Scene: Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States last Tuesday in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist and polarizing campaign. On Election Night, however, Trump’s star became the site of a victory party. Supporters gathered at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, chanting “U-S-A!” and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. The star had been defaced several times over the course of the election.
The story of hair and beauty guru Bebei Tagoctoc is a ‘hairy’ kind of success story at all.
Bebei Tagoctoc is known as the "Mother of All Hair
and Make-up Artists in Bohol" who
started as utility boy at a small beauty parlor
and working his way to the top. Contributed Photo
Bebei, the "Mother of All Hair and Make-up Artists in Bohol," started as utility boy at a small beauty parlor (called Blue Petals) inside the old BQ Mall, working his way to the top.
"At 15, I dropped out at school," recalled Bebei. “I am a firm believer of education, but I had to stop from my studies because of poverty.”
It was at the Blue Petals’ beauty parlor where Bebei’s talents was enhanced and developed. He decided to apprentice in that Blue Petals where he started as a mere parlor sweeper, then eventually became a manicurista, a neophyte hairdresser and a make-up artist.
In 1987, Bebei opened his salon on CPG Avenue, consisting of a wall mirror, a shampoo chair, a bowl, and a dryer. It wasn’t much, but to Bebei it meant everything, as it was something he could call his own. It was Jun Quimpan, Bebei’s partner, who encouraged and helped him to establish his own salon.
Due to unavoidable circumstances, Bebei’s salon transferred to Lambert’s Building along Ma. Clara Street, then finally settled at K of C Drive. However, his loyal clients continue to hire his services.
Twenty-nine years later, Bebei has become an institution in his own right, sought-after by the clients, mostly the who’s who in Tagbilaran, who submit themselves wholeheartedly to his "magic touch" which sometimes transforms them into completely new and different personalities, beautiful inside and out.
Name a who’s who and a star and Bebei has touched her: Christine Hermosa, Piolo Pascual, Ruffa Mae Quinto, Jericho Rosales, Philippine top models, when they came to Bohol. Bebei was tasked to touch their delicate faces. In 2005, when Miss Earth candidates came to Bohol, Bebei was hired as the official make-up artist.
Bebei said he has never snubbed a client since he knew how to deal clients with tantrums.
“As possible, I please them,” he said.
Bebei starts his day very early by praying. Then, he does prepare for the salon at K of C Drive.
Bebei Tagoctoc has become an institution in
his own right that clients like couple Harold and
Agnes Jesuro trust Couple Harold and Agnes Jesuro
seeks Bebei’s Hair and Make-up and Rental Packages
for their wedding last June. Contributed Photo
Everyday is a busy day. If he’s not at his salon, he’s somewhere else doing home service for a bride and her entourage. He also designs gowns.
Bebei was one of a handful few “bayots” in the city who came out in early ‘60s. He said “coming out” in those years was a suicide.
Even as a kid, Bebei knew he was gay. He would draw faces, figures and fashion designs on his notebooks. He liked dolls.
“It was something a near to death experience when you were coming out. It was a moment to see if society accepts my true identity or not,” he shared.
Bebei has experienced different layers of discrimination throughout his life- for his sexuality. Each time, he shrugs it off.
“I let them go,” he said, “I am not the one who is kawawa. I know myself.”
He said being a Marian devotee has helped him to conquer obstacles in life. He owns a Mater Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrow) statue after he was inspired during his many visits at the St. Joseph Cathedral. The statue of the Mater Dolorosa at the Cathedral was donated by the late Charing Dejaresco.
“I like the Dolorosa’s teary-eyed and I felt her love for me,” he said.
Bebei’s life story was featured on GMA’s Jessica Soho Reports. It was no less than multi-awarded journalist Jessica Soho called Bebei as “Ricky Reyes of Bohol.”
Bebei spends much of his time “mothering” to other “bayots” who asked his help. Even Lamok, who once dubbed the “Beautiful Boxer”, could testify Bebei’s good heart. It was Bebei who adopted him when he was down.
As of this year, Bebei has two adopted “badings”. He may not have completed his education but he is sending them to college.
“I told them to finish school for a bright future,” he said.
Bebei said he has no plan to stop working, not yet.
“I don’t have any plans to stop working, or to stop helping,” he said. “I love what I am doing with the love of the people.”
Come to think of it, if he were not a hair and make-up artist, what would he have been?
"A teacher," said Bebei. "I love to teach."
But with what he’s doing, Bebei has more than achieved that dream.
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