For Richer and For Richer

Picking this one up from Manila Standard for my own handy ref. I am sure it's fine by MS and my long time fave writer Emil Jurado.

AS A Filipino, I feel proud that three of my countrymen are among the 793 billionaires, by Forbes Magazine, namely: Lucio Tan at $1.7 billion (no. 451); Henry Sy and family, $1.5 billion (no. 512); and Jaime Zobel de Ayala and family, $1.3 billion (no. 606).

Lucio Tan, known as the tobacco and brewery king and owner of Philippine Airlines, and other interests in hotels, academe, made his empire through hard work, patience, fortitude and discipline, and so did Henry Sy, the biggest retail tycoon, in banking, property development and other interests.

Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala may have been born into it, but his empire in property development, banking, malls, automotive and others were the result of a vision for enterprise, and because his two sons, Jaime and Fernando, share the same work ethic and vision as their father.

For the Philippines, regarded as a poor country, to produce three billionaires, is something to be proud of.

* * *

There is, however, one Filipino, who is totally unknown to many, who may have been missed by Forbes Magazine among its list of billionaires. This Filipino with his Filipino wife, now a Fil-Am living at Atherton, California in a $20 million house (Bill Gates, the no. 1 in the list at more than $50 billion has a $50 million house in Seattle), is estimated to have a $5 billion fortune, according to those who knew him, because of a computer chip he invented used by every computer you buy.

His name is Conrado “Dado” Banatao, born in an Ibanag barangay called Maladbac at the town of Iguig, north of Tuguegarao, Cagayan province, who had to work as a parish priest sacristan to be able to pay for his tuition and other needs to be able to study at the Ateneo de Tuguegarao.

According to lawyer-sportsman-businessman “Boy” Reyno, who knew him in school, 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 PAL and worked 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. In fact, he’s a trustee of Ayala International.

Bank and insurance taipan Al Yuchengco wanted Banatao to be his partner at Mapua, but the latter declined because he had no time for the academe. However, Banatao is willing to share with Filipinos his experience. He has been donating a lot to worthwhile Filipino projects.

Banatao’s story could well go down in Philippine history as the story 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.

Related story here and here.

And lemme b-quote Ms. Celis from here.

I’ve turned my files upside down, inside out but couldn’t find the clipping I kept of the Forbes list of 40th richest Filipinos.

There are a number of businessmen involved in sports there and I wanted to write about them, except that I couldn’t remember their exact placings. All I recall is that Don Jaime Zobel de Ayala, who used to have significant investments in Purefoods and Shell, and used to root for these teams, is the richest man in the Philippines as of last year.

SM’s Henry Sy is second, but he’s not directly involved in sports, although his Mall of Asia in Pasay City has an ice skating rink. Third richest is Lucio Tan Sr. who used to own the Tanduay franchise in the PBA. The (John) Gokongwei family, ranked somewhere in the middle, owned the league’s Presto franchise which was sold to Sta. Lucia Realty more than 10 years ago.

The other sportsmen in the list are Ricky Razon of ICTSI who used to own a team in the PBL and Eduardo “Danding” Cojuangco of San Miguel Corp. Formerly the project director for basketball, Danding bankrolled the NCC national team, that won the ABC and Jones Cup titles in ’85 and ’86 respectively. A generous patron of different sports, Danding currently owns three teams in the PBA and one in the Philippine Basketball League.

Both Razon and Cojuangco are in the upper half of the list, if I remember correctly.

The big surprise was Alaska team owner Wilfred Steven Uytengsu, who was ranked a few notches higher than Talk ‘N Text team owner Manny V. Pangilinan.

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