Library of the Towers at the ground floor. This is where he entertains world media during shoots and interviews whenever he is in the country.

Most of his earlier features on international news and magazines said Dado belongs to a poor family in laidback Barangay Malabbac, Iguig, Cagayan.

Photo by Paul Lopez/TNF

“We were not strictly poor. We have food on the table courtesy of my farmer-father who have instilled in us the value of education. We have no toys but we made toys for ourselves. We have simple joys. Under such situation, you have to adopt,” he said, his dentures glistening in the artificial lighting inside the library.

He recalls his childhood birthdays when there was no celebration and a visit to the church was it.

His childhood has been a happy one as he spent most of the time with his family and appreciates the way his parents have managed time for them. The kayang (river), referring to the Cagayan River, has been the playground of his youth and he has a basketful of memories just like your normal Itawes children.

In fact during the interview, I told him it will be in English for the international audience of the Northern Forum. While he has developed a distinct twang in his adopted language, his Itawit is as crispy and delicious as it was when he was probably still a child.

“It was very basic. There were no pretenses. I feel that we are on a disadvantage, I have to work on things I deserve. To me, it’s knowledge against material things. My parents wanted us to be better than them. My father only finished high school and my mother, only the grades,” he recalls without any tinge of remorse but rather a sweet memory that will linger on inside his heart until his last breath.

Engineer Dado admitted that in his growing up years, he was not used to have material things and considers an invitation from relatives for a simple dinner as part of the good times.

He never think of his simple childhood as a disaster. When he entered Mapua Institute of Technology, then the best engineering school in the country, he was a scholar. But he realized that out there, there are other better schools which can further his knowledge. He pursued further his education outside of the country while working.

Such beginnings provided a kaleidoscope of things to come when he started his own version of ‘giving back.”

He now credits the Society of Jesus for the way he thinks these day; critical.

“I learned a lot from Ateneo. The school defines who I am today. What I am today is because of the contrast that I saw. Coming from where I came, it’s no longer about the glorification of life but it’s about those things I was able to do,” he added.

He has advised his children to do whatever they want to do.

“Just be good because whatever you do will affect your life. You have a choice,” he recalls telling his children.

For Engineer Diosdado Banatao, he will leave his billions like anybody else but what stays with him will be his legacy; the simplicity of things.

A few minutes before we ended the interview, another foreign guy was already outside the library waiting for him. As he ushered us for a taxi, Tiyu Dado gave a pat at the back of the three of us and said,” finally, the media in Cagayan covered me.” Benjamin De Yro/Northernforum.net

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