7 Tips and Tricks Balikbayans’ Must Remember
When Buying Pasalubong

  1. Make a list of people
  2. Stick to a tight budget
  3. Watch the weight limit
  4. Consider preferences
  5. Buy meaningful items
  6. Don't make promises
  7. Never feel obligated

"Uy! Huwag mo kakalimutan pasalubong namin ha!,” a common utterance that those from the Philippines who have jobs overseas hear on a regular basis and in increased frequency during the holiday season . It’s a common practice and well-loved Filipino custom for OFWs who are coming home for vacation – also known as balikbayans – to bring souvenirs – or pasalubongs – with them. These items can be for family members, close friends, former workmates, and others whom the person has deemed important enough to receive something.

It doesn’t even matter what the occasion is and whether or not there is one, if you’re going to come home from a foreign land, you are expected – almost required – to have souvenirs on hand. Kids, adults, elderlies – everyone waits in great anticipation for these things and OFWs have to make sure not to disappoint their loved ones. They always arrive with several boxes that are specifically for holding souvenirs and people rejoice at the sight of these things.

Unfortunately, these pasalubongs can quickly empty your pockets. They take away from your savings as much as they give happiness to you and the people you love, and it is something many OFWs have struggled with. There are ways to change things, though, and keep everyone happy while still leaving your savings intact and we have them written below!

Make a List of People

The first thing you should do is list down the names of the people you want to give a pasalubong to. You can include anyone you want in this list but don’t forget your family and friends. The list can be as long as you want but keep in mind that the longer it is, the more you’re going to have to spend on your gifts. If you’re on a budget, then you’d definitely want to keep it short, but if you have enough savings, then you should be fine including everyone you know.

Stick to a Tight Budget

After you’ve completed the list, you should then be able to set an appropriate budget. Some dedicate a month of their salary for buying souvenirs but you can choose not to. You may even set a spending limit for each person so that you know when you’re overspending.

At the end of the day, what’s important is that you stick to the budget you set no matter the circumstance even if the item you want to buy is only a few hundred pesos over your set budget. This kind of thinking just leads to more spending and you’re going to be broke sooner rather than later.

Watch the Weight Limit

As a balikbayan, you’re going to have to carry the souvenirs back to the Philippines so you should be careful not to exceed the weight limit. If you do, then you’re going to have to pay extra charges. It may not seem much but these fees are actually quite high and can leave a small dent on your wallet. You also have the option to send it ahead of your departure through a balikbayan box but even those come with weight requirements and other additional expenses.

Consider Preferences

Every person on your list is going to want something different from the others and you must keep that in mind. Even if you plan on bringing home food or chocolates, you must consider the personal preference of the intended recipient. This way, you can guarantee that they’d be happy about what they got from you and that your money hasn’t gone to waste. One way to make sure you buy the right thing is to ask them what they want but they may end up asking for something you can’t afford so be careful of that.

Buy Meaningful Items

Keychains, purses, and refrigerator magnets – these are generic items that you may want to stay away from. Although we’re sure that everyone’s going to appreciate whatever you give them, it’s much better if you give meaningful items that they can use and not just leave in some corner. Similar to what was said in the previous post, ask them what they want and try to deliver if it’s within your budget.

Don’t Make Promises

When you ask people what they want and they say what it is they desire, make sure not to promise them that thing. Just say that you’ll take it into consideration and only buy the item if it’s within your budget. If you promise something and fail to deliver, you might end up unintentionally disappointing your loved ones.

Instead of promising them something you can’t buy, be honest about your financial situation and say straight up that you might not be able to buy the things they are wishing for.

Never Feel Obligated

This is more of an advice than a tip: never feel obligated to bring home pasalubong. You have to know that buying souvenirs isn't part of your job description and should only be done if you have the money to spare.

It is not your obligation nor responsibility to provide the people around you with the material things they want. You can rest assured that they're already more than grateful for your sacrifices that help them improve their lives, and although pasalubongs make them a little bit happy, they aren't always necessary.

Key Takeaway

As a balikbayan, one of the toughest things is buying souvenirs for loved ones. Aside from being heavy on the pockets, you also have to make sure that everyone's happy with what they get. Even though they'd appreciate whatever you buy, you definitely want your money to go into something they love. You can certainly achieve this by sticking to these tips and tricks that are going to help you buy the best pasalubong without emptying your bank accounts!
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