love being different
One of the many joys of traveling is finding interesting things to take home.
One of the unique facets about being a traveling Filipino is finding interesting things to take home for other people.
Pasalubong is a lovely tradition. It is truly a nice gesture to give a small present to those who pick you up at the airport, who have stayed awake to see your homecoming, or who come to visit you soon after you arrive to see that you are well. Recently, however, I have started giving a lot of thought to this tradition, and–unfortunately–have started having issues with it too. Here are some of those thoughts…
1) WHO died and made it mandatory?
Getting something for everyone?! Really?! Do you know how many people most of us come home to?
It seems that for many people, this once lovely gesture has now become an expected present, and very often, pabilins are expected to turn into pasalubongs.
2) Isn’t chocolate the ultimate cop out?
In my opinion, chocolate–although enjoyed and appreciated by many–seems to be the ultimate “I didn’t know what to get you” present. It makes me feel bad to give someone chocolate because it seems like I didn’t even stop to think or look for something they would truly want or like. This is especially true when you find and purchase the perfect present for someone else.
3) The “do me a favour”/substitute-alubong…
It is such a Pinoy thing to ask a traveler to carry an item to or from their destination. This is completely fine when the item/s are small, but all too often this gets out of hand. I have experienced being told exactly what to pack so that my suitcase is only half-full upon arrival, that way there is a sufficient amount of space for them to put in the things that need to be brought back to Manila.
That’s a bit ridiculous, right? But it’s true. (And I have the email to prove it!)
4) Realising you’re only good for your stuff.
It’s a terrible feeling when you come to the realisation that some people only come by to see you just to get their pabilins or to see if you have any extra–usually chocolate–pasalubongs lying about.
So, unfortunately, this once lovely gesture has turned into a mandatory and stress-inducing task that can not only make you feel bad about yourself and your ability to come up with or hunt for creative presents, but also make your wallet suffer beyond what is truly necessary.
I’m certain that there are other people out there with a few more thoughts on the matter, but my return from my recent trip to NYC got me thinking about these four points specifically. If anyone has anything else to add, I welcome your comments!!
*Note: The cover photo features a very typical pasalubong; a chocolate treat that can’t be found here!