With ‘pasalubong,’ Filipinos take bits of home to friends in Gulf countries

With ‘pasalubong,’ Filipinos take bits of home to friends in Gulf countries
Shoppers browse Philippine products often bought as pasalubong for friends and relatives abroad at a store in Manila on Jan. 29, 2024. (AN Photo)
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Updated 05 March 2024
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With ‘pasalubong,’ Filipinos take bits of home to friends in Gulf countries

With ‘pasalubong,’ Filipinos take bits of home to friends in Gulf countries
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE, Kuwait are top destinations for overseas Filipino workers
  • Pasalubong is an old Filipino tradition of bringing gifts after returning from a trip

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 Dubai, 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.”


French court gives man suspended sentence for Iran consulate intrusion

French court gives man suspended sentence for Iran consulate intrusion
Updated 29 sec ago
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French court gives man suspended sentence for Iran consulate intrusion

French court gives man suspended sentence for Iran consulate intrusion
PARIS: A French court this week handed an Iran-born man a suspended 10-month sentence for entering the Iranian consulate in Paris with fake grenades in what he said was “revenge” for a crackdown at home that targeted his family.
The 61-year-old, a long-time resident of France who regularly attends Iranian opposition demonstrations, told the court he acted on Friday after learning the previous day that his sister had been arrested.
He said he had not wanted to “threaten anyone” but rather “take revenge” on the Iranian authorities, who he described as “terrorist.”
The court, in a ruling late on Monday, also banned him from carrying a weapon or approaching the consulate again.
Soldiers and police descended en masse on the neighborhood around the consulate on Friday after the mission reported an intruder entering with a grenade or explosive belt.
But police found no explosives on him or inside after arresting him.
A police source, who did not wish to be named, said the suspect had been wearing a vest with large pockets containing three fake grenades.
The judge said witnesses recounted the man “tearing down flags” and saying he “wanted to die.” Police negotiators managed to convince him to exit the building without his jacket.
A psychiatric expert found the man was of sound mind.
During his trial, the accused embarked on long tirades about the political situation in Iran, prompting the judge to remind him to “stick to the facts.”
The man had already been convicted for setting fire to tires in front of the entrance of the Iranian embassy in Paris in 2023, prosecutors said.
Citizens in the Islamic republic have endured increased repression since nationwide protests began in September 2022.
The demonstrations were sparked by the death in custody of 22-year-old Mahsa Amini, who was arrested for allegedly flouting the mandatory dress rules for women.
Executions — which activists say are a way to instil fear into Iranian society — have also continued apace.
At least 110 people have been executed this year alone, according to the Norway-based Iran Human Rights group.

At least five migrants died during attempt to cross English Channel - La Voix du Nord

At least five migrants died during attempt to cross English Channel - La Voix du Nord
Updated 27 min 33 sec ago
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At least five migrants died during attempt to cross English Channel - La Voix du Nord

At least five migrants died during attempt to cross English Channel - La Voix du Nord
  • People smugglers typically overload rickety dinghies, leaving them barely afloat and at risk of being lashed by the waves

PARIS: At least five migrants died in an attempt to cross the English Channel from an area near the town of Wimereux, local newspaper La Voix du Nord said on Tuesday.
The French coast guard confirmed there was a failed attempt to cross the Channel and said police were operating at a beach following the incident on Tuesday morning, adding there were several ‘lifeless bodies’.
Local police did not immediately reply to a Reuters request for comment.
The coast guard spokesperson said its agents were still operating at sea on Tuesday morning after what the official called a ‘busy’ morning, with several crossing attempts.
The Channel between France and Britain is one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes and currents are strong, making the crossing on small boats dangerous.
People smugglers typically overload rickety dinghies, leaving them barely afloat and at risk of being lashed by the waves as they try to reach British shores.


Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023— UN 

Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023— UN 
Updated 30 min 45 sec ago
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Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023— UN 

Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023— UN 
  • Climate change exacerbated severity of weather disasters last year, sauys World Meteorological Organization
  • 79 disasters, mostly floods and storms, associated with water-related weather hazards were reported in Asia in 2023

Geneva: Asia was the world’s most disaster-hit region from climate and weather hazards in 2023, the United Nations said Tuesday, with floods and storms the chief cause of casualties and economic losses.

Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the UN’s weather and climate agency said Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.

The World Meteorological Organization said the impact of heatwaves in Asia was becoming more severe, with melting glaciers threatening the region’s future water security.

The WMO said Asia was warming faster than the global average, with temperatures last year nearly two degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average.

“The report’s conclusions are sobering,” WMO chief Celeste Saulo said in a statement.

“Many countries in the region experienced their hottest year on record in 2023, along with a barrage of extreme conditions, from droughts and heatwaves to floods and storms.

“Climate change exacerbated the frequency and severity of such events, profoundly impacting societies, economies, and, most importantly, human lives and the environment that we live in.”

The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of key climate change indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat and sea level rise, saying they would have serious repercussions for societies, economies and ecosystems in the region.

“Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023,” the WMO said.

The annual mean near-surface temperature over Asia in 2023 was the second highest on record, at 0.91 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average, and 1.87 C above the 1961-1990 average.

Particularly high average temperatures were recorded from western Siberia to central Asia, and from eastern China to Japan, the report said, with Japan having its hottest summer on record.

As for precipitation, it was below normal in the Himalayas and in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Meanwhile southwest China suffered from a drought, with below-normal precipitation levels in nearly every month of the year.

The High-Mountain Asia region, centered on the Tibetan Plateau, contains the largest volume of ice outside of the polar regions.

Over the last several decades, most of these glaciers have been retreating, and at an accelerating rate, the WMO said, with 20 out of 22 monitored glaciers in the region showing continued mass loss last year.

The report said 2023 sea-surface temperatures in the northwest Pacific Ocean were the highest on record.

Last year, 79 disasters associated with water-related weather hazards were reported in Asia. Of those, more than 80 percent were floods and storms, with more than 2,000 deaths and nine million people directly affected.

“Floods were the leading cause of death in reported events in 2023 by a substantial margin,” the WMO said, noting the continuing high level of vulnerability of Asia to natural hazard events.

Hong Kong recorded 158.1 millimeters of rainfall in one hour on September 7 — the highest since records began in 1884, as a result of a typhoon.

The WMO said there was an urgent need for national weather services across the region to improve tailored information to officials working on reducing disaster risks.

“It is imperative that our actions and strategies mirror the urgency of these times,” said Saulo.

“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the evolving climate is not merely an option, but a fundamental necessity.”


UN officials urge UK to reconsider plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda

UN officials urge UK to reconsider plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda
Updated 21 min 38 sec ago
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UN officials urge UK to reconsider plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda

UN officials urge UK to reconsider plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda
  • UN called on the UK to instead take practical measures to address irregular flows of migrants and refugees

GENEVA: Two United Nations top officials on Tuesday called on the UK to reconsider its plan to transfer asylum seekers to Rwanda, warning the move would have a harmful impact on human rights and refugee protection.
In a joint statement, Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, and Volker Turk, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, called on the UK to instead take practical measures to address irregular flows of migrants and refugees.
“The new legislation marks a further step away from the UK’s long tradition of providing refuge to those in need, in breach of the Refugee Convention,” said Grandi.
Turk, who has criticized the plan before, said that the legislation “seriously hinders the rule of law in the UK and sets a perilous precedent globally.”
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak promised on Monday to start sending asylum seekers to Rwanda within 10 to 12 weeks as the upper house of parliament passed legislation that had been delayed for weeks by attempts to alter the plan.
Other countries are considering tough measures to stem illegal migration, with Italy planning to build reception camps in Albania for thousands of migrants arriving by sea.


Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023:UN

Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023:UN
Updated 23 April 2024
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Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023:UN

Asia hit hardest by climate, weather disasters in 2023:UN
  • UN’s weather and climate agency said Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace

GENEVA: Asia was the world’s most disaster-hit region from climate and weather hazards in 2023, the United Nations said Tuesday, with floods and storms the chief cause of casualties and economic losses.
Global temperatures hit record highs last year, and the UN’s weather and climate agency said Asia was warming at a particularly rapid pace.
The World Meteorological Organization said the impact of heatwaves in Asia was becoming more severe, with melting glaciers threatening the region’s future water security.
The WMO said Asia was warming faster than the global average, with temperatures last year nearly two degrees Celsius above the 1961 to 1990 average.
“The report’s conclusions are sobering,” WMO chief Celeste Saulo said in a statement.
“Many countries in the region experienced their hottest year on record in 2023, along with a barrage of extreme conditions, from droughts and heatwaves to floods and storms.
“Climate change exacerbated the frequency and severity of such events, profoundly impacting societies, economies, and, most importantly, human lives and the environment that we live in.”
The State of the Climate in Asia 2023 report highlighted the accelerating rate of key climate change indicators such as surface temperature, glacier retreat and sea level rise, saying they would have serious repercussions for societies, economies and ecosystems in the region.
“Asia remained the world’s most disaster-hit region from weather, climate and water-related hazards in 2023,” the WMO said.
Ranging disasters
The annual mean near-surface temperature over Asia in 2023 was the second highest on record, at 0.91 degrees Celsius above the 1991-2020 average, and 1.87 C above the 1961-1990 average.
Particularly high average temperatures were recorded from western Siberia to central Asia, and from eastern China to Japan, the report said, with Japan having its hottest summer on record.
As for precipitation, it was below normal in the Himalayas and in the Hindu Kush mountain range in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile southwest China suffered from a drought, with below-normal precipitation levels in nearly every month of the year.
The High-Mountain Asia region, centered on the Tibetan Plateau, contains the largest volume of ice outside of the polar regions.
Over the last several decades, most of these glaciers have been retreating, and at an accelerating rate, the WMO said, with 20 out of 22 monitored glaciers in the region showing continued mass loss last year.
The report said 2023 sea-surface temperatures in the northwest Pacific Ocean were the highest on record.
Water-related hazards
Last year, 79 disasters associated with water-related weather hazards were reported in Asia. Of those, more than 80 percent were floods and storms, with more than 2,000 deaths and nine million people directly affected.
“Floods were the leading cause of death in reported events in 2023 by a substantial margin,” the WMO said, noting the continuing high level of vulnerability of Asia to natural hazard events.
Hong Kong recorded 158.1 millimeters of rainfall in one hour on September 7 — the highest since records began in 1884, as a result of a typhoon.
The WMO said there was an urgent need for national weather services across the region to improve tailored information to officials working on reducing disaster risks.
“It is imperative that our actions and strategies mirror the urgency of these times,” said Saulo.
“Reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting to the evolving climate is not merely an option, but a fundamental necessity.”