Barber shops have been sprouting all over the city lately, and so have beauty salons. Surprisingly, some of the barbers from my youth are still around plying their trade, notably Allied Barber Shop which had their shop at Gomez Street fronting Tap Commercial years ago, but now have been relocated to a space behind the small alley.
I still remember the smell of the talcum powder and the horsehair brush they use to brush hair off my neck and face after a haircut, and they still use it to this day. The regular cut then was the white side wall, which meant shaving the whole back and sides of the head, leaving only a tuft of hair on the top. A barber’s straight edge razor was heavily used then but these tools have now been replaced with disposable blades for health reasons; some barbers were really old and their hands did shake a lot, leaving their customers with a lot of nicks on the head. The leather strops on which the straight edge razors are sharpened are also gone, and so goes the amazement in watching the barber masterfully work the razor and the suspense of thinking whether you’ll get out of the barber shop with both your ears intact or in your pockets. That is more than three decades ago and those days are gone now as I have no reason to visit the barber shop except to bring my son for his hair cut once every while. Aside from that, nothing much has changed, except maybe for the price of P50 per head, which is quite reasonable considering that the shops now are fully air-conditioned, and one gets a very brief massage before leaving.