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Smelling good (without going into debt to buy French perfume)

I used to have a keen sense of smell. It’s probably a vestigial faculty from my ancestors who, as hunter-gatherers in the wild of Panay, needed all their five senses heightened. But my nose has been dulled by age, Metro Manila’s pollution, and my own careless olfactory experiments.  Once, I almost killed myself by being...


In the highlands with the grand old lady of ‘batok’

Carpe diem! What do Apo Whang-Od and I have in common? Let me (presumptuously) try to count the ways. Apo Whang-Od, the oldest living tattoo artist—mambabatok—has become Vogue’s oldest cover star, and I have branded myself as the oldest stariray with tattooed arms in my clan.  And like her, I have a following, too! My...


The conglomerate that a ‘sari-sari’ store built

PANGLAO ISLAND, Bohol—A group of companies that grew from a sari-sari store in Bohol’s capital Tagbilaran City has been so dominant in the commercial center business that mall magnates like the Sys, Ayalas, Gokongweis, Gotianuns or Gaisanos have not gained a foothold in the province.  Alturas Group of Companies (AGC) is the clear mall king...


Hidilyn Diaz, aka ‘powerhouse’

Because she did it again, “powerhouse” may well be her middle name.  Filipino weightlifter Hidilyn Francisco Diaz-Naranjo, now 31, added three more gold medals to complete her collection and finally became a world champion at the ongoing IWF World Weightlifting Championships held in Bogota, Colombia, starting Dec. 5.  Hidilyn reigned over Rosalba Morales of Colombia...


A ‘trattoria’ in Silang, Cavite? That’s ‘amore’

Tucked in semi-commercial Bulihan in bucolic Silang, Cavite, is a “trattoria”-style restaurant called “Cotoletta Ni Saletta.” It gets its name from the owners, Matteo Saletta, an Italian who speaks Filipino quite fluently, and his wife, Jonie Olandag-Saletta, a Filipino who speaks Italian like a native.  In Italy, a trattoria is a small restaurant usually run...