Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan 
28 March 2019

“My success is a direct result of my beginnings. It is the same will and determination that every Filipino possesses.” 

Known by many as the “Bill Gates of the Philippines,” Diosdado “Dado” P Banatao Jr is an engineer, inventor, entrepreneur, aviator, and philanthropist from Iguig, Cagayan Valley. He is the founder of the Philippine Development Foundation, Dado Banatao Educational Foundation, and Banatao Filipino-American Fund as well as the founder and managing partner of the highly successful Silicon Valley-based firm Tallwood Venture Capital. In his heyday, he created the PC chipset and the Windows Graphics accelerator chip, which can be found in every personal computer today. 

Dado envisions the eradication of poverty in the Philippines through education, innovation, and entrepreneurship. Similar to the modern airplane whose flight path must navigate the curve of the Earth, international laws and conflicts, and other atmospheric challenges, Dado’s career didn’t follow a straight line, although Dado always set sky-high standards for himself. 

As one of four children of a farmer and a housekeeper from a humble barrio, he attended Ateneo de Tuguegarao for high school and graduated cum laude in electrical engineering at the Mapua Institute of Technology. He turned down job offers in his chosen field since the pay was subpar, instead choosing to pursue his childhood dream of being a pilot and training with Philippine Airlines. He was later hired by Boeing as a design engineer based in the US. As serendipity would have it, this job allowed him to take his engineering studies further. He finished his Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Stanford University in 1972.

It was then that his life’s work began in earnest. After gaining experience in different technology companies, Dado co-founded three of his own: Mostron in 1984, Chips & Technologies in 1985, and S3 in 1989. When he faced failure with Mostron, Dado simply learned and innovated. By the late Nineties, S3 was in the forefront of the graphics chips market, while Chips & Technologies was sold to Intel for $430 million. By the 2000s, aside from running Tallwood, he serves as chairman of several data corporations such as industry leader Inphi

As a tireless pioneer, Dado has received the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor, awarded to exemplary US citizens. The Philippine government has also named him the country’s first Special Envoy of Science and Technology. 

The time Dado took to journey from Cagayan Valley to Silicon Valley has only strengthened his deepest belief that education is the path to a better Philippines. While his innovations helped usher in the era of the personal computer, Dado wishes to usher in generations of Filipinos who have the capacity to succeed in the fields of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). 

“I’m just an average guy. I went to Silicon Valley and got trained by the environment itself. We have to have that here in the Philippines,” Dado believes. “My family was poor, but because I got myself trained, I can do these things today.” 

Through the Dado Banatao Educational Foundation, Dado supports aspiring engineering scholars. Through the Philippine Development Foundation, he provides free education for young Filipinos. In his childhood town, he set up a computer center in his old grade school. And through the Banatao Filipino American Fund in Northern California, he financially assists high school students of Filipino descent who want to become engineers. 

Even as he turns 73 this year, Dado speaks of the value of determination and generosity. He urges Filipino minds to strive for a better future while never forgetting to honor their roots. “I am not so special,” Dado maintains, “but I am determined. My story could be your story. As Filipinos, it must be our story.” 

In recognition of his visionary work as a successful entrepreneur, tech luminary, and accomplished Filipino in pursuit of sustainable and inclusive economic growth in the Philippines; and for his immeasurable contributions to the acceleration of science and technology for global development, Xavier University - Ateneo de Cagayan is deeply honored to confer the Doctor of Science, honoris causa to Diosdado “Dado” P Banatao Jr.


Words by Bernice Cabildo and Stephen Pedroza
Photo by Juan Antonio Fernandez
Layout by Billy Jo Macale

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