Recently updated on: September 20, 2023
Traveling is one of the best activities to spend our money on because it opens our eyes to the beauty of other places and other people's cultures.
And with the piso fares and promos, traveling has never been more accessible to Filipinos.
However, one thing Filipinos often do during travel that makes their trip costlier and a little more stressful than necessary is the longstanding tradition of giving pasalubong.
So, let's talk a little more about the Filipino pasalubong culture and why it makes sense to skimp on it a little bit.
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The Filipino Pasalubong Culture
Filipinos have a pasalubong culture that has been existing for a long time and has proved to have an important cultural significance as it strengthens bonds among families and friends.
For those unfamiliar to this culture, a "pasalubong" is a gift or souvenir that someone who traveled to a distant place will bring back for their friends and families. It came from the word "salubong," which is to meet or to welcome.
A pasalubong is usually a local food or delicacy, like the dried mangos and danggit from Cebu, strawberry and ube jams from Baguio, durian from Davao, or Dunkin' Donut self-proclaiming as the "pasalubong ng bayan."
Aside from food, local products are also a common pasalubong. like keychains, ref magnets, dreamcatchers, and pens. However, it can also be as big as chairs and tables, or the most sought-after pasalubong - the balikbayan box.
Why You Should Skimp on Pasalubong on Your Next Trip
While the tradition of giving pasalubong has been embedded in Filipino culture, it also has downsides. However, I want to emphasize that what I'm saying is only to skimp or be economical on your pasalubongs.
I learned this from a friend during my first vacation to Cebu and Bohol in 2016. While shopping for pasalubong in a local market, I noticed that he only bought one tank top and nothing else.
Curiously, I asked him why he didn't buy any pasalubong for his friends, families, or workmates. He simply said he didn't have the money to spend on pasalubong. This made sense to me, and I also incorporated it in my travels.
However, I want to re-emphasize that this is not to discourage or kill the tradition of pasalubong. I just want to share why you should skimp on pasalubong on your next trip.
1. You can save more on your travel expenses.
Suppose you're a budget traveler and have spent plenty of time researching the best ways to save travel money for food, transportation, and accommodation. Then it would make sense to spend less money on pasalubong.
However, this tip is not exclusive to budget travelers. It also applies to those who have a lot of friends and families. Can you imagine buying each of them a keychain or coin purse? That will only inflate your expenses unnecessarily.
So, instead of buying individual pasalubong for everyone you know, you can buy one per group. Then, you can use the money you saved for your future travels.
For example, buying 50 keychains for your friends, family, officemates, and a few extra at P25 per piece would translate to P1,250. Then, another five T-shirts at P250 each would be P1,250. Totaling to an additional P2,500 just for the pasalubong.
However, if you buy each group a big enough snack pack at P300 each, assuming you have three groups, then it would only amount to P900, less than half the price you'll spend for the keychains.
2. You can limit your baggage weight and space.
Aside from additional expenses, pasalubongs can also increase your baggage weight and take up space from your luggage. This is especially frustrating for those who like traveling light.
When we had a family travel to Cebu in 2022, my mother wanted to buy what seemed to be every family she knew a 200g pack of dried mango.
Though the price was relatively cheap since we were buying from the dried mango processing plant in Mandaue, the volume of what she wanted was too much. We feared the airport would disallow the additional baggage.
What happens next is a typical "strategy" that I, someone who loves traveling light, didn't want. It was to distribute the weight of the pasalubongs to everyone's bags to maintain the weight.
So, if you want to avoid carrying unnecessary weight on your bags while traveling, limit your pasalubongs.
3. You can skip the part about people comparing pasalubongs and tampuhan.
The frustrating part of giving pasalubongs is the usual ungratefulness of the receivers. For instance, you gave one a T-shirt and another a pack of delicacies.
Then, instead of a thank you, the receiver of the delicacy asked why you gave him food instead of a shirt, even if he was not supposed to get any pasalubong because you were not close.
Then, there is also a great chance of people not receiving any pasalubong, resulting in displeasure or tampo.
You need to remember that the purpose of your vacation is to enjoy and relax, and you should not be stressed about focusing on how much you should spend on pasalubong.
The Philippines' pasalubong culture is a treasured tradition for many. Some may even go out of their way to buy pasalubong for everyone and ensure no one is left out.
Unfortunately, travel can already be stressful, and pasalubong should not be mandatory. So, buy pasalubong for the people you love, and don't get pressured into purchasing everyone's share.
Remember, enjoy your travel and experience other cultures.