PBA pioneer’s memory lives forever
SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson () - August 24, 2004 - 12:00am
I am proud to call him my Tito Doming. He will always be special to me and special to many, many more who knew him.

Tito Doming Itchon, 79, passed away last Saturday night. He is survived by his wife of 54 years, Tita Amy, six brilliant children–Jojo, Nannie, Mickey, Tonet, Collette and Agnes–and 22 grandchildren.

Tito Doming was a good man, a good husband and a good father. He had a heart of gold and touched the lives of thousands of people. That is his legacy. While he has left us physically, his memory lives on.

For close to eight years, Tito Doming was president of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) until the end of the 1982 season. He played a key role in organizing Asia’s first play-for-pay league. Tito Doming, Emerson Coseteng and Danny Floro hatched the idea of the PBA and envisioned it to be a source of wholesome entertainment for millions of Filipino sports fans and a livelihood for the country’s hardcourt heroes.

One of 16 children, Tito Doming traced his roots to Vigan, Ilocos Sur, from his father’s side and to Calamba, Laguna, from his mother Dolores Yulo’s side. Only one of the 16 children is alive, Tito Doming’s elder sister Vitang who lives in Los Angeles. The youngest in the brood, Gabby, was once

the National Power Corp. president.

Tito Doming dabbled in high school basketball but never played the game seriously, concentrating on his studies instead. From his academic records, it was clear Tito Doming was destined for great things. He was a Business Administration cum laude graduate at the University of the East–where he met Tita Amy–and topped the CPA Board.

Working for Don Manolo Elizalde took Tito Doming all over the world. He was the Elizalde group’s controller and Don Manolo’s most trusted finance executive. Tito Doming shared Don Manolo’s love for sports.

In 1959, Don Manolo asked Tito Doming to accompany the YCO basketball team to his Vigan hometown for an exhibition game. Three years later, Tito Doming was appointed the Painters’ team manager. It was the start of an enduring love affair with hoops.

Eventually, Tito Doming became the manager of four Philippine national squads and president of the PBA’s forerunner MICAA (Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association) for two years. And he was YCO team manager for two decades.

Don Manolo knew he had a gem in Tito Doming. Don Manolo sponsored his Advanced Management Program studies at Harvard University and also sent Tita Amy to Boston for the same program. Tita Amy, extremely intelligent like Tito Doming, did work for Don Manolo’s companies before becoming a full-time housewife and private piano teacher.

I grew up with Tito Doming’s eldest son Jojo. We were grade school classmates. Our families lived a block away from each other in Makati. My late father Gregorio and Tito Doming were buddies as were my mother Marina and Tita Amy.

Tito Doming probably never knew it but he influenced my love for sports in a big way. Whenever he came home from a US business trip, Tito Doming had a package for me–a magazine or book or something related to hoops. I’ll never forget Tito Doming told me during a US visit, he watched a University of Michigan player in an NCAA game and tried to bring him to Manila to suit up for YCO as an import. The player, however, decided to pursue a career in the National Basketball Association (NBA). His name was Rudy Tomjanovich who became an NBA All-Star and is now the Los Angeles Lakers coach.

Tito Doming encouraged me to write about sports, basketball in particular. Once, he invited me for dinner to meet YCO’s new import Bill Bozeat. I was shocked when I saw him. Bozeat was over seven-feet-tall. Tito Doming thought I’d like to see, in the flesh, someone that tall. Standing up, I reached up to Bozeat’s belly button.

Then, one morning, Tito Doming phoned to ask if I’d like to meet Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Traveling incognito, the NBA star was in Manila for a few days after attending his friend Bruce Lee’s wake in Hong Kong. I hurriedly went to the Intercontinental Hotel, where Kareem was billeted, and cornered him for an interview beside the swimming pool. The story made it to the front page of a daily newspaper.

When the PBA was formed in 1975, Tito Doming assembled a star-studded cast for YCO and signed up NBA veteran John Q. Trapp as an import. The pioneer squad’s stars included Rene Canent, Rino Salazar, Benjie and Joy Cleofas, Marte Samson and Botchok de los Santos.

Tita Amy said Tito Doming took care of the YCO players like they were his sons. When Robert Jaworski eloped with Evelyn Bautista, it was Tito Doming who arranged for them to honeymoon in a relative’s resort in La Union. Jaworski later left YCO to join Meralco in the pre-PBA era.

Tita Amy said his players became his closest friends and named Caloy Loyzaga, Tony Genato, Bobby Littaua, Bonnie Carbonnel, Sonny Reyes and Ed Ocampo among them.

Tita Amy said Tito Doming cared for small employees, too. She recalled he was so proud when a lowly company security guard he sent to school during off-duty hours became a successful engineer.

When Tito Doming retired at the age of 58, he turned to another avocation, cockfighting. Tito Doming enjoyed breeding fighting cocks.

A few months after Tito Doming and Tita Amy celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 2000, he suffered the first of three debilitating strokes. For nearly four years, Tito Doming underwent therapy. He also had dialysis because of kidney malfunction. Throughout his illness, Tito Doming continued to watch basketball on TV. He never lost his enthusiasm for the game. Tita Amy said he closely followed the last NBA Finals between the Lakers and the Detroit Pistons.

Before he died, Tita Amy said Tito Doming was visited by Carbonnel, Littaua and Ocampo’s wife Lulu.

Tito Doming’s remains were cremated last Sunday afternoon. His wake is at the St. Jerome Church in Alabang where a 7 p.m. Mass is scheduled tonight. Tomorrow, there will be a 2 p.m. Mass preceding interment at the St. James the Great church, also in Alabang.

Former PBA commissioner Rudy Salud, the league’s legal counsel during Tito Doming’s tenure as president, was at the wake to pay his respects Sunday. Another former PBA commissioner Leo Prieto, who was handpicked by Tito Doming for the job, visited yesterday.

In large part, the PBA owes what it is today to Tito Doming–a man of integrity, vision and principle.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with