Barbers’ Tales (Mga Kuwentong Barbero)
Meet the barbers in my neighbourhood: Jun, Nhel, Bob Marley, Dondon, JR, Benjie P, Vic, Dex, Randy, Benjie B, Dodoy, Denie, Along, Bryan, Jay and Michael. They are your typical everyday heroes who make a living snipping hair and telling stories.
They have all kinds of stories to share. Their stories are filled with adventure, success, sometimes failure, of mystery, or crime, of the usual neighborhood gossip. You name it. They’ll have an anecdote to match. For 40 pesos (less than $1 U.S. dollar) per haircut—except for one who charges 10 pesos more because his shop is air-conditioned—you get your money’s worth. If it’s a really bad hair day, they’ll even let you have it for free.
You can get a crew cut, One Direction Zayn Malik hairstyle, a flat top, an army cut, a trim, a mohawk, a side parting, a mop top, a white side wall, dreadlocks or even a pompadour.
With or without proper training, they will give you the best hairdo in a cozy or dusty two-by-two-meter shop. Or perhaps you might like it better in a half-barber half-chicken meat stall? Amidst the stench of chicken innards and feet. Or why not with reggae music playing in the background? Or perhaps you prefer the one with the rooster crowing? Or maybe bikini-clad centerfold posters and religious artifacts are more your style? There’s one with both. As tough as life is, this bunch will remain true to their art form.
As Mark Twain once said, “All things change except barbers, the ways of barbers, the surrounding of barbers. These never change. . . ” Even with the new Philippine President heralding “change is coming,” barbers will never change. They will stay proud, funny, brave, resilient, adventurous and honourable.
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