Showing posts with label haircuts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label haircuts. Show all posts

Friday, January 2, 2015

More firsts and restoring hope in time for the new year

I wrote about a lot of firsts happening in the past year. I forgot to write about a few experiences including one that had me writing successive posts in tribute to a friend lost. It was indeed an eventful year and I just wanted to recap a few other firsts and then some other experiences last 2014.

A few months after moving to our new home, our beloved Labrador Retriever Troy was diagnosed with cancer. We had to monitor his condition and for two and a half months we had our weekly visits to the vet for his blood work and medication. We ruled out going to a high end clinic and relied on our vet and the UP Vet Hospital to administer the tests and medication. Troy was ruled out of a certain viral infection but was positive for another that probably affected his immune system and weakened him a lot. We spent a lot of sleepless nights before he given steroids and pain killers to ease his condition. He passed away last August as we said tearful goodbyes before he was put to sleep by his vets who were also teary eyed during the procedure. Prior to his passing and to ease the pain of the loss we had adopted a puppy, a Golden Retriever whom we named Mocha but also call Mokey. She is now almost full-grown but still very much a puppy at heart.

Our Mocha enjoying the morning sun
We had to attend to several government transactions last year including those that required us going to city hall to have our homes appraised for real estate taxes. I say "homes" because I was referring to both our old and new houses. The Clairvoyant had attended to the payments for 2014 and those were made at the temporary site at the provincial capitol. The payments for 2015 had to be made at the newly renovated Antipolo City Hall and we did it in mid December to avail of the incentive of a 20% discount on property taxes for people paying before 2015. It was a bit chaotic when we arrived (a lot of other people were thinking about the same incentive and flocked to city hall) but things eventually calmed down and with a system in place it was smooth sailing for our payment.

Earlier in December, I had to book an appointment with the Department of Foreign Affairs to renew my passport. Fortunately, their system was one of the more efficient ones in government and their satellite offices allowed people to go to a more convenient venue for consular services. It was my first time to renew my passport in one of these satellite offices and it took me under 3 hours including and mostly due to the long queues because of additional people who came in after missing their appointments the previous 2 days because of foul weather (There was a typhoon early in  the week and government offices were closed.). The DFA did their part in releasing my passport a week before Christmas (I paid extra for the rush.) but it was the courier service who failed to deliver my passport before the Christmas break. Tracking my passport online, I was angry about the report that the package could not be delivered because of "incorrect address" and "no one in office." These were flimsy excuses for a major courier company especially after they sent me messages on two occasions asking for directions to my office, which I promptly replied to and with details. I ended up getting my passport after Christmas and just before the New Year break. 

We always hear and read about horror stories involving services rendered by government and private entities. There are just too many and these happen to often to a lot of people despite the availability of tools such as IT to make things more efficient. The Clairvoyant had the misfortune of experiencing one of the still inefficient transactions - getting a clearance from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI). A lot of people have to go through this as a requirement for job applications, visa applications and other matters requiring the NBI Clearance. Yet, despite their efforts for electronic transactions, their system still falls short of the efficiency required for such an important requirement for employment, travel and other matters. Clearly, they need to double their efforts as the procedure and the queues for NBI Clearance has become a poster image for government inefficiency notwithstanding the kilometer-long queues for the EDSA-MRT.

We look forward to a lot of things, mostly improvements to basic services that government and private entities owe to people. We do pay for these with our taxes and the fees that we agreed to based on services they have promised to deliver. More often these are expensive fees and thus we expect to get the most out of the hard-earned cash that we turn over as payment to these services. That is only right and fair and what many of us have seen as being delivered with efficiency in other countries. Having lived in Japan and Singapore, we have seen how services can be rendered efficiently and effectively and how such delivery enhances the quality of life in those countries. We are hopeful that we can get that high quality of services from bot government and private companies who are in-charge of utilities and other services.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Requiem for a barber

I learned over the weekend that my favorite barber passed away last week. Mang Alim was my barber from way back. If my memory serves me right, way back is freshman high school (1983). The only long spells from that time when I had my haircut elsewhere were the times I was in Japan studying (1996-1999) or as a Visiting Scientist (2001). I had no choice but to find a good barbershop there and was fortunate to have a suking barbero in Meguro, Tokyo.

I remember Alim had no questions or never contradicted the instructions given to him by his clients, whether they were suki (regulars) or new with the barbershop. He was always the silent type and seldom spoke or related tsismis (rumors) or other stories such as people would expect from traditional barber shops (i.e., kwentong barbero). We were regulars for a long time that whenever I or my father arrived at the barber shop, we were always given preferential treatment, going ahead of other customers except other regulars who were also familiar faces.

He always knew what to do when I sat on the barber's chair
Middle of last year, Alim wasn't around when I came for my regular, end of the month haircut. When I returned the following weekend, he was there and related that he was sick. He shyly asked me if I could help him with his medicines as the doctor prescribed several including expensive antibiotics. I didn't think twice and gave him money to purchase medicines. The following month he seemed better and asked me to grant him some time for him to repay the money he borrowed. I told him he didn't have to pay me and jokingly told him to give my father a free haircut when he comes to the shop. That was the last time I had a haircut with him as barber. 

Here's a toast to a decent person whom I consider as a friend. May your soul rest in peace Alim!
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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Haircuts at Mulong's

When the Clairvoyant came home last weekend, she took advantage of her open schedule to book an appointment for hair treatment. Haircuts and other procedures are quite expensive abroad and since she comes home quite often, she makes it a point to have her hair done at her suki at salon in a nearby mall. I think she must have been going this salon for a couple of years now and this after finding a good stylist and manicurist/pedicurist at that salon. She is quite picky when it comes to her hair and nails, and I understand this based on her having not so pleasant experiences with other stylists in the past. Of course, she also found good ones before but most of them eventually leave her old salons and either she couldn't trace them or the salons where they transferred to were not convenient to go to (e.g., out of the way, too far, etc.).

In my case, I have entrusted my hair to only one barber in the past 22 years, not counting the time I was in Japan from 1996 to 1999, when I found my barbershop of choice in the Meguro District of Tokyo. Not counted also are years when 2 or 3 barbers were giving me haircuts, particularly since in the years preceding my meeting my suking barbero I had no choice or was not the one who made decisions on who will cut my hair. Those years, it was my father who took me to the barbershop and who made the decisions (usually good ones) on who would cut my hair.

I remember I met Alim back in 1984 or 1985 at a makeshift barbershop at the Cainta Public Market. The barbershop, Mulong's, was named after its owner/proprietor Romulo Santos, who I remember was a fixture of sorts at the munisipyo, being identified with the Felixes who were the political clan to beat in Cainta until a TV news personality decided to run for mayor. Mulong's then was somewhat seedy, having wallpapers made up of a collage of magazine covers and centerfolds showing scantily-clad or nude starlets. Back in the 1980's, those starlets included the softdrink beauties, the Seiko talents, and those who acted in films produced by the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP). In fairness, some of those starlets were good actresses and we know them even today as the likes of Jaclyn Jose and Anna Marie Gutierrez. Wallpapers like that were supposed to attract the men, and that was how Mulong's barbershop was in those days - a rite of passage of sorts for teen-aged males who obviously enjoyed being taken by their fathers for haircuts and practically sanctioned our feasting our eyes on what may be considered as soft-porn.

Alim was always the silent one among the other barbers and was always made fun off by the others for his not engaging in chatter, the kwentong barbero that people seem to expect when having one's haircut. He would just smile and shrug off the jokes. He would always mind his own business and talk only to ask the customer what kind of haircut and/or how short the latter wanted it. He was one to always follow instructions and that was how I came to be his suki. During my ROTC years when I was a freshman and sophomore at the university. The rule then was for maxtol (maximum tolerance) haircuts; the equivalent of 1/2" (side) by 1" (back) cuts. I found the barbers at the university to be somewhat hardheaded and gave us 1 by 2 or 2 by 3 haircuts. Meanwhile, the other barbers at Mulong's (2 others aside from Alim) couldn't seem to find the consistency for giving me a maxtol haircut as I described to them. Only Alim knew what I wanted every time I sat on the chair every other week to maintain my maxtol (Note: ROTC was 16 Saturdays per semester over my first 2 years of university.). That was when I probably realized who was to cut my hair from then on.

Flash forward to more recent times and the old barbershop was eventually demolished along with other shops, stores and eateries to give way to the expansion of the market. The barbershop relocated to a formal stall where it is now located and I continued to go there for my regular haircuts. In fact, it was Alim who cut my hair when I needed a good cut for my yearbook photos, university graduations and yes, even my wedding. I would always just come to the barbershop, now named Romulo G. Santos Barbershop, and he would always know what to do when I sit down on the chair.



It's not only me who has been a suki of Alim for quite some time now as I also see former neighbors and other familiar faces who go to him for a haircut. Then, of course, there is also Tatay and my brother who also have their hair cut by Alim. We usually have small talk about anything under the sun and he still is the silent type who focuses on the task at hand once you're comfortable on the chair and have already given instructions for the haircut. And oh, did I mention the price of a cut is only 60 pesos?