There’s something absolutely transformative about a haircut. Especially when it’s a flattering one, a good haircut can make you feel like a million bucks. For the recipients of hair artist Marko Bustarde‘s free services, a haircut doesn’t just boost their self-confidence, it also gives them a sense of self-worth.
All homeless people, Marko’s “clients” were randomly selected as the latter plies the city streets on public transportation. The 27-year-old hair artist who works at a salon and has been practicing his trade for eight years says his mission began with an earnest desire to change for the better and give meaning to his life.
“I prayed to God and asked Him what I could do to help others and inspire people using my services for free,” he says. He was also looking for something that would help keep him off his vices. “Sobra sa alak at sigarilyo… Kailangan healthy ako para sa mission ko.” (Read: Meet the ‘Raketero’ Who Found His Life Purpose With Esakay)
And so, while everybody else was busy celebrating the holidays on December 25, 2020, Marko launched his mission of giving back and making a difference in homeless people’s lives— one haircut at a time!
Marko tells My Pope Philippines about how cutting hair has affected him and his “clients,” and how far he plans to take this mission.
Who taught you how to cut hair?
A lot of people taught me how to cut hair. I started at Bench Fix Salon. Pero ang pinakanagturo sa akin ay si Anthony Guardino.
Where has your mission of giving free haircuts to the homeless taken you?
I’ve gone to Caloocan, Quezon City, Novaliches, Fairview, South, and Roxas District. I offer my free services to a lot of people— men and women, young and old. May mga tumatanggi din. (Read: Vatican Begins Mass Vaccination for the Homeless)
‘Yung first customer ko, I didn’t know his name. Na-shock siya when I came up to him and offered a haircut. Akala niya kasi nagloloko ako at akala niya sisingilin ko siya.
Aren’t you afraid of contracting COVID-19 during your missions?
Hindi! Tiwala ako kay God. I know He’s protecting me, and I practice safety measures inside and out. (Read: 3 Secrets to Protect Yourself From Viruses In Crowded Places)
To protect myself and those whose hair I cut, I stopped smoking para malakas immune system ko. Nag-take din ako ng high doses of Vitamin C with zinc. I eat more fruits and vegetables, drink more water, and do exercise and warm water steam inhalation.
I also use separate scissors, comb, clippers, and disposable gloves and capes. I wear a facemask and face shield, disinfect with Lysol and alcohol, practice social distancing, and take a warm bath before I enter my house.
How do your homeless clients feel after a cut? How does it make you feel?
They’re very happy. They’re very thankful, they say they feel so lucky because they never thought someone would do this for them. For me, my favorite part is seeing them smile after the cut. (Read: These Rural Women Are Making a Difference in Their Communities)
What is your ultimate dream?
Magkaisa ang mga hair artists— hairdressers, hairstylists, barbers— to form one team with one mission: mag-iikot sa buong Pilipinas on a bus bought from funds raised, to offer free haircuts, free clothes, free food for the homeless, and free food for stray dogs and cats.