Save and Splurge Tips in Boracay Pasalubong

Reading Time: 5 minutes
December 28, 2021
Glenn Jereza
What Pasalubong and Souvenirs To Buy in Boracau (Image credit: Freepik)

Table of Contents

The pasalubong culture is an unmistakable Filipino trait and is an integral part of our social identity. It is, on one hand, endearing, on the other, repulsive. Endearing when gifted to loved ones, repulsive when people demand it just because they feel they are entitled to it. For your naughty and nice souvenir list, check out our tips on what Boracay pasalubong and gifts you can buy on the island and other items you probably need to skip on.

Beautiful landscape of tropical beach on Boracay island, Philippines. Sailboat in the sea. Nature view. Summer vacation concept.
The Island Of Boracay, the island of elusive souvenirs and pasalubong? (Image credit: Freepik)

The culture of pasalubong is here to stay and the receiver will treasure it highly, regardless of its actual price, if it comes from a place one has not been to.

Although Boracay has become more affordable through the years, a lot of Filipinos have yet to set foot in this island paradise, the pride of the Philippines. Having won numerous accolades to its credit, Boracay has consistently retained top-of-mind-recall and remains a prime destination for tourists from around the world.

Located in the northwestern end of Aklan, the country’s oldest province, Boracay is a small island. With barely 10 square kilometers in size, it has become widely popular due to its scenic traits. Nevertheless, this diminutive island is a giant in the tourism industry with its white sand beaches and coves. With a warren of accommodations, a rich selection of victuals, and a beehive of activities, primarily water sports, for foreign and local tourists as well as the local population, Boracay is the vacation place to be.

First-time visitors arrive with uncontained excitement and leave with visceral regrets coupled with an intense longing to come back again soon. And so, they leave the island of Boracay with a reminder of their sojourn and pasalubong for their loved ones.

Boracay Souvenirs To Splurge On

Best recommended: consider buying products that are made in Aklan. Some of these Boracay pasalubong products may not be indigenous to the province but are a considerable help to the people of the island. This is especially true for the Ati, the indigenous tribe that lived in Boracay before fame caught up with it.

Need a pasalubong but don’t know where to start? Inquire at Pinnacle Resort & Villas’ helpful Front Desk Staff for some suggestions. (Image credit: Pinnacle Boracay)

Piña Products

On top of this Boracay Pasalubong buying tips list would be Piña products: local, authentic and enduring. Known as the Queen of Philippine Fabrics, piña cloth is painstakingly handcrafted from start to finish. From the fibers of a special variety of pineapple leaves to the weaving and embroidery, everything is handmade. The cloth appears very delicate, and it is, but with special care, it can also last a very long time. You might consider getting a handkerchief or an abanico (fan). The availability of this product, because of the high demand and limited output, is meager. But when you can, get a shawl or perhaps a table runner for that festive table. When you buy something made of piña cloth, you help sustain a cultural legacy. And soon, the product you acquire will become heirloom pieces. Expensive, yes, but worth it.

Handmade Banigs Mats

The art of banig making has been developed considerably and has grown even more competitive. With different types and designs that are export-ready, banig has made a splash here and abroad. Primarily made of pandan and bariw leaves that become shiny when dried, the mats are both functional and decorative, especially as wall panels. Despite the color change to its natural dark brown pigmentation, it is still strikingly beautiful and outright endearing. Mat weaving is a cultural tradition that seems to be vanishing, but the product last for years. Since this is quite bulky, you can ask the seller for arrangements to have it shipped to you if you plan on buying a couple of these.

Abaca And Coconut Shell Trinkets

Handcrafted bags using abaca and/or raffia with coconut shell accents are a beautiful and sturdy creation that can be great fashion accessories. They come in different sizes and colors, from the traditional single color to two-tone to an explosion of colors. Often one-of-a-kind since these are pretty much handmade, so when you see something you like, get it right away. There are also pandan/bariw mix bags that are highly-stylized bayong, jokingly called a Bayongciaga. More young people are actively engaging in this industry, particularly in design and product development.

Pinasugbo And Banana Chips

Pinasugbo and banana chips are two products that Aklanons have grown up with (and by far the most digestible item on this Boracay pasalubong shopping tips). This is the type of banana products that continue to taste the same, for they are dried in the sun and not in a machine. This technique, unsuitable for mass production, retains its flavor and texture. And unlike those that used a machine to dry them, these chips do not lose their original taste, nor does it sound like resin breaking into pieces when eaten. Buying these products helps make farming more profitable, as the farmers are not solely dependent on rice.

Customized Boracay T-Shirts

For the most practical, inexpensive, and wearable pasalubong, get a printed t-shirt with slogans and artwork on Boracay. These Boracay t-shirts come in an explosion of colors and many different but ubiquitous designs. Look for ones that stand apart from the rest in terms of concept and design. They are usually created by young people who are looking for affirmation of their art.

What Boracay Pasalubong Not To Buy

Immitation Pearls

Save your money and sanity by not falling for the dramatic flair of a vendor selling pearls, especially South Sea Pearls, at a bargain because (sob story here) – they are invariably as fake as the character of the seller. If you can’t tell what’s authentic apart from the fake ones, just walk away. If you like to buy it, remember three things: (1) real pearls are very rarely perfectly symmetrical and round; (2) look at the drill holes, real pearls have small and neat drill holes, so if you see holes larger than the string or you see cracks, the vendor is probably a crackhead; (3) real pearls are gritty and though this sounds yukky, you need to rub the pearl lightly on your teeth to determine authenticity, and if they are smooth, your vendor is slippery.

Naughty Gifts

That woodcarving of a naked man inside a barrel, that when lifted, he literally springs into action. This product is iconic, having been in the market for over 50 years, perhaps even longer, but it is still quite popular. Boracaynons are not prudish, but will you display this in a place of prominence in your home? Also, these buying tips focus solely on souvenirs from the island, and this pasalubong product is not from Aklan, definitely not from Boracay.

Pass On The Bora

Anything that says Bora, often sold by unscrupulous business people just in for the buck and disrespectful of Boracay and its people, both natives and the migrant community who have been on the island for at least a decade. Calling the island Bora is culturally offensive. Boracay is not in French Polynesia. Let your wallet rest.

Non-local Delicacies

Foodstuff sourced from other provinces, especially outside of Western Visayas, does not help the local cottage industry. Just like The Barrel Man. And no, this is not the ideal multiplier effect of tourism at work.

Anything With Sand On It, In It, With It

If you plan on buying those kitsch items filled with Boracay sand, be ready to pay a fine and perhaps even face jail time. The Local Government of Malay, where Boracay is located, has, through the Sangguniang Bayan, enacted Municipal Ordinance #310 implementing stricter policies on anyone who is caught stealing sand from Boracay’s shores. First offenders will have to pay a PhP2,500 fine and will get imprisonment for a month but not more than three months. Boracay at one time accommodated almost over 2 million tourists before the pandemic. Imagine if half of them each brought home half a cup of white sand.

Bottle with ship inside lying on the beach. Souvenir conceptual image. Nature in paradise.
Bottle with ship inside lying on the beach. Souvenir conceptual image. Nature in paradise.

The Best Boracay Souvenirs

We’ve heard this repeatedly: “Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints, kill nothing but time” and it makes sense especially with the challenges the tourism industry is facing on several fronts. One of the best tips you can learn from this pasalubong list is just to enjoy Boracay to the fullest. Indeed, the best souvenirs are the memories you make in Boracay. But then again, be ready, someone is going to demand their pasalubong.

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Glenn Jereza
Glenn Inosanto Jereza was born and raised in LA (Libacao, Aklan, Philippines) and loves food, reading, traveling, and writing about his adventures and misadventures. He has three legs, the third being a walking stick. He may not be fast on his feet but his wit more than makes up for his physical disability.

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