15 December 2009

Selling Fragrance

A vendor with two variants: sampaguita with ylang-ylang and with kamya.

I've always wondered why the Philippines, in all its aromatic plant glory, does not have much of a fragrance industry. I found an acceptable answer from a friend's book onlocal healing, which pointed out that most "aromatherapy" in the country traditionally uses fresh leaves and flowers, which are available year-round due to the tropical weather.

With no need to distill a relatively non-perishable substance, the Filipinos would themselves aromatic steam baths by boiling leaves or "smoke" a plant by putting it over charcoal.

Filling the air with tiny bits of essential oil.

And they also made garlands! It is a good night when you roam around a garden or a street trying to figure out where a sweet smell is coming from. It is also a good place where you can buy a garland on the street to hang on your car window, bicycle frame, or religious statue.

Preserved from the heat in a styrofoam cooler.

While many depend on chemical fragrances and globs of mysterious car "freshening" substances for their olfactory needs, these vendors of inexpensive garlands serve as a reminder of another severed relationship with nature, or the plant species that have co-evolved with us through the centuries.

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