Filipino Pasalubong

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One of the most well-known traditions in modern Philippine culture is the idea of pasalubong, or the tradition of bringing home souvenirs or other gifts after a trip to another place. This tradition has been practiced for a really long time and until up to this day, when a family member returns home from a trip, it would be very likely they come home with a pasalubong[1]

Definition and Etymology:

Pasalubong's root word - 'salubong' - means "to welcome." The word pasalubong can be defined as a gift given to a friend or relative by a person who just returned from a trip. The person who returned from a trip expects to be welcomed. In return for their welcome, that person will have a pasalubong for those who welcomed them back.

Examples of Pasalubong[2]:
  • Yema cake from Quezon Province
  • Chocolate-covered polvoron from Tagaytay
  • Peanut kisses from Bohol
  • Dried mango from Cebu

Significance and Implications:

There is no set item which the pasalubong may be. Common pasalubong items include clothing, bags, shoes, food products, and endemic memorabilia from the place of origin[1]. Though pasalubong is not required to be given when one returns from another country, it is often thought of as a sign that you are thinking of others while you are away[3], and ‘share your experience’ with them. It is also a sign which shows gratitude to friends and family and is often a way of saying that you are thankful to return to them. Price is often not a factor when purchasing the pasalubong because of this.

In the Philippines, friends and family are some of the most important aspects of our culture, the significance spanning back to before Spanish colonization. To pre-colonial Filipinos, family was not limited to biological relations and often extended to others whom they respected and trusted. Building relations also had a spiritual significance of strengthening ones ‘dungan’  - a measurement of ones power. In the modern day, the pasalubong is a way to strengthen a bond between the giver and the recipient. The anticipation of waiting for and receiving a pasalubong is one of the most cherished memories for young Filipinos[1].  

Balikbayan Boxes:

Since the 1980’s, Filipinos who are working overseas will occasionally send a balikbayan box to their family in the Philippines. It is inspired by the Filipino culture of “pasalubong.” The cardboard box that the Overseas Filipino Workers will send contains anything and everything that an overseas Filipino finds valuable to their families and loved ones back home [4]. It takes about a month or two for the Balikbayan box to arrive in the Philippines[5].


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 TagalogLang (December 23, 2020). "Pasalubong: Filipino Culture!". Retrieved January 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Jun 16, Dyan Zarzuela; 2009. "How sweet it is: 10 most popular Pinoy pasalubongs". SPOT.PH. Retrieved 2021-01-08.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  3. "Pasalubong: Symbol of Thoughtfulness". January 17, 2016. Retrieved January 7, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  4. "Balikbayan by Forex | Forex Cargo". Retrieved 2021-01-08.
  5. "Balikbayan Box: Everything you need to know". Live in the Philippines. 2018-12-12. Retrieved 2021-01-08.

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