homecoming queen

Since summer of this year, I have been relishing the thought of going home to Manila on February, starting with alimasag, kare kare, lechon, taho & cocktails by the beach. After 7 years, I can now finally go a month ahead of my husband & because in those 7 years, I have only stayed a total of 3 weeks back home. The excitement intensified when I bought our plane tickets two weeks ago & that my summer mcjob was extended just until 2 weeks before I leave. Then a phonecall to home to announce the news kind of shattered a bit my cocktails by the beach panaroma: two months expenses. So I wondered, am I really stingy?

Let's start with our old tradition the pasalubongs. It is the custom of bringing gifts to family & close friends when one has been away. May it be a day to work, a weekend trip, or years of living in another country. Paslubong comes from the word "salubong" meaning "to meet" & "pa" meaning "for," making it a "meeting gift". We bring home pasalubongs to say that we thought about them while we were away. The younger me thought it was a bribe when my parents wouldn't bring me along when they go away for the day. Then it has become a souvenir from places. Now the tradition has become to share the bounty of what seems to be a better life.

The idea of pasalubong has evolved as more & more Filipinos reach more places around the world, and as life back in the Philippines become harder. For being away now is a necessity for many but whatever the reason may be, the tradition of giving gifts has turned into a stressful part of going home. But we still find time to get the perfect gift for everyone & we even have back up gifts for people we might meet. Afterall, we seem to have a better life, away from our families, than they do back home. But the pasalubongs has reached a new level. It's not anymore about souvenirs & tokens. But do they really understand how it us for us to go home? For us, plane tickets has to be planned & budgeted months ahead (note that we still don't have kids). Pasalubongs are better bought a little at a time during months before departure. Then there's the expenses during your stay.

Hearing stories from friends around on being a balikbayan, I'm glad that my family understands. They do forget sometimes but I also forget that life back home is not the same anymore. I asked my nieces & nephews what they wanted, one said she preferred a shopping spree in Makati & when I said that the budget for each was 1500php, they all laughed at me. Although 1500php is now nothing there, 25€ is not really nothing here. And I'm not being stingy nor selfish. It's just that it's easy to get carried away with the euros & I wouldn't want to go back to France with a bank statement on alert.

But to see them all again & the smile on their faces is priceless. The glorified pasalubongs are worth all those years of being away. To share the bounty of your life in another land is part of the reward of your hardwork to earn it. I was never so much of a pasalubong person nor did I expect it before but being away for so long made me understand the pleasure, and the stress, of this Pinoy tradition. Although I will be getting laughs due to their thinking that I'm kuripot, I can't wait to be home.

How do you go about this Pinoy tradition when you go home? Do pray tell.


From Manila to Paris, then to Marseille & to the Côte d'Azur, now in Singapore, clinging to a map of three worlds, where everything becomes all relative.


  1. Count on the healing bahala-na powers of our country... once you land, your pasalubong worries will fade away :)

    Yihiii, you have your tickets na! Where will vidar be staying?

  2. Pasalubong is already a part of our history and traditions ! It is actually a kindful deed to our love one especially those who are abroad !

    I guess, there are European countries too which practice this wonderful geste but we Filipinos are a good example. But I must say that sometimes some of us exaggerate the meaning of it because people look up to us someone who is "rich" (this applies to those who works abroad earning dollars & euros) . If we give little stuffs they tend to categorize us as kuripot ! Nonetheless, we don't go home everyday then we have all the time to make ipon.The time we go home we have something to share more or less !

    Makis, pasama naman !!! I was thinking din of Vidar, paano sya ?

  3. Dear Makis,
    I completely completely understand you.
    That line 1500php may be nothing in Makati, but it is not nothing where we live is so true!!!
    Uuwi rin kami itong pasko,
    Frankly I am not big on the pasalubong tradition either.
    First of all, if you get a little something for everybody--it does put a major dent on finances, despite its smallness to each individual.
    Now that hardly seems worth it now is it?
    People that I may want to give pasalubong to (meaning they are someone I care about)
    I might do so in the form of a nice dinner out,
    or coffee (those darn coffee shops in manila are outrageously expensive, so beware)

    Why just the other day, I told my sister to prepare her children to the fact that I am not shopping for pasalubong. (the stress of shopping, carrying it home, making sure it isn't "lost" in the luggage etc...is enough to make someone shy away from the prospect of a homecoming.)
    This is why I believe that this pressure should be eliminated.

    My feeling is, if your loved ones truly love you, then they would rather have you, with or without the pasalubong.

  4. I am sooo jealous, waaaaahhhh!

    For pasalubongs, I only brought 1 gift each for my closest family (ma, pa, brothers, nephews, nieces, in laws, very close friends) numbering probably 13, for the rest of my friends I just treated them to dinner. I don't believe in pasalubongs because they ARE expensive and they're too much to carry. Pero still I had a big headache buying those gifts.

    Enjoy and looking forward to reading about your wonderful vacation.

  5. Lucky me my family has never been big on those things, so I'm not even thinking of pasalubongs for my own Philippine trip! Hooray my dedma family! :)

  6. Kala, the bahala na attitude is sometimes really a blessing :) And thank goodness for it!

    It's true, Haze, that they think people in abroad are rich. Kung alam lang nila ang pag tipid natin with our everyday lives, diba?

    Vidar will be staying with his lolo & lola (nge!) in Belfort :p

    I'm not at all big in pasalubongs either, Chesca, and I'm glad to hear how all of you go about it. I have to say I'm relieved. Akala ko ako lang ang ganon :) Eating out is good & that's what I did 3 years ago but I still like giving gifts to my immediate family. It's just the "big expectations" is what I hate the most. But my family already knows I always come home empty handed :) But I don't know how you'll do it if you'll be going home during Christmas. Now, good luck to that!

    Nice to see you again here, Geri! I am doing the same as you. One gift each to immediate family & very close friends. And there's always a pleasure in giving gifts :) I still have 4 months to go & I can't wait!

    You are lucky, Apol! I think I'm lucky na rin since our family practices this tradition, nobody tends to exagerate :)

  7. Back in the Phils. ,and when I was single, I used to be one of the most generous souls I know ;). I liked giving gifts and Christmases have always been exciting. I have more or less 40 inaanaks and add to that many nieces and nephews, kaya just imagine all the christmas presents I have to give. When I went home for a short vacation 3 years ago, I was just so glad (and lucky) that I didn't bump into them (lol)kasi poor na si ninang! Whew, ang hirap naman kasing makakita ng $ pala! I just had simple pasalubongs to my family and closest friends.
    But try not to get stressed out with those concerns Makis- just enjoy your vacation and your time with loved ones. I'm sure they would just love to have you to themselves for a while.
    To end this long comment, I just want to say- KAKA-INGGIT KA!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. honestly, those who says i'm kuripot (waaah, im not spared!) are my acquaintances.. not even my closest friends!...

    im not really the pasalubong kind of girl, if you see my luggage when i go home, you'll understand why.. i only carry 1 cabin luggage and a hand bag.. and the cabin luggage is usually half empty so i could bring some stuffs with me when i go back to france hehe.. the last time i was there, i actually had 2 hours stop in franckfurt so i had time to buy stuffs.. aba, baka daw lagnatin ako sabi ng buong pamilya ko.. that includes my mom and my sis! haha. that was the only time i tried to bring pasalubong, sowsmaryowsef hehe..

    but xmas is different syempre, i once went home with only one small backpack full of gifts - perfumes and bottles of wine (that's also my problem, i have no other idea of pasalubong) - the next day, i was already borrowing clothes from my sis, .. that's just me, it's either my stuffs.. or pasalubongs!

  9. My uncle is very smart when it comes to this. A couple of years before he goes home, he visits all the store sale and buys lots of bargain-- never mind that it will not be so in vogue by the time he gets back to Pinas. He also buys tons of stuff in garage sales. Then he buys lots of chocolates at the Manila Duty Free store. It's much cheaper to buy Swiss or French chocolate in Manila or in Europe. All of those were not in vain. He always sends his pasalubong in big boxes a couple of months ahead and everything has been individually packed and labeled. Man, such technique enabled him to buy me &my bro expensive leather shoes which he got in a sale a year back. he always ends up being remembered for his generosity but I'm sure that it didn't cost him that much-- there!

  10. i went home to Phils, first time after five years in France.
    Eskayted ako! Bili dito and doon.
    When I arrived in Manila, di uso yung mga sapatos and bags and clothes na binili ko!!!!
    Sabi ng mga anak ko:
    ma, sana itinabi mo na lang ang pinambili neto, masarap magsahopping sa MALLS!
    lalo na sa 168 divisoria...

    Aba eh oo nga!

    Kaya, mak,suggest ko, bigyan mo na lang sila ng tig 25� naka envelope, in their names, bahala na sila magpalit.Kung ayaw nila, aba eh, bawiin mo, sayang yun
    What you can afford, dapat ma intindihan nila. Money in France,doesnt grow in trees.
    Mas memorable, at least nakahawak sila ng euros.

    Meron ako nakausap umuwi last april 2007.
    10,000euros ang dala, loan pa sa madame ang iba.
    Bigay sa family niya, bigay sa family ni pinoy husband niya.Then everyday, fiesta sa bahay niya, lahat ng kamaganak, don kumakain, sa pampanga sila.
    1000pesos every day cooking x3.
    Mga 20people sila.

    Sarado na niya gate on the second week, pero tumatalon daw sa bakod.
    One day na di sila nabisita, kasi may bagyo.
    Grabeh. Wla pa araw ng uwi sa France, tumawag na ng utang sa 5/6 sa France, na padalhan sila, or di sila makakabayad man lang ng 55Opesos airport fees!lol

    mas stingy ako kesa sa lahat ng umuwi ata?
    I dont let my "tribe" knows Im going home.With Michel pa yan ha?

    The time they know I am in Manila, I was already at the airport going to France. Haha!
    Who can beat that?

    Traditions are all ver nice.
    But, as Butler always asked:

  11. Hello Maki,
    Just like you I think pasalubong is really an important element for our loved ones. But personally with my case i only buy gifts for my family (makunat kasi ako :-) and besides i dont want to give impression na porket galing sa ibang bansa "rich" na ako (hindi naman totoo he he he)For the rest (meaning relatives, friends, neighbors kung minsan etc), i just normally buy some goodies and ingredients and cook a special meal they havent tasted yet! and of course not to forget "the walang hanggang kwento with matching actions", mas convivial :-) at mas memorable....but if you ask them i think they would still prefer a real personalized gift...kainis no???

  12. I can already feel that kind heart of yours in the blogsphere, Gina, so it's no surprise that you are super patient to look for gifts & bring them for your 40 inaanaks! Mahirap din naman sanayin diba :)

    Hahahaha, Ana!!!! Either clothes or pasalubong in your luggage! Kakatawa ka talaga! My mom always tells me that I'm kuripot & I'll never hear the end of that when I see them in Feb. Hay naku. I plan to actually bring a big empty luggage so I could go shopping there.

    Hello JC! I think your uncle really has a good pasalubong tactic & we'll have our January sale. Good timing! I just need the patience to go shopping (not really a shopping kind of girl, 2 hours max in the malls only :) And I'll take your Duty Free advice, never tried going there when we come home. Thanks for making your presence known in my blog!

    Oi, Francesca, 168 Divisoria ko nga gusto mag shopping pag uwi ko! I actually go shopping with them & tell them that they have this budget. May quality time pa with them tapos I get to check the malls na rin. Then for merienda, aba, I bring them straight to the eat all you can, diba? Grabe naman ang storya mo about that pinay. Yan na nga sinasabi ko minsan na payabangan din minsan ang pag bigay ng pasalubong. Bilib naman ako sa technique mo na magpaparamdam ka lang pag aalis ka na?! Ikaw talaga!

    Hi Hilda! I think mas makunat pa ako sayo :) Not only that, I'm lazy to go around looking for gifts & to think I also give only to my immediate family & close friends. Sabi ko nga dinner nalang kami ng favorite friends ko. And I already warned them that I'm on a tight budget since I will be there for 2 months! Nice to hear from you. Hazel already told me about you. Will wait for more Filipino recipes on your blog :)

  13. pag nangingibang bayan yata nagiging kuripot he he he, sana nga mafix ni Haze ang EB natin :-) as for pinoy recipes gusto ko nga ipublish sa blog dinuguan at bopis , gugulatin ko lang husbandry ko ayaw nya kasi dun hehehe

  14. mak, totoo yun. Di ako paalam sa mga kamaganaks, wala rin party.
    If tumatawag sila, wala kami niLolo, nasa boracay, lol

    try mo, kung tampo sila, so what, i know I am married to Michel not to them, hihihi!
    mind you, la na ako kapatid sa pinas, lol kaya ligtas.

  15. thanks for visiting our blog...invite sana kita sa recipe sharing community namin..but dont know your email address :-)would be happy to see your recipes...

  16. So true, Hilda, parang nag-iiba talaga ang tingin sa buhay, no? Hiya naman ako to join your community since I'm really not into cooking :D Pano yan, I won't have recipes to share??? Kare-kare recipe naman dyan :)

    Nge, Francesca, di ko naman ata kaya mag tago ng ganyan! Hahaha! Family & friends ko naman di masyadong mapaghingi ;-)

  17. haluuu??ano wen tayo EB nina Haze...nakabakasyon mister ko may pwede mag alaga sa baby ko..:-) oy kahit di ka marunong magluto ok lang the thing is mag member ka para maka browse ka ng recipes..heheheh

  18. Hello Makis. I will be going back to the Philippines most probably middle of next year. Namimili na ako unti-unti ng pasalubong pero for closest friends lang and family...hindi naman tayo dito mayaman, no, and they know that. Ang family naman nakakaintindi yan, ang maghahanap siguro yung mga tipong hindi ka-close at tingin sa'tin eh mayayaman. Hindi lang nila alam ang dinadanas natin dito na we also have to work hard to earn money. Ang worry ko mga kapitbahay, hahahaha!!! - Len

  19. So how are you enjoying your stay there so far? Kelan ang balik mo? How did the pasalubong thing go?

    I havent been home yet so I'm not sure how it will be for me when the time comes. It will probabably be stressful too. My cousin did a balikbayan box 6 weeks before she left and nandun lahat ang pasalubong nya. I think a few days after dumating yun box.

    btw, I tagged you. See it here.

  20. Hilda! Sympre not looking ako sa planning ko so I wouldn't be able to join you guys on tuesday if you push through :( Basta we shall meet!

    Hi Len! Nice to see you here again! What's keeping you from blogging??? Hehehe! I really agree with you pero alam mo naman pag earning £ or € ka, mayaman ka na. Will check your blog now for updates :)

    Hey Leah! Naku, I still have 4 months of long waiting before I enjoy our lipang hinirang :) Eto nga, will start collecting na my pasalubongs. I already did your tag , yun nga lang, the tag died with me :p