The Pinoy culture of 'pasalubong'

NEVER in my travels did I return home without anything for family members and friends. Even when I was living in the National Capital Region, I would always go back there with a piece of Bacolod with me. It has been a Filipino tradition to bring a “pasalubong,” which is a form of gift acquired from a particular place given to people left behind.

Souvenir items serve as a reminiscence of our journey. The word “souvenir” is a French word that means remembrance or memory. I buy keepsakes for myself to help me recall scenes in my trip.

It’s a wonder how much breadth of memories are attached to those tiny items and how, after so many years, they can evoke a smile or a recollection of a travel experience.

A pasalubong is something you give out to let other people know that they were remembered while you were on the road. It’s as if you have made them part of your voyage. And through that gift, you also want them to remember you, even in your absence.

What do you carry with you for your loved ones, friends or acquaintances when you arrive from a trip? Walk into a souvenir shop and you will find a variety of goods you can choose from that you can carry with you on your return or onward journey.

I usually choose something light that I can fit in my baggage as well as affordable enough so I can bring for more people. Here are different kinds of pasalubong items you can consider on your next trip.

Food items. Pinoys are known for their love for food and this is also reflected in the pasalubong we bring to loved ones. Sea ports and airports are always full of different food products that are popular in the locality.

When I was working in Makati, I’d always bring delicacies to my colleagues and friends. Negros is known for its piaya, barquillos, napoleons, and other local sweets. Kababayans coming home from abroad would always have boxes of chocolates to share to everyone. Bringing a book is like giving someone a taste of that place or a flavor of your adventure.

Collectibles. I collect postcards. In fact, I joined an online community called Postcrossing where I exchange postcards from people all over the world. It worked well when I was in Makati as I receive them on time and the ones I send arrive in just a few days or weeks. But when I moved back to Bacolod, the mailing system is terrible, that I had to stop, otherwise, I’d be banned from the group.

Other items people collect (like my mother does) are ref magnets, keychains, snowballs, bells, dolls or mugs. There are those who prefer mementos that are easy to store.

Clothing. Shirts bearing the name of the place is a popular pasalubong. But there are others who even go more meaningful by buying traditional clothing, like the Indonesian batik, or the Thai silk dress, or the Indian sari.

Accessories and home décor. I know of friends who are fond of earrings or bracelets. Others prefer to give practical items, things that their loved ones can put in their bags or display in their homes. It can be a wood carving, a miniature of a famous landmark, an art piece, some memorabilia, or a thing you picked along the way, like a seashell or a pebble.

As we are on the topic of mementos, I’m currently giving away items I collected from seven countries I set foot on for the past two years. This is my holiday gift to my readers. It is open to everyone, including our SunStar readers, particularly those following my column “Write on the Spot”.

Details of this giveaway are in my blog site Just be sure to follow the instructions in my site and you might be the lucky one whose entry will be chosen through an online raffle.

Our culture of pasalubong will continue on, especially with the Filipino diaspora. Come Christmas-time, when family members come home for the holidays, more pasalubongs are expected to travel from port to port.

All photos are by this author. Claire Marie Algarme blogs at Follow her as @firsttimetravel on Twitter and Instagram and like her Facebook page First-time Travels blog.
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