There are many things that the late former President Noynoy Aquino is remembered for as the country’s Commander-in-Chief—and one of them is his hair.
PNoy’s hair (or the lack thereof) was the subject of mockery for years, especially during the latter part of his presidency when his thinning hair became largely evident.
Detractors have called him “the bald guy,” Time magazine described him in a 2018 article as “the balding mild-mannered Aquino,” and Reuters’ obituary on the late former President said, “Known for his easygoing demeanor, Aquino often wore loose shirts and baggy pants and made no effort to hide his balding head or a lack of polished public speaking skills.”
Until the end, his hair matters were not spared.
But the former President did not cave in to the insults about his hair. Instead, he would reference his hair situation most of the time in a self-deprecating way.
PNoy’s sister, Kris, even once tried to convince him to undergo treatment to prevent hair loss but he declined.
As the former President’s trusted, longtime hairstylist, Cherry Tiosejo Reyes, said PNoy did not give much fuss about his hairstyle and just wanted to keep his hair really short, she told PhilSTAR Life. Cherry calls Aquino’s hairstyle “short but chic.”
PNoy may have seemingly brushed off the comments about his hair and made remarks on it in jest, but Cherry said, “He was pretty conscious of his thinning hair. In fact, he once said that he would rather have white hair than thinning hair.”
During Aquino’s term in government, Cherry shared PNoy would have a haircut every three months and when there were special events like his State of the Nation Address.
“He would always have his haircut before an event, but there were no special requests. He just wanted it neat and short, especially the sides,” said Cherry, owner and managing director of the pioneer franchise of UK salon chain Toni & Guy in the Philippines.
Cherry would go to the Aquinos’ house on Times St. in Quezon City to give the former President a haircut.
Once, before he was proclaimed president, PNoy went to Cherry’s Toni & Guy TriNoma Mall branch to have his hair done but people gathered outside the salon to ask for his autograph or to have a picture with him, which he obliged to the horror of his security personnel. After that, PNoy reportedly preferred to get his haircut at home instead to avoid security and logistics issues.
Cherry, who has a long list of celebrity clients, remained PNoy’s hairstylist after the former President’s term ended. During the pandemic, Cherry said she was able to give him a haircut twice.
As someone whom PNoy trusted with his hair matters, Cherry treasures the relationship she forged with the former President.
She also shared a ritual PNoy had before they would start their haircut session. The known music lover that he was, PNoy would bring out his portable speakers and play background music.
When PNoy was was still President, Cherry said she would wait for him to start the conversation and talk about anything, but mostly topics related to politics.
But after the presidency, Cherry’s conversations with Citizen Noy turned light and relaxed. “Our last conversation was regarding a family matter that happened during his presidency. I asked if I approached him during that time, would he have helped me? As a person of ‘daang matuwid,’ he said it was outside of his jurisdiction. My respect for him grew even more,” she said.
According to Cherry, PNoy had his share of “kwentong barbero” and jokes while she was cutting his hair. She also shared that every time the former President met a particular woman, he would ask Cherry if she knew her or what she thought of her.
Almost all her interactions with PNoy were unforgettable, Cherry said, but the most memorable for her was when he thanked her during his last State of the Nation Address (SONA) at the Batasan Pambansa in July 2015.
At his last SONA, PNoy thanked a list of people that had been part of his journey as the 15th President of the Philippines. And Cherry was one of them.
“(Salamat) kay Cherry Reyes, na nag-aayos ng aking buhok, at nagmimistulang economics practitioner dahil pinupunuan niya ang unlimited wants with very limited resources” were PNoy’s remarks that drew laughter from the people in attendance.
Cherry said she had no idea that Aquino would thank her at the SONA. “I was just home watching on television when he mentioned my name and I saw my photo on screen. I was shouting very, very excitedly.”
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Among the most memorable moments for Cherry, wife of TNT Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes, was when Aquino attended her birthday party at home. “That was the real Citizen Noy—very relaxed among friends, casually eating and laughing, and of course, singing, which is really his passion. We even sang a duet.”
In an Instagram post, Cherry shared that at the wake at the Ateneo’s Church of the Gesu, PNoy’s sister Pinky told her that the former President wanted to have his haircut but was hesitant because Reyes would have to wear PPE and practice health and safety protocols due to the pandemic. It would have been the last time Cherry would fulfill PNoy’s hair needs, but she knows by heart what Citizen Noy would have wanted—his hair neat and short.
Banner and thumbnail photos from Cherry Tiosejo Reyes