There’s one thing that people never forget to ask: pasalubong.
Pasalubong is a Filipino tradition of bringing home gifts, usually from the place you went.
It can be a keepsake or memento (ref magnet, anyone?), but for many, it means food.
Below are some of the best food souvenirs from the Philippines.
Food souvenirs from the Philippines
Chicharon is made from pork rinds deep-fried to perfection. While there are several varieties of chicharon, all of them are salty, crunchy, and fatty.
It is best enjoyed with garlic vinegar dip. Some packs already come with their own concoction of dips.
Chicharon is also a pulutan, finger food that usually accompanies beer drinking.
Chicharon is a sinful snack, and yet people kept asking to bring home some.
And if you’re asking me if eating a pack of chicharon is worth it, definitely!
Ensaymada is a sweet, fluffy bun topped with lots of cheese. The best-tasting ensaymadas are those that are light, fluffy, and cheesy.
However, some ensaymadas have lots of margarine but lacked in cheese. You want to find a brand that truly lives for the cheesiest ensaymada.
If you want to bring home a box of ensaymada, it is best to buy it on the day of your flight. If not possible, a day before your trip is okay.
Ensaymada is actually adopted from the Spanish.
Dried mango is an iconic food souvenir from the Philippines. Why not? The country boasts of the freshest and sweetest mangoes.
The Philippines dried mangoes are not husky compared with the other varieties. Its smoothness makes them perfect for snacking; truly export-quality.
And yes, the best dried mangoes come from Cebu. You can never go wrong with their mangoes.
Polvoron is a highly portable snack. It is a shortbread made from a mixture of toasted flour, sugar, powdered milk, and butter.
Some variety has added flavors such as pinipig, cashew nuts, pandan, chocolate, etc. You can pick any of these flavors or stick to the classic one which is milky, powdery, and crumbly.
This food souvenir also has Spanish roots; polvoron means powder or dust.
Cornicks or corn nuts are a savory snack that can also an appetizer or beer partner. Your choice really.
Garlic cornicks flavor is the most popular variety; next is cheese.
Cornicks can be easily bought in delicacy shops or supermarkets. Nonetheless, the best cornick products came from Ilocos.
Bagnet, which also hails from the Ilocos region, is a crispy pork belly. Think of the fusion of lechon kawali (deep-fried pork belly) and chicharon.
Bagnet is seasoned with salty repeatedly as the pork belly slab is boiled and dried out.
In Ilocos, however, bagnet is served with bagoong isda (fish paste) with fresh onions and tomatoes as its dipping sauce. Elsewhere, especially in Manila, it is best eaten with a garlicky vinegar dip.
It is highly portable too because it can last up to one month. So yes, you can take bagnet anywhere you go without worrying about spoilage.
There are many versions of longganisa such as Vigan longganisa and longganisa batutay.
Since it is a native sausage, every town and province in the Philippines has its own version of longganisa with distinct tastes. Longganisa from Cebu is a bit sweet whereas those from Vigan taste garlicky.
Speaking of variety, longganisa can be made from pork or chicken meat. This is what makes longganisa batutay different from the rest because its main ingredient is beef. The one from Cabanatuan has a distinctly sweet taste.
Danggit is dried rabbitfish that is popular as a breakfast dish in Cebu.
Danggit is deep-fried to crunchy perfection. It is best served with spicy vinegar dipping sauce.
If not danggit, your next best option is any dried fish variety or dried pusit (squid). However, with both, you need to pack the bag securely. They have a pungent smell that no one wants to smell especially inside the plane.
Batangas is known for its 1) lomi (thick egg noodle soup) and 2) kapeng barako.
Kapeng barako simply translates to strong coffee. No wonder why its taste has a distinct aromatic punch that coffee aficionados will surely love.
So if your loved ones waiting back home dig strong and bold coffee, grab a pack of kapeng barako as pasalubong.
Bacolod has some of the tastiest and sweetest treats like piaya. It is a flat unleavened grilled bread with muscovado sugar or sweetened ube (purple yam) filling.
The delicacy is one of the economic boosters of Negros Occidental, which is part of the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines.
The Filipinos’ favorite breakfast has gotten a makeover: bottled gourmet tuyo.
Pieces of tuyo are placed inside a fancy mason jar together with other flavorings like aromatics, spices, herbs, and olive oil.
Since they are bottled, they are undoubtedly transport-friendly.
Ube halaya (purple yam jam) is a famous dessert in the Philippines that are usually served in lyanera (round aluminum mold). However, there are also bottled ube halaya, taking them home is easy-peasy.
One has to appreciate its taste and how it is made—boiling the purple yam, mashing it, and mixing it on a large pan over medium heat. Mixing alone takes hours of work. It is physically draining too because the mixture thickens as you add in evaporated and condensed milk and sugar.
The best ube halaya in the Philippines goes to the Good Shepherd Convent in Baguio. Although that from Tagaytay can also rival the taste of the Baguio-based ube halaya.
Pastillas de leche
A Filipino favorite, pastillas de leche are soft milk candies made from carabao’s milk, sugar, and butter.
Every place to have their versions of pastillas de leche. However, it is said to originate from Bulacan. You better check the packaging to be sure you are tasting the authentic pastillas.
While at it, in San Miguel, Bulacan, pastillas de leche comes in special bunting wrappers. It is locally known as the art of paper cutting.
Nonetheless, whether wrapped in plain white or colorful wrapper, its milky goodness taste is the same. You’ll definitely want more so bring packs and packs of this melt-in-your-mouth treat.
There are ube and monggo (bean paste) hopia that you can buy at Chinatown in Binondo and take home to your loved ones.
Then, there is the hopia Ibanag, which is proudly made in Tuguegarao.
Hopia is a mooncake-like pastry with a thin flaky crust. The difference with hopia Ibanag is its crunchier crust and garlicky taste. There’s also a hint of tangy taste.
Buko pie is the classic pasalubong. It is made from young coconut meat, sugar, and milk in bread crust.
Buko pie is available anywhere in the Philippines. However, those from Laguna are hands down the most delicious and filling. There’s a long stretch of buko pie stalls along the main highways of the province.
Uraro cookies is a pastry made from arrowroot flour. The cookies are so soft and chewy and almost powdery.
There’s an abundance of arrowroot plants in Marinduque, and the best-tasting variety of uraro cookies are from this province.
Tapuy is actually a rice wine with strong alcoholic taste. It leaves a lingering taste that’s why people compare it with Japan’s sake. However, tapuy is on the sweeter side.
Tapuy is made from glutinous rice, ginger extract, and bubod (Cordilleran yeast).
Good Shepherd treats
Speaking of ube halaya above, the nuns from Good Sheperd Convent have been cooking the jam since the 1970s. They’ve already perfected its smooth, creamy mixture.
However, ube halaya is not the only specialty of Good Shepherd. They offer lots of food and non-food goodies that you can take home.
When in Baguio, don’t forget to drop by one of its stores. More than buying its treats, you are contributing to a worthy cause. The convent helps provide for the basic needs of the Cordillera youth.
Peanut butter bar
For the kids and kids at heart, peanut butter bars are your best bet. The most popular brand is, of course, Choc*Nut.
It has a milk chocolate flavor with a unique and addicting taste. Choc*Nuts are sold in grocery stores and supermarkets, so you’ll surely find a pack or two to bring home to the kiddos.
Apparently, you have a lot of choices for food souvenirs to buy when in the Philippines. If you got confused, it’s better to ask your loved ones what they want for pasalubong.