In traveling to a place whether or not for the first time, it is one thing to collect memories, but to be able to carry with you a memento to last for some time and will remind you of the place that it makes you want to go back sooner is a whole lot different story.
‘Pasalubong,’ a Filipino word which translates to ‘Panapuan’ or ‘Patapuan’ in Waray-Waray, means souvenir, token, or memorabilia; something kept as a reminder (as of a place one has visited). Balikbayans are habitually asked for it when they come back home - if you’re coming from Manila it's usually “remik or rumok,” a can of biscuits and cookies, for OFWs its either soap or lotion, chocolates and a popular brand of luncheon meat. This Filipino tradition of travelers bringing gifts from their destination to people back home is now made possible.
Borongan City’s inevitable rise to the market economy is happening now. Located on the first floor of the City Tourism Office just beside the Senior Citizens Office, Borongan City Panapuan/Patapuan Center offers an array of locally-made products Boronganons take so much pride in.
Inside its four corners is a display of goods from all over and around the city and the neighboring barangays—from the edibles; richly-flavored peanut butter of Taboc, banana chips of Alang-alang, and Bugas’ ‘Biribid’ that dates back to the ’40s and passed down from generations to wearables; shirts imprinted with landmarks. There are also crochet items, key chains and paper weights -- all of which are only just an introduction to the significant aspects of Borongan City’s culture and heritage.
“Last year pa nagtikang magpinaki-istoryahon hin mga producer, mga supplier gintirok, nag-start han June, han patron tapos han December. Yana naman actually, dire pa magpopost pero need na kay kinikita naman para maaghat it mga tawo magbutang dinhi...” City Tourism Office OIC Marissa Acorin said in an interview, disclosing how the Center came to life.
(Conversations with various producers and suppliers have started since last year from around the month of June, during the fiesta and last December. We were actually delaying the social media posting but since people are seeing that we have already opened the place, they have started to get curious, also its for them to be encouraged to put their products here).
Of pursuits coming to life
Raquel Anacta Loyola, a resident of Brgy. Punta Maria and a member of the Kababayin-an ha Borongan Association is one of the primary suppliers. Her deep passion for arts being her major capital, fueled by the silence of the world brought upon by the pandemic was what triggered her will to create.
One by one her creations came to life starting from paper weights, to chessboard sets; the product that is closest to her heart. In a collaborative work with Paz Benitez Serios, who specializes in wall arts and home decorations made out of seashells, Loyola was also able to make paintings, jewelry boxes, table organizers and paper weights out of fossil seashells, luminous paint, acrylic paint and resins. Social media played a vital role in pursuing her hobby. It only took a blow up of a few Facebook posts for the buyers to start pouring in. And the Panapuan Center might just be the breakthrough she, along with all the other producers, is waiting for.
“Actually hobby ko la in hiya, mahilig kasi ak hit mga art-art, maupay kasi di ba, cute. Nagpopost la ak hat ha Facebook di ko akalain may mapakiana kay karuyag pumalit. Thankful ak nga nagboboost na it Borongan. May ko kasi mga kilala ha gawas, ha abroad asking for a specific place nga nagbabaligya or pwede mapalitan mga pasalubong something dinhi ha Borongan. Tapos yana mayda na. Nakakaproud la,” Loyola said, sharing her enthusiasm in an interview.
(Actually, it's just my hobby, because I like art and cute things. I just posted on Facebook without thinking someone would be interested in buying it. I am thankful that Borongan is boosting. Because I have some acquaintances abroad, asking for a specific place that sells or can buy pasalubong something here in Borongan. Then there's that. It makes me proud.)
So this is it. This well-thought Filipino gesture can now be constantly memorialized by Boronganon locals and visitors alike. Whether it be through a product bought from the Panapuan Center of Borongan City or a simple box of candies brought home by a father to his child, it remains an unwavering trait within Philippine culture. (lmmp/VTG/PIA E. Samar with Janica Ivy Anacta/ESSU Intern)