ONLY the hands grow old, but the skill that lets them cut hair cleanly survives.
Conrado Tomugdan, 66, has witnessed the construction of the Talisay flyover, among many changes, as a barber in Dennis’ Barber Shop, established in the 1980s.
“The men whose heads I had styled grew up to be fine citizens. One became a lawyer, another one became a priest, and so many more,” Tomugdan told SunStar Cebu.
He and an old friend, Dionisio Padayogdog, 64, are proud that they are two of the most experienced barbers in the city of Talisay. Their barbershop is nestled between a pharmacy and a vulcanizing shop beside the bridge in Tabunok, from where they’ve watched the city grow. But some things haven’t changed.
“The style we used to cut the hair of our customers before is still the same with the younger ones. They still apply. There’s really no such thing as old-fashioned when it comes to cutting men’s hair,” Padayogdog said.
In another barbershop, the biggest one in Tabunok market, supervisor Francisco Navarro, 61, shares an observation that comes from years of attending to clients, rich or poor.
“No matter how rich you are, when you’re inside the barbershop, the barber gets to touch your head. The brush, the scissors were not only for you but for all the others. All men are on equal standing when they get their haircut,” he said, chuckling.
Navarro said they employ young barbers to keep in touch with the hype. “Most of our patrons really prefer the young barbers because they are open to any style suggestions,” he said.
The shop has seen plenty of competition, but Navarro said they attract a lot of clients, especially during the opening and closing of classes.
“That’s our peak season. Our 14 barbers get to cut the hair of close to a hundred customers during that time,” he said.
How does an aspiring barber make the cut?
“The first thing we look for in a barber is three to five years of experience. The second one is honesty,” he said. Catering to the haircut and grooming needs of men in Talisay City (home to 227, 645 people based on the 2015 census), Navarro said that they want only the best for their clients.
“It’s a family business. It’s really my mother and my brother who own the place but I get to supervise it. Sometimes, we don’t hit the income target but as long as we’re earning, the barbershop lives on,” he said.
A short drive away, in Barangay Mohon, Gifted Hands Barbershop prides itself on having topnotch barbers with a unique selling point. They can style hair just like Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao’s or Lebron James’. They can even form words. The barbershop gained some publicity and fame after its owner, Neshell Dacalos, 36, cut someone’s hair to form a portrait of Pacquiao’s face.
“Many customers flocked to our shop from far-flung places just to have their hair cut like that. It got to the point that I had to hire additional barbers and build another shop to accommodate all of them,” Dacalos told SunStar Cebu.
Dacalos also trained two of his nephews to make hair art.
“We have only two branches but we can handle 2,000 heads per month,” he said.
Now, Dacalos plans to give back to the community by offering free haircuts to students two days a week in Mohon.
“We give our customers a haircut that they like, to the point that they would not go to other barbers unless they have no choice. I have a patron whose hair I’ve been cutting since he was a child,” he said.
Every barber, he believes, should cut hair in a way that exceeds their customers’ expectations.
“There’s always competition but if you do your job properly and skillfully and it shows in your work, rest assured that you’ll never run out of customers,” he said.
Published in the SunStar Cebu newspaper on December 17, 2017.
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