Romance is definitely not going to be it for me if I was asked for my favourite word. It’s a word that I’m running away from. But what makes a word a favourite word? I’m thinking it’s something that always makes one happy, something that lifts someone up from the doldrums. A footballer would probably say “goal” while a chocolate lover would go for “chocolate” and a student hanging on a limb would say “pass”. I’ve had many favourite words, but my favourite word at this moment is pasalubong, a Filipino word that every Filipino knows, has uttered more than once in their lives and will, no doubt, utter over and over again.
My list of favourite pasalubong has gone through major tweaks. When Z and I were together, it meant munchkins (those little donut balls) and a loaf of banana cake whenever he’d go away to Johor Bahru, Malaysia. On regular days he’d bring me vermicelli noodles or nasi lemak from the food centre on Adam Road. I was always thrilled with Z’s pasalubong. A friend’s pasalubong of Nescafe’s decaffeinated coffee with chamomile shot me over the moon because it’s difficult to find it in Indonesia.
When it’s my turn to give pasalubong, choices would depend on the person I’d be giving it too. Flatmates – former and current – usually receive breadstuff from Bread Talk or any other pastry shop, slices of cakes or whatever I happened to pick up from the store. As for my sister and mum, it’d be a venti chocolate chip cream and turkey sandwich respectively from Starbucks. Pasta and chicken from Amici, I discover, make for good pasalubong dinner especially on occasions when there is nothing happening in the kitchen.
A pasalubong doesn’t mean you have to wait for someone to give you one. You can buy yourself pasalubong which I do especially when I’m flying from Manila. I stroll along the Centennial airport to the Goldilocks kiosk for a bag of caramel popcorn, mamon (light chiffon cake), a slice of cake and a box of chocolate crinkles. I’m all set to go with these goodies in my bag.
Pasalubong is a complete word. Shout it, mouth it or write it – it simply means something good like delightful food – childhood favourite or not – coming your way when someone returns from a somewhere. And I’m imagining that someone bearing my favourite pasalubong to be an English- Filipino footballer towering at 6’1.