Nov 22, 2009

The Pasalubong List


It's almost time for another visit to the Philippines and it's time to make the Pasalubong list. Here is my list of "Pasalubong essentials".

Number one on the list is SPAM. Yes, the so-called mystery meat. It is one of the most important things to bring. It is non-gender specific, it will keep for a long time, and it is shaped like a small brick so it wastes very little space in the balikbayan box.

Number two: chocolates. Make sure they come in secure packaging or place them in ziplock bags. The Philippines is a very warm place and you don't want melted chocolate all over the rest of your gifts. While there are some people that enjoy fine chocolates, regular chocolate bars like Snickers and Three Musketeers are more familiar and are more popular with the kids in the Philippines.

Here is the list of some more Pasalubong staples to go in the Balikbayan Box:

  • soap bars - Liquid soap is too heavy. Bring some Dove, Dial and Irish Spring soap bars.
  • towels - To wrap the fragile stuff (like electronics) in, and also make great gifts
  • T-shirts - Great gifts and make great padding for electronics, too.
  • lipsticks/lipglosses - These make nice gifts for the girl cousin/friend/auntie who you forgot to shop for.
  • anything from Victoria's Secret - including the paper bag.
  • DVD's
  • electronics – MP3 players, cameras, game consoles are all very popular
  • shoes - Make sure you know the recipient's shoe size and taste.
  • books - Paperbacks are lighter and less bulky than hardcovers
  • kitchen stuff like nonstick pans and accessories - Depending on how much room you have in your box or how many boxes you are taking, it is good to have them on the list. The recipient usually rewards you with food made using these. Let me tell you: Filipino food is very, very good.
  • toiletries - These may be given as gifts or for use around the house. Everyone there is curious to try out what American toothpaste is like.
  • bags - Backpacks and schoolbags make great gifts for children.
  • nice pens - Parker pens make nice gifts and are not too expensive when bought over here.
  • watches
  • cigarettes - In the Philippines, cigar boxes have labels that says, WARNING: smoking kills. However, a lot of people smoke there.
  • wine/Liquor - Wrap in a large fluffy towel to make sure it doesn't break in transit.

Small, expensive things like jewelry and laptops are best hand carried.

Pasalubongs do not have to be expensive. It sounds cliche' but all that really matters is the gift is from the heart and that you are there to spend time with people who love you.

by Oona Chinen

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