Latest Stories

Baboo Mondoñedo transitions from glam gal to activist to joyous painter


Since she discovered the calming effect of painting five years ago, Baboo Mondoñedo has chalked up eight solo exhibitions, the latest being “Mind’s Eye,” a collection of 30 watercolor paintings at Alliance Française in Makati City.

She calls this show her first in a real, commercial gallery (the past ones were held at restaurants, hotel rooms and other alternative venues).

She may have seen and done it all as a fashion model in the ’60s along with the late Maita Gomez, as an activist, an environmental crusader, and a media practitioner in Baguio, until painting and becoming a grandmother gave her a sense of well-being and deeper inner peace.

She says: “Painting has given me new eyes to look at my environment. Now I get drawn to light and shadow, texture and colors. I notice cloud formations, the colors of sunset.  I see faces in rocks, details in bamboos, the shape of leaves.”

When focused on her brushstrokes, she reaches a meditative state. Her blood pressure stabilizes and she finds herself in a good mood, “feeling happy on the days I work with my brushes.”


Cherry on cake

Painting is the cherry atop the cake of grandparenthood. She calls being a lola to the three children of only child Tootsy as “one of the best roles, if not the best, in life. I didn’t think I was the type to go gaga over my grandchildren, but it turns out I am. Being a lola is a far cry from being a mother.  As a mother, you just do what you must. It is a duty. Mothers hardly think of ‘enjoying’ their children in the same way that a lola enjoys their grandchildren. For a lola, there is no pressure, no duties, just pleasure! From the moment Manolo, Ines and Javier were born, there was an instant bond, a strong link to them. I was conscious that my blood ran through their veins. I claimed them.”

MONDOÑEDO at the Alliance Française in Makati City, where her watercolor works (shown at far left and top right) are on exhibit. JIM GUIAO PUNZALAN

What is unusual is the casual way she prefers to be called by the three grandkids, i.e., her nickname “Baboo.” Mondoñedo  explains: “I wanted to be equals with them, to remove the gap between young and old. That way, I had to be at their level, which sometimes meant being on the floor. I engage in pillow fights, games in the pool, and rough play with them. It is tiring but a good form of exercise.”

Since their parents are busy with their work, Mondoñedo sees her role as filling in the gaps when she’s able to—watching Manolo’s tennis game or Ines at a ballet recital, or taking Javier to toddlers’ gym.

When reminded of the years when she walked the fashion ramp before European royalty, there is a slight wince. She calls those years “just a brief period in my life, yet the past catches up with me. My life has taken several turns, but it is being a model that I am known for up to this day. I guess it is because our photographs of that period find its way in the newspapers 45 years after.”

High point

She acknowledges the wide coverage her group received when they went with couturier Pitoy Moreno on a tour to Europe: “That was the high point of my modeling days for we wowed Europe and put the Philippines on the map. We were described as ‘exotica’ and were regarded highly. I was so young then and unaffected by the glitz around me. It was my first trip to Europe, and I was thrilled to be in the old world meeting new people, including royals.”

WITH Pitoy Moreno

She says her talent scout was her Tita Nang, Lina Sevilla, a society writer of the pre-martial law Manila Times who suggested to Pitoy to invite me to join the fashion tour to Europe where she also served as their companion and chaperone.

Mondoñedo soon tired of spending time putting on makeup and attending rehearsals and fittings, even coming out in shows. She distanced herself from that scene, declined invitations to join shows, and concentrated on college work.

Pull of the mountains

When she worked as a journalist, her sociopolitical issues grew. That turn in her life she calls “doing what had to be done, and sometimes this led me to marching in the streets and taking on environmental and political causes. I am an activist at heart. One never stops to be. Today we Baguio people have many reasons to be up in arms by how the city has become. We have to stand up against bullies who think nothing of destroying our environment, killing our dwindling number of trees.”

She has called Baguio home for 28 years and often speaks of the pull of the mountains. Mondoñedo would rather be known as Baguio, not glam, girl because life there has given her “a perspective from the mountains, different from the perspective from Manila. It has given me a sense of community, of belonging to a place. It has widened my view of the world and opened doors to a new way of life and looking at things. My experience working in the Cordillera has given me valuable knowledge, learning and insights that I could not have picked up in school.”

PARIS pictorial with Tina Yujuico Kalaw, Maita Gomez, Toni Serrano Parsons and Baboo

She thinks that living in Manila makes people self-centered. She explains: “When we think of far-flung communities in the Cordillera, we are aware that there are far-flung communities in Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines, too. Living outside Manila has made me appreciative of other peoples and parts of the Philippines. Living in Baguio in a forest has inspired me to paint what is around me—nature. I keep going back to painting bamboos as bamboo clusters are all around the house.  I like painting scenes for my travels. I have also done a series on women.”

Middle of forest

The only downside of painting in the middle of the forest is that molds attack sheets of watercolor paper so she brings down her finished works to Manila for storage and sprays fixative.

JOINING a Laban protest against the Marcos dictatorship

Now that she has a surer painting hand, she has imagined possibilities of one day working in a different environment, perhaps in Egypt, France or England where aquarelle first began. (She is founding member of the Baguio Aquarelle Society that has an ongoing show at the Forest Lodge, Camp John Hay.)

Another dream within grasp is a collection of personal essays which she hopes will give birth to a book.

Mondoñedo’s journey seems to be a lithe hop from one stepping stone ascending to another. She says, “I hope to better my craft in both writing and art, and explore courses in these two fields. There is still a lot to do for the remaining years I have on this planet.”

Follow Us

Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter

Recent Stories:

Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Art , Baboo Mondoñedo , Lifestyle , paintings , People

Copyright © 2014, .
To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.
Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:
c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City, Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94
  1. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  2. Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. This is not just a farm
  5. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  6. Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  7. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  8. Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  9. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  10. Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  1. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. Sarah Geronimo and Matteo Giudicelli sing ‘All of Me’–and we all swoon
  4. How Vitamin B can be a remedy for ‘manhid’ and neuropathy
  5. 90 percent of Filipino households don’t practice proper toilet hygiene, sanitation
  6. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  7. Boots Anson-Roa to wed in Eddie Baddeo
  8. Prince William fuels speculation of second royal baby
  9. Marcos grandson to wed beautiful Rocha scion
  10. This is not just a farm
  1. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  2. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  3. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  4. Manila in shock over model Helena Belmonte’s death
  5. Vinegar test helpful vs cervical cancer
  6. From Jeannie to mom of suicide victim
  7. San Vicente beaches hidden but not for long
  8. Borgy and Georgina are back; others are off–again
  9. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer
  10. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?


  • 16 suffer burns in Batangas sugar factory accident
  • Angat level drops; cloud seeding set
  • Indigenous aspiration in Bangsamoro
  • Banahaw continues to lure pilgrims, trekkers
  • Passion of Christ moves survivors
  • Sports

  • Tottenham beats Fulham 3-1 in Premier League
  • Martino defends Messi, takes blame for Barca fail
  • Vettel hoping for resurgence at Chinese GP
  • MLB pitcher donates $100,000 for Sewol ferry victims
  • Hamilton takes pole at Chinese Grand Prix
  • Lifestyle

  • Levine designs womenswear with help from fiancee
  • Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Nobel laureate, dies at 87
  • Ford Mustang turns 50 atop Empire State Building
  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • Entertainment

  • Why ‘Noah’ can’t dock his ark at Philippine theaters
  • Acclaimed artist goes wild while on holiday
  • Believing in this mermaid
  • Missing Xian
  • Minnie Driver plays devastated mother to a stillborn child
  • Business

  • A workplace of new possibilities
  • Learning by doing: pilgrimage of faith
  • Fiat-Chrysler to produce iconic Jeep in China from 2015
  • US commerce secretary spells out economic facet of ‘pivot to Asia’
  • Italy sells luxury state cars on eBay
  • Technology

  • Nasa’s moon-orbiting robot crashes down
  • Netizens pay respects to Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • Nokia recalls 30,000 chargers for Lumia 2520 tablet
  • Facebook rolls out ‘nearby friends’ feature
  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • Cesar Chavez movie sparks memories of Fil-Am labor leaders
  • Filipinos in US poised for success
  • Visas for priests and other faith leaders
  • DOH to continue tracking co-passengers of OFW infected with MERS virus
  • 5 Filipinos with MERS in UAE reported in stable condition