Text by: Wincy Aquino Ong
The picture in your head when the term “prosthetic artist” gets mentioned would probably be that of a grizzled shop instructor, his gray beard attesting to the hours he’d put into his craft. You’d look at black-and-white photographs of the greats: Stan Winston, Rick Baker, Jim Henson, and Ray Harryhausen—industrious man-children who played around in their creature shops, turning things you can buy from a hardware store into monsters, aliens, zombies, ghosts, and all things that make our skin crawl, our imaginations warm and humming.
Now if you visit the creature shop of the Philippines’ most celebrated prosthetics artist, you’ll be smirking in disbelief as a pocket garden of orchids greet you on the way.
Cecille Baun is a sweet old lady full of pep, a dead-ringer for the journalist Jullie Yap Daza. There’s nary a hint of her 78 years that shows. The field of movie prosthetics rarely is a woman’s domain, but in a nation where the women are always intrepid (more so than the men), her chosen profession is hardly a surprise; you’d be expecting a frazzle-haired punk, then find out that the person behind all these menacing props is a doting mother of five.
In a raspy voice, Baun says, “I was a housewife once and all I did was tend to our house. But just after a few years, my husband died so I had to make a living since I had five children to feed.”