The Culture of Pasalubong

Fish Crackers – a Cavite/Laguna specialty

Whenever OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers or Filipino expats) and Filipino tourists would go back to the Philippines from abroad, they will ALWAYS have something for their family, friends and co-workers from the place they’ve gone to – it may be as simple as a keychain or refrigerator magnet, to pricier items like food and clothing. My dad once worked in New Zealand when I was in grade school and every balikbayan box he sends us home included Cadbury chocolates, Canterbury jackets and random ornaments. In fact, we were able to keep the brass heron sculptures to this day – which I wonder, are white herons considered national bird in New Zealand aside from kiwi? Let me know in the comments.

Picture shown is definitely not mine, but these are the exact brass herons that my Dad brought to us from New Zealand when I was in grade school. Thank the internet it is still sold today.

“Pasalubong” simply means a souvenir. But for Filipinos it’s more than just a keepsake. You give these things out to people so that these people will know that they were remembered while you’re out travelling for work or vacation. Thoughtful, eh? On a side note, it can be a little awkward if your coworkers know you went on a weekend trip, but you show up to the office on Monday without any thing.

Quoting Wikipedia, a pasalubong, in general, is a “gift for a relation or friend brought by a traveler returning from a trip,” and “usually consists of native delicacies or indigenous things from the region or country where the traveler came from.”  Think of it as like serving a sample of a region’s specialty. So if you’re in Australia going to the Philippines, you might as well pack some TimTams and Vegemite 🙂 Also, one thing that sets pasalubong apart from other cultures is that you are sharing that experience with others. You don’t really need to wrap these souvenirs too, unlike traditional gifts.

Australian pasalubong? Anyone? Photo from

Pasalubong stores in the Philippines are everywhere – from bus stations to small kiosks, and every region has their own specialty. Laing – a taro leaf dish cooked in coconut milk, is a Bicol-region specialty (It’s also where my dad is from and no wonder it’s one of his favorites). Bicol is also known for their Pili nuts  (Canarium ovatum – from Pili, Albay in Bicol). Piaya – a flat pastry filled with either ube or muscovado, and the Silvanas – a frozen buttercream cookie that tastes like sansrival are sweets from Negros. The Spanish-style sardines (sardines soaked in either spiced olive or vegetable oil) are products from Zamboanga.

Polvoron – easily one of the most requested Filipino pasalubong treats – Photo from Kapamilya Rockdale Facebook account
Piaya – Photo from Wikimedia Commons

As our motto says, “we bring you the taste of home” and so to our friends, Filipino or not, we are bringing these favorites to you so you always feel at home or at least feel the Filipino vibe – diverse, culturally-rich and simply fun. So bring home a pasalubong now from one of our stores in Rockdale, Marrickville and Fairfield today and make your wives happy!

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Kapamilya Filipino Grocery and Eatery


28 Walz St, Rockdale NSW 2216
(02) 9599 8880


324A Marrickville Rd, Marrickville NSW 2204
(02) 9550 0838


45 The Crescent, Fairfield NSW 2165
(02) 9728 1475

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