There is no such thing as a typical Filipino. However, there are certain characters that you eventually begin to recognize. In the interest of humorous social commentary, I've listed some of the stereotypes here.

The Standby

Sometimes spelled Estandby in the Spanish style, or abbreviated to Tandby, this is a guy who is, purportedly, on stand-by. He is hanging around at a street corner doing absolutely nothing, purportedly waiting for job opportunities. I say "purportedly" because the chances of someone coming along and actually asking for his help with something are slim to none.

The idea of standing by is actually a standby's pretext for hanging around with other standby friends and doing nothing all day. Now, with "doing nothing," I don't mean that they sit around talking, or smoking, or reading newspapers, or playing cards, or chewing on peanuts, or spitting. The standby has nothing to do so he does nothing. He has elevated the art of doing nothing to new heights: a group of standbys will go for hours on end just sitting or squatting, undertaking no activity whatsoever except occasionally shifting position slightly, and watching the world go by.

Standbys inevitably wear a faded old shirt, usually a sleeveless basketball shirt, with shorts and sandals (flip-flops).

The Boss

The individual who considers himself as "the Boss" will dress and act in a certain way out of a belief that this enhances his machismo. Starting at the top, the first essential element is the hairdo. The hair will have been swept back, with a slight bulge in front, Elvis Presley style, and oiled to shiny perfection. The fine down on the forehead will have been carefully shaved away, giving the impression that the Boss is wearing a wig. If you've seen a picture of our former president Ferdinand Marcos, you'll know what I mean. The hairdo is complemented with a standard moustache. Even if the individual does not have thick enough growth, he will still sport a straggly moustache.

The shirt is usually with a collar, but always open-necked, revealing a thick gold chain, perhaps dangling a huge gold medallion. The wrist may be watch-less, but will show off at least one bracelet. The pants are often jeans, with a 3-inch thick belt and a huge metallic buckle. Cowboy boots - from Carcar - complete the outfit. The Boss is a heavy smoker and heavy drinker; his drink of choice is Tanduay rum. Most of his activity will concern his fighting cocks, but, surprisingly, the Boss sometimes has a job.

The Boss pretends that he runs on testosterone, but what actually drives him is pure jealousy. Jealousy is what makes him tick and jealousy is what defines his existence and everyday experiences. If there is as much as a hint of interest regarding his woman, or if she spends as much as 15 seconds out of his sight, he will fly into an uncontrollable, self-destructive rage. The Boss's ultimate ambition is to have several girlfriends or wives to get jealous about.

Sadly, perhaps because of the self-destructive behavior he often engages in, the Boss is an endangered species nowadays; you can go for days without coming across a single specimen.

The Bayut

This is a variety of gay very common in Cebu - for some reason Cebu has a higher proportion of gay individuals than the rest of the country - but not found in Western countries.

The bayut - known in Manila as a bakla - is a male individual who acts in an overtly feminine way. Some go all the way, and could be classified as drag queens or transvestites - most of these are prostitutes. The vast majority adopt certain female characteristics while not attempting to hide their original maleness. For example, a bayut may sport a typically male haircut, but speak in a feminine way.

Gays are not ostracized; bayuts are tolerated and even embraced by mainstream society, and often have "respectable" jobs. This tolerance is at once heartwarming and surprising, since mainstream society is largely conservative and Catholic.

The weird thing about bayuts is that not all are necessarily gay; some marry and have children, while still acting very much like a female trapped in a male body. Go figure!

The Chinaman

The Chinaman is a businessman with at least three businesses. He usually has a short, businesslike haircut, wears a polo shirt, and inevitably has his cellphone in a case attached to his belt. The Filipino-Chinese businessman is not afraid to look like a nerd.

Unlike what you may think, the Chinaman does not always talk about money or business. But he is usually frugal to the point of illness, and considers non-Chinese Filipinos to be wasteful and stupid. On the rare occasions that he does work up the nerve to fritter away hard-earned money on a purchase, the Chinaman will not be able to complete the transaction without asking for a discount, no matter what the circumstances.

The Brat

The son of hard-working Spanish or Chinese parents, the brat goes to a good college and drives a snazzy Japanese import; a considerable amount of money will have been spent on alloy wheels, a sound system, and so on. He will have the very latest and most expensive cellphone.

However, he will not have much cash; the brats are kept on a tight leash by their frugal parents, so on weekends the brat will have no choice to hang out with his friends at gas stations - where the beer and snacks are cheap - and brag about his parents' wealth.

Brats often - miraculously - evolve into fully-fledged businesspersons, though some do end up on drugs or in jail.

The Farmer

The word "peasant" would be more accurate. He or she works the land, but it is rarely owned by the farmer. He or she is usually completely Visayan, with - unlike city folk - little Spanish or Chinese blood. The farmer speaks almost no English and will never have been to a mall. City folk are just as foreign to the farmer as visitors from overseas.

A farmer can be identified by the sundang, knife-like implement in a wooden sheath, worn at the hip. This is used for cutting fodder, chopping coconuts, chopping down coconut trees, and just about everything else.

As in all other countries, the farmer works hard, far harder than city folk. He will either be busy with his crops, with his livestock, or with chores such as making barbecue sticks, charcoal, or firewood. Farmers go to bed a few hours after dark and rise before dawn. The farmer's cash income will be minimal; the farmer's children are born at home and the only medical service available to the farmer are those provided free of charge at the local clinic.

Contrary to popular belief, the farmer is not religious. The nearest church is miles away, in the town or city, so on Sundays the farmer will spend the day working, or singing karaoke and drinking beer. His greatest passion is singing Visayan songs - which city folk consider silly and juvenile and tune out of in a hurry. Then again, the farmer considers most of the city folks' antics pretty silly, too.

The Foreigner

Perhaps the most amusing of all characters is the clueless foreigner. The foreigner is usually dressed awkwardly in shorts and a bright touristy tee-shirt, and seems to think this attire approriate for all occasions.

The foreigner's values are often the exact reverse of what Cebuanos consider normal; for instance, while civilized Cebuanos try to avoid the harsh glare of the sun, the foreigner will, perhaps for ritualistic reasons, try to expose himself to it, often getting burned a bright pink in the process.

The male foreigner is often in tow with a Filipina girlfriend or wife, who for some strange reason is almost always "exotic": short, dark complexioned, and skinny. Rarely will you find a foreigner with a pretty mestiza. Having been suddenly catapulted into a social class of unacustomed wealth, she is dressed almost as ridiculously as her partner. The couple is often accompanied by 3-4 relatives - from the Filipino side of the family - with nothing better to do than hang around, carry the bags, and entertain the Filipina when she tires of listening to her partner rant on and on about issues she doesn't quite comprehend in a language she doesn't fully understand.


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