Meet Joseph Dante, Manila's street barber
MANILA, Philippines – To make ends meet, 44-year-old Joseph Dante goes around the streets of Manila, looking for potential customers. His service? On-the-spot haircuts.
He calls himself “barbero sa bangketa (sidewalk barber).”
After President Rodrigo Duterte ordered the lockdown in Luzon due to the coronavirus pandemic, Dante lost income as a construction worker in San Juan City, and relied only on people’s generosity for financial or food aid. The strict quarantine measures made it all the more difficult for people like Dante to find means to earn.
“Mahirap kasi hindi ka makagalaw. Buti nga ngayon medyo nakakakilos na kami. Dati kahit sa’n ka pumunta, talagang may checkpoint (It’s hard because you couldn’t move. At least now we can move more easily. Before, there would be a checkpoint everywhere you go),” he recalled.
As lockdown restrictions eased, Dante found a new way to make a living. The growing demand for access to barbershops opened an opportunity for him.
Barbering, which used to be only a side hustle, has now become his main source of income.
With a barber’s gown, a chair, and barbering materials and equipment, Dante’s mobile barbershop is all set.
For P30, anyone who wants to get a quick haircut can avail of Dante’s services. Some generous security guards even gave him P50 for their haircut, he said.
Dante is now known in the area along Kalaw Avenue, where he’s mostly found. Before lockdown, when he only sidelined as a barber, he would get 6 customers on a good day. Now he gets at least 15 customers every day.
Dante's story made rounds on social media as Manila’s street barber. Marco Pascual, president of a barbershop chain called Bruno’s Barbers, found out about Dante through a Rappler post, and offered to extend help.
"Dante’s story was very moving and it was also very easy for us to take responsibility, albeit in our own little way to help him in his new profession," Pascual said.
The barbershop chain donated to Dante personal protective equipment (PPE) sets and barbering tools in support of the Department of Trade and Industry's guidelines for barbershops and salons.
Dante is among the 2.3 million Filipino workers affected by the coronavirus lockdown. Those in the services sector have been hit the hardest, many of them now jobless.
The Department of Labor and Employment announced in March that it would provide aid for workers, but many have yet to receive any help. (IN LIMBO: Workers tighten belts as gov't aid remains uncertain).– Rappler.com