By Raymund Antonio
While non-essential shops are closed during the lockdown brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, a group of barbers and hairstylists are making the rounds of Metro Manila hospitals providing their services to frontliners.
Armed with their scissors, combs, and clippers, they are on a mission not only to give frontliners a new look, but also to make them feel good while treating COVID-19 patients.
Physicians, nurses, and other health workers who find their long or untrimmed hair a huge inconvenience while on duty are given haircuts for free.
The stylists all wear face masks and protective suits as they provide the needs of frontliners while observing the physical distancing rule, with a seat far apart from each other.
“Sa unang dinig po nakapakasimple, ano — ‘long hair’ — pero noong napagkwentuhan na, doon po lumabas ang samu’t-saring issue na kinakaharap ng frontliners (When you first hear it is sounds so simple — ‘long hair’ — but when we talked about it, the different issues confronting frontliners came out),” Acee Vitangcol, one of the organizers of “ResCute Operation,” said.
“Karamihan daw po sa kanila nai-irritate, hindi komportable sa kanilang mahabang buhok, lalo pa mga kalalakihan (Most of them are irritated, not comfortable with their long hair, especially the men),” he noted.
ResCute — a portmanteau of the words ‘rescue’ and ‘cute’ — Operation offers free haircuts while also providing jobs for hairstylists and barbers, whom Vitangcol fondly called ‘hair’-oes.
Vitangcol was featured in the Istorya ng Pag-asa (Stories of Hope) segment of Vice President Leni Robredo’s weekly radio show.
A pilot run was held at the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) in Manila on April 29, with 55 medical workers given free haircuts.
The group has visited eight Metro Manila hospitals and has done 10 missions, the latest of which was at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City.
Vitangcol said it was the People for Accountable Governance and Sustainable Action (PAGASA) organization that funded the haircut services for frontliners.
“Alam naman po natin na sarado ang barber shops at mga salons, kung kaya’t mas gusto siguro natin na mabigyan ng pagkakataon na magkaroon ng income ang mga ‘no work, no pay’ na barbers at stylists (We know the barber shops and salons are closed, so we want to give opportunities to the ‘no work, no pay’ barbers and stylists to have income),” he said.
Though currently servicing the capital region, they plan to branch out to Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna, where they have already received multiple inquiries from interested barbers.
ResCute Operation is now looking for volunteers for their disinfecting, registration, and documentation teams, and for pick-up/drop-off services for the ‘hair’-oes.