Going To da Probince – Pasalubong

There is a term used by those in the navy for anything taken ashore as a gift. ‘Rabbits’. It probably goes back to the days when they used to smuggle contraband like tobacco hidden in the carcass of a dead rabbit, or in the Australian context, something imported, like rabbits, foxes, pigs and so forth. When my dad used to travel with the army band (which was often), he would always bring something back for my sister and I and we always looked forward to his return with undisguised glee… and impatience.


Filipinos have their own custom of ‘rabbits’, called ‘pasalubong’. Pasalubong literally means ‘something for when you welcome me’ and is given to the family and friends back in the province after travelling somewhere else. Many Filipinos have cherished memories of their parents, especially OFWs, coming back after a long absence and bringing them something from wherever they had been.


It Doesn’t Have To Be Expensive

The tradition didn’t start with parents travelling overseas to work, though. Even if they were just returning from a day at work, a loving parent would think of their family at home and pick up a little treat to give when they returned. All over the Philippines you will see stalls near bus, ferry and jeepney depots selling the local delicacy. Wrapped in banana leaves and tied with string or half a coconut shell filled with sweet, sticky whatever it is and plastic wrapped, pasalubong is always available.

The gift is not wrapped any further, as we might with a birthday present, but handed to the recipient as is and then shared out with the gift giver having some too. Everyone gets to partake and share the fun… very Filipino!


Don’t Deny Your Filipina Her Culture!

Pasalubong is a very important part of the Filipino culture and if you accompany your Filipina back to her province to meet her family, don’t be surprised if she loads up with chocolates or other items, filling your luggage and carry-on baggage with enough stuff to start a small sari-sari store. It is important to her to do this yet I know some Kano’s who berate their asawa for carting container loads of chocolate to a city where you can buy the same items at any SM supermarket. That’s not the point!

If you are the traveler, then bring something from home to hand out. It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, just representative of where you come from. I always travel with a string of those clip-on koalas on a rope you can buy at the airport before leaving for $10, or at Go-Lo for five. Aussie branded chocolates, macadamia nuts and little catering servings of jams and Vegemite also get a smile and show whoever you are travelling to see that you are thoughtful and considerate.

Part of the fun in immersing yourself in a different culture, whether for a vacation or for life through marriage, surely has to be participating in the local customs and traditions. Pasalubong is one of these and it proves the old saying that it is better to give than to receive.


Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz


This article and website sponsored by Down Under Visa, Australian Registered Migration Agents in Manila – The Australian Partner Visa Specialists

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Going to da probince – Don’t be ugly

In 1958, Eugene Burdick and William Lederer wrote a novel titled, ‘The Ugly American’, later made into a movie with Marlon Brando as the main character, although the movie was different in many respects to the novel. The message of the novel and the movie, set in a fictional South East Asian nation, was that America was losing the war against Communism (in Vietnam) because of innate arrogance and a failure to understand the local culture.

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Going To da Probince – Getting There

They say the journey is what it’s all about, not so much the destination. When you are going to da probince, the journey can be a very memorable part of the entire experience. But not always the most positive one. Make no mistake, the province might be an hour out of town, or it might take several hours, even days, to get there. Then there is the journey back to contemplate!

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Going To da Probince – The Language Barrier

Something you will hear many times when you first come to the Philippines is the reference to ‘da probince’, or the province. Filipinas in Manila will tell you they are going to ‘da probince’. This means they are going home, to wherever they come from. Those who are born in Manila may very well have a ‘province’ the family comes from and might never have been there; but they will often identify with this place.

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Karaoke is made up form the Japanese words ‘kara’, meaning empty, and ‘okesutora’, orchestra. Together they translate as ‘empty orchestra’. Don’t let this fool you, Karaoke was very much a Filipino invention. In the 1960s Filipino entertainers arrived in Japan with their ‘minus-one’ tapes. These held recorded instrumental versions of popular songs by Frank Sinatra, The Beatles and other current celebrities, they would use these as backing music for their performances. While Karaoke has become popular around the world, it is nowhere as popular, surely, as in the Philippines. Continue reading

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Leadership, not control – in Australian Filipina marriages (Part 4)

When I was in the Army, back when you had to provide your own spear and your paybook was written in hieroglyphics, I was given the definition of leadership. I still remember it to this day, some nearly forty years on.

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Leadership, not control – in Australian Filipina marriages (Part 3)

There are horror stories of Aussie men marrying a Filipina, often half their age or more, who find themselves shackled to a gold digger who bleeds them dry and then tosses them onto the scrap heap. There are genuine cases of men who have been murdered by their Filipina wives after moving to the Philippines ot spend their retirement years in ‘paradise’. It does happen and yet it is still very much the exception rather than the rule.

I would think there are more Filipinas who move to Australia to be with their new husbands who find themselves on the receiving end of his drunken anger and physical expressions of his feelings of failure in life. By far, though, are the many marriages that are loving and productive; but that doesn’t mean it is always plain sailing. Continue reading

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Understanding The Filipino Psyche – Part II

One thing that stood out when I was researching the Filipino Psyche was how the researcher considered him or herself on a par with the subjects/respondents. To include yourself within the study group is not the usual accepted practise for western scientific studies. Where we believe in maintaining a distance to achieve objectivity, Filipino researchers feel that is not ideal and include themselves.

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Understanding The Filipino Psyche – Part I

I was reading up on Filipino psychology the other day and found myself fascinated by this very interesting race once again. I try to not limit myself to the world view I hold, which is based on my society, culture and upbringing. It is one world view and valid, yet not the only one and other’s world views are just as valid as mine, surely? If you are planning on spending the rest of your life with a Filipina, either there or even more challenging, in Australia or any other western country, it would make sense, surely, to try and gain as much of an education about your life partner as possible.

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Hiya! That’s Hee-Ya, Not High-ya!

A word you may come across when interacting with Filipinos is ‘hiya’, pronounced hee-ya. It translates literally as ‘a sense of shame’. A common interpretation is to use hiya as ‘face’, as in ‘losing face’, although this is not strictly accurate. What is accurate is that it is vital that when you are interacting with a Filipino, you don’t do or say anything that would invoke a sense of shame.

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