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MANILA, Philippines – Maria Lourdes “Baby” Araneta Fores, mother of renowned Filipino chef, Margarita “Gaita” Fores, died on Saturday, March 25. She was 84.
Gaita, owner of the popular Italian restaurant CIBO, announced the death of her mother on Instagram, describing her as her “rock” and her “everything.” She did not disclose the cause of death.
Baby was part of the Araneta Group which owns vast properties in Cubao, Quezon City. She was a style icon in her younger days. Her husband was the late Dr. Raul Fores, one of the founders of Makati Medical Center, the premier hospital in Makati City. He died four years ago at age 88.
Tatler Magazine described her as “The Legendary Philippine Style Icon,” in a piece about her published in 2002.
“Simply put, Baby Araneta Fores is style personified. Considered one of the country’s best-dressed women, her fashion sense transcends the boundaries of time and generations,” wrote John Silva for Tatler magazine over two decades ago.
“Baby speaks in declarative sentences indicative of a strong-willed person who mostly got her way through much of her life. There are no added frills, no circumlocution. If it were any other person saying what she said, we’d all simply nod our heads. But I’m hearing it from Baby Forés, the harbinger of style before anyone in Manila had a clue that style existed,” Silva said.
Baby is survived by her eight children (including Gaita) and children-in-law, seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
She was the sister of Judy Roxas, mother of former Cabinet member and 2016 presidential candidate, Mar Roxas, and tycoon Jorge Araneta. She was sister-in-law to Jorge’s wife, the former beauty queen Stella Marquez.
Her remains lie in state at the Bahay na Puti (White House), the ancestral home of the Araneta clan in Cubao, Quezon City.
“Tita Baby was an icon, we’ll miss her. My love and prayers,” wrote businesswoman Alice Eduardo, CEO of real estate firm Sta. Elena Construction and Development Corporation.
Others who condoled were former Vice President Leni Robredo, celebrities Charo Santos, Edu Manzano, Agot Isidro, and Aga and Charlene Mulach, restaurateur Happy Ongpauco, and movie producer Roselle Monteverde.
Among the properties and businesses of the Araneta Group are the 35-hectare Araneta City in Cubao; Smart Araneta Coliseum; Farmers Market; Novotel Manila; Manhattan Residences; New Frontier Theater. It is also the franchisee of Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and Dairy Queen.
Her sister-in-law, Stella, chairs the Binibining Pilipinas Charities Incorporated, which holds the annual Binibining Pilipinas pageant, the country’s premier beauty contest. – Rappler.com
(Editor’s note: The initial version of this story inadvertently described Stella Marquez Araneta as the stepsister of Baby Araneta Fores. This has been corrected.)