Pasalubong (Filipino term for gifts or souvenirs from travel) has become part of many Filipino travelers. Whether traveling from domestic holidays or returning home for a short vacation, Filipinos are often tied to buying them for friends, co-workers, and family members.
Returning balikbayans from the United States often include pasalubongs in their luggage and make a checklist of recipients matched with novelty items from perfumes to chocolates, shoes to shirts. So what are the common items brought in from the States as pasalubongs to folks back in the Philippines?
The value of a pasalubong
Giving souvenirs from travel, or pasalubong, is an important tradition in many cultures, including the Philippines. It symbolizes the thoughtfulness and consideration of the traveler towards their loved ones back home. The act of bringing back gifts and souvenirs shows that the traveler remembered their friends and family even while they were away and that they took the time and effort to find special items to share with them.
Pasalubong also serves as a way for the traveler to share their experiences with others, by providing a tangible connection to the places they visited and the memories they made. The gifts often serve as reminders of the trip and can evoke happy emotions and spark conversation about the journey.
Overall, giving pasalubong is a way to express love and appreciation, and to create meaningful connections with others. It is an important part of the travel experience and a cherished aspect of many cultures.
History of giving pasalubong
The tradition of pasalubong, or the giving of gifts and souvenirs from travel, has roots in the Philippines and has been a part of the culture for many generations. It is believed to have originated from the practice of Filipino seafarers who would bring back gifts and trinkets from their travels abroad to their families and friends.
In the past, pasalubong was often seen as a symbol of wealth and prosperity, as only those who could afford to travel were able to bring back gifts. Today, the tradition has evolved and is now a common practice for travelers of all social classes, regardless of the purpose or length of their trip.
Pasalubong has become an important aspect of Philippine culture and is now a widely recognized tradition in many other cultures as well. Although it can also be interpreted in a negative light, giving a pasalubong serves as a symbol of love, appreciation, and the bond between travelers and their loved ones, and continues to be a beloved custom for many people around the world.
For Filipinos abroad, pasalubong can also mean the content of a balikbayan box they send back to families, especially if they cannot travel home.
US dollar bill
Crisp US dollar bills serve as excellent souvenir items. Not meant for currency exchange shops but as keepsakes, they are the ultimate proof of American colonial mentality.
Perfumes are safe bets as pasalubong items. Everyone seems to love them, especially those with popular labels.
Bags from the United States seem to be a hit for the hip or fashionable ones.
Hard Rock Cafe, Yale, or Stanford campus souvenir shirts, NBA jerseys, or Hollister or Abercrombie printed shirts are sought-after items.
Cigars and Whisky
Plenty of them can be found at Duty-Free Shops at airports. As Filipinos are fond of spending good times with friends, imported cigars and spirits fit well in the celebration.
iPods, smartphones, and gadgets of a similar kind are much cheaper in the U.S. than in the Philippines so it brings more value for money than pasalubong.
It’s been part of Philippine culture that bringing pasalubong from travels abroad brings smiles to our long-lost friends and family members in the Philippines. Just be reminded to stay within your means. And to those in the Philippines, receiving one is a privilege and not a right.