by Rhodora Bande on 16/05/08 at 4:17 am
Souvenir items that are worth taking home with you.
Traveling is much more memorable when we bring something from the place we visit. Here is a list of souvenir items that you should check out when you come to the Philippines.
Key chains, refrigerator magnets and paper weights
These are ideal for those who don’t have enough space in their luggage. Small items like these can be bought at PhP25.00 to PhP50.00 (as of this writing, the exchange rate is US$1 = PhP41.00). These are available almost everywhere: malls, souvenir shops, stores, and town markets. Since I usually buy things from town markets, I buy them cheap.
These items can be bought cheap but they last long. The white necklace on top right (fourth from left) was already with me in 2000; the blue native necklace in the middle photo (third from left), in 1990. When you buy these items, you are actually helping the indigenous people (IP) of the Philippines. I got the pearls from the Badjaos1, the necklace with three bell pendants (middle photo) from a B’laan2 market, and the red necklace (middle photo) from a Mangyan3 vendor.
Bags and baskets
Baskets of varying sizes are available everywhere. Just go to any market and you will see them there. Colorful bags from Mindanao are likewise available in many stores in the Philippines. I got the red bag in a small store in Northern Samar. I like the T’boli4 backpack (right photo) because it is durable and handy. It can be folded and placed inside a bag when you travel. Then you can stuff it later with anything when your backpack or your suitcase can’t accommodate your belongings. Check out also the native wallets and purses in any local market since these are cheap and are ideal as gifts for your loved ones.
Mats made of tikog are available in Samar and in Leyte. Plain mats are cheaper than those with designs as the latter can be used as decoratives. I got this one in 2006 and it is now hanging on our living room wall. Price range of this mat is PhP750.00 to PhP1,000.00. This is a lot cheaper when you buy it directly from the mat weavers in Basey, Samar.
Souvenir shirts and hand-embroidered clothes
Souvenir shirts are available everywhere so it won’t be difficult looking for them. There are also clothes such as this hand-embroidered blouse which can be bought in special outlets. My sister bought this for me in a mall in Manila.
Sarong and tubao
Sarong can be used as a wraparound when you are at the beach or as a blanket when you travel. Most people I know have at least one sarong in their closets. This is made of light material; hence, it is very convenient to carry.
On the other hand, the tubao, a handkerchief made by the Manobos and other IPs in Mindanao, can be used as a turban or head cover especially when you are traveling in a tropical country like the Philippines.
Rainmaker and bamboo flute
This long instrument (left and middle photos) is called a rainmaker. Inside it are stones and whenever it is turned upside down, it creates a sound similar to that of the rain.
I saw one band performance and the rainmaker was one of their musical instruments.
The bamboo flute is available in some town markets. This is an ideal gift for children who are musically-inclined, for it is very easy to manipulate. Some stores sell guides on how to play the instrument as well as songs with their musical notes.
If you happen to go to Baguio, you should check out their King Flute because it is the best bamboo flute (as far as I know. I had one in college) in the Philippines.
These hammocks, made of nylon thread, are very comfortable and soft. Unlike the other hammocks, these are not painful on the skin. This is light and is therefore very easy to carry. When you’re done with your vacation, you can hang this in your porch at home.
Check out the stores in Divisoria because these were bought there. These were priced at PhP200.00 each in January, 2008.
If you are into wooden furniture, these statues are for you. These are ideal for families with small children because they will never break unless you intentionally chop them into pieces. They are likewise very easy to clean: you just wipe them with dry cloth.
The two statues, on the left, carry jars; hence, these can likewise be used as storage for small items. These are from Mindoro. The one on the right is from Baguio. These are also available around Metro Manila and in other key cities in the Philippines.
Knives and bolos
These are available in any market in the Philippines. Some of these are ordinary looking but there are some with very intricate carvings. I had a Danish friend who was able to bring three knives from the Philippines. She came to Leyte in May, 2004 and left the country that same year.
Aside from their practical use, the knives and bolos can be used as decoratives. The knives that my Danish friend brought to Denmark are now hanging on the wall of her former boyfriend’s home. But these are only ideal for those who are on a short-term visit (for example, PhD students or NGO6 volunteers). Just enjoy the decorative bolos while you are in the country or you will have problems with the airport officials if you put them in your luggage since they are very strict these days.
Fans and hats
When you are in the Philippines, these items are a must. Just like the knives, these can likewise be used as decoratives and can be hung on the wall. The cowboy hat is made of coconut materials. There are also other native hats made from other materials that are worth buying. These are readily available in many markets in the Philippines.
Almost every place in the Philippines has its own native delicacy; hence, you will not find any difficulty looking for them. You may also try the mangoes. Two of my friends bring with them some mangoes whenever they go to Germany.
One tip, just buy them when they are not yet ripe. Make sure to wrap each mango with a table napkin or with a tissue paper so they will stay fresh during the travel.
Enjoy your stay and happy shopping!