Freeman Cebu Lifestyle

A barber's tale

Laralee Villaver - The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines - Some barbers just cut hair - others do wonders. A barber in Mojon, Talisay possesses an incredible talent that's quite hard to find around. Aside from being good in cutting hair, he is also amazing at creating graphics and faces right on men's heads.

This unique talent of Neshell Dacalos, 33 years old, he got from his Lolo. His Uncle Boy was also a very good barber, although the only one to have it among the 12 siblings. His other uncles and aunts may have had the talent in them, too, but just did not pursue it.

Now, in his generation, Neshell seems to be the one to have inherited the talent. He recalls starting to cut the hair of his classmates, or their fathers, during his freshman year in high school, in 1994. He would go house to house after class to do service. He would not even ask for a fee back then, he says; it was his costumers who would insist in paying him. The five or ten pesos he would get was already big amount for him, he recalls.

After graduating high school, he got a job in different barber shops, including in his Uncle Boy's. Eventually, he was able to put up his own barber shop… in August last year. This was a major accomplishment for him, because raising the capital money was not easy, given his little income in working at somebody else's shop.

Slowly, Neshell was able to build up a solid customer base. But with the business competition, he knew he had to come up with something that could not be found in the other shops. Being basically good in drawing, he started doing graphics on his friends' heads - playing with the hair as his medium!

The gimmick worked; he became known for it. People got curious how he was able to do his graphic art on human heads. They knew how difficult it is to draw well on paper, much more on people's heads.

Actually, Neshell has natural talent with his hands. He can draw. A charcoal drawing he once did of his wife is one proof. Now and then, he would draw different kinds of things.

His so-called "haircut graphics" has not been around very long yet; it started only in 2010. One work of art he is most proud of is his "Spider Web." And lately, he has caught public attention by forming the faces of famous persons - like Michael Jackson and boxing champ Manny Pacquiao - in his haircuts.

This talented man with scissors - or razors - has dreams and ambitions. One of these is something quite surprising to know. He wants to be a journalist. His idols are local broadcasters Ruphil Bañoc, Leo Lastimosa, and Bobby Nalzaro, whose face he recently drew in a customer's haircut.

Had he the chance to go to college, Neshell would have taken up Journalism and be a successful media personality himself. He likes the way his media idols express their opinions on different issues. In his own opinion, corruption is one of the reasons why people can't reach their dreams. He explains why he thinks so: Corruption hinders many kids from attaining success when government money intended for basic services, like education, goes to the pockets of government officials instead.

When asked of his regrets in life, he laughed saying he felt like a 19-year-old being asked such question. He could not think of any regret, because he only counted his blessings. He must have had regrets, for sure, human as he is, but these were probably well outnumbered by the blessings that came his way.

He considers his unique artworks having been featured in the local media recently a big blessing. The opportunity to have his gift known to others is something he did not expect, though. This talented barber is a humble man.

Asked for a message for co-barbers and aspiring barbers, Neshell said that money should not be the only thing that matters. He cited a situation: You rush through a customer's haircut because other costumers are waiting; you may earn more money today, but you have no assurance for next time. Meaning, people may not come back because you have not given them the service they deserved.

"Customer satisfaction" is the word. It is key in his line of business. A simple business principle indeed - but not so common.


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