Monday, November 02, 2009


Meet Mang Terry, barber, 71, married with 5 kids. He cuts hair all day long at the Alabang Public Market. His mind is as sharp as his scissors and razor when it comes to politics. He knows the heroes and the heels in government. And much more.

I must admit that I look forward to my haircut day with him every 12 days. The moment I sit on his swinging chair is the same moment he starts telling me stories like a storyteller would to a 7-year old kid. Amazingly and astonishingly accurate this Mang Terry. His stories almost always confirm things I had previously heard from another source. It always keeps me guessing where he would get these news. From other customers perhaps? From the radio? From palengkeras? Whatever his source, it must be from an unimpeachable one. The only time Mang Terry would stop blabbering is when my haircut was over and I would step down from his chair. He would then continue with the next customer I suppose. I never fail to reward him with a generous tip for his 'breaking news.' He should be employed at the Office of the Press Secretary where I am quite sure he would be a threat to all the fibbers in that department, I thought. He knows his politics like a true scholar of the subject. They only know how to juggle them.

On the other hand -

Meet King Archelaus, perpetrator of that ancient joke about replying "in silence," to the barber who asked him how he should cut his hair, and how he would be pleased to know that his tradition is occasionally carried on in the modern era.

A man, who might well stem from this kingly line, handed the barber a coin and then climbed into the chair.

"Why, sir, thank you," said the astonished barber, "never before have I been tipped in advance."

"That is not a tip," snarled the customer. "It's hush money."

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