When you come to the Philippines, if you are coming to see someone, of course you want to bring presents. That’s a pretty personal choice, but I would like to make a few suggestions. If you are coming to visit a poor family, they would be extremely happy for what they call oki-oki. That is used clothing. I generally go to Goodwill or I put out the word among my relatives and friends. The last time I came here I went to yard sales the day before arriving. One woman gave me a huge amount of assorted children’s clothing for 50 cents. They were very well received in the Philippines. Of course for your special friends you might want to bring new items, but whatever you do, do not overlook the Dollar Store.
Most Filipinos buy much of their personal goods at the local sari-sari store. These stores deal in small size goodies. That is you buy coffee in a one cup sachet. You buy CoffeeMate in one serving size. You buy oil to fry one egg if you like. Well it is the same for shampoo and toothpaste. So a real bottle of shampoo from overseas is a big treat. When I brought that and cream rinse, my wife had no idea what to do with the cream rinse. That’s how simple it is here. So the Dollar Store is a real treat. Shampoo, Cream Rinse, Tooth paste, lotions of all kinds, shaving stuff ( I have never seen shaving cream in anyone’s house). I always buy $1 bottles of aspirins. I swear you could open a doctor’s office with that. My last trip someone gave me a digital thermometer to bring, that’s been a real good item to have here. Certain things it does not make sense to bring like rubbing alcohol, hydrogen peroxide. Vitamins for adults and children are a big treat. Hairbrush. Keep in mind that most Filipinos are buying Chinese trash of the worst quality, worst then the dollar store so whatever you bring will be an improvement over what they are buying locally. Believe me foreign made goods will always be an improvement over the local Filipino stuff.
When it comes to the male friends and relatives think tools. Virtually any kind of hand tool, pliers, screw drivers, hammer. I recently brought my friend, a carpenter a plane. The local planes are wooden devices that constantly need sharpening and adjusting. I brought a Stanley and my friend was extremely pleased.
My last trip here was around the end of October so I was able to toss some bags of Halloween candy in my valise. That was requested special by the section one sixth grade class next door to my house. Foreign candy is a big treat. The local candies that can be had for 2 cents are nice, but somehow never contain enough chocolate or are never sweet enough. Careful with the candy as much of it will not travel well in the Philippine heat. I stocked up on Tootsie Pops which carried fairly well, but my Hershey’s Chocolate bars, although very well received, were mush by the time I got to my destination.