Luckily, despite being a melting pot of cultures, the Philippines is home to products that can only be found within its 7,107 islands, such as:
Don't let this candy's simple looks fool you. For many Filipinos, Choc Nut brings back childhood memories of biting into its delectable combination of cocoa powder, peanuts, milk and sugar. It's also quite a challenge to eat: You have to bite it in such a way that it doesn't crumble into messy, powdery bits, but you can't swallow it whole either, lest you choke on the bar.
Choc Nut has since inspired a ton of spinoff products, such as M Café's Choc Nut cakes and Choc Nut martini. Unfortunately, supplies are dwindling fast, so if you can find this candy in its purest form, buy it before it's too late!
Although now used only on formal occasions, the Barong Tagalog is considered the national dress of the Philippines. It can be made of piña, abaca or banana leaf fabrics, and is worn with a white undershirt. Men are the ones who usually wear Barong Tagalog, though you'll occasionally see women — like the late President Corazon Aquino — don it as a sort of power dress.
Granted, you can buy shoes from anywhere in the world. But if you want footwear that's comfy, stylish and reasonably priced, it's hard to go wrong in Marikina. There, you can find ready-to-wear shoes, custom-made shoes, shoes for special occasions, shoes for casual trips around the Metro — you name it, the Philippines' "Shoe Capital" has it.
Sipa, which literally means "to kick," is a sport native to the Philippines. It has many variations, but the simplest involves a "pato" — a washer with strands of straw or thread tied through its middle. Sipa is usually confused with sepak takraw, another game that involves kicking and a ball, though the latter's rules are different.
Anyway, the object of sipa is to keep the "pato" airborne using the feet or elbows. If it's kicked in such a way that your opponent is unable to return it, or your opponent commits errors according to the pre-agreed rules of the game, you win.
Of course, it'll be impossible to bring the real deal home with you. But you can settle for the next-best thing: A tiny replica of a form of transportation found only in the Philippines. You can buy them in most souvenir shops around the country, or you can look for a DIY model if you're adventurous enough.
As we mentioned before, lambanog is the Philippines' answer to Russia's vodka. It's incredibly strong, with an alcohol content of 80 to 90 percent proof, yet it's also known to not give you a hangover. The Philippine government has been exporting the drink for a while now, but if you can get it straight from the source — especially in Tayabas, Quezon Province — why not?
The banig is basically the Philippines' version of the mat. It's usually made of woven palm, and comes in a variety of colors and designs. You can lie down on it, sit on it or use it as a floor mat. Every region and ethnic group in the Philippines has its own version of the banig, so keep an eye out for them in the shops near you.
The Philippines can get incredibly hot at times. Even when you have a fully functioning electric fan, the searing humidity can cling to you like a second skin. And if you're tempted to crank up the "aircon" 24/7, you'll find that you have to pay a high price (literally!) as soon as you get your electric bill.
That's why, despite the technological advances in the country, Filipinos still use the good ol' fashioned abaniko. You can find it being sold in sidewalk stores, or in the hands of wrinkled old ladies who can't help but say "Dyusko, ang init!" (Oh my G*d, it's hot!)
Baguio's "Barrel Man"
If you know someone with a raunchy sense of humor, this is the perfect gift for them. At first glance, this wooden product looks innocent enough: A barrel with the head of a man sticking out of it. But once you remove the barrel… Well, let's just say something else other than a head will stick out.
No matter where you go in the Philippines, you're bound to find a local dish that suits your tastes. If you like sweets, for example, try the buko pie from Laguna, the pili tart from Bicol or the dried mangoes from Cebu. You can also bring home an authentic version of the (in)famous balut, which you can learn how to eat here.
And that's about it for today's roundup. Got any more recommendations for Philippine souvenirs that non-Filipinos shouldn't miss? Hit us up in the comments section below!