By Roland Andam Jr.

His shop, a tiny and rusty shack. His barber's chair, ragged and worn out from longtime usage. His body, whose strength is slowly turning into frailty due to old age. Despite all these apparent challenges that beset him, among other adversities that go beyond what meets the eye, why is it that this senior “barbero” from Aparri, Cagayan remains to be accommodating to his “suki” or frequent customers seeking his long-standing service of barbering?

Photo Courtesy of Becoming Filipino / KMJS

It was the summer of 2018 when the world was first told of the inspiring story of then 76-year-old Tatang Piping through a Facebook blog post of a foreigner yet Filipino-by-heart vlogger named Kulas or popularly known by his viewers as “Becoming Filipino.”

On what seemed to be just a normal day of getting his hair trimmed, Kulas met a fitting personification of purpose and passion in Tatang Piping.

According to the vlogger's account of his first encounter with the senior barbero, Tatang Piping originally hailed from the City of Laoag in Ilocos Sur before settling in Aparri, Cagayan. He first learned how to cut hair in sixth grade by emulating his father who was also a barber.

In a rundown little old barber hut with rusty tools and aged barber seats, Tatang Piping has been in service as a barber for almost two decades now.

When asked about his family, Tatang Piping shared that his wife and one of his eight children are no longer with them as both had already passed away. However, despite his loss of loved ones, Tatang Piping exudes a sense of contentment.

“He told me [his wife] had passed away. It was sad. It is always sad to hear something like that. But...when he said it, there was this sense of contentment coming from him,” Kulas said.

“It was as if he had accepted his wife wasn't with him anymore but wouldn't let anything keep him from living with purpose and sharing positive moments with people around him,” the vlogger furthered.

Besides his talent and passion for providing service through barbering, Kulas said that Tatang Piping's attitude was so moving that it gave him “the biggest wave of inspiration” that day. It made his first encounter with the senior barbero memorable and one that brought him the realization that life can be lived with happiness, purpose, and contentment amid the mishaps that naturally come with it.

That day, Kulas left the barbershop not just with a clean haircut but also with a profound admiration of how Tatang Piping perceives life through a positive lens.

Even as years' worth of time have already ticked away, Kulas still didn't forget how Tatang Piping instilled in him the essence of "contentment and finding simple joy in life.”

This has led “Becoming Filipino” to look again for Tatang Piping. And after five years, the two met each other for the second time.

Tatang Piping's barber shack remains almost the same. It's still the old rusty barber hut built from patching together wood and “yero” or galvanized iron sheets. His old tools and worn-out barber's chair are also still there, still in use, standing the test of time.

Kulas once again got a haircut from Tatang Piping, who is now 81 years old, and later on shared on his Facebook page yet another glimpse of the latter's story.

Tatang Piping's story caressed the hearts of people on social media. Consequently, acts of kindness and help in various forms were sent to the senior barbero.

One of those who brought strands of hope to Tatang Piping and his family was another vlogger Von Ordoña. He gave a new barber's chair, which comes with sets of new tools and supplies courtesy of a Manila-based salon, to fit the newly renovated barbershop of Tatang Piping, made possible through the assistance of the local government of Aparri.

Tatang Piping also received a checkup from Aparri's rural health unit, as well as grocery items and financial assistance from the town's social welfare and development unit.

The story of Tatang Piping was also featured in Kapuso Mo, Jessica Soho (KMJS), the country's leading news magazine show. As such, the program has also extended medical assistance to the senior barbero bringing him to an opthalmologist in Cagayan Valley Medical Center in Tuguegarao City.

Indeed, what a life-changing moment it has been for Tatang Piping! Who would've thought that a simple post of appreciation from someone stranger to him can be this life-changing for the senior barbero?

His shop, no longer a tiny and rusty shack. His barber's chair, no longer ragged and worn-out from longtime usage. His tools, no longer aged and dull.

However, despite these new things that were introduced to Tatang Piping, one thing will undoubtedly remain.

As Kulas has put it, “he will continue powering on and rocking the same positive and life-fulfilling content attitude. That is now inspiring us all.”

This is why this senior barbero from Aparri, Cagayan remains accommodating to his “suki” or frequent customers seeking his long-standing service of barbering, despite all the apparent challenges that beset him, among other adversities that go beyond what meets the eye.