BARBER shops and beauty salons are now open. Like all others, they were closed when in early March the coronavirus spread like wildfire hereabouts and around the globe.

For more than five months, people have experienced sporting long hair and beard by men. Some liked them; others felt uncomfortable. Women missed their beauty treatments of hair trimming, facial massage, manicure and pedicure.

In most cases, "do it yourself" initiatives were done to look better and comfy. Family members had to learn using the cutting scissors on each other to look good.

It goes without saying everybody saved money except the barbers and beauticians who lost income.

This brings to mind the most expensive haircut in the world. This is done in the heart of the Cordilleras among the Ifugaos.

It involves the first haircut for a young Ifugao child. It is called "kolot" in the Tuwali dialect of the ancient township of Kiangan. Only the culturally rich or "kadangyan" can afford to perform such a ritual.

Tradition dictates that before the first strands of hair are cut by the Mumbaki or native priest, three medium-size pigs, a water buffalo and some chicken are butchered and offered to the spirits of ancestors and Ifugao deities.

Vital signs of acceptance are meticulously scrutinized and analyzed from the bile/s of the pigs and chicken. Should any indication show otherwise another pig/chicken or more must be sacrificed and offered until the ancestors and deities are satisfied?

I was privy to one occasion performed some ten years ago.

"We are talking of no less than P150,000.00 in expenses to include jars of native wine, liquor and other incidentals that would feed a greater part of the towns' population," says Nena Bulahao-Dait, grandmother of the honoree.

More animals and chicken aside from the required animals, must have to be butchered to feed the expected multitude of relatives, visitors and guests, she added.

Center in this fading Ifugao ritual was Casey Carson Dait, who at four years of age then was sporting beyond shoulder length of hair and could be mistaken as a girl. He is the first of two children born to Lysil Balis-Dait and Clyde Dait. Both are residing in the USA and, like their parents, work in the medical field.

Casey may not be aware of what the bustling activities were all about. However, like any kid having a haircut will make the loudest and most expensive tantrums when the Munbaki does his thing with scissors.

The "Kolot" was done at the family home at Pico, Kiangan, Ifugao.

Relatives and neighbors near and far attended the celebration and stood as a witness at the cultural transition of a child into boyhood. They came with the eagerness for a festivity bringing along with them jars of rice wine, rice, vegetables and additional animals to feed the mass of well-wishers.

"The gods are entreated to shower their favors upon the boy celebrant and make him manly and brave upon reaching manhood," wrote Manuel B. Dulawan in his book "Oral Literature of the Ifugao."

Dulawan, a former district schools supervisor, explains that "two interesting features of the kolot are the spearing of the betel palm or banana trunks by the men and the eating by the celebrant of the leg of a sacrificial rooster." These must be done simultaneously following the night-long ritual orchestrated by the native priest.

"Aside from the fact that his family has gained some degree of social prestige, the boy will have a marked social degree of recognition among his peers in his later life because he is nungkolot..." Dulawan concluded.