So your Cebu vacation is almost done. And just like any good time, you don’t want it to end. Why not extend the fun and bring a little piece of Cebu back home? To help you out, we’ve created this list for you. (You’re welcome.) Here are popular bring-home treats and souvenirs from Cebu – or what locals fondly call as ‘pasalubong.’ There are delicacies, sweet treats, and unique souvenirs to choose from. Make sure your bags have space!
1. Dried Mangoes
On top of our list is the world-famous dried mangoes. Chewy in texture and sweet in taste, these export-quality treats are perfect as bite-sized snacks for your mid-afternoon munch. Try the dried ripe or green variety – or for the sweet tooth, dried mangoes dipped in chocolate coating. And if you’re a real mango addict, stock on mango juice concentrate, spicy peanuts with dried mango bits, and tamarind mango candy, too!
Buy your stash at the local grocery or if you’re game for more local flavor, head on to the Taboan Public Market where you can haggle with local vendors. Or if you’re a certified mango geek, why not travel to Profood Gallery in Maguikay, Mandaue City? More than a dried mango shop, the Gallery is a legit mango museum that offers a factory tour. Here, you can learn more about the history of Cebu’s dried mangoes industry. Mango cravings: status satisfied.
It’s like a donut but it’s flat. It’s a cookie but it’s shaped like a flower. One thing is for sure, it’s a delicious butter delight. These sweet favorites trace its origins from the Municipality of Liloan in Cebu where Margarita ‘Titay’ Frasco started baking the pastry back in 1907. She made the then-nameless treat using flour, eggs, sugar, baking powder, and shortening. Then, as history claims it, President Sergio Osmeña Sr visited Titay’s home and, when served with the delicious cookies, named it rosquillos after the Spanish word for ringlet, rosca.
Today, Titay’s is famous for its rosquillos and other home-baked goodies. Try their famous torta, ensaimada, penato, and other pastries. Its main outlet is located in Poblacion, Liloan, but their products are heavily distributed in leading supermarkets around Metro Cebu.
3. Peanut Browas
Who would have thought that this Cebu delicacy was born out of a crisis? The year is 1984. Cebu was under a flour shortage. It was then that Danny Gonzales of Argao received a tall order from his father: create a new product that used little flour. The inventive mind gathered his chosen ingredients – grounded fine peanuts, eggs, sugar, and yeast. Then, he borrowed his Lola’s Pureza’s much-kept baking methods, a family secret passed down to generations.
The finished product is the now famous Peanut Browas. Known as Cebu’s version of Lady Fingers, the Browas is a crunchy, bite-sized delicacy beloved by the many taste buds that swore to its rich peanut flavor. Get ‘a taste of Old Cebu’ by indulging in a box of Browas, retailing between Php 50 to Php 140 (around USD 1 to USD 3) depending on the size.
A local favorite, the crunchy Otap is an oval-shaped puff pastry that’s likened to the French palmier cookies. This famous delicacy is usually made from flour, shortening, coconut, and sugar. Usually six inches long, Otap is thin-layered, flaky, and saccharine-coated – so prepare to hear crisp after crisp when you bite into its yummy goodness. Really soothing to the ears! To add, the sprinkled sugar on top completes the delectable experience. Surely, you’ll ask for more.
A pack of Otap can be bought for P50 to P150 (USD 1 to USD 3) at various pasalubong centers in downtown Cebu. We recommend heading to Shamrock Bakery, famed to be the ‘Home of Cebu’s Finest Otap.’
Any tourist should never leave Cebu without bringing a pack of Danggit! The Danggit or Rabbitfish is a well-known fish delicacy that’s salted, sun-dried, and split-open. It’s a popular breakfast viand and is best paired with a sunny side up egg and ‘sinangag’ or garlic rice. Your sense of smell might need a little adjusting with the dried first at first, especially when you just bought them. But once you cook them, you can’t help but salivate at its tempting aroma.
Best place to buy this special treat is in Taboan Market, where you can buy salted and unsalted Danggit and other variants of dried fish at an affordable price. Don’t worry, vendors use airtight plastic bags to conceal the smell of dried fish. Such a hassle-free treat to bring home.
6. Chicharon (and Lechon)
Located in Southern Cebu, the City of Carcar is famous for its mouth-watering pork crackling, known as “chicharon.” This savory and tasty pasalubong is made of boiled pork rinds fried in hot oil. Don’t be surprised when every bite comes with a well-meaning crack! Dip it in vinegar or chili sauce for more flavor. It can be eaten with rice for a meal, too.
If you want to see the process of making chicharon or even test your haggling skills with vendors, take a 2-hour drive from Cebu to the home of the famous chicharon. Plus, Carcar City is a heritage site rich in Spanish and American structures. But if Carcar is a little out of your way, fear not! There are a lot of centers and supermarkets in Cebu that sell this best-seller. In particular, ZubuChon is a go-to destination. The franchise is not only famous for its version of chicharon but also for its honest-to-goodness serving of its world-famous lechon or roasted suckling pig. Feast but enjoy in moderation – it’s not the healthiest (but is for sure the yummiest!).
Our next pasalubong is considered as Cebu’s nutty treat – the Masareal of Mandaue City. Usually served in rectangular bars, this pasalubong is primarily made of finely-ground peanut, milk, and sugar. Sweet and nutty at the same time, the masareal is a hit to kids and kids-at-heart. And to make it sweeter, this pasalubong is available in supermarkets and pasalubong centers for only P20 to P50 (USD .40 to 1). Now that’s really budget-friendly!
From food treats, let’s please the other senses, shall we? Are you into music? Do you play the guitar or know someone who does? If so, consider yourself lucky! After visiting the Mactan Shrine in Lapu-Lapu City, you might consider guitar shopping in your itinerary.
The city of Lapu-Lapu, hailed as the ‘Guitar Capital of the Philippines,’ is where you can buy high-quality classical and acoustic guitar at an affordable price. There are ukuleles, banjos, and mandolins for sale too! Do you want your guitar personalized? They got you! Aside from being handmade, the guitars can also be customized based on the customer’s own design.
Susing’s Guitar, Alegre Guitars, Guitar Master, Jerry’s Guitar, Celia’s Guitar are among the popular options. To get the best deal, visit the stores and compare prices before purchasing! Make sure the guitar’s acoustics is in their best shape, too.
9. Souvenir Shirts
Nothing screams ‘unfading love for the Queen City of the South’ than having your own ‘I ♥ Cebu’ shirt. Get your souvenir that fits your size at nearby local shops. You can even have the shirts personalized in Island Souvenirs, a popular souvenir shop found in local malls.
There are plenty of designs to choose from. From embossed imprints of guitars to painted versions of famous landmarks, and even cartoonized whale sharks. Take your pick and wear the colors of Cebu wherever you go!
A useful tip: don’t forget to buy one when you’re joining the Sinulog Festival. Locals and tourists love parading their Cebu shirts during the festival’s street celebrations. Some would even smudge paint on their shirt or even tear the sleeves into fringes to make them more unique.
10. Handmade Accessories
Now you have your signature shirt, why not complete the look with beautiful accessories? For the best finds, take a cab or jeepney to SM City Cebu and walk towards the back. There, you’ll be greeted with an array of accessories shop, or ‘borloloyan,’ owned by local entrepreneurs. Once there, let your eyes feast with the assorted fashion choices – beaded necklaces, native bracelets, pearl earrings, coconut shell handbags, handcrafted purses. The possibilities are limitless. The best part? Items are very affordable. Prices start at a jaw-dropping Php 10 (USD .20). You can even haggle for a discount or get an extra piece if you buy in bulk.
More Information About Cebu Treats and Souvenirs to Bring Home:
Hope you find this article helpful! Still got extra space to squeeze in more treats and souvenirs? If that’s the case, you can check the articles below:
- Popular delicacies in Cebu by Sugbo.ph
- Cebu’s Famous Pasalubong Treats (Part 1) by Jason Hungerford for Everything Cebu
- Favourite Cebu Food: Delicious Pasalubong Treats and Delicacies by Osmiva
- Pasalubong Cebu City by Wandering Bakya
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This article was written by Niño Jose B. Gonzales for Mad Monkey Hostels.