I entered Myra’s salon a little past 3pm.
One of her staff greeted me and asked me to wait for the owner. I looked around the red walls of FHM Salon Cubao, high ceiling, and printed posters of Myra’s works. She has collaborated with network stations, fashion runways, and styling projects on top of other gigs. Salons, like bakeries, are everywhere in the Philippines. Not sure when the Filipinos made getting hair fix as top priority as buying bread. From the metro’s polished avenues to the provinces’ dingy streets, you’ll always see a salon, whether owned by a parloristang bakla or a Ricky-Reyes-trained lady. When I was a kid there’s this town parlor owned by a middle-age woman who has 2 kilos of make-up (90s) and teased, colored hair, and mothers know her and many go to her for Flores de Mayo and other events important to big girls watching That’s Entertainment, and her parlor has framed Ricky Reyes certificate and photo ops with Ricky Reyes.
Myra walked in fresh from napping or resting, I wasn’t sure, but she needs break like that at a time when a number of clients call her up to do their bridal make-up, debut styling, model shoot for portfolio, fashion marketing, and all other necessities nowadays which were never heard of in the past century.
Purple hair. I told Myra I want my hair colored purple. She drew a strip of my black, grizzly hair with two fingers, looked at it then at my reflection on the gilded mirror then at my hair, and said that’s fine and doable, but asked if I was sure about it. She feared I may not look the serious woman I need to be when attending meetings for instance, and that my image as a person could have a problem or two with a hair as purple as Barney. Maybe light brown then? Yes! she said.
She called her hairdresser and they talked in codes. Actually she was instructing her what browns should be mixed — you know, like when a web developer and graphic designer talk about colors in number. I sat there till 4 or 5 pm, watching people enter the salon to heed Myra’s advice on hair. I’ve been to different salons. I’ve had my hair rebonded and treated for P1500 at a cheap streetside salon in Pasay, had a 5-minute haircut for P500 in Makati, had protein treatment for P2500 in MOA, hair curled in a hole-in-the-wall Quezon City salon ran by previous staff of a David’s Salon, and (the craziest) had my bangs colored red with streaks of blonde highlights all over, in Cagayan de Oro, Mindanao. If you ask me, quality of services is almost the same; the price just differs depending on the cushy seat you sit on, the towels they use/reuse on your hair, the shampoo they wash your hair with, and the ambience of the place where you will sit for eternal hours.
Every single time I sit down for a cut or treatment, I always get “ang kapal ng buhok mo!” to the point that my salon experience is not complete if I don’t get the obligatory comment on how thick my hair strands are. I got it from FHM, too, thankfully.
While Myra got busy managing her establishment, and her staff (Ateng Hairdresser) was massaging my hair with a white cream that’ll turn my hair blondish under the right light, I opened a book. I wanted to browse beauty and showbiz magazines, but they were out of reach, and I got terribly shy asking for some. Those kinds of publicity materials are perfect for salons and spa centers because there you see not just the airbrushed and photoshopped faces and bodies of TV personalities and movie actors, but also their publicized life. You’d see: We are all ordinary people with enlarged pores and other serious problems.
Of course, I didn’t get past a chapter so I returned the book in my bag because it’s more interesting watching people in a salon. Also, right after the color treatment, I had to step out of my seat to have my hair rinsed in the sink. The next painful treatment was rebonding. Painful because of the wait. Myra says rebond used to take longer hours than what’s it now (I’ll confirm how many hours), and I wonder if a day will come when straightening scraggy hair will take only 5 minutes. A challenge for salon science and technology! Over the decades, the physics and chemistry of hair treatment have gotten better, right? Look at digital perm or Brazillian blowout (where are they getting those names).
The sun has set and I have skipped dinner, I was still sitting. The process was to lather my hair with that creamy mixture, comb it with care and love, let it sit till the next season of Game of Thrones, wash it, blow dry, repeat process, then iron it (with a hair iron, straight dudes). The ironing. There’s no humanity in this part of the procedure, let me tell you. If my scalp could react, it would’ve walked out on me right that very moment. I’m sure Ateng Hairdresser has been very careful but like in other salons, it’s inevitable that while they’re pulling your hair, section by section, the hot iron would accidentally touch your scalp. We call this tiis-ganda.
Myra took a picture of me, before and after her staff has done magic. I stepped out of FHM at 9pm.
I wrote about Myra Bendaña‘s story at World Urbanistahere. I recommend you read her story and be inspired by this super incredible woman. I was teary eyed interviewing her last year. For people who whine all the time how their life sucks, her story could be your breath of fresh air.