Latest Stories

Baby Bueno: More battles to fight


BABY Bueno strikes a model’s pose. AMADÍS MA. GUERRERO

Maria Remedios Bueno Coady —or simply Baby Bueno, as she prefers to be known professionally—grew up poor and marginalized, by her own account, in her native Santa Cruz, Zambales, which lies close to the boundary with Pangasinan. She sold fish and take in washing to make ends meet for her family.

It was not an unhappy childhood. But they were 12 siblings, and she was the second eldest and the oldest among the girls. Responsible parenthood, reproductive health or what-have-you were not yet buzzwords then. The father, Panfilo Bueno, an Ilocano-Bicolano, was “a good provider” while the mother, Esperanza Urbano, was strong-willed “like me.”

These little revelations were made in a recent mini-press conference at the Tap Room Bar, Manila Hotel, during which Baby discussed her life thus far and talked about her current projects.

Eventually she made her way to Manila, studied at the University of the East and became a varsity badminton player. One of her contemporaries was Robert Jaworski.

Then came the big break in her life—she was discovered by couturier Pitoy Moreno and became a ramp model. The provinciana metamorphosed into a sophisticated fashionista, even toured Europe and modeled for Coco Chanel. It was heady success.

She even tried her hand at acting, and appeared in movies like “Dragnet.” “I played a sosyal actress,” she recalled. “I didn’t like that.” At one time, Joseph Estrada wanted to add her to his list of conquests. “Niligawan siya ni Erap,” as a media friend put it.

Baby has a child by her first husband, and later married Michael Coady, a Briton based in Macao, where she spent many years organizing exhibits there and in Singapore, and promoting the works of noted Filipino artists such as Rafael Pacheco and Nemiranda. Art and fashion—along with her home province of Zambales, which she has never left in spirit—were major influences in her life. And then disaster struck—she was diagnosed with cancer.

A tumor in her brain grew and grew, and she was pronounced clinically dead. A doctor in Switzerland saved her, and the cancer went into remission. It recurred in Hong Kong, but again she recovered. “I can die anytime,” she says casually. Apart from her doctors, she attributes her surviving cancer through prayers, a vegetable diet for the past seven years, and herbal supplements.

Amid pizza, white wine and live classical Filipino music (a cultural troupe was singing in the hotel lobby), I grandly asked Baby what was the turning point in her life.

In rapid-fire English and Tagalog, she exclaimed: “Namatay ako. I died. At pa turning-turning point ka pa dyan. Basta I wanted to become a model and so I became a model.”

Pursuing the point, I asked: Did she have a near-death experience, like the one we read in books—a tunnel, life review, a Being of Light, and relatives from the other side greeting you.

“I saw my mother”, she said. “I see spirits, I’m psychic, very psychic. What’s your zodiac sign? Aries? Gastador ka (you love to spend.). Don’t deny it.” She then asked the other media men present their Zodiac signs, and proceeded to describe their traits.

And now Baby is back in the country, and will stay “for a while.” She wants to promote her province, its beaches, corals and products like mangoes and handicrafts, and to increase livelihood opportunities through the making of soap, perfume and handbags.

She also wants to become a Provincial Board (Sangguniang Panglalawigan) member of Zambales in next year’s elections. Like any good politician or political hopeful, she speaks of changes and reforms in her province. What are these? Well, we will get to that if she wins.

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: Baby Bueno , cancer , Maria Remedios Bueno Coady , responsible parenthood

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. How to enjoy Buntod
  2. World bids Gabriel Garcia Marquez ‘Adios’
  3. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  4. ‘Wild West’ Masbate’s pristine marine gems
  5. Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  6. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  7. Life lessons I want to teach my son
  8. Garcia Marquez left unpublished manuscript
  9. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  10. Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Are your favorite malls open this Holy Week break?
  3. ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  4. Miss America: Don’t suspend teen over prom invite
  5. Historic Fort Bonifacio tunnel converted into a septic tank
  6. This is not just a farm
  7. How Margie Moran-Floirendo keeps her dancer’s body
  8. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  9. 12 other things you can do at Pico de Loro Cove
  10. President Quezon was born here–and so was Philippine surfing
  1. How Zsa Zsa Padilla found Conrad Onglao; Sharon Cuneta played Cupid
  2. Mary Jean Lastimosa is new Miss Universe Philippines
  3. Did Angara ruin Pia Wurtzbach’s chances at Bb. Pilipinas?
  4. Dominique–Gretchen and Tonyboy Cojuangco’s daughter–now an endorser
  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. Why is the lifestyle set now afraid to wear jewelry–before Kim Henares?
  10. Sen. Angara: I thought Pia Wurtzbach gave a good answer


  • Napoles tags over 100 officials in pork scam – Lacson
  • Vitangcol to sue Czech envoy
  • Senator’s kickback from pork bigger than those of Enrile, Estrada, Revilla – Lacson
  • 43 out of 414 Etihad passengers yet to be found, tested for MERS-CoV – Palace
  • Maid confesses in killing of 2 and stabbing of employer in Laguna
  • Sports

  • UP nips St. Benilde; Adamson blasts RTU in Filoil women’s caging
  • Kevin Garnett responds to Raptors’ GM F word
  • Albert Pujols hits 500th HR of major league career
  • UST posts twin kill in Filoil pre-season cup opening day
  • Wizards beat Bulls in OT to take 2-0 series lead
  • Lifestyle

  • Entering the monkhood a rite of passage
  • Haneda International Airport: A destination on its own
  • Wanted: Beauty queen with a heart that beats for the environment
  • Kim Atienza: At home with art and design
  • Life lessons I want to teach my son
  • Entertainment

  • Bollywood Oscars, film stars come to Florida
  • Ex-Fox exec denies allegations in sex abuse suit
  • Kris Aquino backtracks, says Herbert Bautista and her are ‘best friends’
  • Summer preview: Chris Pratt enters a new ‘Galaxy’
  • Bon Jovi helps open low-income housing in US
  • Business

  • SM to rebuild Tacloban hospital
  • PSEi slips after 4-day rally
  • Toyota sells 2.58 million vehicles, outselling GM
  • McDonald’s 1Q profit slips as US sales decline
  • SEC approves SM’s P15B retail bond offer
  • Technology

  • ‘Unlimited’ Internet promos not really limitless; lawmakers call for probe
  • Viber releases new design for iPhone, comes to Blackberry 10 for the first time
  • Engineers create a world of difference
  • Bam Aquino becomes Master Splinter’s son after Wiki hack
  • Mark Caguioa lambasts Ginebra teammates on Twitter
  • Opinion

  • One-dimensional diplomacy: A cost-benefit analysis of Manila’s security deal with Washington
  • No ordinary illness
  • Reforest mountains with fire trees and their kind
  • Day of the Earth
  • When will Chinese firm deliver new coaches?
  • Global Nation

  • Filipinos coming home from Mideast must obtain MERS clearance – DOH
  • US Secret Service in Manila ahead of Obama visit
  • Palace thanks Estrada for successful HK mission
  • Hong Kong accepts PH apology; sanctions also lifted
  • China won’t budge, wants PH gov’t to apologize to HK