The MINI Story of BiniMINI

How I Met and Fell in Love with the MINI

My MINI aspiration started right after college in 1996 when my family transferred residence from Makati to Scout Alcaraz in Quezon City. During my first year in the corporate world I would commute going to my new office in Makati. Everytime I went to work I would pass by a corner where I would see a small vintage car being restored. It was a MINI. Almost every month there would be a different MINI being restored. I didn’t know who did the restorations but I was amazed every time a new project is finished and after which I will be dismayed since I knew that the restored MINI is already with its new owner. And so I fell in love with the little car. It became my dream car. I started to long for that small yet classic beauty. But as much a I wanted to own one, it was not possible yet at that time since I just started working and was not yet capable for a MINI acquisition.

The MINI Revived my Dream.

After so many years of being busy climbing up the corporate ladder, my dream was revived by a movie featuring the same brand of car that I loved. Although it’s the modern model, the new MINI was really awesome in the Italian Job movie released in 2001. It featured Charlize Theron and Mark Wahlberg yet it’s obvious that the MINI was arguably the star in that movie. DVD copies of the original 1969 Italian Job movie also came out the same year and this amplified my desire for a MINI.

From a Frustration to a Diversion... f
rom Real to Realistic.

Still in love with the classic MINI, I tried to look for an almost perfect restored MINI that is complete with papers, ready to run as an everyday car with a price that should be within my mini budget. I searched and searched but to no avail. Yet my aspiration didn’t fade away, so I turned to something that is a bit more achievable. I started collecting miniature MINIs. The joy I felt after acquiring my first diecast MINI was quite considerable. My first mini MINI brought me joy. And so I bought another one, and another, and another in different color, in different scale and in different brand and tampo (design). The unending hunt and the rewarding finds took away my frustration from getting my hands on a real MINI… since with diecast car collectibles… it’s more likely that I’ll have fun with the MINI.

The Unexpected Escalation of My MINI Collection
Culprit: Diecast Car Collector of the Philippines club and forum

Late 2004, I have acquired more than 40 diecast MINIs. Not long after, I met a fellow diecast collector, who owned a resort in San Pablo City where I spent a few days vacation. I was given a room that I will never forget. Hundreds of diecast cars lined every wall of the room. And of course, a portion of the room was dedicated to the MINI COOPER diecasts. I admired the room so much that I wanted to meet the owner and I fortunately did. He graciously took me on a tour around the resort and into his own vacation house. There he showed me a few but very vintage and hard-to-find (almost disintegrating) diecast MINIs which were probably victims of child’s play during his childhood. Still in awe at his collection, I asked how he was able to accumulate that much diecasts. That is when I learned about the legendary Uncle Johnny of Uncle Johnny’s Collectibles, Ram’s Collectible shops, Greenhills Blue Lane of toys and the ever famous (in diecast world) Diecast Car Collectors of the Philippines. He advised me that if I wanted my MINI collection to grow, I should join DCPH.

I registered in the DCPH forum in June of 2006 and met the members and fellow MINI collectors. I also met a few of the moderators who have also helped me with my growing collection namely Alex Dy, Bickford Yee, Gerry Sibal and Archt. Jovet Cruz. Everybody in the forum was very accommodating, helpful and supportive. We had swapmeets (selling and trading of diecasts), online diecast selling and buying, group buys, ebay buys and most of all – RAOKs. RAOK means Random Act Of Kindness – these are unexpected diecast rewards or diecast gifts from the collectors to their fellow collectors for no reason or occasion.

I became active in the forum, attended the bi-monthly swapmeets, bought items online, checked out heads-up of other members and true enough before I knew it, my MINIs grew from 40 to 400 in less than 3 yrs. Now I already have more than 650 diecast MINIs since I joined DCPH. In this group I acquired a lot of MINIs but more importantly i gained a lot of friends. I had collector friends from all walks of life with different types of car favored and with different stories about how they started with the diecast hobby. But we all shared the same outlook –

The Birth of the DCPH DIVAS

A lot of people thought that diecast car collecting is a guy thing and it is weird to have a lady collector in the group, but they are completely wrong. Gender doesn’t matter when it comes to collecting diecast cars. What is vital in diecast collecting is the passion, the thrill and the joy that every collector experience once they hunt and find the miniature version of the car that they love or have been dreaming of. It started with my dream of having a ladies division of DCPH. Soon after I shared my dream to the forum group, it was supported and brought to life by the FEW BUT ACTIVE LADY collectors of DCPH, by the DCPH EXECOM and even by the MEN of DCPH. DCPH Divas was formed in 2008 as a way of recognizing the women who also have the passion and persistence in collecting diecast cars.

When I joined DCPH I have been invited to display my collection in several exhibits like 2007 & 2008 Philippine International Motorshow at World Trade, Collecticon 2008 at Robinsons Midtown, Father’s Day Fair at SM Mall of Asia and just recently in the 50th Anniversary celebration of MINI at Tiendesitas hosted and organized by PINOYMINI.COM

Real Men with Real MINIs
PINOYMINI.COM “The great Pinoy MINI Community”

I was introduced to PINOYMINI.COM last year. It started when I accidentally met some of the members in a coffee shop. I saw 3 MINIs parked in front and I immediately grabbed my camera and started shooting away when I realized that this group of men was staring at me. It dawned on me that they may be the owners of the MINIs and may be wondering why I am taking photos without their permission. So embarrassed, I approached them apologetically and explained that I am a MINI lover myself and showed them photos of my collection. To my surprise, they were delighted to know that I am also a MINI enthusiast and so they invited me to join their club and forum. The first few members I met were Dennis Cole, Atty. Allan and Sir Don.

And so I registered in their forum and I used the handle name "BiniMINI”. It was a nickname given to me by a fellow DCPH member which means Ms. Mini (short for “Binibining MINI”). I was warmly welcomed by the members of this new MINI group. Again, I started to have new sets of friends - MINI enthusiasts, MINI makers and MINI owners.The camaraderie in the group was so contagious making it easy for me to blend with the MEN of PINOYMINI.COM. A few months after, I was invited by one of the core members of PINOYMINI.COM Doc Joey Luat to join them in celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the MINI at Tiendesitas. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of the group more so to be part of the celebration because even if I still don’t have a real MINI – it felt like I already owned one.

A 50th Birthday Bash for the MINI at Tiendesitas
A grandiose display of MINIs by the members of

Doc Joey, the spearhead of the 50th MINI Anniversary Event at Tiendesitas invited me to be a part of the core team who will organize the said event. I was thrilled and was more than willing to help. I attended the meetings and started to meet the members behind PINOYMINI.COM. From them I learned more about the MINI and was doubly motivated to look for that perfect MINI for me. Until now they have been encouraging me to get one, offering to help me put together my own MINI project and giving me important tips and suggestions on how to find the best MINI. I was even surprised that they knew the man behind the restoration workshop in Scout Alcaraz where I used to live. They knew Mr. Meng Cortez – the man who fired up the MINI phase of my life.

My display became the centerpiece of the MINI exhibit during the 50th MINI anniversary. The guests as well as the other MINI owners gave my collection the same appreciation and admiration with that of the real MINIs. They owned 1 to 5 MINIs each. I owned 650 mini MINIs. I admired their real MINIs while they adored my MINI collection. During that wonderful day of the MINI, we all had a great blast. It was a very successful 50th MINI birthday party in the Philippines.

What a birthday! What a MINI!

A Tempting Offer. A Stupid Decision. A MINI conviction.

One MINI owner and enthusiast asked me if I would trade my whole MINI collection with one of his real 1:1 MINIs. It was a tough choice…the offer was very tempting….. but as much as I wanted a real MINI it will still be very difficult for me to let go of my babies – my miniature MINIs that I have hunted for, found and have collected in less than half a decade. Besides, even if I had a real MINI it wouldn’t be complete without the miniature ones. It was stupid for me to decline that wonderful offer but I still believe that time will come when I will be driving my own incredible small car – my own MINI.

Why I Love the MINI - Let Me Count the Ways...

I just love the whole image of the MINI - the charming size, the classic and timeless style, the surprisingly unbelievable speed, the easy maneuverability, the unexpected power it can deliver for its size and the amazing history tied to that fast, cool to drive, front wheel drive, 2-door little car.

I share the same sentiments of the MINI owners around the world. "The MINI didn’t follow the trend - it created its own. It’s a beautiful concept of simplicity. With the MINI you’ll be a part of a great history. With the MINI your head and heart is aligned. When you see the MINI, your heart goes boom-boom-boom and your mind tells you – that’s the car for me. To sum it up in 5 words –


That is how I am head over heels in love with the MINI – the remarkable motoring icon of the 60s.