celebrity deaths

Jovit Baldivino, feisty bantam with the voice of an angel, inspired many poor youth 

Darcie de Galicia, Inday Espina-Varona
Jovit Baldivino, feisty bantam with the voice of an angel, inspired many poor youth 

GONE TOO SOON. Singer Jovit Baldivino passes away at 29.

Jovit Baldivino's Instagram page

Jovit was a masa favorite who refused to pander. He simply wanted to sing.

LUCENA, Philippines – Singer Jovit Lasin Baldivino entered the consciousness of music-loving Filipinos in 2010 as the first Pilipinas Got Talent champion, the 16-year-old who belted out rock anthems “Faithfully” and “Too Much Love Will Kill You” with the ease of much older singers.

To residents of Baldivino’s home province, Batangas, and elsewhere in southern Tagalog, the dusky Baldivino was a feisty bantam who inspired youth seeking a way out of poverty through singing.

The backstory behind his collapse on December 3, which eventually led to his death less than a week later, only reinforced the Baldivino legend. The 29-year-old singer, who was still recuperating from a mild stroke, collapsed after giving in to the crowd’s clamor for him to sing, his family said.

Hindi siya perpekto, pero faithful siya sa music. ‘Yan ang hindi niya mahindian,” said Lipa City resident Floro on Facebook. (He wasn’t perfect, but he was faithful to music. He never turned back from music.)

The Batangas resident was reacting to an ABS-CBN News report quoting Baldivino’s father, Hilario, as saying his last stroke happened while performing at a Batangas City Christmas party.

After having a mild stroke on November 22, doctors advised Baldivino, known for his raspy but high voice, to avoid singing.

Many mourned his unexpected death, including fellow champion Marcelito Pomoy, the winner of Pilipinas Got Talent Season 2.

“Parekoy…isa kang tunay kaibigan. [Hinding]-hindi kita malilimutan (My buddy…you are a true friend. I will never forget you),” he wrote on Facebook.

Pomoy’s post indicated that he was at the hospital in the early hours of December 9, hoping for a miracle that would make the comatose Baldivino wake up.

Sobrang sakit mawalan ng isang tunay na kaibigan. Ikaw ‘yong taong unang tumulong sa laban ko sa PGT. Pahinga ka na. No more pain (It’s very painful to lose a true friend. You were the person who first helped me during my time with PGT. Rest now. No more pain),” said Pomoy, a resident of Calauag, Quezon.

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Singing for his family

In one YouTube video showing his audition in the 2010 talent tilt, which had 2 million views, netizens praised his dedication to his family.

Back then, Baldivino, described as a “very shy” high school student by Pilipinas Got Talent, joined the competition in hopes that winning or exposure could get his family out of poverty.

His parents were jobless, Hilario was recovering from tuberculosis, and only one of five siblings had a job, Baldivino said in his audition video. He augmented the family income by selling siomai after school.

He later said that strangers would drop by their hut to invite him to guest at birthday parties.

Siguro lahat ng kantang alam ko, kinakanta ko maghapon. Napakahirap po. Nahihiya din akong kumain ‘pag ako’y nakanta,” he noted. (I would perform all the songs I knew the whole day. It was so difficult. I was also embarrassed to eat when I perform.)

In his audition video, the 16-year-old Baldivino wore a faded polo shirt and had schoolboy’s haircut – he looked the farthest thing from a rock star – but as soon as he belted out the first lines of his cover of “Faithfully” by Journey, the judges’ jaws dropped and the audience broke out in screams.

But by the time the grand finals rolled out, it looked anticlimactic as shrieks greeted almost every line of his cover of Freddie Mercury’s “Too Much Love Will Kill You.”

A netizen with the username allenxndr echoed the sentiment of many others who were inspired and moved by Baldivino’s story. In the comments section of the YouTube video, the netizen said: “Kagaya ng maraming Pinoy, maiahon sa kahirapan ang pangarap. Well done, mission accomplished! Minsan, hindi talaga pahabaan ang buhay, nasa kung paano mo gagawin matupad ang pangarap sa maiksing panahon. Rock in Paradise Jovit! Heaven is celebrating to have his talented angel back.”

(Like so many Filipinos, his hope was to get his family out of poverty. Well done, mission accomplished! Sometimes, it’s not about how long you lived but how you fulfilled your dreams even for just a short time.)

Lost in a changing landscape

Baldivino went on to gain stardom, becoming one of the ABS-CBN’s top singing stars.

He would never be a glamorous balladeer or a favored performer for big-ticket corporate shows, nor capable of outrageous wit or over-the-top gestures that make for superstardom.

He was a masa favorite who refused to pander.

Baldivino simply wanted to sing, and he was a natural musical storyteller who could range from gentle, almost whispered endearments or expressions of regret, to soaring defiance or triumph.

In a digital media landscape full of social media gimmicks, Baldivino was hard to market. But he continued to perform, no matter how humble the venue, even during the pandemic.

His personal life was turbulent. A well-publicized rift with the mother of his child turned up allegations of womanizing and gambling. Baldivino apologized, but the former couple tussled for custody.

He would later settle with Camille Ann Miguel.

The last videos of Baldivino outside of his Family Feud appearance on GMA showed a tired man with sad eyes, struggling to reach the notes.

Gen Z youth, who were not around when he became a household name, swarmed the YouTube channels from that period to understand the grief of Baldivino’s fellow artists.

They were awed, regretful at not having known him, and said they would share the videos as a tribute to yet another star gone too soon. – Rappler.com

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