Third Zone by Boboy Yonzon
Third Zone

PASALUBONG AT IBANG PAGUUGALI

Nov 13, 2022, 1:03 PM
Boboy Yonzon

Boboy Yonzon

Columnist

Huff and puff! More than 50 pounds of chocolates, two dozen souvenir t-shirts, luxury soaps and more comprise the contents of the four luggage we brought home. These are the pasalubong, a practice that we, as Pinoys, could never shake off. Pasalubong is generally acknowledged as a gift from someone returning from a trip.

Years before, we used to bring home more and with more varieties such as beddings and clothes. But with the prevalence of online orders and the spread of membership warehouse shopping, the usual American goodies have become readily available locally, providing less surprise and even delight.

The chocolates we brought, for instance, no longer include Hershey’s and Mars brands but, rather, least known or even gourmet or artisanal types. Even then, bringing home familiar items is looked upon as a welcome, nice gesture. And it actually feels good to share the tokens of travels. More than the selfies.

For sure, pasalubong is not a typical Filipino kaugalian. I have noticed that strongly in the Japanese with their omiyage or the social practice of buying a gift for family members, neighbors or co-workers particularly when coming from a trip. Instead of perfume or keychains, the Japanese typically opt for food items of the town or country they visit.

Omiyage literally means “local produce” and, so, the mindful Japanese may bring back crackers, wine or rice delicacies from other places. As we Pinoys would bring ginamos from Agusan, ube jam from Baguio, longganisa from Pangasinan, and/or yes, chocolates from the US.

The sister of pasalubong is pabilin, or the request for specific goods to be brought home. From this trip, I was asked to bring back hard-to-find Nike LeBron XX shoes and a Swatch-Omega Moon Trip watch. Usually, I would say “you can have it” even if my Mastercard gets maxed out, but not this time, sons.

Another sibling to the twin kaugalian is pakimkim, which usually means money that a godparent gives to godchildren in a wedding, baptism, or confirmation. But, to my mind, that has evolved to mean gifts, not necessarily money, that a host or a friend gives her guests when they go home. Complement to that is pabaon which I dream some generous soul would give me when my itchy feet want to bring me somewhere else again.

Bringing pasalubong may mean a little sacrifice because of the limited space or more, precisely, because of the limited weight allowed on the plane. It meant leaving the dozens of books I scoured for, even my own clothes and sweaters, and other personal knick-knacks in a Balikbayan box that my sister shall be shipping after us. We even left our smaller luggage and borrowed a bigger one just for us to be able to pack in the souvenirs for others. But no complaints. I am a Filipino. And I say that with a smile.


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