It's amazing how a small car like the Mitsubishi Minica formed one family's big heart for the Japanese brand.
The love story began in 1972 when Ian Reyes' late grandparents, Ruperto and Aurora Jonson, took home the Minica. “I was told by my Aunt Toto, my mom and her sisters that it was the first Minica to be brought to Baguio after its purchase in 1972,” Reyes recalled.
"I would guess they wanted something small and economical for them to go around town, therefore they chose the Minica," Reyes pondered. "They saw it to be something different on the road, a head turner. Smaller than the Beetle 1200 and way smaller than the other bigger sized cars of post-war Philippines.”
Aunt Toto also remembered her experiences with the famous microcar from Japan. “It was the choice of my late parents to buy the Minica after my graduation from SLU College of Nursing in 1972 for all of us to use and enjoy,” she said.
And so began the family's affection for Mitsubishi that has spanned three generations, and which led to the brand being an indispensable member of the Reyes family.
Ruperto and Aurora fell in love with the reliability offered by the Minica. The car's dependable quality made the family choose a Lancer — in a delightfully very 1970s shade of brown — as their second steed, aside from adapting to a growing family.
“There was room for everyone with the Minica," Reyes shared. "But as the family grew, it was time to upgrade to the Lancer.”
The 'L-Type' Lancer became an household name in the country, including in the Reyes', as Ian's nickname came from this sedan. “I was born in 1978 and the L-Type Lancer was bought by my grandparents just before I was born.
My cousins, sisters and I were all given nicknames... and I am honored to be given the nickname Lancer, which was timely because I co-existed with the Brown Lancer,” Reyes proudly shared.
He added: “It was used from my infancy up until I started pre-school. Some relatives, especially those living in Angeles City, Pampanga, still call me Lancer to this day! Everything fell into place as to who I am at present — a Mitsubishi fanatic!”
The two Mitsubishi models would play important roles as the years went by.
“Both the Minica and the Lancer have served their purpose for work, leisure and survival," Reyes said. "Survival because they were also used for fetching water during the city’s water crisis of the 1970s.“There were not so many water delivery trucks back then so there was no other choice but to use our cars, especially the Minica.”
The cars were filled with all possible water containers as my sister, Celia Jonson Aquino, and nephew, Nap Garcia, drove to the reservoir where everyone lined up. The Minica was able to deliver despite its small body and two-cylinder, 400cc engine.”
In the leisure side of things, both the Minica and Lancer proved themselves as top travel companions.
“From Baguio, both the cars have been driven to Rizal, La Union, Manila, and even Batangas,” Reyes added.
“The reliability of the Mitsubishi cars we have owned made them trustworthy partners in every trip we did. From the Minica, the Lancer, and the other Mitsubishis our family has owned throughout the 1980s, all the way to the present."
Automotive wisdom said that if you take care of a car, it will return the favor, and this family is living proof of that philosophy. "Our Mitsubishi cars through the years are proof that they can last forever with the proper maintenance,” Reyes expressed.
It seems, too, that the Jonson family is not just a fan of the three-diamond brand, but also real car enthusiasts based on how Reyes views an automobile.
“It is what you use to drive, to be seen at, it is an extension of your personality, it becomes a part of you, people know you are around because they see the car.”
And given their passion for cars and their Mitsubishis, it's easy to say this love story has no chances of ending.
Photos from Jonson family and Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corporation