My Top 5 Must-Haves

My Top-5 Must Haves reflect who I am at the core – practical, outdoorsy, and austere. I am so impressed by people who live simply but have great lives. Jean from Extra Petite, taught me to masterfully curate my wardrobe. I love quick and logical solutions to makeup. Also, I read a lot about the traveling life, because I find travelers the wisest bunch with zero-baggage. A minimalist life helps the environment and fosters freedom from attachment and debt.

These are the Top 5 Things I swear by:


1. Coconut Oil

Aussie-Chinese fashion blogger Margaret Zhang introduced me to extra virgin coconut oil. Here’s one thing about her – every picture is like a Vogue editorial. She wrote in her blog:

“I don’t use makeup. I just slather coconut oil on my face every night and morning. Weekly, I condition my hair with it, too.”

If a beautiful girl benefits from all-natural coconut oil, then so can I. Two years later with daily use, I have smoother, clearer, whiter skin. Applying it before showering ended my dry skin problems from harsh winters. Research adds that extra virgin, unrefined coconut oil has anti-bacterial and anti-aging benefits. I can’t list them all, but here’s a good guide.


I use coconut oil for everything – rashes, small cuts, lotion, makeup remover, massage oil, hair mask, sugar scrub, etc. The skin absorbs it so quick, it makes it silky. Moreover, I keep a separate jar for cooking, like for chocolate mousse, frying, and adding a teaspoon for tea (it’s so healthy you can eat it). The best part: I get to save money!

2. Leather Notebook

“Writing comes out of a superior devotion to reading.” -Eudora Welty

How do you remember what you just read? Long-hand writing has been proven to improve memory better than typing. For writers and readers alike, a leather notebook is a worthy investment. As my all-time favorite website, Lifehacker would say, “spend money where your time is.” I bought this notebook from Martha Stewart’s collection on sale at Staples for $4.50.



3. Scarf

I found a green scarf in an Amvet thrift store for $5. With delicate patterns and a pashmina/silk combo, this scarf is my shield slash fashion accessory. I bring it with me on long drives from San Diego to Arizona or Seattle to Bellingham and long-haul flights from Los Angeles to the Philippines.

Big scarfs can be used as a blanket, cover-up for chilly weather, or for sanitary reasons when you don’t want to touch public seats. My college teammates teased me about sleeping in the car with a scarf covering my face. Yet, I’m the one who got most sleep that sustained my 3.8 GPA.

Buy one in quality fabric, possibly the most expensive you can afford. Or you can just be like me and peruse thrift stores. Good fabric = long-term use = multiple uses. Austere but on point.


4. Something Meaningful / Beautiful 


During freshman year, my mother gifted me with a set of pearl earrings. The reason why I don’t waste money on any other earring is because this piece is all-encompassing – it’s simple, timeless, practical in all sorts of dress and occasion, and holds a special reason. I now have a leather watch and an engagement ring to add to my daily arsenal. Truthfully, I don’t own much “stuff,” but the ones I do gets maximum wear and attention. Fashion people call this, “signature pieces.”

Your thing doesn’t have to be anything valuable. It simply needs to be dear and true to you.

5. A Bottle Of Water 

When I worked on a Raw Food seminar by Aris La Tham, he said:

“Bottled water is one of the biggest scams of modern-day society.”

If big-name corporations can sell billions of packed, perfectly clear and tasteless liquid that stay in constant state forever, well, there must be something wrong with it. (Note: he also said nature’s most perfect form of water is fresh coconut water.)
I understand the need for bottled water in times of calamity. But in our houses? What about  in our daily grind? I carry my own jug everywhere to keep hydrated. In turn, I save money and calories from sugary juices or colas. That bottle of water is in my waist pack, work bag, car, bedside table, refrigerator, work desk golf bag, etc. My fiance even jokes that I drink water more than a normal human being. The only downside I know is that I need a slightly bigger bag.


6. My prescription glasses – I’m myopic so I can’t even see my glasses when I take them off. 
7. iPhone – I listen to audiobooks and podcasts when I’m driving. Also, for informing my loved ones where I am when I’m hiking alone.


Whether I’m in San Francisco, San Diego, Cavite or Cebu, these five (or seven) things are my must-haves.  What do you bring with everyday?