My father, the barber

HE snips. All day.

Corporate executive who tap on the keyboards, business honchos who ink mergers with their mighty pens, and surgeons who wield their scalpels to save lives, and at some point in their busy calendars, all these men end up sitting on this man’s chair and put him in charge — the barber.

Noel Mamacos, 40, father to 3 kids & barber at 18; Ronnie Perdido: father to 3 kids & barber at 19; Ruel Danas: father to 3 kids & barber at 24; Jun Acub: father to 1 & barber at 19; & Al Sarellana, Jr.: father to 4 kids & barber at age 22.

He grooms men in power, as well as boys in school, with his dependable tools of the trade — the scissors and the comb. Day in and out, he snips hair. This is how he makes a living. Like many men of his trade, this is how they have raised their families as patriarchs and breadwinners.

The success of any barber goes beyond the comb & the scissor. The other tools are intangible: hard work, discipline, patience & good customers relations.

From the side streets of the city, the barbers found their way inside the malls, which was once perceived as beauty salon territory. In Davao City, Rocky’s is the pioneering mall-based barbershop. When Victoria Plaza, the first mall in the city, opened in 1996, Rocky’s carved its niche and started servicing the grooming needs of the “men who mall.”

 The façade of where it all started. Victoria Plaza is the first mall in Davao & Rocky’s is the first barbershop to open in a mall in 1996.

“My regular clients were the owner of the mall and his associates,” recalls 43-year old Jun Acub, one of the pioneering barbers in Rocky’s Victoria Plaza mall.

Jun was a construction worker prior to becoming a barber and his first stint was at Rocky’s in 1996. After 19 years of snipping hair, 18 years in marital bliss and an 18-year old daughter, Kathleen Kaye (named after the wife of Rocky’s owner), Jun is still with Rocky’s.

In a dignified job with a steady income, Jun said his family is comfortable and her daughter is in accounting school.

Working at Rocky’s has given its barbers a steady income, enough to live comfortably & send their kids to school.

Kathleen is proud of her dad and shares what she keeps hearing from her dad: “I am respectful, kind and understanding not only to my customers, but to my fellow barbers and the management as well. I make sure that my tools are always clean, and I always give my best in everything I do.”

“I believe this is his way of extending his advice to me, and that’s leading by example,” she said.

Noel Mamacos was with Jun on the opening of Rocky’s Victoria Plaza. He was 21 years old, had three years experience as barber when he jumped on the trendsetting bandwagon of Rocky’s.

“I was young and working as a bagger in a grocery store. I was looking for a different job and decided to be a barber because I know that men need a haircut regularly,” said Noel, recalling his 1993 career change at 18 years old.

His expectation of good livelihood in a barbershop mall was proven right.

At 40, with 22 years experience and 19 years treating his clients like kings when they sit on his chair at Rocky’s, Noel’s steady income as a barber is supporting his family of five comfortably.

When asked if any of his three kids — Neil Jones, 15; Joanna Marie, 12; and John Kevin is 7, will be following his grooming footsteps, Noel said his kids are still young and they are still unsure of what they want to be.
“Dad always tells us this: ‘Whatever you want to be, make sure you do your job properly with the best of your abilities, and when it’s time to have your own family, make sure you put their needs on top of your list’,” shared Noel’s kids.

 Noel, 40yo, was a grocery bagger & Jun, 43, a construction worker before becoming barbers.

Like Noel, 42-year old Ruel Danas has three kids with wife Chelie— Janice, 20; Romel, 15; and Rochellyn, 6.

Ruel traded the fisherman’s net for the comb and scissors in 1991“because he needed a more stable job with a steady income”. He hasn’t stopped snipping hair since then.

He joined the Rocky’s team in 1997 with six years of experience, and found the stability he sought. “I am happy here. The management treats me well, I get along with my co-workers well, the environment is professional, and the salary has helped me raise my family.”

The advice he gives his children is the same he gives to the young barbers who ask for it, “Be honest, work hard, do your best and make sure your customers leave your seat happy.”

Ronnie Perdido, 40, was 19 when his mentor taught him to cut hair. He was a farm hand and a tricycle driver before that. “Being a barber is an easy way to make a living as long as you are patient and hardworking,” he said.

His hard work paid off. After joining Rocky's in June of 1998 with four years of experience, his steady income enables him to save money and send his kids to school.

The positive feedback he received from his customers and the management are the fondest memories as a barber for 21 years Ronnie loves to share to his children— Mark Arvin, 18; Sharra Mae, 10; and Sherry Mae, 9. "’Nakakataba nang puso’. It inspires me to work harder.”

“I tell my children to learn how to be patient, understanding, considerate and hard working. These are the values I learned as a barber. I believe these are the same values that will help them in the careers they choose,” shared Ronnie.

Before picking up the scissors, 39yo Al was in construction & bottling; Ronnie, 40yo, was a farm hand & tricycle driver; and Ruel, 42yo, was a fisherman.

Curiosity made Fulgencio "Al " P. Sarellana, Jr. picked up the barber’s scissors 17 years ago. “I felt most at ease and confident as a barber,” confessed the 39-year old. He worked in construction and bottling before he tried his hand in men’s grooming in 1998.

It’s been 12 years since Al joined Rocky's. Aside from the disciplined environment and good management of his work place, his reason for sticking it out is the comfortable life the company has provided. “As the breadwinner, my earning from Rocky's is a big factor in raising my family and providing for their needs.”

Al is a proud father to four kids— Valdwin, 16; Vincent, 14; Vilmar, 10; and Von Andrei, 2, and he is constant in reminding them his secret to his trade: Be neat and well groomed. When the client sees this, they will believe that you can do the same for them. It’s part of the “be the best in what you do” motto he follows.

Newest member of the Rocky’s chain. Rocky's opened its 5th branch in SM Lanang Premier in 2012.

All these men consider themselves very lucky working with a company like Rocky’s. For one, they have the full benefits of a regular employee—SSS, Pag-Ibig, Phil Health and bonuses. Second, they are growing. Their regular trainings go beyond the comb and scissors, with hair color and hair therapy as their latest instructions. Third and the most important, they admit to learning the importance of customer service.

These are very successful barbers… and very happy fathers.

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Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on June 13, 2015.