Why I usually prefer to keep my travel experiences from fellow Filipinos

Ideally, when a compatriot or friend comes from an overseas trip, I would like to hear stories of his/her travels. I would like to have a sample of any insight that he/she had gained from that experience. It even makes me want to go to those places myself!

I like traveling, learning about foreign lands, experiencing cultures, and exploring other societies. In fact, what I would really like to do is to find out what makes other societies work, study and analyze them, and find a way to apply them to things here in the Philippines.

I have met a handful of Filipinos, however, who seem to shrug off, or approach in a disturbing way, opportunities to learn from their traveled kababayans.

Pahingi pasalubong – Under normal circumstances, asking for souvenirs isn’t really something bad. Sometimes, it’s actually one of the best ways to share your experience. But count on Filipinos to ruin something good.

How?

One of the seemingly dominant operating principles in Filipino society, it seems, is inggit (envy). When a neighbor is perceived to be better off, some Filipinos can’t help but feel envious, but enough times they don’t use that feeling as a motivation to make their own travels a goal. They use it to cast that neighbor in a bad light.

Going back to compatriots whom I want to hear stories of their travels from, I have met my fair share of Filipinos who react to such stories like this: Nang-iinggit lang siya (He/she is just making us envious).

How does the pasalubong thing become ridiculous? When suddenly everybody is asking for balato – especially the people who just pop up when they hear that you’ve gone overseas.

Let me reiterate that such feeling of envy, if used in the right way, can actually help you to become better. But the way Filipinos use it, it seems to be a self-destructive force. As I mentioned above, instead of listening to insight from other cultures, they shrug it off: di pwede iyan dito, or nang-iingit lang, or Pilipinas ito, eh!. All they seem interested in is the pasalubong. Sometimes they aren’t even grateful; they make you feel as if it’s your obligation to give them pasalubong – and thus their entitlement to receive.

You get the idea.

Filipino culture supposedly teaches sharing, but what that has become nowadays is that people can’t appreciate something that isn’t tangible. If you don’t have food, or a trinket, or cash, Filipinos don’t seem to be able to grasp what is being shared with them.

It seems like another manifestation of the intellectual bankruptcy of that society now, doesn’t it?

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13 thoughts on “Why I usually prefer to keep my travel experiences from fellow Filipinos

  1. I can’t help but agree with you, sir. (Saw your post being featured by GRP in my news feed.)

    This pasalubong thing…I don’t know, but I personally find it disgraceful to ask “pabili naman ng pasalubong” to people who are going overseas. I’m content with receiving souvenirs (however small they may be) when said person returns from the trip. I don’t take offense if I don’t get any.

    Does that make me a “disgraceful” Filipino?

    • Thing is, there’s a lot of gray area when it comes to context. It would really depend on the individual as to what extent he/she could go. For example, with immediate family, I would ask for a souvenir, or a local treat from the place my parents/siblings would go to. Beyond immediate family – even with close cousins – I draw the line and consider it, as you put it, disgraceful. Like you, I wouldn’t take offense if I don’t get any souvenir, regardless of who is the one coming from overseas – even family. Frankly, I’m more interested in what he/she did over there.

      If I ask someone outside of immediate family to buy something for me, I would make it a point to repay them. Even with family, I offer to repay. But I certainly couldn’t bring myself to bluntly ask for a souvenir from people outside of immediate family just like that!

      With that being said, I do try to accommodate as many close people as possible with the pasalubong if I’m the one doing the traveling. There are, however, many constraints – time, money, luggage space, etc. – and it seems to me that some people just don’t get that. As I said in the article, it’s the sense of entitlement and the perception of inggit I have a really big issue with.

      Thanks for reading!

      • You’re most welcome, and I’m glad that I’m not the only one who’s been questioning Filipino culture as of late (I always see your replies at the main GRP hub – especially how you, Gogs, Chino, and the other guys take on the Noytards) XD

  2. As an OFW,shopping for pasabong is the most stressful thing to do before going home.It’s very frustrating knowing that there are relatives and neighbours who will flocked at your front door once they’ve heard you’re back.

  3. When travelling overseas, it is frustrating when you are limited to the clothing/equipment you can take or bring from, or to, Philippines. Invariably, you are asked for gifts by so many Filipinos at both ends of the trip, plus others who ask you to take presents to their family members, that you cannot take ANY clothes at all! To say no, with an explanation as to why, is crushed off as an “excuse.”

  4. Please excuse my rabid words but I also see this crazy pasalubong madness as a reflection of an inbred timawa and patay-gutom mindset.
    ” they make you feel as if it’s your obligation to give them pasalubong – and thus their entitlement to receive.”

  5. Yeah…we usually travel. There was even a year that we just stayed 2 months overall in Philippines. In average, we usually travel every 3 months. And it is for vacation or leisure. At first, people will brag about pasalubong and the mangungutangs flocks whenever they see you are travelling. Since we usually travel with kids or even just me and my wife, we always limit our luggage. We don’t buy anything. We just buy few chocolates for kids (those chocolates you don’t have access in Philippines)

    After 2 years of constant no pasalubongs and no pautang, people got used to it and you will see who really your true friends are. Those are the people who just stay with you regardless if they get something from you or not.

    And yes, I completely agree with the “Inggit” concept. We usually hear “di naman talaga yan umalis”. So we just stopped sharing with them. If they hear it from someone else that we went somewhere, we just ignore them and just smile back. So kng naiingit sila, mamatay na lng sila sa inggit.

    It is always fun to share your travel experience with those who travel as well. They give you tips where to go, where to shop, what are the hidden attractions. Those are the people you will love talking to.

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