My love affair with perfumes started as a child in Davao City, Philippines. Ever since I can remember, my childhood smelled of fresh flowers, fine fragrances and sterilized laboratory glasswares.
My father, having a keen interest in orchids, began cultivating a few varieties in the late 1970’s. Together with my mother, they successfully grew the business harvesting cut flowers all year round and supplying markets in the country’s capital, Manila.
The gardens became my playground where the distinct scent, color and pattern of flowers sparked my interest and tickled my imagination.
My mom on the other hand exposed me to the world of fine fragrances as she would constantly rotate her favorite fragrances such as Estee Lauder’s Beautiful and Pleasures, Calvin Klein’s Eternity and Cacherel’s Anais Anais. I remember sneaking into her closet where the bottles were stored under towels and bed linen in order to get a whiff of the amber colored liquid inside the exquisitely crafted bottles and boxes.
I guess my young and curious mind, through the help of some encyclopedias, was able to put together these two early exposures- that flowers, when boiled in water and mixed, could end up as perfumes.
These curiosities were nurtured and explored as we had a small home-based laboratory for orchid culture. I would use sterilized beakers and flasks to boil different flowers and mix the “oils” to make my own perfumes. To others they may just be a mixture of boiled water. But for me, they were the best smelling fragrances in the world!
Sadly, I developed severe asthma growing up which forced my parents to close the business and let go of most of the plants and the laboratory. They’ve kept a few orchids in our garden just enough to sustain a hobby.
Just recently, I made a quick visit back home and found these Waling-waling in full bloom.
The sight and smell of these prized blooms instantly took me 20 years back . And although the gardens that have become my playground are long gone, I am happy that I carried my childhood fancies and transformed them into a deep and strongly-rooted passion for perfume-making.