Pasalubong! A Community Exercise

By Athena Abadilla, FINDink Contributor

As the Cultural Chair of Columbia University’s Liga Filipina, I wanted to infuse a little lesson on Filipino traditions into the introduction portion of our club’s very first general body meeting this school year.  So, I thought of one of my most favorite parts of my culture: pasalubong.  

In the Filipino culture, when a family member or friend travels somewhere far away from home, it is expected that they will bring back some type of souvenir ― often in the form of region-specific snacks or foods ― upon returning.  This souvenir is known as pasalubong.

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It’s a way to share a small piece of one’s experiences with the people they care for.  Pasalubong, in my life in particular has taken form in my Filipino friends bearing gifts of pastillas and polvoron from vacationing in the motherland; my non-Filipino friends sharing keychains and postcards from their respective college visits;  and my dad bringing back some of Hawaii’s best manapuas and rice cakes (my mom’s personal favorite) when his job would require him to leave the island of Kauai and go to the island of Oahu for a few days.  Therefore, pasalubong becomes a way of remembering and a custom of love.

So I chose to take this concept of pasalubong more figuratively and apply it to the club community that we’re forming at Liga.  (It might be a bit of a stretch, but try to follow the progression of my thoughts). The goal of introducing the “introduction - get to know each other” part of the meeting using the idea of pasalubong was this: 1) to establish the student organization and space that we inhabit as a place we can call home, 2) to recognize that we are all coming from different backgrounds and identities, and 3) to emphasize that the sharing of one’s unique experiences from wherever they are in life will always be welcomed with open arms.