Baguio bids goodbye to its favorite Tito

Frank Cimatu

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Baguio bids goodbye to its favorite Tito

GOODBYE TITO. Tito Mina (foreground) with Bobby Carantes, Eshwer Castañeda, Hector Cruz and Ruel Owat Carantes before his homecoming concert at Pines Hotel.

Monch David

Tito Mina had a cool demeanor on stage, oozing with positive vibes

BAGUIO, Philippines – Baguio people don’t call their uncles “titos,” at least not in our generation and in the generations before us. For us, it is “Tiong” for the Ilocanos and “uncle” for the Cordillerans. 

That’s why I don’t consider Tito Mina an uncle, even if he was a good friend of my brother. 

I knew him as the tall, long-haired, lanky guwapo manong always holding a guitar. 

He was among the Baguio folksingers singing in “Gingerbread Folk House” in my neighborhood, “Fireplace” along Assumption Road and other folkhouses in the city, making Baguio the folksinging haven in the 1970s. 

Ted Herrera, who studied in Brent and is now living in the US sometimes as a folksinger, had this to say: “We were boarders at Patria de Baguio in Baguio City in the mid-60s and basically hung out on Session Road. In the early ’70s, he was a major guitar player in the Baguio City music scene with the BlitzBitz band and Sampera among others.”

Tito Mina had a cool demeanor on stage and oozing with positive vibes because he was a yogi at that time. He was also an artist and one time, I discovered dozens of his watercolor works, sadly all lost in that great earthquake of 1990.

But what a voice he had!  

If I am a girl and Tito Mina sings, “Marami na akong nahalikan, Marami pang labing matitikman. Kay rami nang napusuan, ‘Di na mabilang kung ilan ngunit ngayon pa man ikaw pa rin,” I will totally believe him. And millions of Pinays did believe him, making “Ikaw Pa Rin” one of the anthems of Manila Sound. 

It was Hotdogs’ Dennis Garcia who translated the jazz standard, “There Will Never Be Another You” into “Ikaw Pa Rin” and let Tito Mina sing it. He would also sing other hits like “Both in Love” and “Got to Let You Know.”

At the height of his career, he left the country to sing in Europe, particularly in Luxembourg. 

In the early 1980s, he came back for a comeback concert at Pines Hotel with a big bonfire around his fans. He came back a few times but that was how I wanted to remember him, with his white sequined jumpsuit singing only for us. 

Tito Mina died of a heart attack last April 10 in Spain. 

“Tito was a very talented singer and a very good guitarist and his contribution to the music industry will be remembered,” said RJ Jacinto in a statement. 

“There’s a void. Tito was a gentle soul and spirit,” Ted Herrera said. –

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