Oh Where, Oh Where Has My Barber Gone… ?
Back in my home country, the U.S., it seemed like I was in a constant search for a decent barber, or just on who could remember me after a half-dozen visits and how I liked my hair to be cut. From barber shops to hair salons to national franchises like Mastercuts or JC Pennys at the mall, I could just not find that person who could remember my hair. I even stuck with a Wal-Mart Stylists for a short while, but I felt like I was paying way too much for a haircut that was made in China. With what it costs to get a haircut these days, you would think most barbers and stylists would put some effort into keeping their clients happy. My go-to guy back home was a 69-year-old heart attack survivor who, together with his wife, had fostered 27 foster children through their home over the years. I know that while the state provided them a financial incentive (so to speak) to care for each child, it was usually barely enough to house, clothe, feed and raise a child. Cheaper by the dozen was his motto, and with “more love to go around” as he would say. I guess I kind of felt sorry for Larry, because he was still cutting hair at his age to make ends meet, when he should have long been retired. He was the cheapest Barber I knew at $10 per regular haircut ( in 2012), and I always gave him a tip. He was not a good barber (his eyesight was failing) and many times my wife would have to perform some touch-up on me when I got home, but I felt good – and the destruction of the hair on my head was for a good cause.
Since coming here to live in the Philippines, it really hasn’t made much difference to me. Most barbers here are attentive. Some are schooled and trained, others not at all. But they all can cut hair and most pay close attention to detail because it truly is their “rice and fish” (as opposed to bread and butter). In the barangay, haircuts can go for as little as P20 and in the city here the going price is P50 ($1.00 USD). I have seen some salons charge P100, but why pay exorbitant prices when you can get it cut for P50? Most still use a razor blade or straight razor to shave your neck and some will provide a little neck and shoulder massage at the end. Many of the barbers I have visited do a good job, but I have a hard time communicating particulars about their finished product… my head! The last barber I had for nearly a year and I really liked his consistency (except he could not remember which side my part was on), but he had an air conditioner malfunction and there seemed to be no sense of urgency to get it fixed. There is nothing worse than sweating in a barber’s chair, all the while having short-clipped hairs sticking to all exposed skin, pinching you all day long.
Now, the Parlor!
So I moved on once again and decided to try out a new salon in Calbayog City that recently opened. Reyes Hair Salon (National Chain). Clean, spacious and fully air-conditioned, it felt comfortable as soon as I walked through the door. And the kid who cut my hair speaks near-perfect English. I remember my second visit to this parlor, “Van” asked me if I wanted my hair cut the same way he cut it last time. He actually remembered how he cut my hair when I couldn’t even remember his name. Now that is a good start in my book (my tip might have had something to do with his memory recall function!). I replied “Yes, exactly… please!”
I think I found a home!
So when in Calbayog City, ask for “Van” at the Reyes Hair Salon. And make sure you give him a good tip – he will have earned it! Located at the intersection of Asis and Bugallon Streets in Calbayog City.