The buying and giving of pasalubong is a common practice in the Philippines. Pasalubong refers to souvenir items given as gifts for family and friends upon returning from a trip.
Choosing what to bring home from your travels can be overwhelming, as there are so many things you can purchase from different destinations. Traveling during the holidays can be especially challenging, as gift giving becomes even more important. If you've spent your Christmas vacation on a trip, here are ten pasalubong items to consider:
Specialty food and delicacies
Every destination has a delicacy or specialty food item that is a must-try for visitors and can be greatly appreciated by those back at home. You're bound to encounter many shops or vendors peddling these food products, so don't overlook these when picking what pasalubong you'll be taking home. Examples of these specialty food items include lechon from Cebu, pastel (a kind of sweet bun) from Camiguin, and pili nut candies from Bicol.
Local versions of common food products
Suman, tsokolate tablea, coffee, and puto are easy enough to find in many parts of the Philippines, but they tend to have regional variations in taste and appearance, depending on where they come from. Suman from Baler tastes very different from the nilambiran of Butuan or the budbud kabog of Cebu. Taking home such items can give the folks back home a sense of the destination you've visited, as well as something familiar that they are sure to enjoy.
No matter where you go in the Philippines, there will always be fresh produce to be found. Though Baguio is known as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines, there are many fruits and vegetables that are grown in various parts of the Philippines, and for which these places are known. Try buying mangoes in Guimaras or Zambales, pineapples in Tagaytay or Bukidnon, or durian in Davao.
There is a wide array of beautiful native textiles that can be found in different parts of the Philippines. These can be used to make clothes, bags, and blankets. Some destinations have weaving centers where visitors can see how these textiles are made, learn how they can be used, and purchase them if they wish. These places include the Easter Weaving Room in Baguio where one can find traditional woven cloth from the Cordillera region, and the T'boli Weaving Center in Davao, where women from the T'Boli tribe of Lake Sebu perform weaving demonstrations. Aside from these native textiles, one can also choose to buy pinya cloth from Kalibo, embroidered barongs from Laguna, and malongs sold in Davao, which are imported from other parts of Mindanao.
It isn't uncommon to encounter a small store selling native wooden furniture while driving down a provincial road. Aside from these stores' convenient locations, these solid wooden pieces of furniture can be sturdy and very affordable. Some places that are known for their furniture include Cebu and Sta. Rosa, Laguna, as well as Vigan, which is known for its antiques.
Aside from furniture, there are many household items that one can take home from a trip. Rizal province is known for the works of art that can be purchased in its many shops and galleries. Other items that can be useful at home include walis tambo from Baguio and baskets made in other parts of the Cordillera region, as well as burnay clay pots from Ilocos.
There are a lot of items one can find in public markets, local shops, and outlet stores that cost less than they would in Manila. The best places to find food items for less are in public markets in the local town. Some destinations, like Baguio, have ukay-ukay shops and stalls, which sell clothes and accessories at very affordable prices. Aside from that, there are a number of outlet stores in Sta. Rosa, Laguna and Subic that sell branded export overruns or duty free imported goods.
Though colorful thread anklets and dangling earrings can be found just about anywhere, some locally-made versions of these items can be very unique and pretty. Certain areas, like South Cotabato, are inhabited by indigenous people who are known for the accessories they make, which include brass ornaments and beadwork accessories. So the next time you come across a vendor selling these kinds of trinkets, take a second look and you might just come across something someone back home can really appreciate.
Novelty souvenir products
Sometimes, the usual knick-knacks sold at local souvenir shops can be fun take-home items to give to friends. The "I heart Boracay" t-shirts, the "Baguio City" hats, and the little guitar-shaped pen holders with "Cebu" painted on them are pasalubong classics that can be both cute and useful.
Bags, bayongs, and other items that can be used to carry things
Finding space in your luggage to store all your newly-acquired things can be hard, especially if you're trying to keep your check-in baggage within a particular weight limit for transporting. Try looking for soft woven baskets, bags, or bayongs, which can serve as both a container for extra items and as a pasalubong, too.