If there’s anything to love about Filipino culture, it’s the custom of bringing home pasalubong—that is, gifts from other destinations to carry back and give to loved ones at home. Couple that with the fact that great food can be found in all of the country’s 7,641 islands—there’s tons of tasty stuff you can bring back wherever you may be, which means there’s always a reason to get your butt off the couch and out on the road. Hop on with us as we go through ten of our favorite edible souvenirs from all around the country:
Buko Pie from Orient The Original Buko Pie Bakeshop (Los Banos, Laguna)
While pie as a whole is more strongly associated with the US, this Los Banos institution manages to make it completely our own by stuffing it with tender strips of young coconut interspersed with a not-too-sweet custard that just about mirrors its succulent mouthfeel. It’s sturdy enough for transportation and tastes great at any temperature, but try to devour it warm from the oven if you can—that’s when the crust is at its flakiest.
Where to Buy: Calamba-Santa Cruz-Famy Road 4030 Los Baños, Laguna
Ensaymada from Felicia’s Pastry Cafe (Bacolod)
With a wide array of cakes and pastries to choose from at this Bacolod cafe, it’s easy to overlook the humble ensaymada—but don’t you miss it. This luxe take on the cheese-topped brioche comes in practically the diameter of your face with a golden-yellow hue that signifies a generous amount of egg yolks in the mix. Pillowy-soft but dense in crumb, these bad boys just about fill the room with the unmistakeable scent of butter. Use all your willpower to keep from nibbling these on the way back—as heavenly as this already is at room temperature, a quick zap in the microwave once you get home turns it absolutely top-tier.
Where to Buy: DOLL Bldg., 6th St., Bacolod City, Negros Occidental
Silvanas from Sans Rival Cakes and Pastries (Dumaguete)
Macarons schmacarons—these cashew-based, bite-sized dacquoise-like treats are where it’s at. Past its crumb-flecked exterior, you get two crisp, airy shells encasing a smooth, not-too-sweet buttercream. Each bite juggles both crunch and creaminess while showcasing the naturally buttery taste of cashews. As these are best consumed cold, you’ll want to bring a cooler—or, if you’re like us, save yourself the trouble and munch away on your trip back. You have all the excuses to polish off every last crumb.
Where to Buy: #3 San Jose Street Dumaguete City 6200
Margie’s Sebuyas Dahon from Margie’s Cakes & Pastries (Bacolod)
Sure, you can find your standard hopia munggo, ube, and baboy in various supermarkets around the country—but can you imagine the pastry, in its soft-yet-flaky glory, filled with ever-pungent zest of spring onions? This Negrense company’s got you covered with this one-of-a-kind flavor. Coming in small, shiny pucks roughly one inch in diameter, each little hopia packs a savory-sweet punch that’s great whether as is or toasted, with a bottle of Pepsi for meryenda.
Where to Buy: Las Vegas Street, Las Palmas Bacolod City 6100
Brownie Thins from Margie’s Bakeshop (Butuan)
Before Brownie Brittle started trending in these parts, there were Margie’s Kitchen’s Brownie Thins—a sweet treat that dangerous toe the line between snack and dessert. Crunchy, without ever coming off as old or dry, these deliver the deep chocolate taste you love in brownies, but in a crisper, more munchable form. Take them plain for an addictive afternoon treat, or atop ice cream for a sweet ending that’s hard to forget.
Where to Buy: Various branches around Butuan
Cheese Bread from LA Bakeshop (Angeles, Pampanga)
Can you ever really go wrong when bread meets cheese? Filipinos are known lovers of the pairing of sweet and salty, this version of a meryenda classic from Pampanga nails the combination especially well. In each bun you get a slightly sweet dough, encrusted with a generous amount of grated cheese that gets its toasty hue from the heat of the oven—and both come in proper proportions that let you experience them in perfect harmony, bite after bite.
Where to Buy: McArthur Highway San Fernando, Pampanga 2000
Spicy Lechon from Rico’s (Cebu)
Cebuanos know their lechon, and to make the most of your trip, be sure to stop by this humble joint said to be home to the city’s best. Rico’s uses organic local pigs, stuffed with garlic and leeks that permeate its tender meat—and the pigs are roasted until they get the telltale deep burgundy skin that crackles as you slice in. And while dining in the restaurant is a worthy experience, you can now enjoy a taste of Cebu wherever you are with their pasalubong packages that come with everything to get the Rico’s experience from the comfort of your own home.
Where to Buy: Various branches
Durian Roll from Cecil’s (Davao)
Davao is practically synonymous with durian, the so-called “King of Fruits” notorious for its pungent, almost savory aroma. Its unique flavor can polarize audiences, but if you need a little more convincing, try this seasonal offering from one of the city’s best-known bakeshops. Here, a fluffy sponge gently encases a creamy, durian-tinged filling that takes advantage of the King of Fruits’ naturally custardy texture for a teatime treat you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything similar to elsewhere.
where to buy: Various branches in Davao
Suman Tinambiran from Nene’s (Oroquieta, Misamis Occidental)
You’ll find different kinds of suman wherever you find in the country, but this one-of-a-kind creation is worth the plane ride to Misamis Occidental. Two different mixtures of the sweetened sticky grains—one of a lighter color made with white glutinous rice, another of a darker hue made with black glutinous rice and brown sugar—are layered and swirled to form large stripes, before being wrapped in banana leaves that lend the rice cake its subtle, earthy aroma. And while copycats run abound, nothing comes close to the original—a labor of love by former school vendor-turned-award-winning microentrepreneur, Dionesa “Nene” dela Peña.
Where to Buy: Purok 5, Talic Oroquieta City 7207
Pangus from Lake Buluan Gourmet (Buluan, Maguindanao)
Among the various creatures that naturally dwell in the waters of Lake Buluan is mudfish, which this homegrown brand salts, bakes under the sun, and cooks in a blend of herbs and spices—including pepper and bay leaves—that fills the air with a most intoxicating aroma the moment you pop open the bottle. A small dollop is all you need to give life to linguine or a plain cup of steaming hot rice, but if you’re feeling extra fancy, it works equally well as ~pica-pica~ fare with cream cheese and melba toasts. Find respite from its savory-umami profile with a fizzy, refreshing drink on the side—such as Pepsi.
Where to buy: Lake Buluan Gourmet
The journey, of course, is every bit as important as the destination. When you’re looking to fill up and refresh mid-trip, nothing beats an ice-cold bottle of pop in the company of friends. Whichever course you take, Pepsi is the perfect partner for road trips.