Fude Matsuri + Hakuhodo Brush Haul

Chapter One

Some time in 2013, I was busy researching online for Japanese makeup brushes when I bumped into an article entitled “With Life on Paper – Kumano Fude Festival” written by Paul Walsh for GetHiroshima.com. I was amazed to have read that a small town located 20 kilometres east of Hiroshima had a brush festival. Every year since then, I would plan to visit; but it never pushes through. Over the years, I have managed to collect information about the festival – how to get there and what to expect.

I was so ready to be there.

In early April of this year ,while randomly checking out flights, Cebu Pacific Air had an amazing flight deal that I could not resist. I decided to go for it.


By the end of August, I started my plans for my trip to Japan. Fude Matsuri falls on Autumn Equinox which plays between the 22nd and the 23rd of September.

Around September 4th, My plans were suddenly put on hold because Typhoon Jebi passed through Japan and caused wide-spread damage. Typhoon Jebi was a very strong typhoon, a Category 5 Hurricane on the SSHWS.

This typhoon flooded my port of entry, Kansai Airport. The winds were so strong that it blew a fuel tanker into the rail and road bridge, the sole link, that connects the artificial island airport to mainland Osaka. Destroying a 100 meter slab of roadway and moving the rail tracks 50 cm inward. This made Kansai airport inaccessible.

For three weeks, all flights to Osaka were cancelled. I had two options:

  1. Move my Fude Matsuri plans to 2019.
  2. Reroute my flight to Tokyo or Nagoya.

I was ready to reroute my flight and I had already plotted my train journey to the festival from both cities. Fortunately, three days before my scheduled flight, Kansai International Airport announced that they would resume airport operations and that the railway system would be up and running by then.


On September 21, 2018 at 2:55 PM, my Cebu Pacific Air Flight 5J 828 left on time from Manila bound for Osaka.


It was quite a journey to get to the festival.

After having spent the whole day of September 22nd sight-seeing in Kyoto, I took a nearly 3 hour bullet train ride from Osaka to Hiroshima. For travellers out there, do take note that you cannot ride the bullet train from Kyoto to Hiroshima on your JR Pass. You have to take the local rapid train service from Kyoto to Shin-Osaka. You are able to take ANY of the bullet trains from Shin-Osaka to Hiroshima Station.

The following day was Fude Matsuri.

From my hostel, I walked to Hiroshima Station and took a 30 minute train ride to Yano Station on the Kure Line bound for Hiro.

Once I got to Yano station, I had a few problems locating the Yano Ekimae bus stop because my goggle maps was f-ing up. The data from my pocket wifi was not at it’s best given my current location.

After walking a few meters and asking a Japanese man, he pointed me to the bus stop. It was right at the foot of the stairs of Yano Station. *laughs*

The bus stop had a small electronic billboard. It shows you what bus stops there, what time they are expected to arrive and depart… all written in Japanese (Kanji+Hiragana+Katana).

I have had 10 years of Chinese classes during grade school and high school and I am very good at the game “spot the difference”, so comparing the characters on my phone to the ones stated on the schedules was a challenge I did not back down from.

Once I had an idea on which bus to take, to be sure, I asked the Japanese girl in front of me if this was the bus stop for Fude Matsuri. Lucky for me, she spoke English and told me that I was at the right place. Her name was Del and she was also bound for the festival. Del was kind enough to share with me some information about the festival. She had a map at hand and she showed me the places of interest around the Brush Museum and the festival proper.

A bus was arriving at the station and I noticed that the signboard showed the English translation of the bus route. I asked Del, if I could just follow her until we got to the festivities and she had no problem with that at all. Everybody hopped unto the bus and off we went.

The bus brought us to Kumano-eigyosho station. From there, we rode a free shuttle service to Fudenosato Kobo, the brush museum. This was where my Fude Matsuri adventure began.


Fudenosato Kobo is a facility that was built by the town of Kumano in 1994 and the Fudenosato Promotion Foundation runs it. According to the flyer, “The museum engages in investigative research on the history of Japanese brush-making and the collation of such materials, as well as introducing the culture intertwined with brushes against the background of Japan’s biggest collection of brushes, in both qualitative and quantitative terms.”

I have learned that Fude making in Kumano began during the late Edo period (late 1800’s) when farmers began to create brushes during the winter season to supplement their farming income. Over the years – centuries even, the town became well-known for their brushes. In 1975, The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry designated the Kumano Fude as a traditional craft product.

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I spent a little over an hour in the museum, wandering around, taking everything in. The permanent gallery is located at the basement, right after you come down from the stairs. There are 5 galleries around it where exhibitions are held. There is a “house” of brush masters where you can learn how to create your own calligraphy brush (For 3000 Yen) or observe the masters at work. There is a tea house, Shoseian, that offers tea ceremonies and classes and an area where painting classes are also held. I like the “hands on” part of the museum. Interaction is always the key.

The museum houses all of the brushes made in Kumano; may it be for calligraphy, crafts, makeup, painting, dyeing, etc. They also have brushes and paintings from masters of old on display at various galleries. I spent a good amount of time by the makeup brushes, mesmerised by their beauty.

I bought some brushes at the Kumanofude Select Shop Main Store. As stated in my video, it was located on the first floor – to the right of the entrance door.

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There were many brushes available to purchase here. I had to stop myself from buying a lot because I had yet to visit the stalls at Fude Matsuri. I felt that I would have more choices there and as Del told me earlier, many brush companies offer their brushes at a discounted rate, between 30-50 percent.


I left the museum at around noon. Thankfully, it was also a cloudy day because I could only imagine how hot it would be if the sun was out. I walked through a small paved country road lined with houses, flora, fauna and grave yards.

I first heard the music. Then I saw lots of people in a clearing at the bottom of the hill. As I got closer, the music got louder and the aroma of food got to me. It was time for lunch. The home-made ramen that I had was so good and I will not forget that delicious fresh strawberry shake ever! I enjoyed my lunch over the pleasant live music that was played, while sharing a table with local Japanese teenage girls. I observed everyone around me. If you want to see videos, go to the highlight bar on my instagram page (here) and click on Fude Matsuri.

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As you saw in my video, I was welcomed by big brushes hanging from the torii of Sakakiyama Shrine. According to the Japan Times article “Sweeping Beauties of Kumano’s Brush Area” written by Steve  John Powell and Angeles Marine Cabello, “The heart of the festival is the 10th-century Sakakiyama Shrine. Like many old shrines, it lies at the top of a steep hill. It’s 99 steps to the top, up a path known as Brush Avenue, which is festooned with 10,000 brushes — some pencil-thin, others as big as brooms — hanging down around head-height.”

Anybody can touch and feel these hanging brushes.

There were tons of activities around Sakakiyama Shrine (see the 4:38 minute mark on my video). At around 2 pm (the 16 minute mark on my video), the highlight of the festival started. I found a spot by the rope railings and enjoyed the demonstration of a calligraphy master writing poetry on a tarpaulin using a very big fude. He dipped the fude on a wooden bucket filled with ink. This wooden bucket is held by a man who followed the calligraphy master as he wrote on the tarpaulin. There was also another man who held another wooden bucket, I noticed that this was where the calligraphy master would “unload” the extra ink dripping from his fude before he starts writing again.

There was also a flute master who timed his music to the brush strokes made by sensei. It was quite dramatic actually.

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Once the performance was through, the staff waited for the ink to dry before the tarpaulin was hanged for every one to see.

This happens every year. New calligraphy master, new poetry.


While waiting in between performances, I’ve managed to find a seat by the shade and had a most delicious snack. It was a pancake of fish design with red bean paste inside. I was debating whether I would have the skewered octopus tentacles or candied apples after. I decided to have some shaved ice with cherry syrup instead.

The next performance was by students from the local school; that would be the 17:07 mark on my video. I was excited for their Taiko drum performance. I’ve never seen one before, so this was a treat for me.

The brushes I bought at the festival were not a lot. The primary reason I was there was not to go shopping, but to experience the festival. To immerse myself in the fude culture and to enjoy being “there”.

Frankly, buying brushes in a brush festival can make your brain go haywire. *laughs* I wasn’t expecting to see a lot of beautiful brushes  + I was not expecting to see so many brush companies in Kumano. It’s a good thing I already had an idea of the brushes that I needed. If not, I would buy anything on a whim! *laughs* I did manage to buy a few brushes on a whim.

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Before leaving the festivities, as I said on the video (see the 5:22 mark), people believe in the ritual burning of old brushes. Let me clarify what I said in the video. What I meant to say was, I couldn’t bear to burn makeup brushes. I either pass them down or use them in a different way. But people in Kumano believe that, burning old brushes is a way of thanking them. For the sake of experience, I did burn some old brushes. There is a staff member of the festival who will offer you some brushes to burn. On his table, there are a number of brushes of various sizes and shape. I think this was collected from various fude masters, gentlefolk or maybe from various companies who needed to send their brushes to heaven.

I am so glad to have made this journey. This was a great introduction. I’m sure when I return, I wouldn’t be like a kid inside a candy store.


Chapter Two

Here’s one funny story. Jennylyn Mercado was a guest at MARS a few years back. We’re always friendly towards each other. Saying our “hi’s”, “hello’s” and “how are yous”, after which I give her space.  I was observing her from a far, checking out her makeup stuff from across the room when she suddenly whipped out vermillion coloured brushes. I dunno if my gasp was audible, but I did a bee line to her desk and ransacked her makeup kit and pulled out her brushes. Of course I asked permission! *laughs* That was my first time to hold Hakuhodo brushes.

I have been very intrigued by the Hakuhodo brand for quite some time. I would frequently visit their website time and again just to “check” them out. There was one time, I was in Los Angeles and I wanted to visit the main showroom in Torrance, but it was just so far from Downtown L.A. It’s not exactly easy to commute in America. I wanted to visit their flagship store in Kyoto too, but I ran out of time sight-seeing while I was there.


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In search of Hakuhodo| This morning, I made my way back to Kumano. Buti nalang, magaling ako sa game na “Spot The Difference”; because I had to compare the Japanese Script on google maps to that on the karatula on the local bus. | It was a bit nerve wracking at first kasi, mahirap nang ma wala. | 45 minutes later, dumating ako sa Jonohori. I thought I was lost at first, but after seeing the manhole with brush designs, I knew I was on the right path. | With Tororo on my back, google maps on my hand, my legs brought me through provincial back roads lined with traditional houses, rice paddies filled with rice stalks heavy with grain and random blooming cosmos until I arrived at the head office and main showroom of Hakuhodo. | Shopping lang ako nang very light ha.

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On my final morning in Hiroshima, I found myself at Yano Station waiting for the bus that would take me to the Hakuhodo head office. I am thankful that I was able to take the local bus two days prior during Fude Matsuri. I was now confident enough to go down one bus stop and walk through the Japanese country side. Check out my Hakuhodo highlight on my instagram page (here).

45 minutes later, I found myself at the Kumanohagiwara Bus stop. With the help of goggle maps, I walked for 20 minutes +- to the Hakuhodo head office. It was around 1.1 kilometres.

Walking up the road, the only sign I saw that made me realize that I had found Hakuhodo was when I saw the brand’s logo on the building. As I walked up the stairs to the main entrance, there was beautiful pocket garden to my left. It was illuminated beautifully by the sun. It had a small “house” with a small pond. I found that quite surprising because the building looked so unremarkable. I found out a little while later that that small “house” was the office of the President. Who, by the way, works every day and individually checks brushes to maintain the Hakuhodo quality.

The head office and showroom is on the second floor of the building, across the President’s office. As soon as you opened the door, everybody would greet you. I have emailed the head office months in advance asking them if I could visit and do some shopping. I was welcomed.

Marie, a cute Japanese lady assisted me while I was going around the showroom. She was very surprised to have found out the I was Filipino. I was even more surprised to have found out that she studied in Las Salle a while back for six months. What a small world!

Marie and I discussed about the brushes in the showroom. They had entry-level brushes, professional brushes, traditional brushes and their flagship brush range. I was very interested in purchasing brushes from the flagship brush range, the S100 Vermillion Brush Range.

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Around the Hakuhodo show room. | The brush heads seen here are made from goat hair. They are sorted, shaped and secured by hand. Parang yung ginagawa nung Master Brush Maker sa aking Fude Matsuri na entry. | The trademark of Hakuhodo is their Vermilion colored handles. Medyo pricey, kaya when buying brushes, it pays to make smart decisions. Buy only as needed. | Some of the brushes seen here are made with different natural hair bristles; Goat, Badger, Cat, Sable and Squirrel. Kaya, always take care of your brushes people. | The workshop is also found here, unfortunately bawal pumasok doon kasi, you know, trade secrets. And I was told that the president of the company works there. Everyday. I caught a glimpse of the space as I exited the building. Kinilabutan ako. | Hakuhodo creates approximately 500,000 brushes a month. Hindi lang pang makeup. Pang calligraphy, painting, lacquering, etc. Basta brush. They also create brushes for many big named international makeup brands. Who they are, I wouldn’t know. | I have been meaning to update my brushes in a really long time and I’m glad to have finally done it.

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We also discussed the varieties of natural hairs used in their brushes. We also discussed the specific hairs that were used on the brushes that I chose to purchase. It was a very interesting interaction. Illuminating and educating.

I was very specific about the brushes I purchased in Hakuhodo. Since it was my first time to use their products, I only choose the very basic brushes that I needed. Two traditional brushes, two blush brushes and four eye shadow brushes. I cannot wait to use them and see how they perform. Then, if I am satisfied, I would add more to my collection.

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I spent a good 45 minutes at the Hakuhodo head office. I could have spent all day there but alas I cannot. With my Hakuhodo paper bag in hand, I thanked everybody at the head office, most especially Marie for taking care of me.

I then re-traced my steps to the bus stop. Took the 45 minute bus ride back to the train station. Took a 30 minute train ride to Hiroshima, just in time to catch by 3 pm bullet train to Osaka.


Through all of my readings and research, I found out that the hair is sourced from all over the world. China, North America and Russia. Fude companies in Kumano may use Red Squirrel, Blue Squirrel, Grey Squirrel, Kolinsky, Sable, Badger, Weasel, Tamage, Goat, Horse, or synthetic hair on their brushes. The sorting, mixing, and forming of the hair on the brush is done in Kumano. All by hand. The handles are made in other prefectures in Japan. Assembling the brush is also done by hand.

If you are reading this, I hope you would come to appreciate your brushes. It is a must that you take care of your brushes. A lot of human effort is used in creating a makeup brush.


Here are the links to the different brush companies mention in this post:

Fudenosato Kobo, click here.

Kumanofude Select Shop, click here.

Koyudo, click here.

Mizuho, click here.

Bunkoudou, click here.

Miyao, click here.

Hakuhodo, click here.


Fude Matsuri

Kumano, Aki, Hiroshima Japan

Hiroshima is located 325 Kilometres from Osaka. Prior to flying into Osaka, I purchased a JR West Pass. This entitled me to ride on the JR West Rail system for 5 days. The JR West Pass allows me unlimited travel from Kansai Airport to Osaka, To Kyoto, To Nara, and Hiroshima. For more information about the JR West Pass, click here.


Let me say that the products I am using has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. Always be discerning when purchasing cosmetics or skin care products. Always read the label and the literature! Always do a patch test before you purchase a product for the first time to see that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed.

This video is not sponsored. The products that are shown here are the products that I always use, love and live by.

This video was shot using the front camera of my Iphone 7.


Say “Hi!” on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tortorre











Everyday Fresh Makeup Look

This video is all about creating a fresh makeup look that is perfect to wear everyday. You only need a few number of products to create a well-balanced and even makeup look.

Except for the Bobbi Brown University Lip Palette, the products I used are very easy to store in your bag. They were designed for easy handling will minimal possibility of spillage.

Enjoy the video!


Products used:



Maybelline Dream Cushion Fresh Face Liquid Foundation On-The-Go in Medium Beige 45 and True Beige 40.

This liquid foundation is very portable and affordable. I like that the packaging is easy to store and leads to no spillage. It does make your skin look fresh and even. Read more about my experience with this product here.


Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Custard– Available in Rustan’s Department Store.


Glossier Cloud Paint in Haze– Available online at MUP or you’d need a friend to bring it over from the Unites States.

This product is best applied with your fingers.


Ben Nye Banana Powder – Available in Pure Beauty or at MUP.



Laura Mercier Rose Gold Caviar Stick

Laura Mercier Amethyst Caviar Stick

Both are available at the Laura Mercier boudoir at Rustan’s Department Store


Make-up Designory Eye Pencil in Rich Brown– Available at Pure Beauty.


VMV Hypoallergenics Ooh-La-Lash Volumizing Mascara– This is not a waterproof mascara which I like because, at the end of the day, it’s not a pain to remove. I do not enjoy waking up the next day with left over mascara like, this is easy to remove using micellar water or your regular gentle cleanser and warm water.  I love how this builds your lashes. Love the brush head too!


M.A.C. Cosmetics Eye Brows in Lingering


Bobbi Brown Artist Palette For Lips in Sand Wash Pink– This palette gives you an array of colors to play with. This is available in the US, exclusively online,  at the Bobbi Brown website. Let it be known that this sells out like hotcakes.


Beauty Blender (Full Size) in Nude and Micro.Mini.


Japonesque Kumadori Powder Brush. Read my blog about this product here.


Laura Mercier Smudge Brush Available at the Laura Mercier boudoir in Rustan’s Department Store. This is part of my favorite eye shadow brush blog entry, read here.

Make-up Designory Cosmetics Blood Splatter Brush. I use this on my brows all the time. I bought this when I studied in New York in 2012. I’m not sure if this is still available in their physical Stores at the moment.

Bobbi Brown Cosmetics Retractable Lip Brush. This came with the Bobbi Brown Artist Palette.


Prior to filming I prepped my skin with my regular skin care regimen. I first cleansed my skin with St. Ives Apricot Scrub, I then toned my skin using VMV Hypoallergenics Superskin 3 toner and then, I applied some VMV Hypoallergenics Re-Everything Face-Hand- Body Lotion. To read more about my blog about favorite my skin care products, please click here and to see my updated skin care video, click here.

This video was shot using the front camera of my Iphone 7.


Let me say that the products I am using has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. Always be discerning when purchasing cosmetics or skin care products. Always read the label and the literature! Always do a patch test before you purchase a product for the first time to see that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed.

This video is not sponsored. The products that are shown here are the products that I always use, love and live by.


Say “Hi!” on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tortorre

My Favorite Skin Care Products

My first entry for this blog of mine was entitled “Good Skin” (click to read my previous blog). There I talked about my favorite skin care products. The core products of my skin care routine has not changed since, but I did add a few products into the mix.

Consider this video of mine as an update.


I rarely have facials, but when I do, I have the Anti-Aging Cosmeceutical Facial at VSRC (VMV Skin Research Centre + Clinics). Some stores have facial beds behind it, do ask if you are interested. Take note that there’s a line. So call and book your appointment in advance. The Anti-Aging Cosmeceutical facial costs Php1850. This facial is also available in New York and it would cost $140 (click here to know about them).

They start by cleansing your face with organic coconut oil which is gently massaged unto the face. After which, your skin is steamed. This opens up the pores, preparing the skin for the extraction process. Pain is very minimal. After that, a coconut mud masked is applied on the skin. This stays on for 10 to 15 minutes. After that is removed, your skin is then toned to close the pores. For the final touch, they then apply their anti-aging serums.

This is a 60 minute facial.


I love facial masks. I use them on myself and on models/clients I work with. Click on the names to read my blog about each of them:

Visit www.vmvhypoallergenics.ph (Philippine Website) or at www.vmvhypoallergenics.com(world wide) to know more about these various VMV Hypoallergenics products:

  • Hydra Balance Gentle Cleansing Cream
  • Superskin 2 Toner
  • Re-Everything Line
  • Armada Sport 70
  • Armada Face Cover 30
  • Armada Moisturizing Protective Lipbalm 60+


My favorite facial scrub  St. Ives Fresh Skin Apricot Scrub is available at your leading drug store/supermarkets. I forgot to mention my alternative moisturizer because I left the tub at the beach house. I use St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer as an aletrnative. I usually use this in the morning before applying sunscreen.

The Bioderma Sensibo H20 micellar water is available in selected Watsons branches. I bought mine at the beauty section in SM Makati.

I buy my coconut oil at Mercury Drug.

The activated charcoal masks are available on line:

I bought the Dr. Douxi Black Head Pore Cleanser Set online at ph.shopping99.com. I saw the ad on Facebook and decided to give it a try because it was on sale.

The ACTIVATE Activated Charcoal Face Mask is available at  www.seektheuniq.com.


Let me say that the products I am using has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you.

Always be discerning when purchasing cosmetics or skin care products. Always read the label and the literature! Always do a patch test before you purchase a product for the first time to see that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed.

This video is not sponsored. The products that are shown here are the products that I always use, love and live by.


Say “Hi!” on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tortorre


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 https://www.instagram.com/tortorre



Red Carpet Inspired Glam Makeup Look

I created this look for our MARS Christmas Party. It was entitled “Mars Magic Ball”, a pun on the yearly party of Star Magic Ball, thus the “Red Carpet” theme for the party.

I almost didn’t attend the party at the last-minute. Due to miscommunication errors and the stress of the Christmas 2016 season, the dress that I borrowed from a designer friend did not make it. When I told my associate producer, Gex, that I was bowing out of the party, she tried her best to convince me to find a gown. I told her it was impossible to find a gown with one day left before the party.

I had lost interest already.

It takes a lot of effort and planning to go out in Drag and I don’t want to be a half-baked Drag Queen at any given time. So with a heavy heart, I scrapped my makeup concept and placed my heels back into its box.

Magiting Shoot
I am seen here wearing a 50’s inspired gown made by Hanz Coquilla. Circa 2012.

Luckily enough the stylist of Suzi Abrera, David Baky, was within ear shot. He told me that he had a gown in storage that was worn by Suzi three years ago. He was so sure that it would fit me. The gown happened to belong to a Cebuano designer, Hanz Coquilla, who happens to be a very good friend. He has dressed me numerous times throughout the years. Knowing his design style, his sentiments and the fact that he enjoys dressing Drag Queens once in a while, my interest in the party got rekindled.


I fitted the dark teal jersey gown the morning of the christmas party. I thank the universe that it hanged well on me.  To my surprise, this dress had some considerable weight to it.

The gown was very feminine because of the draping and ruching placed at parts; an indication that the design inspiration was Madame Gres. It had a lace under shirt that peaked around my abdomen and it had a dramatic “V” the entire length of my back coupled with a gentle drape of material that made me look elegant, soft and sexy at the same time.

Back detail
Back detail

There were a few repairs that had to be made + I had to install some breast pads. Thank God this gown had long sleeves and no slits. Having to shave at the last minute would have added a stressor that I would not have welcomed.  I got my wig out, mounted it on its stand and thought of a makeup concept now that I have seen the dress.

Royal Navy
Royal Navy by Orly

I accessorized this look by borrowing some drop costume pearl earrings from Cindy Briones, Assistant Stylist of Lianne Locsin to Camille Prats, and wore my simple Jewelmer Pearl Bracelet.

With a vague memory of the color of the gown, I had my nails done in a salon the day before. I chose the color called Royal Navy from Orly. It was a royal blue nail polish that had teal shimmer in it. I’m glad that this color went well with the gown and the over all look.


At The Party
With the gang

The party turned out to be a blast!

Good food, lots of laughter, lots of karaoke, lot’s of games and prizes! The only unfortunate event that happened was my heels got busted upon my arrival at the Music Bank karaoke bar.

Only a few of us dressed up for the party, which always happens. I had not known that there was going to be a prize given to the person who dressed up for the occasion. But before the awarding, a beauty pageant ensued! Ernal, Ogie, Erica, Erwin, Jana (the only girl) and I sashayed and twirled to our hearts content. To my surprise, despite not wearing heels, I won the top prize! It was a beautiful ending to a not so beautiful beginning.


Here is the makeup tutorial video I made recreating the Red Carpet Inspired Glam Makeup Look for Mars Magic Ball Christmas Party. Please take note that, as an experiment, I shot this video with my new Iphone 7 using the front camera. I also edited this on the iMovie app that came with the phone. So pardon me for some focus issues and some light burn.

Products listed in order of use. Feel free to click on their names to be brought to their webpage:


Dr. Jart+ Trans-foam Clay in Calming White

VMV Hypoallergenics Fine Finish Pore Minimizing Skin Mattifier

Garnier Brightening Eye Roll-On. To read my blog about this product, click here.

Nars Radiance Enhancing Pr0-Prime

Kryolan Eye-Brow Plastic

MUD Cosmetics Corrector Palette. I used BC4 and Deep Brown.

MUD Cosmetics Zero Loose Powder

MAC Full Coverage Foundation in NW 25 and NW 35

MUD Cosmetics Make-up Sponge

MUD Cosmetics Powder Puff

Ben Nye Banana Powder

MUD Cosmetics Desert Loose Powder

Nars Creamy Radiant Concealer in Custard


Guerlain Terracotta Summer Stones (Discontinued). Click here to read my blog about this product.

Japonesque Kumadori Contour and Highlighting Brush

Sephora Collection Romantic Rose No. 10 (Discontinued)

Beau-Temps Paris Bager Fan Brush


Nars Pro-Prime Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base. To read my blog about this product, click here.

Laura Mercier Pony Tail Brush

Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour in Cafe Au Lait. Read my blog about this product here.

Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour in Truffle. Read my blog about this product here.

Laura Mercier Corner Eye Colour Brush (Discontinued)

Coastal Scents Dome Blender Brush. This brush was part of a set.

Bobbi Brown Long-Wear Gel Eyeliner in Black Ink 1. Read my blog about this product here.

Sakura Art Paint Brush #855 in National Bookstore.

Chanel Ombre D’Eau Fluid Iridescent Eyeshadow (Discontinued)

Coastal Scents Elite Blender Brush. This brush was part of a set.

Duo Eyelash Adhesive in Clear

M.O.D.E.L. 21 Eyelashes in Number 8. Bought this in Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam.

Maybelline Master Precise Curvy Liquid Liner

Maybelline Color Tattoo 24h Concentrated Crayon in Creamy Chocolate 730

Nars Laguna


Maybelline Brow Precise Micro Crayon in Deep Brown

Browlash Ex Eyebrow Coat. Read my blog about this product here.


Purederm Argan Oil Makeup Remover Cleansing Towelettes

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Paimpol. Click here to read my blog about this product.

L.A. Colors Lip Liner in Natural P512

Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Sex Machine. Click here to read my blog about this product.


Inglot Face and Body Illuminator 62


Nars Casino


New Vanity – Chocolate Kiss from Wigs by Vanity



Let me say that the products I am using has worked for me and it might not necessarily work for you. Always be discerning when purchasing cosmetics or skin care products. Always read the label and the literature! Always do a patch test before you purchase a product for the first time to see that you are not allergic to any of the ingredients listed.

This video is not sponsored. The products that are shown here are the products that I always use, love and live by.


Say “Hi!” on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/tortorre

Vintage 1940s Makeup Tutorial Film from GlamourDaze.com

I was not intending on searching Youtube for such kind of a film, I stumbled upon this makeup tutorial serendipitously. I was looking at a different video, one of Elizabeth Taylor applying her eye makeup when I saw the title of this video from the periphery of my eyes.

After watching this film, I became curious and started to remember seeing people using creams as part of their skincare routine.

In the early days of my career (circa 2006) I assisted Patrick Rosas, makeup artist of Gretchen Barretto. I have seen Gretchen use Pond’s Cold Cream (launched 1910) to remove her makeup. She would massage her face with it and wipe it off with some tissue. Her skin would look so clean and radiant. Pond’s is a featured product in this film and the brand is still around.

When I was a kid during the 80’s, I do remember my grandmother using Nivea Creme (launched 1911) on her face everyday. She’d massage the cream on her face in circular motions and wipe of the excess. I can’t exactly remember what her routine was but I can sure remember that round blue can. Even in her death bed, if she’d have the strength, she’d rub the cream on her face. If she can’t, I would rub it on for her. During her final days, I don’t think this process was for vanity. I believe it gave her comfort.

Out of curiosity, I asked Cholo what his mom’s skin care regimen was, this was during the late 60s – early 70s. He remembers his mom applying some glycerin (discovered in 1779) on her face to keep is moisturized. Which at 2017, is still a main ingredient in skincare, haircare, personal care and cosmetics.

For makeup and skin care junkies, you would be very surprised that modern makeup and skin care methods have been the same since the 40’s.


Makeup has come a long way. But the belief that less is more has stayed.

“…blend in carefully until no one can see that the rouge (blush) is there. Not even you. Nothing dates you as much as rouge that shows.” says the host of this film.

What caught my interest in this video was the use of “Vanishing Cream”. I have not encountered this product EVER! After doing some research, I found an article published online by Cosmetics and Skin about “Vanishing Creams”.

As stated on their website:

“Vanishing creams – which can also be called stearate creams – were known for their smooth, dry feel on the skin and their pearly sheen. Chemically they are oil-in-water emulsions consisting of stearic acid, an alkali, a polyol and water. The alkali reacts with some of the stearic acid to form a soap which then functions as the emulsifier. The polyol (e.g. glycerin) makes the cream more spreadable and also acts as a humectant to help prevent the cream from drying and cracking during storage in its container – packaging the cream in a screw top jar or tube was also important. There were limits to how much polyol could be included in the formulation; too much and it would absorb water from the air, causing the powder to spot and making repowdering necessary (Poucher, 1926, p. 36).” Click here to read more about the history, use and ingredients of Vanishing Creams.

Once you’ll click the play button, you would be quite surprised to see that what is taught in this film is still relevant to this day and age.

Towards the end of the video there’s a short discussion about what kind of hair style works on a round face, a square face and a rectangular face.. 40s style of course.

As the lady in this film says, “When You face the world, remember to put your best face forward.”



Checkout my Skincare 101 videos here and read my favourite skin care products here.

The Ultimate Smokey Kohl Tutorial + History by Lisa Eldridge

I have been a fan of ancient Egyptian art and culture since my childhood. Every time I enter a museum, I always visit the Ancient Egyptian wing first. Always.

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Ancient Egyptian #Khol #Eyeliner Case

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I first encountered this contraption in 2007. I was going around the Ancient Egyptian gallery of the British Museum when I saw an Ancient Egyptian Kohl container amongst an assortment of vessels used to store various cosmetics and skin care products.

The photo above was taken during my recent trip to The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The MET) in New York. It was then that I remembered that Lisa Eldridge had an amazing video about the history of Kohl. This video talks about the reasons why Ancient Egyptians wore Kohl, the design of the containers, the ingredients in making Kohl and on how it’s made.

So, if you are a little bit interested in the history of makeup and  wanting to see a makeup tutorial on how to wear Kohl, then click on the video below.


Japanese Makeup Culture

Begin Japanology is another show that I watch on NHK World, it is hosted by Peter Barakan. Begin Japanology, as stated on their website “explores many aspects of Japan, both traditional and contemporary: arts, sports, entertainment, food, technology, nature, etc. ”

This entry coincides with my previous post about Japanese skin care. To read my previous post and to watch the video from it’s companion program Japanology Plus, click here.

I stumbled upon this Youtube video right about the same time I saw Japanology Plus episode entitled “Quest for perfect Skin“.

This episode does not talk about Japanese cosmetics products, instead this episode from Begin Japanology talks about makeup in Japan : it’s history, its evolution and its social impact.

I found this episode to be very enlightening. As I have stated before, I am inspired by Japanese makeup culture.


Some key points of interest from this episode:

Lashes are a big thing is Japan. It’s true. I’ve seen it.

White black and red were the only colors used by women during the Japanese golden age. A color palette which is still used today.

As shown at the 9:45 minute mark, nose contouring has been in use since 1813 and there was even a makeup manual then. 3 volumes of makeup tricks!

Japanese women during the late 18th and early 19th centuries had found ways of making their makeup portable.

Nars Cosmetics Bento Box
Nars Cosmetics Bento Box

At the 13:06 minute mark, Peter Barakan is talking to Japanese Makeup Culture historian Takako Murata. They talk about how cosmetics were packaged and used during the 18th century. The light went “on” when Takako was discussing the fact that rouge was poured into a bowl and was turned up side down after use to keep the rouge from spoiling.

Years ago (circa 2010), Nars Cosmetics launched an extremely limited edition lip palette called “Bento Box “. Clearly inspired from traditional Japanese makeup, this palette had two small bowls of different shades of lip colors (Sakura [pink] and Maiko [red]). This set came with a kabuki lip brush.

Kabuki Brush Set bought in Tokyo
Kabuki Brush Set bought in Tokyo

Speaking of brushes, at the 16:58 minute mark, the episode starts to discuss the art of making makeup brushes. I can not believe one town supplies 80% of Japan’s brushes. I am not surprised though that many international cosmetics companies order their brushes from this Japanese company. I was quite surprised though to see in passing that some of my favorite makeup brushes to use were actually made there. I might have to visit Kumano in Hiroshima Prefecture one day to see the factory for my self.

The man featured here is Kazuo Takamoto, president of the premier brush company “Hakuhodo“.

I have managed to find an article about Kumano being the brush capital of Japan, you might enjoy this short reading here.


To learn more and to be inspired by Japanese makeup culture, enjoy the video below.










Japanese Skin Care: An Insight

I am a Nipponophile. I enjoy Japanese culture to a certain degree. I enjoy it so much that my skin care and makeup routine is Japanese inspired.

I watch NHK World often, and one of the shows I look forward to is the show named “Japanology Plus” hosted by Peter Barakan. Japanology Plus presents insights into Japanese life and culture.

This particular episode talks about how Japanese women take care of their skin. As a makeup artist, I believe skin care goes hand in hand with ones makeup routine. I firmly believe that if you take care of your skin, in the long run, you will need to use less makeup.

Japanese women have been taking care of their skin for thousands of years and on how it is embedded into the psyche to this day. Aside from talking about  Japanese skin care culture, its history and as a booming industry,  this 28 minute video talks about the ingredients being used in most skin care products, the process on how to cleanse effectively and on the reasons why a natural makeup look is widely accepted in Japan today.



Japanology Plus airs every Thursday 13:30 and 17:30 Japan Standard Time.

Click here to find ways on how to watch Japanology Plus on NHK World.