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What Gifts to Bring to the Philippines for Loved Ones?

Generally, when someone goes on a trip or a Filipino relative has been gone for so many years, going back home in the Philippines is really exciting. But, what makes this a thrilling one is the pasalubong that the balikbayan (one who will come back home) will bring home. What gifts to bring to the Philippines is not really important. But, because of the ‘pasalubong mentality or the gift-giving culture here in the country, one must bring home gifts to the Philippines.

In this blog post, we will share to you the list of gift items that you could bring back home to the Philippines for your loved ones. Moreover, we will also explain in brief the Filipino culture of giving ‘pasalubong’. Furthermore, if you’re excited to pick one gift for your Filipino friend, then check these items below.

The Filipinos’ ‘pasalubong’ mentality that may impact what gifts to bring to the Philippines

Before leaving the country, friends and family members must always ask for ‘pasalubong’. Actually, when you search Google, you will find that pasalubong is a local term for souvenir, gifts, or presents. Basically, pasalubong are gifts that someone, coming home from a long trip, gives to the people close to them.    

Generally, the length of time when a person is gone does not matter in bringing home pasalubong. Typically, the thing that really counts is that you share to them the part of your trip. Usually, the common pasalubong of those travellers to their loved ones are personalized keychains, shirts, and packs of sweets and snacks. Primarily, these are the common items that Filipinos buy during their travel to bring to the Philippines as a gift. 

Pasalubong and the Filipino Culture

Basically, one of the greatest parts that impact the Filipino culture is the gift-giving or pasalubong. This way of giving for Filipinos strengthens the interactions and relationships among family members and circle of friends. Generally, this comes from the close family ties culture of the Filipinos. Moreover, pasalubong is a reminder that you are important for someone who goes away for a long time. 

Pasalubong and the Symbolism of Thoughtfulness

Basically, the origin and symbolism of pasalubong are really unclear. However, this Filipino tradition usually symbolizes thoughtfulness and gratitude. Additionally, it is also one of the best ways for Filipinos to express their feelings of delightedness being back safe to their hometown.  

Moreover, the pasalubong is some kind of a travel gift which has various forms. Further, this shows the value of every Filipino who always looks back for their family. Aside from that, bringing or sending gifts to the Philippines is a natural desire which can help us to share our experiences with them. However, giving pasalubong is not mandatory.

Gift-giving for Filipinos abroad

Since gift-giving is a part of the culture of the Filipinos, those who work or live in other countries commonly practice their gift-giving attitude. Usually, they do this by sending ‘balikbayan’ boxes to the Philippines. What gifts to bring to the Philippines are usually packed in this box and send it to their loved ones. 

Basically, this is very common for those who are away for a long period of time. Most of them missed special occasions here in the country. And through the balikbayan boxes, they are able to bring gifts to the Philippines. Moreover, balikbayan boxes are also another indication of the liveliness of pasalubong culture in the country.

However, as had been mentioned earlier, bringing home pasalubong is not an obligation. Keep in mind that pasalubong is expressing love and affection to our loved ones. Moreover, through pasalubong, we make them feel that they are always remembered even if we are in a faraway land.

You may also read: American Things Not Found in Philippines

How to bring gifts to the Philippines if you’re staying for a long time in another country?

Generally, Filipinos working abroad or those who already decided to migrate to another country may send whatever gifts to the Philippines. Basically, the best thing to do this is through the balikbayan boxes. Usually, it is during the month of December when the delivery of balikbayan boxes is on its peak. 

Basically, many Filipinos tend to consider the uniformed delivery man of the big corrugated box as “Santa Claus”. Moreover, it’s like a holiday tradition in the country when the family receives a large box full of presents.  

Literally, ‘balikbayan’ is a Tagalog term for returning to the country. Typically, the balikbayan box is a legendary symbol of Filipinos working abroad. Additionally, this box acts as a bridge connecting the one abroad and those families left here in the country. 

Packing Balikbayan Boxes

Basically, to pack a balikbayan box, one must have that certain skill. Initially, constructing a strong and firm box is a must. Generally, most Asian convenience stores sell branded and high-quality flat corrugated boxes. In purchasing this item, consider at least 2 months of a journey of the box through cargo ships going to the Philippines.

The next thing to do is to place all the stuff inside the box in an orderly manner without damaging each item. Generally, those experts in sending balikbayan boxes suggest placing the heaviest stuff at the bottom with the lightest over it. Additionally, you may tape the lids of shampoo bottles and bottled items over and over as possible.   

More tips in packing stuff inside the balikbayan box:
  • Loose items – these should be separated inside a duffle bag. Moreover, new socks or other small garments must be filled through spaces.
  • Shoes – this is a good place to put small canned goods
  • Fragile items – using new towels, you can wrap breakable items. However, bubble wrap is a good choice to reduce the consumption of too much space.  
  • Tape all sides and corners of the box very tightly as possible. Ensure that all the goods inside won’t spill out.  
Sending of personal goods

Basically, according to Philippine law, OFWs can send up to three balikbayan boxes every year. However, it should be provided that the total worth of the boxes is only up to $1,500. Unfortunately, this regulation is still not yet monitored strictly. 

Moreover, another problem faced by most balikbayan senders is those smugglers who take advantage of this delivery system. Basically, for smugglers, this is a convenient way for them to prevent the tax imposed over imported goods.

However, Filipinos who regularly send balikbayan boxes proposed to open their prepared boxes randomly by officials. Yet, this idea becomes a newsmaker as many of the government officials found to pilfer personal gift items to bring to the Philippines. With this issue, those officials decided to leave all those balikbayan boxes alone.

Return to Sender

Basically, the most fulfilling part of sending what gifts to bring to the Philippines is to reward the sender by thoughts of acknowledgement. It could be a simple phone call, sending private messages or tagging them on a Facebook post which shows an unboxing video.

What gifts to bring to the Philippines?

Generally, there are large numbers of Filipinos who work in other countries abroad. And, honestly, for Filipinos, being away from their loved ones is really such a burden. Basically, many Overseas Filipino Workers or OFWs tend to feel homesick as they really miss their family and friends. Moreover, working abroad or going to another country for some reason may bring someone to miss some special occasion or celebrations here in the Philippines.

Fortunately, there are many available options nowadays for OFWs and some friends living abroad to send gifts to the country. Furthermore, these gift items are also applicable to those balikbayans and travellers who might go back home to the Philippines. Additionally, a very important reminder here, gifts to be sent must not always be expensive. The important thing is that you remember to give them something. 


what gifts to bring to the Philippines - chocolates

Basically, the most popular and the top item under what gifts to bring to the Philippines is none other than chocolate! Initially, when we go home from another country or when we send balikbayan boxes, our family would expect to have chocolates inside it. Moreover, the good thing about giving chocolates as a gift or pasalubong is that there are variations to choose from.  

Generally, the type, sizes, and flavours of chocolates do not run out of stock. Here in the Philippines, since the balikbayan box was created, chocolate is a must to be included inside. Furthermore, up to now, this kind of Filipino mentality is still taking a big part in receiving gifts from countries abroad. 


Another thing on the list of what gifts to bring to the Philippines is the clothes. Just like chocolates, clothes have different types available in other countries. Basically, choosing this item as what gifts to bring to the Philippines might not lead you to worry as there are lots of options to choose from. However, you need to know the person’s size or body type so that this gift will fit them. 


Nowadays, especially youngsters, what gifts to bring to the Philippines are gadgets. Basically, this item is their top preferred choice. Additionally, this gift is also ideal for those who are still studying. Moreover, a brand new smartphone, smartwatch, or even a game console is such a big surprise if you send it as a gift to the Philippines.

what gifts to bring to the Philippines smartphone

However, the primary concern for these items is that they are really valuable. So, sending it to the Philippines needs extra care. Furthermore, options for sending this gift include hand-carrying it the moment they visit or when they go home to the country. Aside from that, others may hand it to a trusted friend who will go back here in the Philippines. 

Beauty Kits, Make-ups, and Perfumes

What gifts to bring to the Philippines that are anticipated by many family members are the beauty kits and personal hygiene items like soaps and perfumes. Basically, when it comes to make-ups and beauty kits, they are only applicable to women. Meanwhile, perfumes and other personal hygiene products such as soaps can also be perfect for male friends.

Generally, the trend nowadays focuses on the popularity of facial masks. Moreover, lipsticks are always on the limelight when choosing make-ups as a gift to the Philippines. However, take extra cautions in choosing the ingredients of the items that you are going to buy. Unfortunately, most of them are written in different languages.   

what gifts to bring to the Philippines perfume


Another item on the list of what gifts to bring to the Philippines is bags. Generally, bags have options to choose from. Additionally, it’s very stylish and functional. You can also consider giving purses or wallets that are also always in style.

However, just like clothes, you must know the preference of the style of the person who is going to receive this. Moreover, there are many delivery options to send this gift item to the country. Usually, they can be sent through online delivery or via a door-to-door process.

Fashion Accessories

Generally, accessories are the best one to include as what gifts to bring to the Philippines especially for fashionable sisters and nieces. Additionally, this gift item is also perfect for stylish aunties or titas of Manila. Moreover, packing this gift item to send to the Philippines is very easy as well. 

Gift Cheques

Basically, GC is one of those under what gifts to bring to the Philippines. Generally, gift certificates are really a practical way to send as a gift. This is due to the fact that you allow the receiver to buy the things that they really like. 

Typically, gift certificates can be used to buy books, shoes, or something to be used inside the house. Fortunately, as of the trend these days, GC can now be used as payment for online shops.  

Wrapping Up

Sending gifts to your friends and loved ones in the Philippines is usually the norm especially if you are working or living abroad. What gifts to bring to the Philippines are not really important. The thing of the matter is the thought that you remember them when you buy those items for them. Moreover, sending those gifts to the Philippines in any mode of delivery is also a factor that makes the gift special.

In case you want to send balikbayan boxes to the Philippines, hurry and buy those gift item suggestions here. However, if you think there is something that must be added on the list, please feel free to send us your thoughts.  

One Response

  1. Lynn Van Gurp September 5, 2021

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