1CH1NOY continues its record-high ratings. The episode featuring young taipan Avin Ong of the Fredley Group of Companies reached 1.85M accumulated views. Revealing to CHiNOY TV his hardships, Ong shared his most illuminating profile yet.
Next up we have another taipan who from humble beginnings as an 11-year-old child immigrant from China’s Cultural Revolution, became a proud Kapampangan and is now Forbes’ Top 6 in the Richest Filipinos list. Dennis Anthony Uy is Cofounder and CEO of Converge ICT Solutions, and is blazing new trails and ushering in the Fiber Internet Revolution for the Country.
Butingting to Billionaire
Having arrived in the Philippines in 1978, the young Uy went straight to work for his uncle’s supermarket in Pampanga. Dubbed Johnny’s Supermarket, Uy was put in its maintenance department where he learned to, in his words, “butingting” everything from the walk-in freezer and all its nuts and bolts. This sparked Uy’s interest in things mechanical, technical and electrical, leading him to study in computer schools even before graduating high school.
Later on, Uy finished a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Holy Angel University. But before that, he also took a Radio Communications and Electronic Course in Lorraine Technical School. Back then, Betamax was all the rage and he opened up a video shop.
Uy taught himself how to repair betamax players and when there was a stubborn case, he would bring it to Greenhills. That’s what led to another turning point in his life. “There, I saw the monitor of the technician, and wow, there are so many channels. So I [try to] find where this signal came from, why you have [them] in Manila, why we don’t have [them] in the province, so I need to research. I saw the technology already in the market, and I needed to think quick.”
The video replicating business was very lucrative but the Video Regulatory Board was put in place, making Uy realize he needed to pivot. He liquidated his assets and the Greenhills memory led Uy to another major success, a cable company called Angeles City Cable Television Network. Uy recalls with a laugh, “I started with only 16 channels. People, they thought I’m crazy.”
But before he could fully realize its success, tragedy struck when Mt. Pinatubo suddenly erupted. Uy recalls, “In the middle of construction of my cable network, Pinatubo erupted. This forced the Americans to leave. Imagine employment is totally lost and all the businesses are affected because of the lahar flow and this is totally a nightmare in Central Luzon, especially in Angeles City. Our bridge connecting Angeles and Balibago was destroyed. Finally I said, it’s about time, if I’m going out of Pampanga, a lot of friends in Metro Manila offered us to move here. But I said, “You need to build another new relationship.” Because if you’re new in one place it is totally different. You are not used to the the community.”
Roots to Rise
Instead of leaving, Uy stayed put and the rest is history. Uy shares, “We decided to not move out and I wanted to put out something different. I wanted to make sure these people who have suffered or lost their livelihoods are not deprived so I gave them entertainment in the form of cable TV. I also put on the news to be able to update the community. In fact, some people, including my friends, they asked me if I am crazy because imagine they are moving out and I’m still putting my investment inside. I said, “When you’re down, you cannot go down any further because you are already at rock bottom. It will be up in due time.” So, that’s why we built the infrastructure in Angeles City and even connected Angeles to Balibago, we knew to put bamboo poles to transfer all my cable to pass through the river to reach the areas. So, finally, I have proven that not leaving Angeles is the right decision and I give entertainment to the people who most needed it that time.”
Uy proves that he has the unique formula of a true taipan: resilience and preparation meeting opportunity. What started as a cable network evolved and birthed what is now Converge ICT, the largest high-speed fixed broadband operator in the Philippines which aims to reach over 15 million or 55 percent of households by 2025.
Before anyone else, Uy foresaw the need for fiber technology and invested in it even when it was still expensive. This is not surprising considering Uy has done his research. Naturally curious, Uy was the “only Filipino” who would attend the annual Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers back in the day (now dubbed the SCTE•ISBE Cable-Tec Expo). Uy was such a pioneer that he is among the founding members of the Fiber to the Home FTTH Council Asia-Pacific.
And true to his background as a tinkerer, Uy is proud that his company has pioneered its own proprietary technology that has allowed fast and fuss-free installation. His “secret sauce” and one other company he’s very proud of is MetroWorks ICT Construction, Inc. They introduced microtrenching technology in the Philippines, which allows the rapid deployment of fiber in urban areas, and enables more efficient repairs.
Uy credits his wife, Maria Grace, a former IBM employee and a certified public accountant, for their success and calls their partnership “a perfect combination.” Growing a bit wistful, Uy shares, “I’m a visionary and technology guy. But my wife is a control because she’s an accountant, she builds the systems. And we grow together. That’s why our company growth has been smooth and while there’s no hundred percent perfect but we learn a lot.”
Together Dennis Anthony and his wife Maria are now estimated to have a net worth of $2.8 billion. But despite this eye-watering number, Uy has this to say, “Money is secondary.” Instead, Uy has made it his personal mission to make what he calls “the digital rights” of every Filipino a reality. Uy reiterates, “You make things happen, you make technology to fill the lives of the individual Filipino and they enjoy it and they make a success out of their lives. Then you contribute in nation building. That’s the fulfillment I’m looking at.”
Catch 1CH1NOY: Chinese by Blood, Filipino by Heart only on CNN Philippines via Free TV Channel 9, Sky Cable Channel 14, Cignal Channel 10. It will also simultaneously air on CNN Philippines’ webpage www.cnnphilippines.com.