I love getting pasalubong. It’s the innate Filipino trait I have. When my best friend Jackie visited from The Netherlands a few weeks ago, she gave me this cute care package:
Ever since she moved to Europe a few years ago, I see her only once every one to two years. During the months we are apart, we gather as many gifts as we can to make up for the holidays and celebrations we don’t get to spend with each other. In my closet there’s a space where I collect Christmas and birthday presents, souvenirs from travels, and other knickknacks for Jackie.
During her visit a few weeks ago, I gave her a bag of gifts in exchange for this box of goodies. I was so happy to find Dutch chocolates, stationery, and clothes inside.
It’s always interesting to see what Filipinos pack in their balikbayan boxes. I love looking at the food, toys, clothing brands, and other items from the country of origin. It says a lot not just about the culture of the place the pasalubong is from, but also the mindset of the giver. Did you ever take a whiff of a newly-opened balikbayan box from someone who had just arrived from the US? My family and friends call it, “amoy isteytsayd” (smells American). Whenever my OFW uncle comes back from Saudi, I love peeking into his balikbayan box to see what clothing brands are trendy in Western Asia. The nerd in me likes to read the labels—even if it’s in a language I cannot understand—to see what their price range is like or what type of flavors they are into.
My Netherlands care box was full of Knoppers chocolates as I requested, but Jackie also added a few surprise items like letter sets from stationery stores she’d visit during her free time, in the same way that I, too, bought scrapbooks materials for her while waiting for her yearly Manila visit.
What’s your favorite kind of pasalubong, dear readers?