Posted by: annpeace | April 16, 2009

What does “tambay” mean in English?

Uhm…the Filipino slang “tambay” comes from “istambay” which is derived from the English word standby or stand by (could literally mean a person or thing readily available; or be present without action – according to Encarta dictionary).

In the Filipino context, standby, istambay, or tambay is referred to a person who has nothing to do, or who is jobless or lazy – someone who does not make use of his/her time in sensible ways or on sensible things or does not make use of his/her time at all.  In other words, a bystander.

A tambay could mean a worthless person, although it could also refer to or be a joke term (not really the bad joke joke) for someone who does not come from the “upper class”, though not necessarily coming from the lower class of the society.

The most commonly and traditionally referred to as tambays or istambays are those groups of (adolescent to adult) men who hang around by the streets and/or outside sari-sari stores, often times taking shots of alcoholic drinks and prejudged as war freaks.

Quite obviously, the term has a negative connotation (since it has a negative origin as a Filipino colloquial word) but only generally speaking. Just like in all languages, the use for this word has been evolving so it could be interpreted and analyzed openly by considering perspective. Tambay can also be used as a verb which means to hang out.

Those things being said, for the Tambay series of this blog, click here. By the way, the series is written in Cebuano language for the sake of authenticity.

Speaking of authenticity, here is a BisRock song entitled Istambay by Enchi. To translate in summary, it talks about a tambay who does not entirely waste time or pick a fight as he is often mistaken, he is peace loving and  instead  spends the time playing music with other istambay friends. He also talks about loafing is not really his choice, the hard times put him in such situation but he stays hopeful that he does not stay as a bystander for long. Anyway, the song…

Oh stambay dili mangita ug away
Oh stambay kalinaw among kalipay…

Sa akong pag’stambay, sa siyudad sa dumagete
Mo dukdok mo kanta mo guitara
Mo tarotot aron makihigala
Sa akong paglatagaw
Mokaon lang ug singkong lugaw
Dli gud ambisyoso
Nga mangita pa ug adobo

[Cho:]
Woh stambay dili mangita ug away
Woh stambay kalinaw among kalipay…
Oh stambay sayaw arong way mahay
Oh stambay kamot ikaway kaway

Apan nga nganu ngano kaha
Kini ang palad ko wala man sila masayod
Sa akong kalisod
Kinabuhing stambay intawon maka laay
Kinabuhing stambay dili unta mag dugay

[Cho:]
Woh stambay dili mangita ug away
Woh stambay kalinaw among kalipay…
Oh stambay sayaw arong way mahay
Oh stambay kamot ikaway kaway

Sa akong pagstambay
Ang sigarilyo nalay kalipay
Hawid hawiran daun dila dilaan
Aron ang problema makalimtan
Makainom lang gamay
Ang katulog, kahamugaway
Dli na madestorbo
Inig ka ugma balik sa uno…

[Cho:]
Woh stambay dili mangita ug away
Woh stambay kalinaw among kalipay…
Oh stambay sayaw arong way mahay
Oh stambay kamot ikaway kaway…

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Responses

  1. naa pud daw kuno sosyal nga tambay.

    unsa kaha na sila noh?
    hmmmm

  2. ang mga sosyal nga patambay-tambay sa mall, sa golf course, sa mga resorts. ug uban pang asa katambayan. mao siguro. hehehe… :)

  3. kasagaran karon tambay2x sa forum(virtual), pero ang uban tambay2x sa internet cafe :)

  4. oh yeah! ganahan pud ko sa beat ana na song..payter!!!

  5. Naa pud pa tambay tambay sa balay.

  6. ahem ..
    P A T A M B A Y
    nga hak hak
    – –
    awol aqo naun !
    – –
    higa lang
    taz tulog
    na maya ..

  7. Astig tong article na to, I was actually looking for a great article that defines the word tambay. I hope you don’t mind coz I linked this article to my site: sportytechie.wordpress.com

  8. I usually called em lower class backstreet men. They seem to be the ones who say HEY JOE and cannot speak much english.

    • that should be the older meaning of it. today, it can mean not the “lower class” but still “backstreet men”. I like the backstreet part term though. ;)

  9. is there a tutor out there that teaches tagalog to foreiners?

  10. [...] let them watch and watch? And after graduating, they’ll take their bright future as professional tambay doing nothing in front of TV sets. Better if they get promoted, they will wear torn and [...]

  11. Ano po ba talga ang exact term ng mga taong tambay?

  12. Not sure if this is correct…….

    “tambay” – is a shorten word for “taumbahay/taongbahay”

    “taumbahay/taongbahay” – i think is “homeboy/homegirl” in english.

    “homeboy/homegirl” – is “homie” for short

    “homie” = “tambay”

  13. [...] it is a safe and child friendly place. Why did I say so? No drunkards, no noisy ‘tambays’ ( it means person who has nothing to do, or who is jobless or lazy – someone who does not make use o….) And our neighbors know how to show respect to their neighbors. Okay enough of me. .. Let me say [...]

  14. [...] a bystander? – ["tambay" is a Filipino slang used to refer to jobless or lazy people. Click here for a more detailed elaboration.]) I quickly answered my own question, “Really? Are you [...]

  15. hahaha… i miss bisrock. cge jud ko’g kanta kanta ani sauna :D

  16. Patawa man ni. Haha

  17. Just bumped into your blog now; perhaps you may also include an mp3 of the song embedded on this blog post.

    Nice one, keep it coming!

  18. [...] Source: http://annpeace.wordpress.com/2009/04/16/what-does-tambay-mean-in-english/ [...]


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