‘Di ako barbero ‘lang’; we should be proud to say na barbero ako!’
I’m not overly particular about who handles my hair, but I am quite particular about how well they listen to my preferences. Thanks to social media, it has become easier to identify good barbershops because we can observe how these barbers interact with clients and view the final results of their cuts.
“Barbertok” is a trending hashtag on TikTok, and we stumbled upon an intriguing barber within this trend. If you’ve been following the same hashtag on TikTok, you might have encountered Gum Cruz as well.
His videos have gone viral on the app, and we understand why viewers are captivated by his content. What stands out about his style is not only his inquisitiveness about his clients’ preferences but also his ability to provide recommendations and elaborate on what to expect, including how specific techniques address clients’ concerns.
Gum was born and raised in Angeles, Pampanga. Although he didn’t envision himself as a barber initially, his journey and struggles leading up to his current position have proven to be crucial in discovering his passion. From working as a banker, selling pomades, and owning a thrift shop to managing a barbershop, Gum transitioned into the world of barbering out of practicality, a decision that eventually paid off.
“Now, I’m an award-winning barber with a fully booked schedule, conducting training sessions and seminars for barbers, and organizing events to advance the Philippine barbering industry,” shared Gum.
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The universe often guides us to our destinies; all we need to do is trust the process, persevere, and stick to our principles, much like Gum did. In this feature, we caught up with one of Pampanga’s finest barbers. Gum shared insights about the industry, dispelled misconceptions, and discussed his advocacy to emphasize the importance of the craft, elevating the barbering scene in the country one cut at a time.
Garage: How would you describe your personal style as a barber?
Gum: As a barber, I use haircut names as a general basis for how the client would like their hair to look, but I lean more towards suitability—considering factors such as face shape, hair type, hair growth patterns, as well as other aspects like profession, hobbies, and interests.
Garage: Could you share your journey of learning the craft and the courses you’ve taken to hone your skills?
Gum: I fell in love with barbering, got addicted to it, and then got obsessed with it. So obsessed that I started investing so much in it in terms of blood, sweat, money, and tears. I bought the best barbering tools despite their high prices; this was my way of cutting my safety net and going all-in in this craft with no option of turning back. I handpicked the local barbers whom I believed were the best in the industry and paid them to teach me their techniques. I also enrolled in two barbering academies in the UK (OP Barberworld and Menspire Academy) and started getting recognized and winning awards, even on the international platform.
Garage: Where did your advocacy for barbers and the barbering profession originate? Could you outline your plans for furthering this movement?
Gum: I started admiring the barbering industry back in 2014 when I started selling pomades. I saw how barbering is not just an ordinary occupation; it requires skill and dedication—it is a form of art.
Through social media, seminars, and our barbering events, we’re trying to show Filipino barbers that what we’re doing is something special, and we need to treat it as such. “Di ako barbero ‘lang’; we should be proud to say na barber ako!”
Garage: Who are the barbers in the Philippines that you admire and look up to?
Gum: Joe Camacam and Dencio Aguilar. These guys, among others, are trailblazing the way on what barbers could potentially do and be in the Philippines—a respected profession and technical skills that even barbers from first-world countries admire.
Garage: What are some common mistakes that new barbers often make when starting out, and what advice would you give them?
Gum: I’ve seen new barbers go straight for creative cuts for social media clout, but in reality, the best creative cuts are mainly based on good foundations and then styled creatively. I can’t stress this enough: “Build your foundation first.”
Garage: Please provide more information about the upcoming Philippine Barbering Convention. What can we expect to happen, and how can local barbers participate in it?
Gum: The Philippine Barbering Convention will be the first in the country. In this event, we will have barber talks, barber workshops, and the biggest barber battle yet in terms of entries and prizes. We will be giving away the coveted Mizutani Scissors to every winner of each category (there will be three categories of barber battles in this event).
This event will happen on Oct. 14, 2023, at Laus Event Centre, San Fernando, Pampanga, only two minutes away from San Fernando NLEX exit.
Follow Gum on social media to learn more about his metro Manila pop-up schedule.
Gum Cruz’s barbershop, Pomade Cartel, is located at 2F Alcon Bldg 2, Angeles, 2009 Pampanga.
Featured image source: Gum’s Instagram account