In Crosshair for Hairs

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Pandemic crisis, for the local business world in highland Cordillera and lowland Region 1, has forced traditional in-person business and other aspiring entrepreneurs to be creative to stay in competition to meet evolving needs as all adapt to a post-covid life.

Being creative happens to be at the back of the minds of those doing business in commercial goods that it has now become very common for business entrepreneurs to deliver right to the houses of consumers, particularly in Baguio and in La Union.

You want a simple gadget for your house?  You want cooked food? You want pastry? You want hand-made products?  Etcetera, etcetera? Just use your cell phone, order and presto! The business where you ordered will come scrambling to you with your order by one riding on a motorcycle.

With additional fee added to the price of the goods you ordered, of course. As they say in commerce, “business is business.” And no “utang-utang,” after the delivery.

Ha! It seems the digital world has occupied an important space in the market niche as many businesses go online this pandemic.

But what technically knocked out last week,  Ah Kong, your Daily Laborer columnist, was when a bunch of enterprising business-mended women met him along Dangwa Tranco Terminal along Magsaysay Avenue, pulled him by his ears to a side street and ushered him into a restaurant.

One in the bunch, Cristina Behillo, a dainty lady of Benguet origin, said, “Anya kayat mo orderen, Ah Kong, soft drinks wenno diay kaykayat mo nga barako nga kape?”

And Ah Kong replied, “Siempre, Cristina, diay nangisit nga kape nga barako, nga kangis-ngisit ti kudil ko,” as he smacked his lips in anticipation of drinking the best brewed coffee in the city and a product of the highland mountains.

Coffee and bibingka snacks served, Empela Camiso, also one of the bunch of women, asked Ah Kong, “Bony, damagen mi man, apay ti Baguio Herald Express nga pagtratrabahuwam ket ag-aw-awat ba ti advertisement? Kasi kayat mi kuma nga ag-start ti orig (original) nga business tatta a pandemic ket kayat mi nga i-advertise.”

And Ah immediately answered, “Siempre, wen met a. Mapan kayo la idiay opisina mi idiay Bonifacio Street, Juniper Bldg., makisarita kayo idiay opisina, ibaga yu nu anya kayat yu nga i-advertise, bayadan yu diay corresponding advertisement fee, and you are set for business.”

“Dagidiay staff mi idiay opisina idiay Herald Express ket most friendly, courteous and helpful to your advertising needs,” Ah Kong stressed.

Ah Kong, further added, telling the group, “We print anything, except money, vulgarity or shaming anybody!”

Behillo replied, “Mayat nu kasta, Bony. Ngamin kayat mi kuma nga irugi nga aglako ti bu-ok!”

Now, your Daily Laborer was on the verge of sipping his hot barako when he heard the word, “Bu-ok” from Behillo, and hearing that one word, nearly choked on his barako as the hot coffee scalded his tongue.

Ah put his mug of coffee on the table and wonderingly asked, “Bu-ok? You mean selling hair at this pandemic time?”   He looked at the faces of the women group to check if they were pulling his leg but they seemed dead serious   in their plan.

That set Ah Kong to pondering while drinking barako. Is there such business of selling hair? Is selling hair an extension of good business? Is there a market for human hair?  How much does it cost to start a hair business? Is selling hair profitable? Where and to whom do you sell your hair at this pandemic time?

Will selling of hair take firm foothold in Baguio City, La Trinidad, La Union, as the women group dreamed – just like highland vegetables being sold as easily?

Such questions set him more to musing. Now, few highlanders and lowlanders, perhaps, are aware that among that multifarious business to be found in regions like the National Capital Region, one of the most curious is that of the dealer in human hair.

In consequences of the demands of fashion, such dealership has assumed a life-like image to the mannequin which is usually used to display the latest dress fashion particularly for women and how the hair should be fixed when using said latest fashion dresses.

“Play with the tangles of women’s hair,” Ah Kong mused, for false hair is considered a necessary adjunct in fashion business that the value of this female ornament may be increasing, if we are to believe the women group who cornered Ah Kong, offered him barako and divulged their plan.

Ah confesses that it gave him a certain shock when years ago, he found a magazine, went through the pages and found to his horror different sets of hairs of women hanged up side by side, some as black as the night and the magazine revealed these hairs were donated by women after they left this world.

Ah Kong shook his head from his musing, turned his attention back to the women’s group and said, “Pardon my question but, if you are to start a hair business, who will be you scalp hunter who will go from one head to the other head and cutting all sorts of hair?”

But Behillo waved her hand cheerily, saying, “Bony, ti panagputed to bu-ok ket regular nga aramid (Cutting of hair is a regular trade). She then switched to English, saying, “We will just txt hair collectors who will send it over to us in bales, just like baled clothing.”

Well, Behillo’s answer set Ah Kong to wondering: “To think that all these silken locks that had been perchance, caressed by loving mothers, daughters and other ladies  will be cut to be mere articles of commerce, this pandemic time, it value depending maybe by the length of the hair.”

If curiosity was to be satisfied, Ah decided to drop any sentiment about hair and look at the cold fact at its face: that it is hair and nothing more. And that trade in human hair   is prompted by monetary gain.

Take the cases of highlander and lowlander women who, after growing their hair for a long time, decide to be shorn off their long hair and decide to have it cut by a hairdresser, for a new hair style. The cut hair is then discarded.

We shall not attempt to describe the many modes invented by hairdressers in fixing hairs but Ah Kong has this funny feeling that when a hairdresser is cutting off long braids of hair from the head of another woman, the cutting woman maybe smiling in glee with a vengeance for she has the power to cut those lovely and long hair taken cared of a long time by the owner.

And talking further about long hair of women, there is something inexpressibly charming in the faces of women growing old and disdain to have their long hair cut and wear it that long, accepting with good graces the inroads of time.

While there are women who want their hair cut, saying, “karkaro agrup-rupa ta nga bumaket nu attiddug unay ti bo-ok,” women who sport long hair, on the other hand, derive more beauty from the approach of age, with all its mellowing influences.

Hair of every kind, every color and varying length   must be in the minds of these women group deciding to engage in hair trade. Filipinos blessed with black hair; many women go to the extent of changing the color of their hair, however.

His barako coffee nearly gone, Ah Kong paused one last question to the women, “How will your hair business solve the problem of hair loss which is more important to many rather than their loss of teeth?”

Behillo answered, “Heh, Bony, addu nga saludsud mo. Basta we will try to start our hair selling business. Because at this point in time, if we do nothing we are criticized; if we do something, we are still criticized. Better to do something and be the talk of the town. If the hair business will fail, then we’ll try something else, again. Like say, selling siling labuyo in chili sauce.”

And why not? The ladies have point in their desire to do something. What a marvelous instance of use of refuse of hair in these days of uncertainty, anyway.

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