Trainor Ms. Mimi Gabayno guides Mary Ann Misuno in cutting her daughter's hair while classmate Sreia looks on
Responding to a need for free training seminars on various competencies, Barangay BF Homes has been giving free courses for the last six years under the auspices of the Barangay Captain and in coordination with the Paranaque Livelihood Resource Management Office (PLRMO) and the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA).

I decided to join the 44-day cosmetology course, which was conducted at the BF Homes Barangay Livelihood Training Center, which provides center-based and area-based programs ranging from one-day seminars to 3-month courses for a minimum of 25 students. 

The Cosmetology modules included all things relating to the hair--cutting, coloring, relaxing, straightening, styling, setting; make-up and facial treatments; manicure, pedicure, and foot spa; and waxing. 
(l) Evelyn, Olive, and Rose practice hair straightening classmate Glenda; (r) Miriam and Rosalie with their model

This being an introductory course, all the modules were very basic and rudimentary, pretty much what you would expect from a free course.  Although the limited slots normally maxes out at 30, they decided to accommodate seven more--TESDA only opens the course when there is a minimum of 25 enrollees.

For the most part, the Center provides the supplies with the students acquiring their own as they go along.  Punctilious attendance and behavior are mandated as are the use of uniforms (a white tee and our free t-shirt alternately) and IDs.

The final grade consists of the practical tests after each module and a written test at the end with an eye towards a TESDA certificate and accreditation upon graduation. 
Stephanie, before and after her haircut by Annie Mizuno
The students were an industrious lot--there's Marisa and her niece, Miriam, who have worked at salons before and are now self-employed, doing home services and earning well; their neighbor, Elever; there was Mary Ann and Maricar, who became employed in the course of the program; there's Christine, who celebrated her first pay with a merienda for everyone; there's Annie, the star student in hair cutting, who may be taking her skills abroad; there's Nica and Rosalie, who may be thinking of opening their own salons; and there's Ging, Glenda, Evelyn, and Rose, who were at the same time enrolled in the Caregiver classes. 

Then there are the rest--Birmar, Niery, Imelda, Jocelyn, Segundina, the inseparable Daisy and Vonette, our third Mary Ann, Romnick, Neil, and Aldrin, Stephanie, the trio Cecil, Citadel, and Vivian, Milen and Olive, Espy, and Pam, who at 61 proved that it's never too late to learn something new.  Of the 37 who enrolled, only two dropped out.

Center for Aesthetic Studies it is not, but what it offers is a foundation for further learning and a set  of skills that can only improve with experience and confidence. 

The BF Barangay Livelihood Center can also strive for greater improvement like updating its materials, instructions, and supplies and creating a more conducive atmosphere for the seminars.

All in all, it was an enjoyable learning experience.
Ging Dagdagan models for her classmates for hair perming and straightening
Marina Cimene models for me for hair straightening (l) and basic make-up (r)
(Many thanks to Barangay Captain Jeremy Marquez; OIC Head of the PLRMO, Doris Marquez; Kagawads Serge Advincula and Noel Azarcon; BF Homes Barangay Training Division head, Chet Marcelo; Marlette Yamsuan of the LEMDD; Livelihood Outreach Division head, Emelda Alabado; Paul Santos, DSTC Staff;  Rocelle Zulueta and Regine of the Livelihood Training Center; and PLRMO Trainor Mimi Gabayno.)
Cos.me.tol.o.gy - "is the branch of science that deals with the external embellishment of a person through the use of cosmetic products and treatments."  So says the manual of the BF Barangay Livelihood Training Center.  Apart from the food industry, the cosmetology industry may be the only other industry where the sun never sets.  In good times or bad, we always want to look good.  We splurge on ourselves when times are good; we take comfort in it when times are bad. 

It has become big business as well.  Every week, it seems a new spa or salon opens in BF Homes (not to mention a new restaurant).  I'm of the age when I can still remember going with my mom to the "parlor" to get a haircut; it's one of those terms that technology and specialization has rendered dated.  Now we go to a hair salon. 

Like many industries in the country, it is still an unregulated industry, with self-regulation as the norm.  My research has yielded two House Bills (here and here) and one Senate bill that have been drawn up so far, which aims to professionalize the industry.  They don't seem to have progressed much beyond the committee level.; but, the commitment of its industry leaders, no doubt, would lead to the bill being passed in the future.

One area though that no law can regulate is the ever-present "colonial mentality" that pervades our culture, quite disturbing in today's supposedly more-enlightened times.  Notwithstanding our progress in our march towards a more Filipino identity, it seems being "white" remains to be the holy grail of pulchritude. 

Which leads me to wonder if the advertising companies are just responding to a real clamor by Filipinas wanting to scrape their brown skins away, or is it that Filipinas are just succumbing to the pressure of the ad companies and media shrilly touting whiteness as the true yardstick of beauty?  Which is which?  Either way does not look good.  In this instance, beauty is  truly only skin-deep. 

How about cosmetic and pharmaceuticfal companies creating a product that restores the youthful glow of skin--instead of trying to change its color and subliminally telling girls that a fairer skin is better, more beautiful, and more popular?  Cleanliness, good grooming, confidence and good self-esteem is always better than what color your skin is.

There's a cosmetology boom and what's happening in our community may be a microcosm of what's happening elsewhere in the country.