Modesta’s Way: Traditional Hair Care Methods Using The Mighty Coconut

Marinduque is a small island off the southern coast of Luzon island in the Philippines. Depending on the traffic situation, it takes a total of 7 to 8 hours of travelling to get there. It’s a 3 hour drive from my home to Dalahican Ferry Terminal in the port of Lucena City. From there it is another 3 hour journey on the RoRo to Balanacan port in Marinduque. A 30 minute drive will bring me home.

Marinduque is provincial to the core. It smells of Copra everyday. It has no malls. Marinduque is rich in traditions and has a unique way of life that manages to survive despite modernity.  Marinduque is widely known for The Moriones Festival. An annual festival that is celebrated during Holy Week. It is a festival that has been going on for more than 200 years. Men in decorated Morion Helmets go around town as a form of penitence.

According to Wikipedia, “The Moriones Festival is a famous annual festival locally known as “Moryonan” in Marinduque. From March to April, parades and celebrations can be seen on the streets. In Santa Cruz, Gasan, Boac, and Mogpog, a parade of people dressed as “Moryons” can be seen on the main road connecting the towns of the island. Boac and Santa Cruz, the biggest towns in the province, shows a reenactment in the evening of the actual event when Longinus, a blind soldier, punctures Jesus with his spear and blood droplets from the wound restores Longinus’ sight.”

I filmed Modesta’s Way during the week of The 2017 Moriones Festival.


The Mighty Coconut

I met Modesta circa 2013 . This was the time Cholo and I decided to plant roots in Marinduque. His family hails from there. As evident from my Instagram posts, we commute often between our city home and country home.

The first time I met Modesta, not only was I amazed by her personality,  I was amazed by her black hair. She did not have a single strand of white hair on her head. Even to this day! I have known of Modesta’s hair care methods using coconuts and I have been generally intrigued by it. It was only fairly recent that I had a “light bulb moment” and decided to film it for posterity.


During filming, I got to know Modesta intimately. She was born in 1941 to farmers working on privately owned land in Ilayang Cawit, Marinduque. Their main source of livelihood, to this day, is Copra FarmingCopra Farming is the process of heating dried coconut meat to extract coconut oil. I don’t want to describe the process further because that’s a totally different topic. Click here to be brought to Wikipedia to read more about Copra Farming.

It was because of Copra Farming and through oral tradition, the secrets of the mighty coconut was passed on to Modesta. It is because of the mighty coconut that, at 75 years old, she has jet black hair. She has never shampooed, used hair conditioner nor ever tried to color her hair.

Here is Modesta’s Way.


We did not have the best coconut available during filming because Tropical Cyclone “Nina” ravaged Marinduque last Dec. 26, 2016. Destroying much of Marinduque, it’s farmlands and most of all, the crops. So we worked with what we had and decided not to use more than the necessary. A coconut takes one year to mature and it yields only after it’s second year.

The short film shows two methods of using the coconut as a hair care system.

The first part shows Modesta, extracting coconut milk from the coconut and using it as a shampoo. According to her, there was no such thing as a “shampoo” during her younger years and that her ancestors have been using coconut milk to wash their hair. One piece of advise she gave me after filming is, when you want to wash your hair with coconut milk, choose a younger coconut. Preferably a coconut plucked from the tree. A much older coconut, especially one that has fallen from the tree and sprouting might be too “rancid” to use.

I don’t really know when commercial shampoos first arrived here in the Philippines, but my best guess would have been after World War II (1945). I’m sure the American soldiers who liberated the Philippines from the Japanese brought more than just chocolate bars.

Modesta with my good friend Tesa (@mylifeonlafayette).

When I told my mom about this story; of using coconut milk as shampoo, she gave me her own account of using it during her childhood days. She said that after shampooing with coconut milk, she and her sisters would squeeze Dayap (Key Lime) on their hair to make it more fragrant. But that’s another blog post. My mom was born in 1955.


During the second part of the film, you’d see Modesta and I talking about applying coconut oil on her hair. At the 6:19 mark, you’d see that the coconut seedling we had was “too mature”. A much more younger seedling would yield more oil. The “Tubo” seen in this film was quite large and was accidentally cut in half by Kitan. Luckily, a few months back, my partner Cholo was able to film Kitan holding a smaller “Tubo” while Modesta was showing my good friend Tesa the coconut oil surrounding it and on how to apply it. Here’s the video of a smaller, uncut and oil rich “Tubo”.

“Tubo” of a young coconut sapling. Photo by Tesa (@mylifeonlafayette).

I really don’t know what is the english word for “Tubo”. Some people online call it “Coconut Apple”, “Coconut Embryo”, “Coconut Bread”, “The Heart of the Coconut”, some call it “The Sponge”. This is actually the coconut’s cotyledon. What I found amazing about the “Tubo” is that it is actually delicious.  It tastes of sweet milk. I stated on the 8:56 mark, the texture reminds me of the Macopa fruit. Click here to get to know more about the Macopa.

When you place the “Tubo” on the side, you will see the solidified coconut oil clinging to it. This is what is ideally used when “oiling” hair. Photo by  Tesa (@mylifeonlafayette).

Kitan gave me a short lecture on how the coconut grows. The “Tubo” is the coconut seedling’s main source of water, nutrients and energy. No wonder coconuts are able to survive floating on water or growing on sandy beaches. I shall start calling the “Tubo”  as “The Heart of the Coconut” because of this.


I am not a chemist nor a scientist, so I cannot tell you why Modesta’s Way of caring for her hair has actually stopped it from turning gray. But as you can see on the video, Modesta has definately benifitted from using fresh coconut milk and fresh coconut oil.

According to Wikipedia here’s what’s consitutes a Coconut:

Saturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Polyunsaturated Fat.

The Protiens:

TryptophanThreonineIsoleucineLeucineLysineMethionineCystinePhenylalanineTyrosineValineArginineHistidineAlanineAspartic acidGlutamic acidGlycineProline, and Serine.

The Vitamins:

Thiamine (B1)Riboflavin (B2)Niacin (B3)Pantothenic acid (B5)Vitamin B6Folate (B9)Vitamin CVitamin E, and Vitamin K.

The Minerals:

CalciumIronMagnesiumManganesePhosphorusPotassiumSodium, and Zinc.


If you decide to do this, here’s a tip from her. You should always rinse your hair off after shampooing with coconut milk. Never leave it on or else the ants will have a feast on your head.

I hope this blog was insightful.

Say “Hi!” on Instagram at




Backstage at Cesar Gaupo for Fashion Watch Quartet (2008)

This is a photo taken of model Adie Adelantar Lee a few minutes before the start of the runway show of Cesar Gaupo. Adie frequents my chair a lot of times when we end up working for the same show.

The makeup look for this show was very minimal to contrast the very colorful and fully embroidered designs of Cesar.

I kept Adie’s skin radiant and fresh by using a foundation that matched her skin tone. I used a peach blush to add color to her cheeks. There was no contouring needed, but I did add a hint of bronzer to warm her skin.

The makeup team was instructed by Patrick Rosas, chief makeup artist, to use one wash for violet eyeshadow with silver pearl, to nicely groom the  brows with out over filling, to use a hint of eyeliner and to finish off the look with some winged out lashes.

The highlight on Adie’s brows catches the light and draws you to her eyes.

I took the liberty of adding some dark purple eyeshadow to the outer corner of Adie’s lower lash line to “open” her eyes.   I also added a bit of highlight on her brow bone for drama when she’ll be photographed; as evidently captured in this photo.

I can’t remember the products I used on Adie but I remember the lipstick I used on her, it was an Armani #7.


In 2009, Adie placed as Miss Philippines Eco Tourism at the Miss Philippines Earth Pageant, a runner up to Miss Philippines Earth 2009 Sandra Seifert.

I have lost touch with Adie years after I quit Patrick’s team to forge my own path. Funny enough, a year or two back, I bumped into her in a 711 along Legaspi Street in Makati and shared one big hug.

She’s now married and was a Sun Life Advisor. Based on her Facebook posts, I reckon she’s now an In-Flight Crew for Saudia Airlines. What a way to travel the world.


Purederm Skin Solutions Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes


There have been many times over the years, where in a model arrives at work wearing a full face of makeup. I sometimes sigh at exasperation because some of these models do not abide by this simple rule: “Come To Work With A Clean Face”.

Most of the time I work on location with no proper amenities. Sometimes I am behind a black curtain backstage in a fashion show. If working in a proper studio I am pressed for time. When a full cleanse is not possible, this is where I pull out the cleansing wipes.

My favorite to use are the Argan Oil and Collagen Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes from  Purederm Skin Solutions.

There are two reasons why I use these two products:

  • These don’t have any other ingredients that might not work in tandem with most of my cosmetic products.
  • I am also cautious when it comes to using certain products that has vitamins, anti-aging ingredients, and exfoliating properties because the person I am working with might get a reaction. I do not want that to happen while I am at work causing unwanted delays.

I use the Collagen Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes when I am working with a person who has combination to oily skin. This way I am still able to effectively remove makeup and excess oil with out overstimulating production.

I use the Argan Oil  Make-up Remover Cleansing Towelettes when I am working with a person who has dry to normal skin. The minute amount of argan oil will leave the skin nicely moisturized.

The other main reason why I have this in my makeup kit every single time is because I frequently use the back of my hand as a working palette:

  • I mix different colored foundations on it.
  • I warm concealers on it.
  • I check the slip of eye pencils / gel eyeliners on it.
  • I  create lipstick shades and check if a lip liner is a match on it.

I used to use alcohol and tissue to remove them but they are not effective in fully removing cosmetic products. With the cleansing towelettes, my cleansing process is cut in half and I don’t get makeup stains on my clothes anymore.

Purederm has four other types of cleansing towelettes available namely: Peptide, Tea Tree, Q-10, and Vitamin. So you have an array of product types to choose from according to your needs and skin type.


Upon doing some research, I found that these cleaning towelettes are made by a Korean company named Adwin Korea Corp. The same company who makes Skinlite facial Masks. To read my blog about those facial masks, click here.

These cleansing wipes are available at Watson’s. They retail for Php 99. Do be on the look out because they go on sale once in a while, slashing the price 50% off *winks*.

To know about Purederm Skin Solutions, visit their website at

Check them out at the Watson’s Philippines website at


Now, what might work for me might not necessarily work for you. Make sure to read the proper instructions before using this product.

Always take time to read the ingredients lists before purchasing. Be an intelligent consumer. Only buy products that suit your skin type, skin care routine and budget.

Say “Hi!” on Instagram!