PM Sunak warned not to deport UK’s Afghan allies to Rwanda

PM Sunak warned not to deport UK’s Afghan allies to Rwanda
PM Sunak warned not to deport UK’s Afghan allies to Rwanda

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - MANILA: Dr. Karen Remo takes special considerations whenever she brings souvenirs from the Philippines, hoping that the gifts she gives to her friends in the UAE will spark cultural connections and help introduce different parts of her home country. 

Barako coffee, which is known for its aromatic and rich flavor, is her go-to from the city of Batangas, while garlic or cheese cornick, a Filipino deep-fried crunchy puffed corn nut snack, is her choice of gift from Ilocos Norte. 

“Whatever the pasalubong is, it’s always a shared joy to celebrate the simple occasion of seeing each other again and possibly knowing a shared connection through these items from the Philippines,” Remo told Arab News. 

Pasalubong refers to the long-held Philippine tradition of travelers bringing gifts after returning from a trip, which for many Filipinos in the Gulf and beyond is a way to share their culture and delicacies.

Like the hundreds of thousands of Philippine nationals who live and work in , Remo never returns to the city empty-handed after a trip back home. 

“My usual pasalubongs are dried mangoes, pastillas, pearls, and artisan jewelries,” Remo said.

“Pasalubong from the Philippines is something that our foreign friends are delighted to receive because not only does it show Filipino thoughtfulness, but the pasalubongs also make them feel like they are able to see or taste a bit of the Philippines and its culture.”

The Philippine labor diaspora is one of the largest in the world, with an estimated 1.96 million overseas Filipino workers in 2022, according to data from the Philippine Statistics Authority. Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait are the top three destinations for the group, followed by other countries in Asia. 

For her friends in Saudi Arabia, executive administrative assistant Claire Anobo likes to introduce her hometown pride in the form of souvenirs as a way to showcase the specialties of the coastal Filipino city of Bacolod.

“Bacolod is … known for its MassKara Festival. I usually bring … souvenirs like T-shirts and refrigerator magnets with designs that show our festivals,” Anobo told Arab News, referring to the annual mask festival that is similar to Brazil’s Rio Carnival. 

“I’m doing this to promote tourism and showcase our food and festival.” 

 

Like Anobo, Philippine diplomats also partake in the gift-giving tradition as a way to promote Filipino goods.

“My default (pasalubong) is mangoes. When I make my official calls, it’s usually the mother of pearl frames,” Alfonso Ver, Philippine ambassador to the UAE, told Arab News. 

Rommel Romato, Charge d’Affaires at the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh, said his friends and colleagues get excited whenever he brings them gifts from the archipelago. 

“They appreciate the gesture of goodwill … I usually give Philippine mangoes and handicrafts to my Arab counterparts and friends,” he said. 

“Our traditional handicrafts such as handmade bags, jewelry, home and office decors made from indigenous materials like pearls and shells highlight the talent of Filipinos as skilled artisans.”

Meanwhile, Filipino-style shortbread cookies called polvoron from the national brand Goldilocks are a favorite gift of choice for Ate Margie, who works at the King Fahd Armed Forces Hospital in Jeddah. She makes sure to bring some back to the Kingdom whenever she goes on a holiday to the Philippines.

“It’s customary to give workmates pasalubong every time we go on vacation,” Margie said. “They are very happy when I give them pasalubong from the Philippines.”

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