The Alchemist

“Sorry! The shop is such a mess”, she said, resuming her afternoon, last-minute task of cutting labels for the line of products sprawled across her table as she rushes for an event happening on the weekend.

I, of course, was instantly in love with her space: tugging at my artistic heartstrings, recognizing a creative at work. I had entered a local alchemist’s lair – bottles lined up against the wall and soaps stacked in wooden bowls lined in woven abaca fibers, the air wafting with the sweet aroma of natural oils. It was an assault to the senses – the good kind, my brain marrying the visual simplicity of her palette and labels, the subtle scents and the smooth texture of a sampler tin I chanced upon; its content spreading, well, like butter.

“You can call me Amps”, she asserted, bringing me back from my cloud of dreams. I continued to walk around wondering where I can start and she happily obliged me to make myself at home. I warmed up instantly. Here is a woman who let me into her home which doubles up as her shop, just a stone’s throw away from my house in Baguio.

Amparo Magallanes is the wonderful woman behind Amparo’s Apothecary, a home-based and locally conceived beauty and personal care brand I had found out about a few weeks ago from a common friend (Hi, Charm!). Born out of need for a natural product to counter her sensitivity to various allergens, Amps concocted her own body butter a few years ago, then a flight attendant, to use mid-flight. As good entrepreneurial story goes, her body butter instantly gained a small following made up of her fellow stewardess’ and friends. That was enough to set her to the path of venturing into business: something she initially did not consider, but largely encouraged to pursue by her friend and business mentor, Z. Three Panagbengas* later, she has gained traction locally, growing her fanbase everywhere, from which I promptly belonged.

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Amparo’s Apothecary’s flagship product is also her bestseller: African Shea Body Butter, which also comes in soap form. It spreads smoothly on the skin but isn’t greasy, perfect for low humidity and low temperatures: two conditions of an airplane cabin and the city she currently resides in. Her other body butters make for instant favourites as well, the Olive Horah being mine. The Almond Merengue, Grapefruit Frevo and Choco-Vanilla Cakewalk are basically food to me and you’ll understand why when you test them out at the shop or the various events AA participates in.

Other bestseller products include pillow sprays in four variants: Peppermint Pavane, Eucalyptus Snooze, Lavender Trance and Patchouli Forro. Her massage oils are perfect for your makeshift spa at home, especially the Peppermint variant which instantly rejuvenates. Essential oils are infused in her Activated Charcoal Soaps, great for drawing out skin impurities and leaving you fresh with either a lemon, lavender or peppermint scent.

At the recently concluded flower festival, I got myself one of the perfumes in the men’s line, Patience; a masculine and cool, floral scent likened to lily of the valley. Designed for both men and women, the perfume line represents other virtues/traits such as Grace, Courage, Humility and Integrity. Notable also is Innocence which was concocted for her daughter, with hubby, John Magallanes.

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I had met John first when I accidentally stumbled upon their stall along Session Road during Panagbenga. As an extension to their brand, John spearheads his recently released men’s line: John’s Collection, specializing in pomades, waxes, aftershaves, beard oils and foot sprays which I gravitated towards and which I undoubtedly think will expand into its own as early as the next festival offering.

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Get to know the woman behind this Baguio gem! Amparo’s Apothecary is located in the heart of Loakan Proper. To get there, head towards Loakan Airport and prior to reaching the runway, turn right into the parallel street, drive roughly two hundred meters and you’ll see a clearly marked water tank and gate. For inquiries you may reach Amparo at amparosapothecary@yahoo.com, Instagram, or catch them at local events.

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