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Man of the Hour: Joe Camacam

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Interview by Kolleen Feria
Photography by Jonas Tamayo and Thurees Obenza

We at Felipe and Sons have always believed in local talent. Just as our stores are mancaves to Filipino gentlemen, they are also spaces for our barbers and tailors to continuously develop their craft and thrive with it. As one of our best barbers sets out for new endeavours, we sit down with Joe Camacam for an exit interview.

What’s next for you?
May offer sa’kin to be an educator in the industry, and syempre, I’ll still be cutting hair. Ngayon umiikot-ikot ako to learn as much as I can about the barbershop industry. Tinitingnan ko pa tsaka pinag-iisipan. 

Last time we sat down with you for an interview, you mentioned there was more to do with women’s hair.
At that time, pa-start pa lang ako ulit with men’s hair. I was a barber first before I was a stylist, and then in Felipe and Sons I went back to my roots as a barber. Throughout my time in Felipe [and Sons], I also learned about the details of shaving. Mas na-enhance talaga ako sa barbering. Natagpuan ko dito ‘yung pagiging barbero ko. Felipe [and Sons] gave me a real platform to explore men’s style. I built a client base that’s dominantly male, so even if I miss coloring and highlighting women’s hair, I now feel more challenged to apply those techniques to men’s hair. I feel like here, men are still afraid to try new things, and as a barber, I feel like that’s my challenge now–How do I make my clients trust me to try a new cut, a new color?

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Do you think that’s the limitation of the barbershop industry that salons have an edge over?
Initially, yes. ‘Yun kasi talaga ang main difference ng barbershop sa salon, but now I believe there’s a way to introduce and integrate color into barbershops without necessarily losing the masculine edge. Kailangan lang talaga well trained din yung mga barbers. Filipino barbers also need to have pride in what we do. Dati akala ko pag barbero ka, barbero ka lang, but now I see the craftsmanship and expertise involved. Kailangan din siguro magkaroon ng school for barbers dito sa Pilipinas so we don’t hesitate to call ourselves professionals.

What’s your dream project then for men’s hair and color?
[I want to try] Hair art, colored in ash grey. Ash grey is actually a very difficult color to achieve. If I get to do that well, mafu-fulfill ako kasi konti lang nakakagawa nu’n.

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What will you miss most about Felipe and Sons?
The events! My favorite memory here is Déjà Vu. I interacted with not just barbershop clients but even haberdashery guests. I met and talked to Jensen and the Flips. I felt like I was also a guest during the event.

Can you give some words of advice to other barbers?
Just the barbers of Felipe and Sons or pati ‘yung iba?

To both!
For those who are in Felipe and Sons, especially the new ones, I encourage them to stay and practice their craft. It really takes a while to master barbering, even if one already came from another barbershop or salon. [I also advise them to] Build their network. Being at Felipe and Sons has brought a lot of opportunities to me, so [I would tell them to] just be open.

For the barbers in other shops, keep researching para matapatan nila ‘yung mga nasa Felipe [and Sons]. Joke lang! Pwera biro, kailangan talaga hindi lang isa o dalawang gupit ‘yung magaling sila. They have to research about different styles so when their clients go to them and ask them,“Kaya mo ba ‘tong style na ‘to?” they can confidently say yes. Confident sila na competent sila.

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