Filipinos often say "It's the thought that counts." And they do mean it. That you remembered to get something is more important than the gift itself.

That's why you yourself will often receive stuff that may make you go "Meh... Why even bother to give me such a thing?" But really it's the thought that counts. The other person probably tortured himself trying to think of what possible thing to give you. Express your appreciation and say thank you.

In Filipino culture, you have to remember to give everyone at least a little trinket -- even the distant cousin, the little infant, even the housemaid and yard boy.  In the case of the household help, you can slip them a few bills if you haven't gotten to know them very well; if you're close to them, you have to give something personal.

Say, you visited a rich man in Manila and stayed in his home for a few days. While you were there, the live-in maids probably cleaned your room and washed your clothes. If before you leave, you seek them out and hand them a few bills to thank them, everyone and not just the maids will have a better opinion of you.

If you're coming from far away either from your home overseas or from a vacation, bring a pasalubong that's unique to the place where you came from. It might be a local delicacy or a souvenir that's emblematic of the place where you've spent time. Food is always good, and the souvenir is something they can show off to their friends while speaking highly of you.

Practical, functional gifts? Of course, those are appreciated too. But for example you're giving a camera or some other electronic item, make sure it has fully charged batteries and that they have the means to charge them. Middle-class Filipinos won't have any issues, but if you're giving a gift to someone in a remote province, it's possible such a gift won't be so easy for them to use.

Gift Ideas for Students of Tagalog

Do you know someone who's learning Tagalog?  Here are a few gift ideas:

1. Currently the most highly rated Tagalog course for beginners is Living Language's Complete Tagalog for Beginnersa coursebook with six audio CDs.

Tagalog Complete: Book and CDs

2. If the Tagalog learner hates the conventional way of studying that includes looking at lessons and is of the personality that just wants to learn naturally in an easy-going manner, get Pimsleur Tagalog. It's an audio-only program that focuses on listening comprehension and speaking 30 minutes a day. No books, no drills. 

The Conversational Tagalog version is about $35, while Basic Tagalog is about $20.

3.  For someone who's going to be visiting the Philippines, get the Berlitz Tagalog set that includes a phrasebook and CD. Berlitz is unbeatable when it comes to distilling into a portable pack the essential words and phrases you'll need for when traveling. 

4. As a reference book, a two-way English-Tagalog dictionary is indispensable. This bestseller includes a grammatical introduction to the language, a vocabulary appendix with numbers and menu terms, in addition to over 20,000 total dictionary entries, with idiomatic expressions, slang, loan words and derivations.

5. Personalized Tagalog items from Zazzle (bag, mug, underwear, shirts).  The more Tagalog words one is surrounded with, the more motivation there is.

6.  Filipino movies like The Road and OPM (Original Pilipino Music).

7. Pinoy food as a meal at a restaurant, bought from a Filipino grocery store, or snacks ordered online -- Nagaraya adobo cracker nuts, Jufran banana ketchup...

Cheer the person on with: KAYA MO 'YAN! (You can do it!) and ANG GALING MO! (You're awesome!).

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