The emergence of the Filipino metrosexual and the rise of the man-beauty industry in the Philippines

Omg, what’s gotten over Filipino malehood? Reuters observed in a recent report that “Whether it is just a normal facial or an expensive power peel, pricey whitening skin care products or a cheap, improvised facial mask, looking good and flawless is a top priority for the Filipino ‘macho’ man.” The report, as a matter of fact, was about Filipino men’s growing inclination to “metrosexuality” and the burgeoning beauty industry targetting men that it is spurring.

Even more disturbing is how old attitudes toward skin color are now being used as marketing capital. Weirder still is how the attitude is spreading to less-traditional demographics…

“We already have dark skin, we’ll be ugly if we get even darker,” said Romeo Apelado, 59, a fisherman at Laguna de Bay in Taguig City wearing a worn out face mask made of pieces of fabric sewn together and a long-sleeved shirt to protect his skin from the sun as he goes out to the lake to fish for six to eight hours every day.

This is a fisherman, folks. Fishermen-turned-metrosexual. What is the Philippines coming to?! And, HELLO, “darker” equals “uglier”?? With attitudes like these, it’s no wonder that Koreans are taking over Philippine showbiz. Apparently, Filipinos aspire to look more like their northeast Asian idols. Well come to think of it, there is really nothing strange about that remark considering now Senator Nancy Binay was mocked incessantly about her skin color by her detractors during this year’s election campaign. Suffice to say, she had the last laugh coming out of that exercise.

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Ever since my colleague Ilda’s groundbreaking article on the Filipino male’s narcissistic condition, I have seen the light about Pinoy manhood and can believe that, as Reuters reports, “In a regional study conducted in 2004 by global market survey company, Synovate, 84 percent of men in Manila agree that looks are everything.” As a matter of fact, even back then when Ms Ilda wrote that article, there was already a similar study by the same research firm (Synovate) that found that “48 percent of Filipino males felt they were sexually attractive”. That was back in 2011.

You wonder though: if Filipino men have such a high regard for themselves, why would they be such avid patrons of man-salons? You’d think that they’d think that there wouldn’t be much in perfection to improve upon.

Personally, I’ve never really been in a deep relationship with a man who took longer to use the bathroom than I did. In fact, I’ve never dated one who took even half as long as I did! And, personally, catching a guy glancing at himself once too often at anything that gives him a decent enough reflection, much more lingering at the sight of his mug staring back for more than a minute pretty much constitutes a complete turn off.

I once dated a guy who would check himself out on the big full-body mirror bolted to his bedroom door for a full two minutes before stepping out to grab his newspaper in the morning. Seeing a horizontally-stretched image of himself on his car window door would worry him so much that he would need to go to the men’s room to a decent mirror to make sure the image he spotted previously was indeed distorted. I sometimes wonder too, in retrospect, whether the rear-view mirror in his car was, in fact, set to view out the car’s rear window and not set to give him a quick glance of himself every couple of minutes while behind the wheel.

What a guy. Needless to say, that didn’t last past the second date. Those sorts of guys who are soooo into themselves are probably the ones most likely to set up a hidden camera in their bedroom. Ewww… With more Pinoy men turning metrosexual, they should start selling an app that turns your iPhone into an electronic bug detector so that you do not end up a hapless subject in the next Pinoy Internet scandal!

Then again, maybe for narcissistic guys who take videos of themselves in bed, it is really all about keeping a record for the purpose of watching themselves perform in the future. The ladies in those videos may, for all intents and purposes, just be the collateral damage in these guys’ quest for the Nirvana of self-regard.

So, yeah, looks are “everything” for the Pinoy male. All you ladies out there now know what to get your boyfriends and husbands for their birthdays. Think positive: At least it makes shopping with your guy a bit more pleasant now that they are a bit more metro in their choice of recreational activity.

48 Replies to “The emergence of the Filipino metrosexual and the rise of the man-beauty industry in the Philippines”

  1. WOW, Great article Kate!

    IDK, but it is/has always been how ‘good looking/cute’ the Lady standing next to me is that is most important.
    Call me ‘old-fashioned’, chauvinistic(?) but as long as I’m showered,wearing reasonably cool/decent threads and feelin good/confident thats more than enough to let nature take its course.
    The guys you describe do not sound like MEN,but more like WOMEN, yes?

    As for the camera’s, any skeezit that does that to anyone without their knowledge is ‘yellin for a swellin’. These days maybe its best to stick to neutral places(Hotel rooms)the first few times till both ‘parties’ are feeling like movie stars.

    1. lol! Maybe the better question to ask is whether these males are already men or still boys. Boys don’t seem to want to grow up and actually work at achieving something nowadays. Too busy going to their beauticians and spending all their money there probably… 😉

      1. Yes, good point LI’L boys is what they are.Too insecure to let a window or mirror pass by to not look into it,BWAHAHAHAHA! it really is hysterical.

        I must say I’ve never heard the term “Metro-sexual” b4 this article,I’d no inkling the article would be about self-obsessed guys in the cities,LOL!

  2. This was a very entertaining read. I have noticed this behavior among my fellow men and a female friend of mine shed some light on another interesting fact:

    It angers some men when a better looking man enters the room.

    I’ve got a full beard and don’t really care about appearance. I’ve walked out of the house barefoot in my boxers with my hair all messed up in order to get something from my car.

    This emergence of the metrosexual man who give so much importance to their looks is a by-product of this celebrity culture that became prevalent with the rise of reality tv.

    I can now say that I have two favorite writers on this blog; you and Ilda.

    1. Admittedly I haven’t really come across any guy who actually routinely got facials and stuff like that, which leads me to think that maybe that Reuters report exaggerates a bit. Or maybe it’s just a function of the sort of crowd I hang out with?

      Yeah, I suppose men who are so into their looks tend to be very sensitive to the presence of lookers around them as well. Personally, I like a well-groomed guy — as long as he does the grooming once then forgets about it for the rest of the day (or the rest of the date). I guess there’s a thin line that separates basic grooming and obssessive preening…

      1. The report definitely exaggerates a little bit, but there are people like that in extreme cases. I’ve seen the kind back when I was getting my Multimedia arts degree in CSB. (both the kind that were angered by my mere presence and the ones that groomed EXCESSIVELY)

        My avatar shows me beardless. I’ve discovered that an epic beard attracts a different kind of woman, which happens to be the kind of woman I want to attract 😛

  3. There was this Time magazine article some years back that showed this phenomenon of the Asian male becoming just as crazy about beauty products as women are. It’s basically an Asian thing. White is good in the Asian context, and around the world too. Ah, I found it.

    Who knows if the fisherman is also afraid of cancer. My late grandma used to tell me that if I’d expose myself to the sun, even for a bit, I’d get cancer. And if I am too dark, I may look like the devil, haha (dark is “dirty,” white is “clean,” you know that bit). I think old people don’t know much about health.

    1. Hey that’s a pretty good article you dug up, Chino. Good additional reference for a fascinating lifestyle trend! I do notice a common denominator here though. This “marketing research” company Synovate seems to keep popping up in these articles (even in that Time article you cited). Hmnmm….

      1. If you think this company provides info that the product companies use to push this “metrosexual” trend… I suspect the same…

  4. The new trends on how women find guys attractive nowadays are getting more chaotic than ever. I don’t think that it’s totally the men’s fault for doing such pricey and troublesome things. It’s just that with women more attracted to Korean pop stars who had plenty of major plastic surgery sessions, Filipino men attractiveness are in danger thus as a compensation, they do the facials, power peels and whitening stuff. What can we say, women are getting more picky nowadays and they’d rather fall in love with men who they can only touch in their dreams rather than a decent guy in front of them who can be the man of their dreams.

    1. It’s ironic but I find that many women who pine for the “perfect male specimen” tend to be the ones who end up wasting precious youth on the wrong guy…

  5. Kind of weird how the people we would call “ladyboys” are becoming more attractive thanks to Beiber and korean dudes. And here I am, still trying to grow a mustache to look “suave”.

  6. It reminded me of one Arab in KSA looking for a whitening soap and asked me what’s the best brand I used. LOL 😉

  7. The metrosexual man arrived a decade or more ago in western countries, peaked and mostly died, as women realized they wanted to be the women and their man to be a man. I find the filipino dislike of dark skin to be one of the more disturbing aspects of filipino behaviour. While it can seem rather amusing, it is a glaring example of the shallowness of some filipinos.

    1. No different from the white man’s tendency to risk skin cancer by bathing under a glaring sun all day to look darker. Due to business, I have traveled many times to India and stayed there for months for a couple of years and they too look down on their darker brethren, they like having lighter skin too. I guess humans simply want something that they don’t have.

      Personally I love dark complexions, I think they are wonderful.

  8. I had always believed that those guys who pride themselves as metrosexuals are not necessarily ‘gays’ but guys with deep-rooted self-esteem and insecurity issues. Thus, they are ‘Di TUnay na Lalake’ (DTNL) in my definition. DTNL does not necessarily equate to being gay/homosexual. How do I define a TNL (Tunay na Lalaki)? I’m struggling to have a definition of TNL but one funny guy have the following manifesto…



    (from tunaynalalake.blogspot)

    TNL ka ba?

      1. Yeah, but it’s a good first-pass assessment of who might be a TNL/DTNL in a sea of guys flaunting to be a ‘man’in today’s Pinoy society, don’t you think? 😀 Guys satisfying 7-8 out of the 10, in my opinion, are still OK but beyond that is borderline or just plainly a male chauvinist pig. Or perhaps, some stone-age attributes of men should still be present in today’s world to separate the wheat from the chaff?

    1. Ang tunay na lalake ay ang malinis sa katawan at sa lahat ng bagay…. the one said is not true male but asshole.

  9. Metrosexuality is a marketing driven concept – with narcissistic overtones/appeal – but now passe.
    The new term is ubersexuality, no doubt followed by retrosexuality (asexuality in pnoy’s case)

    However if you have a small dick, no brains, no personality, no money, then no chance, even wearing fake armani. That is not metrosexuality, just low self-esteem and overcompensation.

    Widespread use of whitening products are more concerning, and more to do with racism/snobbery within the country

    1. The reference articles do indeed sound like some kind of inception campaign being run by marketers of cosmetic and other “man-beauty” products. These same marketers are the ones who came up with concepts like “tweens”, Gen Y, Gen X, baby boomers, etc. and then used these as catch-all profiles for focused marketing efforts and to condition the minds of people who perceive themselves to be part of one or a number of these artificial “demographic” categories. Even the concept of the “teenager” started out as a marketing concept as there was no such notion over much of the first half of the 20th Century…

    2. BINGO you hit the nail on the head. A lot of our society driven memes like “Smoking this cigarettes or drinking this beer will make you a MAN” or “Looking like this by using brand X will make you more popular with men.” or my favorite “I’m a celebrity who does this and wears this, so you should too to be as cool as me!” are all marketing driven psychological tricks by Companies and their ad agencies to fool people to by their products. Its working really well.

  10. I guess there’s nothing wrong with the fishermen trying to cover up their skins. They should have done this long ago so that skin cancer didn’t annihilate a big chunk of their population. We should make him as a perfect example (a poster boy if you will) of how Filipino men are waking up to reality that they, too, are not invincible to ultraviolet harm.

    The ones who stay too long in the bathroom and taking a glance before going out to pick up the newspaper, oh, well, more power to them, as well. I’m pretty sure they’re also into good grooming, hence they would smell good, fresh breath, clean fingernails, pleasant body odor, and let’s face it, looking good better than their peers 50 years ago.

    When I was growing up in the 1970s my mother instilled on my brain that cleanliness is next to Godliness—and boy, did we ever keep our bodies very clean all the time at home. When I used to live in the Philippines, I would shower at least 3 times a day. In the morning upon waking, at lunch break (would rush home to take another shower), and again before going to bed. The Philippines is a hot country. You have to take several showers a day to relieve you from the heat and dust. But, despite all these cleanliness awareness I had, I never bothered staying in the bathroom for more than 7 minutes. I believe this is the only time you need to clean up one’s self. Also, I never cared going out to pick up the newspaper by glancing at myself in the mirror first. Sometimes, even if I was just in my underwear briefs, I would go out to pick up the newspaper and when a lady neighbor would see me in that compromising situation, it amused her like there was no tomorrow. She would wave at me and point down her crotch and we would laugh together.

    I guess it’s different strokes for different folks. If a guy wants to be clean and smelling good and looking good, thank you. If a guy has dirty body, black fingernails, yellow teeth from smoking and not bother to brush his teeth, B.O. from his underarm, only takes a shower once a week—oh, well, I’d stay a mile away from him until he cleans up is act.

    Don’t you think women should be happier to have a clean, good smelling guy beside her?
    Guys, are we missing something here? Women were critical of men when they never cared to clean up their act. Now that we do, look what we’re getting. FLAK.

    We just don’t know what to do anymore, I tell you.

    And oh, before I forget: you better try the new product called LUMINESCE. Wow, this one will blow you away. Hahaha.

    1. Hi Jose,

      Do agree, well-groomed nice-smelling men are where it’s happening for me. There are some, however, who are naturals and there are some who clearly have to work hard at maintaining the look. There’s a reason why “all natural” commands a premium in the market not just for food products but for potential partners as well. It is the naturals that stand out no matter how much technology and product is employed to create the artificials.

      Some lucky guys — and girls — simply have the genes that guarantee them a queue of date applicants every Saturday night even if they don’t go out looking for one or spending unholy hours with their gym instructor or their beautician getting the needed look that they think they need to score good catches.

      Unfair as that may be, that’s simply the way things are.

      1. Is that really happening to some people these days—try so hard to be accepted by others? Now I would call that tragic.

        It’s always good to be yourself. There’s no need to buy friends or create an image for yourself to be accepted by others. If one has that kind of mind frame, a serious introspection can be extremely valuable.

        1. I like that. I prefer to be myself all the time. If someone can’t accept that, they should jump off a cliff and get skewered on the jagged rocks below. I’d be on the cliff laughing at them.

      2. @ Kate, u r pointing out the EXTREME behavior of “Metro-sexual”‘s, yes?
        it is understood that being well-groomed is a prerequisite for life today, as always. Just that the extreme is a turn-off.

      3. @ Kate, u r pointing out the EXTREME behavior of “Metro-sexual”‘s, yes?
        it is understood that being well-groomed is a prerequisite for life today, as always. Just that the extreme is a turn-off.
        most of us get the message

    2. Let me add, I never really believed that skin cancer from the sun thing. I mean, there are so many farmers and workers exposing themselves to the sun on a daily basis, but do they get cancer? Perhaps a comparatively small percentage do, but not enough to prove that you get it by being under the sun every day.

      Back to my grandmother, she so believed that scare on skin cancer that she covered herself from the sun at all times of the day – even at 7 am during the flag ceremony at National Housing Authority, she could be seen with an umbrella. Years later, my mom says grandma lacked Vitamin D from sun-hiding, so she got bone cancer, and died painfully. So you avoid one cancer, but instead you get the other.

      1. Hmm good point there about skin cancer and the sun link. There has been studies I have read that suggest that one possible source of skin cancer would be the sun screen chemicals people put on their skin to protect themselves from cancer. A likely possibility since we really don’t know what are the stuff they put in those sun screen lotions.

      2. Australia has previously had the highest rate of skin cancer in the world ( New Zealand, second)due mostly to a white population being transplanted into a very sunny climate. Darker skin tones have a higher level of protection against cell damage from UV light. Overexposure to the sun does cause cancer, it’s just less likey in darker skinned populations. That’s why dark people are found around the equator and lighter skin in the higher temperate zones.

        Melanoma rates in Aus have fallen rapidly with government education programs. Too late for the older generations who thought they were indestructable under the sun. The younger generations learned the lesson. Hats, clothes, sunscreen.

        1. PS. The sun does help produce vitamin D but it only requires a small amount of sunlight per day and its is also found in some foods like fish.

  11. Men do like to be “pretty” for da girls, hehe!

    Personally, I now prefer having “the works” done in a good barbershop (Bruno’s usually, either in Greenbelt or Banawe) rather than in a Salon (like David’s or what-have-you).

    Haircut, facial, and a shave… then a manicure/pedicure/foot spa combo… then a good back massage… All the while, reading an old issue of a girlie magazine.

    Too bad, though, they no longer allow smoking or serve beer/whiskey in barbershops like they used to do in the barbershop my Dad used to go to in Manila.

    Also, I tend not to go back to a barber who doesn’t tell a good story or “kwentong barbero”.

    One barber started his story with, “Sir, grabe itong si Kris at James ano?” and I was out of his seat in a jiffy.

    Who want’s to hear that? WTF?

    1. Haha. I didn’t know that there are some people who would base their choice of barber based on his stories. I agree though, I too prefer getting a cut and the works from a good Barber shop is better then Saloons. I tried a few times in good saloons to get a cut and the gay stylist tends to get over creative with my cut. Some even tend to be moody maybe because he has a spat with his boyfriend or something.

      Never had a problem like that in a barbershop like Brunos.

  12. my wife constantly reminds me of my beer belly and almost always asked me if i brushed my teeth before going to bed. in my mind – my beer belly is here to stay. and as long as i brushed my teeth in the morning before going to the office – that’s all that matters. and oh she used to hate my jarhead haircut – but when she realized i standout with it (which is often times) – so she shut-up.

  13. I like your post. How about Filipina ladies? Filipino women are the most stunning women on this planet. There are no ugly Filipino women, you know? I mean, Filipino women are thin and small. OK, some Western guys complain about too skinny Filipino ladies but they are beautiful. What else do you need from a girl?

    1. It’s funny how your comment isn’t related to the article but an excuse to show your potty-mouth trolling.


        1. Hahaha, on the contrary I laugh at your stupidity and your lack of intelligent comebacks. You’re the idiot here, not me.


  14. hahahahah!! hindi porket konte sinabi ko sayo e basa mo na ako. 🙂 mag aral ka pa brad. hindi porket ingles ang ginagamit mong panagot sa akin e mas matalino ka na. mag isip ka brad. kulang ka pa. 🙂 may mga pa “on the contrary contrary” ka pang nalalaman, contrary saan? makagamit ka lang ng salita e no. hahaha pre wala kang sustansya sa utak. tsk tsk.

      1. you’re wrong boy. 🙂 i know im an idiot, that sep’rates you from my kind. 🙂 bata ka pa no? hehehe. easy ka lang. 🙂

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