Barbershop Philosophers

As a child, I went to the nearest barbershop a few blocks away from our house in my hometown.  I remember being fascinated with all the barber stuff. There were several combs of different shapes and sizes, and I won’t forget the first time I saw and heard the electric shaver that would be used on my nape when I ask for a “barbers cut” plus the sharp “labaha” or razor that the barber would use on my  .

What I remember most though, was the distinct “manliness” of the place. There were plenty of calendar cum posters on the walls displaying scantily-clad women endorsing alcoholic beverages. The posters, containing beautiful, sexy and voluptuous women, masquerading as calendars were all over the place. In fact it may have been the reason why I got interested in girls at a very young age.

I’ve heard that same barber also circumcises young boys during summer when classes have already ended and we are enjoying the summer break. Luckily my parents took me and my brothers to a hospital to get circumcised instead of falling in line among the boys at my neighborhood. It would have been fun falling in line with my friends but the thought of not having anesthetic was probably more painful than the actual circumcision.

Even as a young child, I could sense that a barbershop was a cool hang out for men. Every adult who waited for their turn to have their hair cut would also stay for awhile and converse with the barber. The barber was a fascinating guy with plenty of interesting stories to tell. And his clients in turn feel at ease to say what’s on their mind. Adding to the enjoyment is that a variety of men take part in the conversation; young, old, and middle-aged join in the mix. They will talk about almost everything under the sun. They will chat about local and foreign celebrities, the storm that hit a province, vehicular accidents, their problem with their wives or mother -in-law, etc, but most especially about politics and government officials. In between the banter, jokes are told and laughs are had. And everyone is definitely involved.

During those times there was no convenience of having the Internet and getting news online. Most relied from the radio, TV, the newspapers, and their neighbors to get the latest scoop of the day. There was no Facebook or twitter to provide them with the latest news or “chismiz”. I can very well say that I indeed learned a lot about the current events including the “sighs” of the ordinary people from the barbershop.

The barbershop was the equivalent of our online forums today. Each individual in the barbershop had their own interpretation of the news and the possible backgrounder or insider stories behind those news. Just like our online forums where each one would have their own conspiracy theory. There were also the jokers and provocateurs, similar to the clowns and trolls of the chat rooms.

Too bad I only needed to visit the barbershop once in every month. But I have to admit I do look forward to the day when I needed to go back to the barbershop to have my hair trimmed “gupit-binata”.

I think there’s a good argument that barbershops are among the world’s last civic forums where people go today just to talk with others in the community. Coffee shops? Every time I go to a coffee shop, people are at their own tables minding their own business. The only other place that I can think of is a bar, but bars are now co-ed instead of being bastions of manliness.

Emmanuel Santos, another witness presented by the defense as a hostile witness at the Impeachment trial, said he was motivated to file the complaint because a lot of people in the barbershops, coffee shops and Club 265 have been debating that the Chief Justice had bank deposits that are grossly disproportionate to his income. “It does not tally”.

“I just heard from barbershop philosophers their impressions…also in the graduate school and PhD class, entrepreneurs and political leaders and experts in their own fields,” he said.

“It compelled me to file (at the Ombudsman) this unexplained wealth case against the Chief Justice.” he told the impeachment court. He also said that it only took him one hour to dictate the complaint letter to his staff, which did the filing for him. But he also said that it took him more time to think it over before deciding to file a case against the Chief Justice.

He filed a complaint against the Chief Justice before the Ombudsman last February after hearing about all these multimillion bank accounts and real estate properties.

“As an academician…I felt intectual integrity compelled me, led me to file this complaint before the Ombudsman” says Santos.

Santos is a lawyer and the chairman and CEO of the International Academy of Management and Economics (IAME) in Makati City, which was recently ordered closed by the Commission on Higher Education, (but he did say it was not yet legally closed).

Santos admitted he has no direct or personal knowledge of Corona’s dollar accounts upon prodding of defense lawyer Jose Roy III, dripping with unbridled sarcasm towards Santos. Thank goodness Presiding officer Senator Judge Juan Ponce Enrile called Roy’s attention and halted him. Otherwise he could have continued to make fun of the “barbershop” testimonies of Santos.

“I want to highlight the fact that the Chief Justice’s bank deposit is grossly disproportionate with his salary basing on newpaper reports…This complaint is meant to trigger the investigation of the Ombudsman on the Chief Justice,” Santos said.

I do not mind what compelled Santos to make a move against Corona.

Similarly, I wouldn’t mind if everyone who really cares about the condition of our nation would stand up and follow his example.

I dont really care whether you were motivated by your family, friends, relatives, colleagues, neighbors, the news on TV or radio, from newspaper tabloids or broadsheet, from the tinderas at the “palengke”, from the “tambays” at the Internet cafe,  from the passengers at the jeepney, or from the Juan you only met yesterday. As long as you took the effort and time to get involved and leave the safe comfort of being just a spectator.

I am encouraging everyone to get involved and take part of constructive nation building. Get involved and fight for what we believe is right and towards a positive change.

Sometimes we need to take sides and be biased just to prove a point.

If you are neutral in situations of injustice, then you have chosen the side of the oppressor.

Not taking sides is for sissies. Be a man!

You can be biased and/or choose your side. It’s okay. But you have to be objective. Be objective, not neutral.

Pretending to be neutral is even worse.

Huling Hirit:

Honestly, nowadays I seldom go to the barbershop because of the proliferation of co-ed salons, and the popularity of gay hairdressers doing excellent haircuts.

But the incident at the Senate Impeachment court made me want to come back to a barbershop to have my haircut. Who knows, maybe  I really would get more credible information from them. Maybe I would get more motivated in getting involved.

One thing for sure is that I would definitely try to look for a barber who would not only do a smooth haircut for me, but someone who could keep me awake with his smart, amusing and humorous barbershop philosophies, and won’t lull me to sleep because of illogical, irrational and nonsensical facts. The information I may get may all be “unverified” , “unauthenticated” and ” fabricated” rumors, still it is good enough for me to once again get a glimpse of the minds and hearts of the common people.

My Personal Prayer

Lord, give us the wisdom
To know what is right
The courage to do it, and
The strength to persevere..

Kahit pa pilit siraan ang pagkatao ko ng mga abogado ng isang Punong Mahistrado,
Kahit pa sabihang wala namang saysay at katuturan ang source at motivation ng reklamo ko,
Kahit pa pagtawanan at kutyain ako in National TV at sa mga online communities,

Kahit pa lait-laitin, pagmumurahin at hiyain ako ng isang Senadora at pilit i-admonish,
Kahit tawagin pa akong sinungaling ng isang Senador at pagbintangang nagbebenta ng istorya,
Kahit pa ako ang paghinalaang may gawa-gawa ng mga pekeng dokumneto at tawaging Mister Anonymous,

Kahit takutin pa ako ng isang Senador and hingan ng paliwanag so as not to be sued for being in contempt of court,
Kahit ano pa ang ibato nila sa akin ay pilit kong susuklian ng respeto at isang magalang na sagot

Kakayanin ko ang lahat ng kanilang pang-aalipusta at paninirang-puri
Basta alam kong tapat ang aking puso at nasa panig ako ng katotohanan.

This I pray unto you, my Lord.


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