I typically grew up in a family with a diligent working father who oftentimes has something for his four children when he comes home from job during Fridays. Anything, it could be small goodies or ordinary candies, an ice cream or something that doesn’t cost much but at least enough to please his eyes when he sees the delight from the face of his children. It was a bit generous if payday, I remember once he gave me a two feet Batman toy balloon while in other circumstance my sister had her doll that she really loves. It could make use of to buy other for family basic needs like food or pay the bill but in my young mind then, I think my father was instead merely flattered in giving something for his children. That seeing his children uproarious in joy has no price that can pay. You cannot replace the significant symbolic moment with any amount of money.
When I grew up and had able to work on my own, I took the turn to give back by bringing something to my nieces and nephews. Anything, it was just anything that will be undoubtedly pleased by any kids like sweets, school supplies, promotional toys from famous children’s favourite food chains, etc. Like my mother, I knew how did it feel when you were trying hard to save your minimum wage but when you’ve seen the thrill on the face of the innocent children who have no idea how hard you worked your pay up to the last single cents, you will feel incomparable the joy you are receiving and giving to the children. And it felt so good to know they are relentlessly waiting for me every night, making me rushed to come home because I know someone or two, or three children are keenly waiting for me who will not go to bed until I come and I don’t want to fail them. And I was lucky, I was able to feel the gratifying joy that my dear father had felt when he was giving us something during Fridays.
This has nothing to go far and differ from homecoming goodies or present (pasalubong). Pasalubong is a distinctive Filipino tradition of having something to bring gifts from their trip to the people back home, be it from neighbouring and distant places in the Philippines or from anywhere in the world. It is usually trivial things like clothing, ornaments, souvenir or novelty items, handicrafts items, toys, sweets and native delicacies or native products from region or country where the traveller came from. Giving it a significant touch, it can be unique or original items or goods that are hardly found anywhere that when seen can give immediate identity of the region to conclusively say someone have been there. It is like if bringing home some piyaya will mean it’s pasalubong from someone who came from Iloilo, binagol from Leyte, durian from Davao, otap from Cebu, or macadamia nuts from Hawaii. A person travelling to Pampangga may bring back with longganisa while from Baguio is walis tambo and from Batanggas is lanseta.
We as Filipino, it is an inborn trait the thoughtfulness we have in our big heart to give something to our families, friends, relatives or even those non-relatives that we feel especially close every time we go and come back. Who doesn’t want to receive? It is always flattering. Pasalubong is usually small thing but the sense it brings to the person who receives is tremendously bigger than itself. And what better way to give pasalubong if you personally think of it. True, there is nothing sweeter than any gift when it is thought-out. Just now while I am drafting this writing, I realized the dismay feeling of a friend working in other country whom I made visit without anything to give. During that time, I had just no idea that as a first-timer who will heading other country for a visit should preferably has something to give because I thought it is the other way around. For that I was accused thoughtless in friendship which I fully felt bad. Today, in emphasizing the value of giving pasalubong or any plain giveaways that I have received through the years, I would like to express my heartfelt appreciation to my friends who exerted efforts and find times to give me something from their vacation. Thanks to the never-ending Boy Bawang, Super Mani, Polvoron, Durian tart, etcetera. I am a sentimental person and anything that is given to me is a treasure that I always keep in my pouch, my mind, my heart.
By Alex V. Villamayor
April 3, 2015