Pasalubong

What is “pasalubong?”  It is a travel gift.  In other words, if you travel from a far away place, you are kind of expected to bring your close friends and family a gift of some kind.  I am talking about Filipino friends and family, of course.

For example, if you come from the USA to visit family in the Philippines (or close friends) you are kind of expected to bring something that is “from the USA” to share with your loved ones when you arrive.  Same thing if you were to come from Europe, Australia or wherever.  In fact, if you live in the Philippines and let’s say you needed to travel to Manila or Cebu to take care of some business, when you return to your home, people will be expecting pasalubong, or a travel gift.

A lot of times, I get e-mails from people telling me that they are coming to the Philippines for the first time.  They are coming to visit a girl that they have come to know on the Internet, or for business, or for whatever reason.  They ask me what they should bring as a gift for somebody that they are close to.  Well, of course it varies, but I’ll give you a few ideas.

Tylenol makes a good pasalubong

Tylenol makes a good pasalubong

I can remember the first time that I came to the Philippines, which was in July 1990.  There really was no publicly used Internet at that time (although the government and military used the Internet already), so I had nobody to really ask what I should bring as gifts, I was in the dark, although I felt it was appropriate to bring a gift for my girlfriend (Feyma) and her family.  It just seemed like the right thing to do.  I was really unsure, though, what would be appropriate.  I was living in Washington State at the time, right on the border with Oregon (near Portland).  One of the first things I decided upon as a gift was a coffee table book which was a photo book of the Pacific Northwest.  It was quite a beautiful, and expensive book, and I thought it would be a nice way to show off the area where I lived.  I also brought other gifts that kind of showed off my local area, things like Seattle Mariner’s baseball caps, shirts that said “Seattle” or “Portland” on them and that kind of thing.  All of these kinds of gifts were greatly appreciated, and made a good impression on my in-laws to be.

Towels

Towels

Of course, all through the 90′s, we made a number of trips to the Philippines to visit Feyma’s family, and we always brought pasalubong when we came.  After we were married, though, I let Feyma worry about what the right gift was, I figured she would be better at knowing what would be most appreciated.

Over the years of living here in the Philippines, though, I have come to know what I appreciate receiving from people who come to visit.  While I don’t “expect” people to bring me anything, it is always a nice gesture.  I want to make it clear that I am not asking anybody to bring any of the things I mention, I am mainly just telling you the kinds of things that I, and other expats I know appreciate, because I get the question pretty regularly from people wanting to know what they should bring for friends and family here.

One of the reasons that I decided to write this article is because a friend came to visit us a few weeks ago, and the gift that he brought was highly appreciated.  I had actually never met this fellow in person before, but I knew him from his participation on this site.  Anyway, when we met, my friend pulled out a bag and gave it to me and said it was for Feyma and I.  He brought four gifts, actually, and all were quite useful.  First thing I pulled out of the bag was a bottle of Excedrin pain reliever – not just any bottle, but the super big Industrial Sized bottle with like 1,000 capsules in it!  Wow.  It was funny, because earlier the same day, Feyma and I had been talking that we were out of such a pain reliever, and that we needed to order something from the States.  There are such pain relievers available here, but they are only available “by the piece,” not in a big 1,000 piece size.  By the piece, also, they are much more expensive here, and also the biggest problem is that the pain relievers like this here seem to be not very effective compared to what you can get abroad.  Second thing I pulled from my friend’s package was a bottle of Excedrin PM.  He explained that he wanted to give us something for daytime or nighttime!  Next, I found that he had given me two of the long lighters that you can use to light a candle or a BBQ grill.  You know, the long metal thing with a plastic handle, with a trigger that you pull to make it light a flame?  I don’t know exactly what to call it, but I have never seen anything like that here, and even the matches here are of poor quality so this was greatly appreciated.  In fact, we use the “lighter sticks” every single day!  So, these gifts, while just simple every day things were greatly appreciated.

Another time, a few years ago, a friend from Canada brought me some black licorice.  He knew, because I had once written, that licorice was a favorite of mine, and something that is quite difficult to find here, or it was at that time.  Now, it is more available than it was at that time.

Towels are always appreciated here, because the towels here are of very poor quality, and usually are not even absorbent of water!  It’s like you wipe your body with the towel and it only smears the water around, but doesn’t soak any up.  So, I have brought towels over here in the past for friends, and they were always loved, and very well received.

So, if you are coming over and want to share a small gift with friends or family, these are the kinds of things that are always appreciated.  Something local from your area is always a nice touch that would be highly valued.  Think about it and you can find something unique, or an everyday thing that just is not available for purchase here!

Post Author: MindanaoBob (943 Posts)

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur who is based in Davao. Bob is an American who has lived permanently in Mindanao since May 2000. Here in Mindanao, Bob has resided in General Santos City, and now in Davao City. Bob is the owner of this website and many others.

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Comments

  1. says

    Bob you said “Think about it and you can find something unique, or an everyday thing that just is not available for purchase here!”

    Ah my wife will bring things that are available for purchase there. When I ask why she says it is because made in the US is better than made in the Philippines

      • Paul Thompson says

        Bob;
        My sister-in-law lives with her Kano husband in Las Vegas, she ship’s by LBC every few months, stuff that is impossible to find here, like Coffee creamer, sugar, instant coffee, and many more hard to find items, she visits every two years and hasn’t figured it out yet. But the item that causes the most head scratching is canned food in the number 12 can from Sam’s Club (industrial sized) which is good if every meal was a block party. That is wasteful, but as I’m not involved, I say nada, and smile.
        I’ve asked her husband to slip in a couple of 1.75 plastic bottles of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, in 15 years it’s not showed up yet. Ah, but the next time he wants to borrow my car…..

        • says

          Ha ha… very funny, Paul. Yes, those “impossible to find” items are very important! It’s also important for him to be able to borrow your car… Captain Morgan? Not so important! :lol: Don’t you love people like that?

          • Paul Thompson says

            Bob;
            To a very few Captain Morgan is most important! (lol). To date they’ve not sent rice, but I’m waiting!

              • Mars Z. says

                Actually Bob, a couple years back when rice was a problem there, Filipinos were sending rice thru BB box to the Phils and made the paper here in Northern Virginia. True story. Now when they start sending the dried fish, you’ll be the first one to know.

            • Bruce Michels says

              Senior:
              AYE THE CAPTIAN to some folks is like the TAJ MAHAL savory flavor.
              It’s my no1. Heck I’ll even do the pose for for it.

  2. Paul Thompson says

    Bob;
    When I was sailing, I’d ship the items from my stateroom (All clothes, coffee maker ect.), that I needed for my next ship, back to my company in the states, freeing up my luggage for pasalubong, gifts, or presentos I carried nothing else but the clothes on my back with me, I would joke that I could have gone anywhere else, just as long as my luggage got to the Philippines. But I thought it was a fun thing to do, and you recommendations above are very good. BTW: I’m with you on licorice, I love it, and found I’m the only one at my house that does, Ah more for me!

    • says

      Hi Paul – I have a slight problem. Since my birthday was a bit over a week ago, Feyma bought me some black licorice. I had not had any in several years. In the past, like you, I was the only person in the house who would eat it, everybody else hated it! But, this time, now, everybody in the house has decide that they like it, and my licorice went away quickly! :lol:

      • Paul Thompson says

        Bob;
        I won’t drink instant coffee, albeit I do use it to make Kahlua, But on Subic free-port a liter of the “Captain” is $18.00 a bottle. Last month I went to my bar at home and proceeded to pick up and then drop a brand new bottle. Remember, a man is allowed to cry!

        • says

          Hi Paul – Like you, I don’t drink instant coffee (is it legal to call that stuff coffee?). You know, crying shows what a sensitive and good person you are, Paul. Crying over a a broken bottle of Captain shows how intelligent you are too! :shock:

              • Bruce Michels says

                Senior;
                You dropped a bottle of the Captian say it isn’t so. I started crying thinking of all the emotion distress you went through cleaning up the Captian on the floor with the aroma striking your nostrils. Glad you held off the urge to lick up the Captian that would of been critical. :(

        • Mars Z. says

          I’m packing a BB box this week and other items to consider include personal hygiene stuff, Mini maglite flashlight, sport shirts and hats, good herb teas, flavored chocolate drink mix, and some household small items. I also bring a lot of playing cards, and Parker Pens—small items but kinda personal when you give it as gift. In short, pick small items so you can carry within your 2-50 lb limit when flying. BB has no weight limit.

            • Mars Z. says

              Here in Northern Virginia, in a Filipino Gourmet Store/Restaurant. They have box by Forex or Cargo Plus. $60.00 to Manila area, $80.00 to Visayas and Mindanao, takes 45 days or so. You buy the box for $10.00 deposit and credited when you bring the loaded box in. They shipper pick up once a week, every Sunday in this particular place I’m using. It is cheaper in Ca and arrives in less time than coming from the East Coast.

            • Ricardo Sumilang says

              Hey Randy, there’s a Forex where you live – St. Petersburg – if not mistaken, right?

              Forex Cargo Florida
              Jacksonville (800) 603-6739/(904) 272-7466
              Miami (305) 654-9897/(954) 257-9125
              Gainesville (352) 336-1850
              Orlando (407) 282-7772
              Sanford (407) 330-9885
              Tampa/ST. PETERSBURG (727) 544-6182
              Pensacola (850) 453-6357/433-2325
              Ft. Walton (850)314-0117
              Penning (850) 433-2325

              • Papa Duck(Aka Randy W.) says

                Ricardo

                Thanks so much for the info brother! Yes i live about 20-30 minutes south of St Pete in Bradenton. Much appreciated.

              • Ricardo Sumilang says

                No problemo, bro. I pass through Bataan everytime I go to Zambales from Manila and back, want me to say hello to your gf there for you next time? :)

              • Ricardo Sumilang says

                Randy, one of my favorite stopping place on my way to and from Zambales is this karinderia (eatery) by the zigzag road in Dinalupihan, Bataan. All the good Filipino foods you want: nilagang baka, pancit, adobo, lumpia, kalderetang kambing, menudo, sinigang na baka, lechon kawali, kare kare, bicol express, afritada, dinuguan, and the sweet Zambales mangoes. We can meet there and then swing over to Paul T’s mountain hideaway nearby after lunch. I can take you with me to my hometown in Palauig, if you like. Just dreamin’ here about good Filipino foods that I haven’t tasted in a while, Papa Duck! LOL

  3. Kevin Kasperbauer says

    Hi Bob,

    Giving a gift can be a tricky thing, especially if you’ve never met the person before. Although growing up on a remote place like Guam may have given me an edge in this department, I had to think for a while about what to bring you and Feyma. I had hoped you would find my gifts useful, and I’m gratified that they are “highly appreciated.”

    The Excedrin Migraine is kind of “super charged” it has caffeine as one of the ingredients, hence the additional bottle of Excedrin PM. The addition of caffeine as the “secret ingredient” has become popular in headache pain pills here in the states but I hadn’t seen any in the Philippines yet. I gave some to Yam a while back and she and about a dozen women (the number keeps growing as Yam hands them out) in Cebu swear by them now. Soon, I think all of Cebu will know about Excedrin Migraine, and Excedrin still won’t know about Cebu.

    I call those giant mechanical matches “lighter sticks” also, but I think the stores call them multipurpose lighters. I gave a couple to Yam a few days earlier. She didn’t even know of their existence and her household uses them everyday now also! (Now I know an item I’m gong to be stocking this Christmas season in our stores.)

    • says

      Hi Kevin – Thank you for the gifts that you brought for us. It was not necessary at all, but the thought is greatly appreciated. I did not mention your name in the article, because I did not have your permission and didn’t want to do so in case you did not want that. But, yes, the items you brought were very practical, not available here, and very useful! We appreciate it very much!

  4. alan cline says

    A bit off topic perhaps but for anyone going to Cebu that might have friends with a membership card to the new S & R American items are available that might not be available in your area though probably more of an issue here in Cagayan de Oro .

    America milk seems to be the big pleaser at around $5 a Half – Gallon . Also popular are coffee , dill pickles , quality charcoal , and various meats ( like turkey breast , etc ) as well as specific frozen item brand names .

      • sugar says

        Hey Bob, they have S & R here in Manila.. he he. ;) There’s also Cash & Carry… you can buy American stuff there which wouldn’t not find in S & R. Okay, when you and Feyma come here to Manila ^_^.

          • sugar says

            Bob, 11 years just twice in Manila, amazing! Me, I’ve never been Davao. I know Suha (don’t know English equivalent) is one of the best fruits there. They’re expensive here in the groceries. It’s a popular pasalubong .

            • says

              Hi Sugar – Suha is Pomelo in English, or Buongon in Bisaya. It is very delicious. The most famous fruit from Davao, though, is the Kind of fruits… the Durian!

  5. Hudson says

    Hi Bob,
    Some of the things that I have found to be greatly appreciated besides chocolate is American cigaretts, and don’t forget the stones (flints) for the Zippo lighter. For some reason those cloth Wal-Mart shopping bags were a big hit…lol

  6. AmericanLola says

    Among our friends, we bring each other Ranch Dressing packets and chocolate chips, for the kids, red and black licorce vines. If someone is coming directly from the west coast, 3 dozen corn tortillas makes me REALLY happy! I freeze them in packets of 8. Ortega green chilies in small cans are also a big hit with us. (Can you tell what we still miss?)

    For our Filipino friends, we bring chocolates, toys for the kids, T-shirts for the guys and towels. A note on towels, if they are too thick, they don’t dry, so the medium weight, 100% cotton are better. And yes, Tylenol and Advil are also a hit! Oh, and multi-vitamins!

    • says

      Ah, Mexican food! I love corn tortillas and they have been hard to find here… guess what though? They now have packaged corn tortillas at SM! They are quite good too!

  7. Ricardo Sumilang says

    When I visited the Philippines alone a few years ago, I brought pasalubongs to my relatives in the province. The pasalubongs, it seemed, were not enough. A male cousin asked for the shoes I had on, a female cousin asked for my watch. On the day I left the Philippines, I was wearing tsinelas, and kept asking people what time it was…

  8. says

    My mother-in-law there in the Philippines has severe back pain (sciatica). So do I. My doctor here prescribed me 500 mg of naproxin sodium. It does wonders. I suggested she gets some there. Alas! She could not find any.

    A couple of days ago my wife and I spied a ‘buy one get one free’ deal for 1000 tablet bottles. I stopped Lyn and told her that is what she should take there when she goes in July.

    I also have a supply of ‘lighter sticks’ and fuel for them to take, plus an excellent water purifier (1/2 gallon jug pitcher style). Her family lives in a nipa hut and still cooks on an open fire.

    Her father has diabetes and his feet are very sensitive and vulnerable. She plans to take him a nice pair of waterproof steel toed hiking boots.

    We both work at WalMart in the states and if patient, am able to find such things at 50% off or even much less.

    She is always on the lookout for quality things that are not available in the Philippines, yet not expensive here.

  9. says

    Bob: My mother sends us two BB boxes per year, and asks me what I wish her to pack… Nearly always the same list:

    Excedrin (Like you, a couple bottles)
    Cholula hot sauce from Mexico
    Cans of Contadina crushed plum tomatoes (for making pizza)
    Levis jeans (For Rebecca… They are about 3 times as expensive here, even though the last pair was made in Indonesia)
    Things from Ikea (Especially wooden toys and storage containers for the kitchen… Rebecca loves the ones from there and what you find here is normally junk)
    American Chocolate
    American cereal / Cheerios (for Juanito)
    Cooking magazines (Rebecca got addicted to reading Food&Wine magazine, and a subscription delivered here is very expensive)
    Children’s books (some titles that I grew up with are tough to find here)

      • says

        Bob: The last box she sent about 6 large packs of the “goldfish” crackers for Juanito. He loves them and we passed them out to some of our neighbors, and their kids went nuts. They were a big hit…. I don’t think that they are here yet and they are a great little gift for people coming from the States.

  10. brian says

    Wow my list is growing with each post!! Perfect timing, we just bought our one way tickets this weekend…May 31st arrive MNL!

  11. Bob New York says

    From my own experience so far, the most popular and universal pasalubong is Chocolate. When friends first started asking for Chocolate it made it sound as though chocolate was difficult to come by in The Philippines. As I later found out, there is chocolate there but many people just don’t have the money to buy it. It doesn’t have to be high end chocolate in an expensive fancy box, just about any kind will do.

    I usually bring a bunch of 7 ounce ( formerly 8 ounce half pound size ) Hershey chocolate bars. I put each one in a zip-lock bag and then pack them all in a cardboard box together but not too tightly in cast they soften a bit from heat. I have always had them arrive in good condition. With the airline overweight charges eating into my travel budget, on the last visit I did cut back to the 4 ounce size for some of them.

    Some of my friends there are University students. If I can think of something related to their course of study and it is something they do not have that would be helpful, I will look for things along those lines.

    A situation that I feel that I have run into in bringing such a variety of things for different people however is that I have sensed a bit of jealously amoungst those that I bring pasalubongs for, especially items that I have chosen to bring and give to specific people, such as one gets more than the other, one gets something more expensive than the other, or why didn’t I get one of those too. Anyone have any suggestions in how to deal with this ? Since then I have attempted to be a bit more discrete when giving out the pasalubongs but that is not always easy and people that know eachother talk anyway.

    The most fun I have ever had with pasalubongs was on my last visit. I arranged to do a Pasalubong give-A-Way Contest on a new FM Radio Station that started up about the middle of last year which also webstreams worldwide in English Language. I bought some CD’s, 7 ounce Hershey Chocolate Bars and a couple of other items for the prizes. It was a call in type of contest where people would call in and try to answer a question I would ask about the locality of the radio station. I would announce the prize before asking the question. When I mentioned that the next question would be for a giant sized bar of Hersheys Chocolate from the USA, that would bring in the most calls. If I ever do that again it is going to be an ” All Chocolate ” contest. LOL !

    • says

      Hi Bob – For poorer Filipinos, I agree that chocolate is #1. When I was writing the article, in many ways I was talking, or thinking, about expats here and perhaps middle class Filipinos. In those cases, I think more practical gifts are more highly appreciated. Like you pointed out, chocolates are readily available for purchase anyway.

    • says

      New York Bob you said “It doesn’t have to be high end chocolate in an expensive fancy box, just about any kind will do.”

      So true I went to the 99cent store and bought a bunch of chocolate and it was well received.

      • Bob New York says

        I think the fact that it was brought from the USA has as much to do with it as the chocolate itself, once it gets to The Philippines it then becomes ” Imported Chocolate “. I like to bring the Hersheys Bars as they are convienient for me to pack ( although 20 or 30 of them really does add to the weight ). Another thing I always do is to check the ” use by ” date on the wrapper to make sure it is well within date when I give them out. If the date is coded I call the 800 number on the wrapper to find out what it is.

  12. David LaBarr says

    Hi Bob,

    Yes, we have been sending over boxes for years. We get good used towels that are thinner and more absorbent from friends and from the Salvation Army Store. Also, we send sheets, shoes, and good used back packs for the children. It is surprising to me how receptive businesses in the USA have been in helping us fill boxes for shipment to the Philippines. Our family dentist always hits up his suppliers for large quantities of tooth brushes and tooth paste for the children, McDonalds donates quantities of outdated packaged toys, and an advertising company donates thousands of pencils that have advertising imperfections. Most of the time, it is “ask and you shall receive”. Not everything can be donated but things like Tylenol and vitamin pills we buy on sale at WalMart. These boxes are received by my sister in law before we arrive so we are prepared for family, friends, neighborhood, and church.

    • says

      Hi Dave – I think that you have some really fantastic ideas there! Getting toothbrushes donated by dentists and their suppliers? Getting pencils from advertising firms! Wow! I think you have really got some nice things going there. Congratulations on being creative, and using that creativity to help people here!

    • Chasdv says

      I usually get a box of biro pens off my bank,the freebies they usually put out for customer use.
      regards,Chas.

  13. John in Austria says

    Hi Bob,
    It’s fun trying to think of what to bring. Some things I found appreciated were small LED flashlights that could be stood on their end during a power outage – also make a good night lights. Batteries last forever with LED bulbs. For the children, there are available small hand-cranked flashlights – no batteries required! For the special ladies, I found very compact umbrellas were a big hit (for the sun). I was told that ones made in the Philippines were not very durable. Interesting reading the comments above. Some things I would never have thought of – like the headache medicine. Thanks guys for the tips.

    • says

      Hi John – Yes, there are so many things that would make for nice gifts. I see that the LED flashlights are readily available here now, and I like them. I don’t think I’ve seen a crank one, though. :lol:

  14. says

    That’s something that I’ve never noticed. The towels! I didn’t know they don’t soak as much as they would normally do. Perhaps next time I see my relatives in Kidapawan then I’d do just that. But it will take some time before I would even think about giving presents because, I can only see being used.

    Our family there we’ve have had in a way bad history. You see, they would always ask for something—I think that’s a story that’s ben written to death. They will always ask for something and the best part is no thank you. When I was there few years back, I called one of my cousins to announce my arrival and perhaps we could get together. He was very excited and interested that I was going to my hometown so he asked when, I gave the date and after that he says somewhere along the lines of I’ll see you then and could you buy me shoes?

    The other great story is when mum was there. My uncle went to see her. No hello, no how are you. But instead can I have P80,000.00 so I can get my son out of jail.

    That’s my bloodline mind you. Now in Surigao where my partner lives with our child. She doesn’t ask for anything. Only my presence. But already I hear from her stories the usual stories of hey he’s from overseas he’s got money. I am sure a lot common stories that all of us have experienced in those lines.

    • says

      Hi JC – I find that a lot of people here ask for things… not too uncommon, I guess. However, like you, it does bother me to be hounded about “where is my gift”.

      • Joe says

        Hi Bob,I just respond…..”Where is my gift”,you get quite a few scratching their heads! Only because,EVERYONE comes out! We have a nice get together,then,that’s it. Sometimes,I’m called cheap (behind my back). Remember,we are all rich!

        • says

          I do that myself, Joe. When somebody asks me where their gift is (often I don’t even know them), I ask them where mine is! Like you say, it gets the head scratching going quickly! Ha ha

  15. says

    Hi Don – That sounds great! You have a lot of nice items to bring to the Philippines, and I just know that your family here really appreciates your thoughtfulness!

  16. Mark G. says

    I always bring chocolate and vitamins. Sometimes small toys for the kids. I get the bite size chocolate bars for the kids and the better stuff for the adults, lol. I’ve brought maple syrup and pancake mix before, as well. There’s always reqests and they are usually not too outrageous. Last trip my sister in law wanted Nivea for dry skin. I don’t know what it costs there but it was only a few dollars here so for a small investment someone was very happy. When I travel I usually bring some medicines; ranitidine (generic Zantac) is impossible to find here and Zantac costs a fortune! I started bringing baby wipes the first trip I came and they are very appreciated; more now than ever with the new baby. I’ve left behind things I knew they could use, too. Prescription medicines like Tamiflu and Cephalexin I had never used, etc Clothes are always a big hit, too. I just buy a bunch of stuff and let the little woman dole it out. I like the idea of the extended lighters. I’ll probably bring a few next trip (May) along with the athletic shoes my brother in law requested!

    • says

      Hi Mark – Just in case it’s needed, I wanted to let you know that ranitidine is available at The Generics Pharmacy, and it’s cheap. Sorry, forgot the exact price, but very inexpensive.

      Sounds like you have a good list of things there, Mark!

      • Mark G. says

        Only Rose Drug and Mercury in Calbayog but I always carry it with me so no biggie, just got to stock up; 80 pills for $7.00 in the US. I’ll have to see if any relatives live near one of those stores: any in Metro Manila?

  17. Anna says

    We send my parents BB throughout the year and here are things we always put in it:
    -towels, I buy them at Khols when it’s on sale for $3.00. My mom gives them as gifts for every wedding she goes too!
    -multi vitamins, especially the “silver” ones which are for the older people. My parents both take them and now my mom gives them to the older ladies in church.
    -toliet paper, yes they sell them there but my dad hates them coz they are soooo thin.
    -chocolate, coz everyone there LOVES American chocolate…I buy them the huge bags from Sams…I buy 20 or more bags during Christmas….
    -pickles, especially dill…my dad loves them and he hasn’t found any ones from there he likes.
    -italian dressing, worcestershire sauce, A1, ect….my dad says they are much cheaper from here
    -those long lighters, they use them for the outside grill
    -American cereal and oatmeal
    And of course if there is room I stuff some of my kids old cloths and shoes, my parents give them to the town’s hospital and they give them to the poor…

  18. Bryan G says

    Middle Eastern based Balikbayans must be responsible for a considerable percentage of the Toblerone chocolate company profits – no self respecting OFW would come home without a few kilos of it!

    • Roselyn says

      Hi Bob: My late mother when asked what to shipped to the Philippines always requested toilet paper, wipes, Centrum (vitamins), towels, and denture adhesive.

        • Bryan G says

          Some years ago my wife and I were looking for a former colleague of hers from her Saudi days,we stopped to ask directions from a “lady”in a frock,dangly ear rings and a five o’clock shadow.After giving my wife details on how to find the street he asked her in tagalog “is that your husband? When she replied he looked at me ,sniffed and said “huh, imported”

          • says

            This is directed to Mindinao Bob. Interesting site. I spent 3 weeks in Davao City in Oct. 2010 and loved it. Before I went, everyone said I’d be murdered in my sleep but NEVER met a bunch of nicer people. I plan on moving to Davao City in late summer or early fall of 2011. Could you give me some pointers, like what shipping company to use; will they ship directly to Davao; do I have to pay duty on my personal “stuff’ etc Any info would be greatly appreciated.

            Sincerely, Tucson Brian

            • says

              Hi Brian – This site has over 2,500 articles on it, and the kinds of questions that you are asking are all answered here. Do a little reading first, and if you have questions that have not already been answered I will be glad to help you.

  19. Bruce Michels says

    Bob:
    Last year when my wife wen t home she took to siutcases one with clothes the other with well all I can say is STUFF. Of corse she gave all the stuff away but she even gave away the 100 dollar sutecase. When she came home she had one small suitcase and a pair of clothes. Everything else was history even the gold chain I bought her for Christmas one year. I just turned around and said with a smile I’m glad you enjoyed your trip. :(

  20. Craig says

    Its very enlightening to see all the items people are mentioning here. I also brought chocolates, but not many because of the heat in Gensan area. But the little flavored hard candies was a huge hit.

    I never thought about bringing medicines for gifts, but ran into a problem with those when i was there. I have had a few back surgeries and i have some very powerfull precription meds for it. For me they do not do much, however for most people these pills will knock them on their butts.
    It seems many filipinos there do not see anything wrong with just barrowing without asking. One day while i was at the market, my mother-in-law went and grabed my precription bottle of Lortab 10′s.. and gave 1 to my brother -in -law.. (30+ yrs old), who was a bit sore from working. When i returned, i noticed he looked like he was drunk and barely able to walk. I asked if he been drinking, (cause it was still very early in the day). That is when they told me what they had done. I was shocked!!! First questions was obviously health and safety ones.. How many did he take.. how long ago, etc… He only took 1, and was almost drooling down his chin. I kept him with me for the next 6 hrs so i could keep an eye on him and making sure he was doing ok. Of course.. he kept saying he felt GREAT.. lol He was high as a kite!!! So, i had to explain to them the difference between medicines anyone can buy, and prescription ones. Also point out to them the papers we all sign on the planes, showing the law “Drug dealers are put to death”, and that i could get into big big trouble for someone taking my meds. He was fine, and wanted more the next day also.. lol.. Of course it was a big NOO. But i noticed enough other wanted to try them, that it made me a bit worried someone else will “barrow”. So i only brought a few on my next trip.. to help me after that long plain ride (it just kills me). Then there are none left, and i just deal with the pain while im there. Much safer than be labeled a drug dealer. lol

    Oh.. on a funny little note. After i explain how the meds could kill someone instead of help them, and people should ask me before barrowing anything.My asawa’s mother, immediated looked guilty and told me she also ate some of those little candies i had in my travel bag. I was confused, as i did not have any candies. Again i was not worried for safety.. and made her show me what candies she had eaten and how many. She ate 4 of them. And showed me the remaining package of the “candies”. Luckily it was mint flavored Rolaids. lol At least i learned a important lesson and nobody got hurt. Either i do NOT bring any meds along, or hide them very well if i do.

    As for other gifts.. the best appriciated gifts i have brought so far has been pots and pans, skillets, etc.. I noticed the quality in the Phils, and can not seem to fine these items 2nd hand there. I goto garage sales and pick them up very cheap. I brought 2 50lb boxes of pans last time. The entire family just loves them all and they are thicker metal than i have found in the Phils.

    Also the mag lights. hehe Of course i had to demonstrate the quality of it to my asawa. Untill she actually yelled “Please Stop.. i believe you”.. she just could not handle seeing me throwing it, stomping on it and dunking it in the water anymore!! lol

    • says

      Hi Craig – Scary, yet funny story on the meds… it doesn’t surprise me though, as most meds here are available without a prescription anyway, so people probably thought nothing of trying them out. Ha ha…. I can understand why he wanted another one the next day! :shock:

  21. Craig says

    I actually have a few ideas for my next trip. Maybe i can get some opinions on a few items. One side of my family here in the States are Amish and Menonite. I live close to many towns that have a large population of both. I do alot of shopping at the Amish stores, for foods, tools, etc.. for good quality items.

    If you know what Amish is.. or have ever seen their crafmanship and quality, then you may understand this more. They have tools or equipment to do almost anything, but all without electricity. And to a quality that you are sure an item you purchase will still be in good shape and being used for generations. I cook everyday on skillets that my greatgrandmother bought 2nd hand. Of course the high quality also means a higher price.

    Anyhow, i was thinking of many of the usefull items (that can fit into a BB or my check in luggage ) like food processors, meat grinders, etc… that are all hand crank or attach easily to a bicycle.(or bring adapters to attach power items in the Phils, to bicycles, like cement mixers, drills, etc..) Basically all things that doesn’t matter if there is brownout or not, and easy enough to use that they will probably use them every time.. even if there is no brownout.

    I know i and many of you here will understand and appreciate the quality and reliability of these types of items. But im a simple man on dissability and not much money. Do you think most filipinos would use these things enough that the expense paid for these items would be worth bringing. Example: Food processor, 4-6 different blade styles, heavy duty quality.. is about $150 hand crank or hook to bicycle, elect motor etc.

    Just some thoughts on these items if you could, so maybe i can make a better decision.
    Thank you to everyone for all the above suggestions and following thoughts.
    Craig

      • Craig says

        Thanks Bob,

        As long as i know it wouldn’t be a waisted expense, than i’ll have to figure out what items to bring next time. lol Cant afford to do them all.. but maybe over enough time and years.. we’ll still get them all there. lol

  22. Preben says

    Hello Bob.
    The pic. of the towels, reminds me of the time when it was possible to purchase “canon”, the best towel ever.

  23. Jack says

    Hi Bob,

    Sorry for the late comment.

    I liked bringing Bath & Body Work lotions such as the Japanese Cherry Blossom (Jho prefers Jergens here in the USA) and t-shirts of Baltimore or sport teams. Jho’s sister, who’s name is Emily, was visiting her in Baybay right before my 3rd trip. She was on Skype and wanted to see her gift. I bought several g-strings as gag gifts. I got out the bag and pulled one out. The look of shock on her face was so funny. Jho and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was worth being bugoy (naughty).

  24. says

    I used to bring apples from Australia for my mother. They’re crunchier than those sold in the local stalls or shops. My mother loved them. Bug- at lang i hand carry. I also take some chocolates with me and some multi vitamins and paracetamols.

  25. Chasdv says

    Hi Bob,
    Its funny that i always throw in some Colgate toothpaste when travelling,yet its easily available over there,at around the same price of the UK.
    Acetaminophen in the UK is called Paracetamol,i’m sure i would get some funny looks if i ever asked for Paracetamol there.
    regards,
    Chas.

  26. Rose says

    I bought some nice unbranded handbags @Marshalls and I wonder if it’s wise to send them as pasalubong to Manila relatives since local handbags may be as nice or nicer

  27. Julie says

    My brother is diabetic and loves chocolates. So we always bring home some sugar free chocolate which is hard to find there.

  28. Jessa says

    I found this article when I was looking for Davao pasalubong ideas to bring back to my friends in Manila. I’ve already bought them the usual durian candies and malong. Anyway, I found the comments intriguing and (some) funny. I’m a Filipina but I do have relatives living in America. I always wondered why they would include bath soaps, towels, nescafe – typical things that can be found here – as their pasalubong. :-) The article and comments certainly shed some light!

    I’m not sure if this is true with everyone but in my family, pasalubong always meant you remembered the people you’re giving pasalubong to. As such, the pasalubong are always received with warmth and gratitude.

    Admittedly, some get jealous when someone else gets better or more expensive pasalubong. To avoid that, I give the same gifts but varies it in categories. For example, pasalubong for relatives are given on a per family basis and each one will receive the same thing. I would categorize them according to my relationship with them: grand aunts/uncles, 2nd cousins, aunts/uncles, 1st cousins. For office mates, it’s: rank and file, bosses, my team, my boss. Friends are one category. Unfortunately, this method is quite costly!

    • says

      Hi Jessa – I agree with you regarding some things – why bring them when they are already available here? But, specifically for towels, in my opinion the towels here in the Philippines are pretty bad, so I think that towels are a great pasalubong from overseas.

      Thank you for stopping by and reading my site.

  29. nath says

    i’m looking for a safe cargo company to send balikbayan box to manila i live in gainesville florida.

  30. JAMES GILLIBRAND says

    just been told about the word pasalubong seen your page and read your words , now im going out to get a few things to take with me ! (november 2012) thanks for your information . jimmy

  31. Cat says

    Hi Bob! Awesome site and extremely helpful, thank you!! I plan to go home with my mom after 20 years. As you know, most Filipinos would rather have money as pasalubong. My question is, how much is appropriate for first cousins and aunts/uncles?

    • says

      Hi Cat – To be honest, until reading your comment I had never heard of a Filipino wanting money rather than pasalubong. I asked my wife, kids and nieces and they all said the same… they would prefer pasalubong over cash. As for the amount, I don’t have any idea, I suppose it would depend a lot on how wealthy or poor the family is. Enjoy your return to the Philippines, Cat.

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