Few other adults—never mind his fellow five-year-olds—could claim the same achievements that Sebastian Benedict Arumpac, better known to Filipinos as Baeby Baste, has: more than a million followers on Instagram, a daily noontime show that has an international reach, multiple product endorsements, and a song on Spotify (“Bastelicious”). The online-sensation-turned-child-star is living his best life by most standards.
Singing his heart out
Yet when left to his own devices, with no lines to memorize and no fans to greet, the kid is happy enough with singing. “That’s what he enjoys doing,“ his mother Sheila confirms. “As early as six months, he could carry a tune—not sing a song completely, but he has liked music ever since. When he’s listening to music, it’s as if the rest of the world doesn't exist for him.” As if on cue, Baeby Baste reaches the crescendo of a melody of his own, oblivious to the rest of the people prepping up for his shoot.
Clever and charming
That’s not to say that he’s equally oblivious about his fame: The five-year-old is pretty intuitive when it comes to marketing himself, though in the most innocent way. Asked what his favorite snack is, he quips, “Magnolia Cheezee and Neu Bake [sliced bread]. Sarap!” Favorite song: “Bastelicious!”
It’s part of Baeby Baste’s charm. There’s something arresting about how he remains totally himself even when he’s mimicking his older Eat…Bulaga! co-stars’ stances and poses, something childlike in his confidence that has grabbed his fans’ affections. “I always tell Bash that he must appreciate his fans because without them, he wouldn’t have been here,” Sheila remarks. “He wouldn’t have lasted in the industry without their support.”
As the elder to his younger brother Sam, Baeby Baste’s life isn’t quite free of responsibilities— something that his mother ensures so that he grows up as normally as possible, given the circumstances. “He’s always been behaved; I’m very lucky. He’s responsible. Every sermon goes to the kuya, right? ‘Give way to the younger one, share things…’ He listens to what we tell him and takes it to heart.”
And since he’s been earning well, Sheila sees to it that her eldest understood early on the values of hard-earned money and saving. Of the sports utility vehicle that he was able to afford at age four, she says, “Bash understands that he’s the one paying for it.” He even signs his own payslips every pay day, and he’s the first one to insist that the money he’s making gets deposited into his bank account. “He understands the concept of household bills, we’ve started teaching him that,” Sheila says. “We teach him and Sam that the lights should be turned off when no one’s in the room. If there’s enough sunlight, if it’s not too hot, we must turn off the appliances. I feel that kids should understand these things to prepare them for adult life."
Enjoying his childhood amidst the fame
Still, Baeby Baste is five, and his parents are in no hurry to get him to mature sooner than he should. “I don’t want him to lose his childlike wonder,” Sheila says. “We swim over the weekend; that’s another thing he loves to do aside from singing.” The family also heads over to SM Mall's playhouses, where Baeby Baste and Sam can enjoy and learn about doing “tasks” independently, such as assuming adult roles at a workplace or pretending to do household chores. “We want Bash to adapt to being his independent person while playing.”
Of course, there have been times when there are fans present even at the playhouses, but mother and son take it in stride. “That’s just the biggest effect of his fame: the loss of privacy. As much as we’d like him to enjoy his downtime once a week, we can’t help it if other people are around. But I’m thankful that so far, it hasn’t been a 100 percent change in how our family lives. We don’t really think about how famous he is.”
’It's up to him’
As the five-year-old is now in pre-school, the question of continuing his showbiz career is looming in the horizon, but Sheila has a pragmatic take on it: “That’s up to him, whether he wants to stop working in show business or continue doing it. As long as he goes to school, we leave that decision to him.”
When asked to imagine if Baeby Baste hadn’t been “discovered” by fellow child star Ryzza Mae among the audience of her show, Sheila says, “He’d be enjoying pre-school fully. There’d be more family time in GenSan.” Would the family have been happy if that were the case? “Oh yes!”
A parent's wish
With all the success that her eldest is enjoying and the projects lined up for him until the end of the year (the MMFF entry Meant To Beh and Bastelicious The Movie), Sheila wishes only good health for him. “And also that we would be surrounded by good people who would help us all become better, especially Bash.” As for her own rules for her child, she lets her son cite them by heart: “Love each other. Be happy every day. Respect one another. Use kind words. Say please and thank you.”