Filipino culture often includes strong family ties and part of this is pasalubong. Showing proper respect for one’s family is often extremely important. Failure to follow the traditional of  pasalubong can be especially grave for Filipino.

What is Pasalubong?

When Filipino travel, they usually will bring a gift to the family upon their return. This is called pasalubong. When Living in the Philippines you should keep this tradition in mind.

This is one of those cultural difference that has taken me a long time to come to understand. I have watched Jessie observe it. Even when she goes to Cebu City she brings a little something back for the kids.


When we visited her family, she said she had to take pasalubong to her family. She said it didn’t have to be much, it could be fruit but she had to return with something. I didn’t understand. I worried if the fruit was enough. I didn’t understand that failure to observe pasalubong would be seen as a sign of significant disrespect.

I treated the family to lechon, which I didn’t understand but that might have been seen as my pasalubong.

It also seems that in some families you are expected to bring something for each and every person and missing anyone could lead to massive hurt feelings.

I know I’ve seen Filipina that live overseas complain about this. They feel taken advantage of, just like so many foreigners do.

I know that when I first arrived in the Philippines, I had no idea of the culture. I didn’t understand why when a person has a birthday, they are expected to be the one doing the giving. That seems so difficult as there are so many people to give too. For Filipino, sharing is a huge part of life  Sharing is a huge part of Filipino culture.

I once read something from a Filipino that indicated that a Filipino was not happy having his food alone. That in Filipino culture once could not be happy unless they shared their food and drink. Pasalubong, it would seem is just another side of this.

Today, I read in a Manila based online paper where the tradition of pasalubong included much more elaborate gifts. Well, someone more elaborate. The talked of toad skin covered wallets or even the entire toad. It also spoke of trinkets that might be tossed in with the other collection of forgotten things. I couldn’t help but notice how Western the thinking was compared to what I am use to. Jessie would much rather spend the money on food and something useful than on something that would go unused.

To read other articles about Filipino Culture click here.

No Pasalubong is Disrespectful in Filipino Culture

If you’re living in the Philippines and your girl tells you she needs to return with a gift for her family or each family member.  It is the tradition of pasalubong that she is speaking of. She is not taking advantage of you because you are a foreigner. For Filipina especially, it is important to follow the traditions of her family. You will likely find that pasalubong is highly important to her as returning without it would be an insult.

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Filed under: Filipino Culture

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