5 Timeless Beauties Write A Letter To Their 20-Year-Old Selves -

Beauty is best manifested in the elegance, wisdom and strength of women who have had the courage to pursue their dreams in far off places, find love in modern times, embrace wellness in all its forms and live fully after two brain surgeries


Tingting Cojuangco

Dear Tingting,

It is hard to tell you what you should’ve done differently, when you were growing up. After all, the world available to you back then was so different from the world today. There are more things in store for young ladies, but a long time ago, it was a more conservative era.

In our time, you and the ladies of your generation were more focused on learning how to be good housewives. But I know what you would’ve done if you were a young woman in today’s world. You would’ve taken advantage of every opportunity given to you. You would have finished your degree, travelled all over the world alone, and met as many different people as you could to broaden your horizons. You would’ve worked to enhance your knowledge. You would’ve gotten married late, and learned of different religions. But above all, despite all the avenues available to you, you would have still kept your values. Being a good person is inherent in everything you chose to do.

In terms of your romantic life I would say: take your time. Don’t hurry and pin yourself down. Don’t limit yourself to just certain groups. Get out with more people, so you can make informed decisions about the kind person you want to be with.

One thing that you will miss is the way courtship used to happen. I would get lots of love letters. Now, no one writes love letters, everyone just texts. It used to be more personal and secretive, which it had to be, because we didn’t want our parents to read what we were writing. Now it’s more public, which makes it riskier.

Photography by Floyd Jhocson 


Vicky Zubiri

Dear Vicky,

Here are 10 things that I would tell you now that you are only in your 20s.

1. Think POSITIVE. After two brain surgeries and six nerves destroyed on the left side of my head, I thought of people who are less fortunate than me and I thank the Lord for surviving.

2. For beautiful skin avoid the sun and stay away from estrogen as both produce dark spots on the skin called melisma. Always use sunblock.

3. Upon waking up, meditate and concentrate on your blessing.

4. Exercise at least three times a week. I have been doing capuoera (Brazilian Martial Arts) for the last 10 years. Do sit ups and lift weights to develop muscles and help avoid sagging arms.

5. Always take care of your body skin. I use herbal soap for the body. After taking a bath, wipe cream on your skin. At night, I use Ponds wipes or any cleansing wipes to remove the makeup. Then I scrub my face with sponge and Kiehl’s Skin Brightening Exfoliator, or any soap like Ivory. Before sleeping always apply night cream. As an Asian, Shisheido is good.

6. I shampoo my hair daily. I do not go to hair salons except when I need a trim. Occasionally I set my hair and use my portable hairdryer or just wash and wear with Kerastase. For looking good, use lots of cream and sunblock before applying foundation and loose powder I recommend Versace or Chanel.

7. Keep fit, trim and healthy. For breakfast, I drink a juice mixture of fruits celery and a bit of apple cider and take my vitamins. I am a vegetarian and stay away from white rice, bread and junk food. Occasionally I indulge in black rice.

8. Always try to look your best. Since childhood, my mother never allowed me to leave the house without looking nice and being dressed well.

9. My world is art and producing cultural events here in the South, basically to educate the children. As an artist painting is creativity. It’s a way of being part of what I paint, mostly what I see or experience from my travels. I started with oil in the 70s and now use watercolor, both western and Chinese. It feels good to let water flow, very creative. After my two exhibitions, I donate to charity.

10. It’s important to feel good and accomplished! The happiest moments in my life is every Sunday, having family dinner with my husband, my children and my 12 grand kids for the last 50 years. The success and education of my children is an accomplishment!

Photography by Yukie Sarto 


Cory Quirino

Dear Cory,  

Because time is irretrievable we can only look back at our lives with the most valuable of gifts—wisdom. Armed with this today, I give my loving advice to the younger me.

Listen up, Cory. I know that you are in a hurry to live your life. That instinctive drive in you to succeed must not be held back, it should be managed. Over-enthusiasm can hasten things pre-maturely. In my world, people are always in a hurry. The result is stress, which eventually leads to many illnesses.

The word “wellness” may sound strange to you. But in the 21st century, it is a new way of embracing a lifestyle. This is the only key that unlocks the door to longevity and lasting beauty. It is a triune approach to your natural self—body, mind and spirit. Whatever you say and do from now on should be guided by this non-negotiable principle.

Master the practice of moderation in all things. Learn to say no to others so as not to over-extend yourself.

Your must-do list:

1. Pray and meditate. Develop a personal relationship with God.

2. Eat more greens. Go raw food veggie juicing daily.

3. Exercise everyday.

4. Limit comfort foods (be led by nutritional value and not simply by taste).

5. Include more whole and organic foods to your diet. There are urgent health issues today with regard to the way products are made. Things like transfats, hydrogenated oils, GMO—because these items will not appear in food labels under your time. You must scrutinize carefully every product you buy.

6. Hydrate with 10-15 glasses of clean water daily.

7. Limit direct sun exposure to 20 minutes daily. It is enough time for your body to produce vitamin D, a life-saving nutrient.

8. Get seven to nine hours of sleep daily.

9. Laugh often. Stay positive. Don’t take life’s challenges too seriously. Any problem will resolve itself soon enough.

10. Love to your fullest and not to your “fool-est.”

11. Forgive. It is the first step towards healing.

12. Erase the word impossible from your vocabulary. Everything is possible only if you believe in yourself. Always remember, if you think well, you will do well and everything will be well.

Above all, say YES to Life.

Photography by Yukie Sarto 


Mayenne Carmona

Dear Mayenne, 

Allow me to congratulate you for your courage to walk out of a “loveless” marriage. You were a brave woman to up and leave, with your son in tow, at a tender age of 22. That was not a common thing to do in the mid 70s, where the mindset of married women then was to suffer in silence. Separated women were looked down upon and judged maliciously by our “conservative” society.  Hence, most women were advised to stay married and be martyrs for the sake of convention. 

The future was uncertain. You had no concrete plans to speak of. What you had was a loving family that gave you and your son all the love and support you needed. That was enough for you to live and give you strength. You also had a strong conviction and belief that happiness was a choice and you were tired of being sad and miserable.  You knew that your choice to walk out would ultimately be good for your self-esteem, your personal growth and your happiness.

After you languished in depression for a couple of months, with your loving parents encouragement and with God’s amazing grace, you pulled yourself up and applied to work in a travel agency, even without any experience. You were relatively successful in this endeavor and your boss was so sad when you quit. Thumbs up on that!

You decided to join your sister in Paris and pursue your interest in the French language and the arts. Your years in Paris were unforgettable. Those years enriched your life and opened new horizons for you. They were also years of fun and loving relationships.

In hindsight, if you knew then what you know now, you would have settled down with that sweet Belgian guy who adored you and thought the world of you and your son. Marriage was the farthest thing from your mind because of the failure of your first one, but there are men who are good marriage material. They are not all alike.

You went to New York and became a licensed realtor. Instead of doing that, you should have pursued your dream of being a hot shot international lawyer. Every time you passed the United Nations on 1st Avenue, you always daydreamed of working at that address as an International lawyer, fighting for human rights.You put so many hindrances to pursue that dream, there were ways and means to go about those hindrances.   

In your next life, I have only one advice for you: dream big and pursue your dreams at whatever cost. Winning over the obstacles make the victory even sweeter. 

Here are ten beauty tips for a positive outlook:

 1. Set a goal on how you wish to look and work on yourself from the top of your head to the tips of your toes.
2. Your body is the only one you have. Respect it by eating healthy and having a healthy lifestyle.
3. Your hair is your crowning glory so patronize the right hairdresser and ask advice on proper haircare.
4. Enhance your beauty with the right amount of makeup.
5. Do not be a fashion victim. If you are heavy-set, don’t use clothes that look good only on slim women.
6. Exercise is a must. It releases feel-good hormones like  endorphins, estrogen and dopamine. Exercise gives one a euphoric feeling and empowers the body.
7. Stay slim. Strive to maintain a fighting weight that make you feel good and beautiful inside out.
8. Develop good hygienic habits. Body odor is offensive to people you interact with.
9. Keep abreast of the latest technology. Learning and studying anything new stimulate the mind.
10. You carry your smile everywhere. Keep your pearly whites cavity free.
11. Be spiritual and have a personal relationship with God. A spiritual glow which one achieves by having inner peace is your best beauty weapon.

Photography by Reay Gutierez 


Charo Santos Concio

Dear Charo,

The person that will be most amazed by what you can become is yourself. Your potential is so much greater than what you think and what people may tell you. When you want to achieve something, work hard for it. There is success in consistency. You will regret more the things you didn’t do than the things you have tried.

Continue to strive to be a better version of yourself – Defy expectations. Never settle. Be the best beautiful person that you can be. And remember,  you will be the best person to validate yourself.

Photography by Yukie Sarto


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