Barber King, a gender-neutral barbershop in Puerto Princesa, is more than just a place for haircuts. It stands as a symbol of inclusivity and acceptance, a welcoming space where everyone, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, feels comfortable and accepted.

Located on Sampaguita Street in Bgy. San Miguel, the establishment greets its customers with the vibrant colors of the LGBTQIA+ flag.

“Kasi ang thinking natin pag sinabing salon, for girls, pag barbershop naman, for boys. As LGBTQIA+ business owners, gusto namin welcome lahat sa shop,” said one of the owners, Jam Javarez.

This vision of inclusivity and acceptance was the driving force behind the establishment of the barbershop which opened in 2023.

“We want our customers to feel comfortable and welcome. Girl, boy, bakla, tomboy, bata, matanda. Hindi sila mahihiyang pumasok sa shop kasi alam nila at ramdam nilang welcome sila,” she shared.

This inclusive approach has resonated well with the local community. According to the owners, feedback from customers, both LGBT and non-LGBT, has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The community has been very supportive, especially our friends and neighbors,” Javarez said.

“Nung una wala pa masyadong LGBT customers. Hanggang sa may pailan ilan. Hanggang sa mas dumadami na. Ramdam nila na welcome sila, at yun naman ang goal namin,” she explained.

Despite its proximity to a military camp, the barbershop attracts a diverse clientele, including uniformed personnel.

Barber King’s range of services offered is also diverse and designed to cater to everyone, not just the LGBT community. Haircuts start at ₱100, hair color at ₱350, and hair rebonding at ₱999. They also offer specialized treatments like gluta drip by arrangement.

The journey to establish a gender-neutral barbershop was not without challenges. Finding skilled barbers who also had the right attitude was particularly difficult.

“Pinaka challenging talaga is maghanap ng matino at maayos na barbero. Maraming barbero pero hindi lahat magaling. Kung magaling naman, hindi okay ang ugali. Sinasala kasi namin,” Javarez shared.

“Imagine, nag start kami na isa lang ang barbero, ngayon apat na. Noon isa lang ang sakit sa ulo. Ngayon, times four na. Pero ganun talaga, unti unti na din kami nasasanay. Ginusto namin to eh,” she shared with a laugh.

The owners faced doubts but remained optimistic, focusing on the potential for success rather than the risks.

“Yung may doubt ka, what if hindi pumatok? what if hindi kumita? What if, what if. Pero what if maging successful? mas pinanghawakan namin yung positive,” she shared.

Their perseverance paid off, significantly impacting their personal and professional lives. They have learned valuable lessons in customer and staff management.

“Araw araw marami kaming natutunan, paano mag handle ng barbero at paano mag handle ng customers. Pati mga klase ng gupit natututunan na namin,” she shared.

“They love the shop, they’re satisfied with the services, and they appreciate the affordable prices. For just ₱100, they get a haircut in an air-conditioned space.”

What sets this barbershop apart from others in the area is its commitment to quality over quantity.

“Yung goal po namin is to provide quality services for everyone, yung hindi minadali. And we make sure na bago umalis ang customer, satisfied po sila sa gupit nila. Aanhin mo yung madaming gupit ngayon pero hindi na sila babalik sayo next time. So yun, quality over quantity,” she said.

While there are no immediate plans for expansion, the owners hope to open more branches in the future if it aligns with their goals.

“We’re focusing on this one barbershop for now, but we hope to manifest more branches in the future if it’s God’s will,” she said.

Reflecting on their journey, the owners shared a touching story that serves a pat on their back.

“May bata na gusto magpagupit pero yung tinda niyang gulay ang pangbayad niya, nakaka proud na maka help ka in small ways,” Javarez shared.

“At yung random compliments ng mga suki. Kahit saan ka masalubong may babati sayo. Yung iba mga matataas pang opisyal, pupurihin nila yung shop pati kami kasi hands on daw kami. Nakakataba ng puso, nakaka proud” she said.

As LGBT business owners, they emphasize respect for self and others, and they remain goal-oriented and attentive to their customers’ needs.

The owners hope to inspire other LGBT entrepreneurs by being “loud and proud.” Their advice to other aspiring LGBT entrepreneurs is practical and heartfelt.

“By being loud and proud, mas madali kumilos at mag negosyo pag totoo ka sa sarili mo.

Let us stay true to ourselves without forcing anyone to accept us, as long as tayo mismo tanggap natin ang sarili natin. Yun ang mahalaga,” she noted.

“Pag aralan ng maigi yung negosyo na papasukin, yung location ng business importante din, have someone who will support you kasi hindi madali mag negosyo,” she added.

Barber King continues to carve out a space of pride and acceptance. As a place where everyone can feel safe, they prove that true pride is about more than just appearances—it’s about fostering a community where everyone is celebrated for who they are.

With their scissors sharp and their pride even sharper, this barbershop isn’t just cutting hair—it’s cutting through barriers, one snip at a time.