Indie Tip#5 | Travelling to the Philippines: 10 New Filipino Food Pasalubong Gifts To Take Home

Bagoong, anyone?
Whenever there's a chance, kababayans (fellow countrymen) abroad put in a favor to those traveling to the Philippines for a visit. They ask for Filipino food delicacy pasalubongs (take home gifts), even making a list of their favorites.

Aside from basketball and videoke, Filipinos are known to love food. We eat 5-6 times a day - breakfast, midday snack, lunch, afternoon snack (merienda), dinner and sometimes a late night snack. This gastronomic lifestyle is what Filipinos abroad and foreign visitors usually miss when they think about the Philippines.

Although Asian and Filipino stores carry many of the well-known food products from the Philippines, people still continue to hand-carry them when they travel. Maybe because the price is cheaper when bought locally, or the stocks are more recent than what they can source abroad.

You probably already know the usual Filipino food pasalubongs to bring like Mama Sita cooking mixes, dried mangoes, Choc-nut, instant pancit canton, bagoong and sampaloc sweets. So here are my top 10 new pasalubong suggestions that will surely delight your friends and relatives abroad:

Heart attack in a jar

1. Taba ng talangka/Aligue - A sinful orange paste made of crab fat. It's basically heart attack in a jar (sometimes canned). One can use it for cooking or as a dipping sauce. But it is mostly just scooped straight out of the container and mixed onto rice. Taba ng talangka or aligue products can be bought in groceries or food bazaars. Razon's taba ng talangka is a popular brand supposedly consisting of 100% crab fat.

2. Modern Chicharon - Bulacan still has the best Chicharon, in my opinion. But lately there have been new chicharon versions you just have to try. First is the popular pulutan (beer accompaniment) Marty's Vegetarian Chicharon. A product of Oishi snack foods, the package boasts of old fashioned style but guilt free "pork rinds". Indeed they somewhat resemble the taste and texture of real chicharon. You can find bags of these in the chips section of any grocery.

Microwaveable stroke
We all know that chicharons taste best when they are freshly popped but making perfect chicharon is tricky. So, when I came across microwaveable chicharon, I had to give it a second look just to be sure that I read the label right. Filipinos abroad definitely have to try these. They can be bought in 7-11 stores and some groceries.

The one and only: Virgie's Mango Tart

3. Mango tart - This has been around for a while but not many people have tried it. It's a sweet mango empanada (pocket pie) that's so addicting you'd want to keep every piece for yourself. It tastes like mango pie minus the plate mess. They come in a bulk pack or a box, available in groceries.

Eng Bee Tin tikoy (sticky rice cake)

4. Eng Bee Tin - Even without leaving the country, Filipinos are quick to request Eng Bee Tin Hopia and Tikoy products as pasalubongs upon moving away from Manila. Although their products are already obtainable in SM supermarkets, getting them fresh from their shop in Ongpin St., Binondo is different because it is guaranteed fresh. Hopias are neatly packed in plastic foil while the tikoys are now vacuum packed to stay fresh longer.

This + salted egg + tomato chutney = perfect breakfast!

5. Frozen tinapa -Who can resist tinapa in a place where dried fish seems like a banned commodity? (Hint: Northern Hemisphere countries). Tinapa, or smoked fish used to be sold in wet markets, wrapped in used newspaper. Bringing any quantity of it would have raised eyebrows inside an aircraft. Luckily, in recent years, tinapa fishes are sold frozen and vacuum packed.

I want my Bart Burger!

6. Burger Machine - Maybe it's just me, but going through months without eating a Bart Burger (with cheese) from Burger Machine makes me crave it even more. It's the same feeling I get when I miss the West coast's In N Out burger. The best way to keep this fresh is by ordering plain burger and freezing it overnight before your flight. Ketchup, mayo and coleslaw must be in a separate container to prevent the whole thing from getting soggy.

If it's not from Good Sheperd, don't bother.

7. Ube Jam - Sure, anybody can make ube jam. But nobody can make it as creamy and smooth as Good Sheperd Baguio's Mountain Maids! If you happen to visit Baguio on your vacation in the Philippines, bring nothing less than Good Shepherd's Ube Jam.

Mas Masarap

8. Saging na saba -Nothing compares to the taste and texture of our homegrown saging na saba. There may be similar bananas that can be found in Latin America but you'll find your mouth is looking for the taste you grew up with. Saging na saba is used in many desserts and sweet snacks. Aside from that, it is also used for cooking dishes like Nilaga and Arroz ala Cubana. Bottled saging na saba in syrup can be bought in most groceries; I have yet to find one without the syrup, though.

Ready to transport and eat

9. "Gourmet" Anything - If you can't bring balut eggs in their original packaging, the next best thing is the Gourmet Balut. These are seasoned baluts, shelled and bottled so there's less chance of them getting crushed inside your suitcase. Tuyo (dried fish), can also be bought gourmet-style, which translates to scaled, de-boned, seasoned and bottled in oil. There's also the Gourmet itik (duck) which is cooked itik, caldereta-style, neatly packed in a can or a bottle. These are a little hard to come by as they are mostly sold only in food bazaars.

Sweet tooth foodie heaven

10.Rockwell Bakers Fair Finds -A real foodie treat for your kababayan would be something homemade. For a wide selection of foodie sweets, head to Rockwell Powerplant Mall and visit the lower ground floor for its Bakers Fair held every weekend (sometimes daily!). You can get cakes, pastries, cookies, native delicacies and other desserts you might only find in hotels at affordable prices and packaged like the real homemade pasalubong they are.

So, there you go. The pasalubong tradition is definitely one that will last for generations. What do you ask for from your loved ones as pasalubong share them by leaving a comment. Meanwhile, here are the runners up:

1. Homemade squid in black ink
2. Monterey's frozen sisig
3. Bagoong powder

Culture Shock! Philippines: A Survival Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Alfredo R. Roces)

Photo credits:
Mango tart photo edited from
Rockwell Bakers Fair photo taken from
Saging na saba taken from user pinoyoriental in picasaweb
Gourmet/Deli de Lata photo taken from


  1. Kakagutom mainit ng kanin plus aligue... sarap din sya sa pasta..

  2. @titus

    Sinabi mo! Yan din daw ang nilalagay sa Palabok... Sige brb punta lang akong Jollibee LOL


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...