JANUARY 2, Wednesday afternoon. I needed a haircut to give myself the look of a new year. Most of the barber shops I used to visit had heavy lines of habitués, mostly elementary male pupils. At last, I found one. His rate is beyond the ordinary.
I was the first customer. After fixing me on his chair, he gave his opening statement, “You are not the usual guy...first time?” I gave him a short answer hoping that he will allow me to close my eyes. “I am from Silay. I am a retired government employee.” He made follow-up utterances. “So, you are from Negros. I thought you are from Iloilo also because the last three customers I had this morning are from Iloilo.”
He continued his recitation. “The last guy told me that Iloilo politics is hot. Here in Negros, it is not exciting. The provincial leaders have decided to have two in one, just like instant coffee...no thrill.
Anyway, whoever becomes governor, as hacendero, he will always run the province like the hacienda. There was this guy who claimed that he was a vaquero but when he won, he was acting as hacendero all the way.”
I was obliged to open my mouth. “There are hacendero politicians who are down to earth. They are good. I can mention some. It can’t be denied also that there are politicians belonging to the old school. They are the traditional politicians who still engage in feudal practices in our region and in other regions. They are there for a longer period and have established their political dynasty.”
He stopped cutting my hair to punch a point. “You are correct. Voters should vote with an open mind. In our region, Negros-Panay-Guimaras, we have to push candidates with new vision and who can work hard. Let us not just listen to the barkers of the politicians on the radio. Many of them are political mercenaries. That is why I am telling my barbers here to talk to their suki (regular clients) to vote for the qualified candidates.”
He was holding a razor. “I believe in our bishop here that good politics is for the service of peace. Good politics protects the rights of the people and promotes life. Those in politics should protect our natural resources. The church is against the coal-fired power plant. We cannot afford to poison the future generation.”
He was giving finishing touches to my hair. The mirror reveals my new look...from pagan cut to the better me. I gave my last statement. “Politics is always like that. Politicians want to be happy by believing that happiness in life comes from joining together what one would like to have and what is inevitable. You are not just a good barber. You talk so well.”
He replied. “This is my hobby job. I work in a rural bank. I don’t believe that you are just a retired employee. Why did you not join politics?”
“That possibility never entered my mind.”