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Barbershop along Teresa: A Barber’s Tale

Barbershop along Teresa: A Barber’s Tale

Along the busy street of Teresa, a small space where the barbershop of Elpidio Espeso or “noknok” is located. Entering his barbershop, you can hear the traffic accompanied by music from his cell phone and buzzing from his razor as he smoothly cuts his customer’s hair. Noknok’s a simple place you should not underestimate. People line up for his service starting including children, adults, neighbors, and also students at the nearby university— PUP.

Barbershop along Teresa: A Barber’s Tale

A Barber’s Tale

Photo | Kristen Javier

According to Noknok, at the age of 24, he has been cutting hair for over a decade. He claims that he comes from the line of a true barber. A passion influenced by his uncle from a young age. 

“When I was younger, I would hang out at the barbershop that we own where my uncle did haircuts. Later, when I moved to Manila it became my bread and butter.”

 “Being a barber is engraved in my blood.”

– Elpidio Espeso

Using the money from when he sold their motorcycle, Elpidio bought his own equipment and got a place to start the job he envisioned for himself. From then on, his skill in cutting hair has become his way to support himself and his family in Bicol. Usually earning 1,500 pesos a day, he is able to meet his daily needs, send money to the province, and save a little for the future he dreams of – his own barbershop.

Barbershop life during the pandemic

Photo | Kristen Javier

But as they say, life is not always sunshine and rainbows. When the pandemic hit,  many establishments were not allowed to open and barbershops were one of them. Because of this, Elpidio had to use his savings to meet his and his family’s needs. He would have used this to buy his dream motorcycle or house. 

“Nothing. Chairman ordered us to stop operating. Even home services were not availed by people because they are also afraid of the virus.”

Meanwhile, as the pandemic restrictions began lifting, Elpidio’s customers are gradually returning. Even though his barber shop has not fully recovered to its previous vigor as it was before the pandemic, he said he will continue to do the work he knows and loves.

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“That’s life,” he replied shortly. 

Photo | Kristen Javier

Elpidio and his barbershop story

Barber’s tale is an idiom that is often used to refer to a story that is purely false. I often wonder why we associate a noble work to describe an unreliable story. If we only listen to the true story of the barbers.

We might have a different perspective on the term “barber’s tale” because some stories of trials, hard work, strategy, and talent like Elpidio’s are real stories that are not far from the story of every Filipino. 

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