It always feels like Christmas when my mom visits from Manila. I’m like a wide-eyed little boy eager to know what she has brought from home. My eyes light up as she reveals her pasalubong [pah-sah-loo-bong], pulling them out from her suitcase one by one.

Salubong [sah-loo-bong] is to meet, to greet. It means to welcome. Pasalubong is a homecoming gift, a Filipino tradition of bringing food or mementos from one’s travels as a gift for family and friends. It is a present that says thank you for warmly welcoming a traveler back, a token that celebrates returning home safe and sound. Pasalubong is a testament to the thoughtfulness of Filipinos.

It felt like Christmas once again last Saturday. Yes, my mom’s here for a visit! It was past midnight when we finally got home from the airport, way past her bedtime. But she was so anxious to stay up and unpack the Vigan longganisa she wrapped frozen in layers of newsprint and plastic. There was lumpiang ubod my Aunt Ludy made for me and plenty of sweets like polvoron and pili nut tarts. There was barako coffee and suman sa ibus — it has been years since I last enjoyed these sticky rice cakes fried with hot chocolate!

Then there was matamis na mani. She always brings matamis na mani when she visits. Matamis means sweet. Mani means peanuts. It is a local variety of peanut brittle made of molasses and peanuts. It is as big as a dinner plate and is not brittle at all but soft and chewy, the way I like it.

We could’ve stayed up all night but realized that if we went to bed, there would be Vigan longsilog waiting for breakfast.

What’s your favorite pasalubong from home?



  • Pru

    Hi Jun,
    I hope you & Dennis enjoy this time with your precious Mom. I feel like we already know her. I’ve never been “home”, but love when I get Pastillas Sticks (much different than the soft ones rolled in sugar). What kind of leaves are the suman wrapped in? They are so vibrant in color.

  • Mindy

    What a special treat to have your mom in town. And all the goodies would make me giddy, as well!

  • Bianca Garcia

    I love it when my family comes over from the Philippines, too! My favorite pasalubongs are ube jam, cocojam, pastillas, and chichacorn! :)

  • Becky

    Our favorite pasalubong is hopia. Also piaya and homemade peanut butter! The best thing, though, is to see family and friends!

  • Maria Needham

    …those pretty langka canoes (tarts) in your photo are one of my faves!! I love the way they are wrapped in the brightly colored plastic and the crinkle sound they make when you unwrap them. Sigh. Oh and the purple suman that I love to dip in sugar. Gasp! You are so lucky. Happy times with your mom!!

  • Anonymous

    It’s so lovely that your Mom makes the trip to see you and Dennis. You’re very lucky! While I have never received food as pasalubong- my favorite food treat to get from the old country would have to be polvoron. The taste transports me to when I was a child and my Lola gave me a piece of polvoron as my treat. Sigh.

  • Jun Belen

    Thank you, Pru! The rice cakes are wrapped in ibus or nipa palm leaves and the bright yellow color comes from luyang dilaw or turmeric.

  • Jun Belen

    I recently discovered chichacorn! They are so crunchy-addictive — crunchier than the cornick I grew up with.

  • Jun Belen

    Yes, I love hopia, too! Nothing compares to those from Binondo. Homemade peanut butter for kare-kare sounds so good!

  • Kathryn

    My daughter absolutely loves ube pastillas, she calls them ube candy. My mom sent her a packet full of them a couple of months back and she is still talking about her lovely ube candy. Moms are wonderful!!

  • Islas Foods

    Here in Canada, our company brings a little piece of home to our kababayans. One of the things that a lot of Filipinos bring from back home are the pili nuts. While it is thoughtful and nice to actually bring stuff from the Philippines, we hope that by bringing our Islas pili nuts to Canada, our kababayans will have room in their luggage to bring other foods when they return to their respective countries.

    Hope to meet you one time when I visit SF. And hope our Islas pili nuts will one day be in the store shelves in the States.

  • Row

    My favourite pasalubong is chichacorn… so tasty and crunchy! Glad that you are able to spend some quality time with your mom. :)

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  • Darryl Amaro

    wow, thanks this idea, now i know what sweets am i going to brought for pasalubong. thanks a lot

  • Jean

    I would love to have roasted cashew from Tagaytay, Rizal. They taste different from the cashew nuts here, like ginger root vs ginger powder. The difference is night and day. I discovered your blog today while looking at images of ensaimada on Google. Subscribed and will follow you on Facebook. Am not surprised why you have rec’d so many accolades, well-deserved. jean @

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