20 Traditional Filipino Birthday Gifts That'll Make Any Pinoy Happy

Stumped on what to bring to a Filipino friend’s birthday party? Take a look into this list of fun yet traditional Filipino birthday gifts, from wordplay tees to boxing gloves and rice cookers to personalized dance routines.

Stumped on what to bring to a Filipino friend’s birthday party? Take a look into this list of fun yet traditional Filipino birthday gifts, from wordplay tees to boxing gloves and rice cookers to personalized dance routines.

Filipino birthday gift
Filipino birthday gift
Filipino birthday gift

You’ve been invited to your Filipino friend’s birthday party, and you’re not sure what to bring as a gift. Don’t sweat it—we are here to help with a curated, juicy list of traditional (yet fun!) Filipino birthday gifts that are sure to please everyone.

If you’ve met Filipinos (and chances are, you have), you know that they love parties, food, get-togethers, and merry-making of all sorts. Making up 6% of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and around 21.3% of Dubai’s population, Filipinos are known for their tireless work ethic and cheerful attitudes.

Filipino gift-giving traditions are interesting, like the pasalubong (“something for when you welcome me”), which is a gift from travels given to family and friends upon the traveler’s return from their journey, and the blow out, when the birthday celebrant treats their family and friends to food and/or drinks.

However, the celebrant still expects to receive gifts from family and friends, as is tradition. Need help preparing a great gift for a Filipino friend’s birthday? We’ve prepared a list of the 20 best traditional Filipino birthday gift ideas (with a modern twist!) that you might want to consider.

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Something Food-Related

Heading to a Filipino birthday party?

Don’t eat for at least two days beforehand, because you need to make space for all the feasting to come.

Not sure what to bring? Something to eat will always be appreciated at a Pinoy birthday party!

1. A Proper Pinoy Birthday Cake

No Filipino birthday is complete without one of the best traditional Filipino birthday gifts ever—a cake from Goldilocks and Red Ribbon. Founded in 1966 and 1979, respectively, these top Philippine bakeries showcase local Philippine ingredients and have been a part of many Filipinos’ special occasions—birthdays, anniversaries, baptisms, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, you name it—for decades.

Ube Full Roll. Image credit: Goldilocks

Sans Rival cake. Image credit: Red Ribbon

2. Food for the Whole Gang

Giving food as a present is a classic Filipino gift-giving tradition. And when it comes to eating, there’s nothing more Filipino than sharing a feast with family and friends. If you’re stumped for gift ideas for your Filipino and Filipina mates, you might want to check out the mouth-watering menus of Filipino classic restaurants Max’s Restaurant and Razon’s of Guagua, which have been keeping Filipinos’ bellies full and happy since they began in 1945 and 1972, respectively.

Set menu at Max’s for sharing. Image credit: Max’s

December 2022 holiday food package at Razon’s. Image credit: Razon’s of Guagua.

Max’s and Razon’s both serve Filipino classic dishes that are sure to be devoured by the entire family!

To place an order at Max’s, contact one of their two branches in the UAE:

Max’s Restaurant | Spinney’s Building, Trade Centre Road, Karama | +971 4 351 1269

Max’s Restaurant | Level R, Corniche Apartments, Khalifa St., Abu Dhabi | +971 2 627 8352

To place an order at Razon’s, contact their Dubai store:

Razon’s | Shop 6, Al Wasl Hub, Block 2, Street 21, Al Karama, Dubai |+971 4 334 3333 

3. An Extra Large Rice Cooker

You may not speak Tagalog or any other Philippine language (did you know that there are more than 120 languages in the Philippines?), but if you like rice, you’ll have no problems communicating with Filipino friends.

Black + Decker rice cooker. Image credit: Amazon

Filipinos like to joke that rice is the glue that binds the nation together. It’s true—a Filipino household is never without a full pot of rice, which complements the salty-spicy-sweet-and-sour combinations that Filipino food is known for. An extra-large rice cooker, like this 2.8-liter one from Amazon, would be the perfect modern yet traditional Filipino birthday gift.

4. Pinoy-Approved Snacks

When it comes to snacks, there are endless delicious morsels to choose from in Filipino cuisine. However, I think all Filipinos can agree that Philippine dried mangoes are one of the best snacks ever to have been invented (did you know that Philippine mangoes hold the Guinness World Record for being the world’s sweetest?).

Philippine dried mangoes. Image credits: Amazon

A tried-and-true, time-tested classic, Philippine dried mangoes are better than candies—they are sweet, chewy, and will definitely have everyone coming back for more! This traditional Filipino birthday gift is sure to be a crowd pleaser, so if you’re short on gift ideas, look no further. You can order some Philippine dried mangoes on Amazon.

Something to Wear

Gifting someone with something to wear is a staple in Filipino gift-giving traditions. Filipinos enjoy receiving shirts, outerwear, and accessories like jewelry and caps. Check out some of our Pinoy-friendly suggestions for traditional Filipino birthday gifts that can be worn.

5. Philippine-themed clothing

This shirt with Philippine world champion boxer (now politician) Manny Pacquiao is the perfect gift for Philippine boxing fans. Possibly one of the most famous Filipinos to have ever walked the earth, Pacquiao is the “Pambansang Kamao” (“National Fist”) and the **pride of the Philippines. Get this shirt on Amazon.

Manny Pacquiao t-shirt. Image credit: Amazon

Keep your Filipino family and friends cozy with this Pilipinas hoodie sporting the Filipino flag. You can order this hoodie, available in six colors, on Etsy.

Pilipinas hoodie. Image credit: Etsy

6. Islander Slippers

Wearing tsinelas (flip flops or slippers) is an everyday part of Philippine culture. Filipinos walk, run, hike, and do everything in tsinelas. They’re the best (and comfiest!) way of getting around.

Image credit: Amazon

Of all the slipper brands in the Philippines, Islander—with its sturdy straps and signature thick, molded sole—is one of the most popular. Known for their comfort and durability, they would make a great gift for friends, colleagues, and even your lolo (grandfather)! You can order a pair on Amazon.

7. Jewelry

For your friends and loved ones who love the bling, look no further than these Philippine-themed jewelry pieces.

Philippine sun and stars stud earrings. Image credit: Amazon

These sun and stars earrings would make the perfect gift for any jewelry-loving Pinoy or Pinay. You can choose from a gold and rose gold finish on Amazon.

“Mahal kita” earrings. Image credit: Amazon

Say “Mahal kita” (“I love you”) with these adorable earrings, available on Amazon.

Philippine sun necklace. Image credit: Amazon

Did you know that the Filipino sun—which is found on the Philippine flag—has eight rays representing the provinces that started the Philippine Revolution, which eventually led to the Philippines’ independence from Spain? This Philippine sun necklace would make the perfect gift for any proud Filipino.

Order one in a gold, silver, rose gold, or steel finish on Amazon.

8. A Pun-y T-shirt

Have some fun (or should we say pun?) with these funny Filipino t-shirts with wacky wordplay.

Image credit: Amazon

This super adorable shirt references one of the Philippines’ favorite dishes, adobo, a spicy pork or chicken dish cooked with vinegar, soy sauce, bay leaves, and peppercorn (and eaten with rice, of course!). Get it in different colors on Amazon.

Image credit: Etsy

Speaking of rice, this hilarious shirt is perfect for your rice-loving Pinoy friends! Available in different colors on Etsy, this one deserves a place on any Filipino birthday party gift guide.

Image credit: Etsy

Tease your Filipino friends with this cheeky “I’m Not Late, I’m Filipino” shirt, available in different shades on Etsy.

9. Philippine Patches and Decals

Not sure what to get your Filipino ninong (godfather) for his birthday? These cool Philippine flag patches and stickers are a cool present for a man on the go. He can put them on his car, his laptop, his bag, his motorcycle, his jacket, or anywhere!

Image credit: Etsy

Get this PVC Philippine flag patch on Etsy.

Image credit: Amazon

Order this velcro-backed embroidered Philippine flag patch on Amazon.

Image credit: Etsy

Get this Filipino sun and stars decal on Etsy.

10. Something from Bench

For the perfect Philippine gift, look no further than Bench, one of the Philippines’ leading clothing and lifestyle brands. Founded in 1987 as a small business, Bench now has branches all over the world.

Image credit: Bench at StoreUs

Clothing is not the only thing you can wear. Shop for Bench’s Pure Passion cologne and many other products online, or visit any of these three branches in the UAE:

Bench | Burjuman Mall, Al Mankhool, Bur Dubai, Dubai | +971 4 268 0161

Bench | ​Al Ghurair Centre, ​3 Al Rigga Road,​ 1 Floor​, Al Muraqqabat, Deira, Dubai

Bench | ​Al Bada Oasis​ 7, Al Hudaiba Street​, G Floor, Al Bada’a, Dubai | +971 4 3259429

Something to Read

We’ve got a few interesting selections for the Filipino booklovers in your life. The following books are proudly written by Filipino authors and capture Filipino pride and Filipino heritage with wit and humor.

11. You Know You’re Filipino If… by Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz

This laugh-out-loud worthy book by Neni Sta. Romana-Cruz features a collection of Filipino culture, traditions, habits, and quirks (such as pointing with their lips!) that make Filipinos the unique people that they are.

Order it on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

12. Pulutan! Filipino Bar Bites, Appetizers and Street Eats by Marvin Gapultos

This amazing cookbook by Marvin Gapultos features a particularly exciting part of Filipino cuisine—pulutan (snacks and food that you have alongside alcoholic drinks). Pulutan is savory, fun, easy to eat, and hopefully, with the help of this cookbook, easy to prepare!

Get one on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

13. Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco

A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year awardee, Ilustrado by Miguel Syjuco is a mystery, history, and family saga all rolled into one clever package. This intriguing novel takes us from the Hudson River in New York to the gritty streets of Manila.

Get a copy on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

To shop for books by Philippine authors in the UAE, check out Kinokuniya Bookstore—which has the biggest collection of Asian literature in the UAE—in Dubai Mall.

Something for the Whole Family

Family is one of the biggest and strongest facets of Philippine culture, and Filipinos love spending time together with family. If you’re looking for a present that the whole family will enjoy, we’ve got some great choices for you.

14. A Karaoke Machine

When it comes to traditional Filipino birthday gifts, look no further than the karaoke machine, which comes with a microphone and more than 23,000 songs (with many popular Tagalog songs included!)

Image credit: Amazon

It is no secret that Filipinos love karaoke, and this gift is bound to be a hit with the entire family! You can order one on Amazon, and while you’re there, you might want to throw in this light-up tambourine, too!

If you’re interested in going out for a night of Filipino karaoke in the UAE, you might want to check out these two karaoke bars:

Lucky Voice Dubai | Grand Millennium Hotel, Barsha Heights | 5PM - 3AM | +971 800 58259

Makati Bar | Asiana Hotel, Deira | 7PM - 3AM | +971 4 238 7777

15. A Banig Mat

The banig is a traditional, handwoven mat from the Philippines made of palm or reed leaves. It is normally used for sleeping or lining the floor. A modern take on the banig, this large, foldable, woven picnic mat would be a great gift for a Filipino family who loves to eat, travel, and go on adventures together.

Order one on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

Something for Exercise

Boxing, basketball, and Filipino martial arts rank as some of the more popular sports in the Philippines. Keep reading for gift ideas for your sports-minded Pinoy friends.

16. Arnis Sticks

One of the most well-known fighting styles of Filipino Martial Arts (FMA) uses arnis sticks as weapons (also known as kali or eskrima). Get these arnis sticks on Amazon for your FMA-practicing friends.

Image credit: Amazon

To learn FMA in the UAE, check out the classes at Al Areen Martial Arts in Dubai.

17. Philippine Flag Boxing Gloves

Help the birthday boy or girl channel their inner Manny Pacquaio with these cool Philippine flag-themed boxing gloves.

Order a pair on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

18. Philippine-Themed Jerseys

This Philippine-themed cycling jersey would make a great gift for your active friends.

Order one on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

For the basketball lovers, this Philippine sun and stars jersey is an awesome choice. Filipinos love to get together to shoot some hoops!

Order one on Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

To play some basketball with fellow kababayans (fellow Filipinos) in the UAE, check out the Filipino Basketball Community - Abu Dhabi UAE.

Something Useful

Choosing a birthday gift can be pretty challenging at times. When in doubt, these next suggestions are great go-to’s for modernizing the traditional Filipino birthday gift.

19. Bag Organizer

With busy lives that take them all over the place, Filipinos will love this bag organizer insert. Besides, where will they put all their snacks?

Order a bag organizer on Amazon or on Etsy.

Image credit: Etsy

20. A Multi-Level Lunchbox

Another traditional Filipino birthday gift idea is the fiambrera (lunch box). Bringing a packed lunch, or baon, to school and work is a daily part of Philippine culture.

Order the one below from Amazon.

Image credit: Amazon

Gift your Filipino friends with these cool stackable lunch boxes for their everyday baon!

Order the one below from Etsy.

Image credit: Etsy

21. Good Old Cash

As a bonus, we’ve added this last entry about money, which is a traditional Filipino birthday gift (this is appropriate for other occasions as well), especially from an older generation to a younger generation. Many ninongs and ninangs (godfathers and godmothers) choose to give their inaanaks (godchildren) cash on their birthdays, and many lolos and lolas (grandfathers and grandmothers) do the same with their apos (grandchildren).

Image credit: Hubpay

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Something that Doesn’t Cost Anything but Means Everything

We’ve also included this section on FREE traditional Filipino birthday gifts, to help you out if you’re low on budget. In the Philippines, a kind gesture means just as much as an expensive present. We’ve got two great suggestions for traditional Filipino birthday gifts that you don’t need to spend money on.

A Personalized Slideshow

Personalized slideshows are often a part of Filipino birthdays, weddings, and special events. Make your Filipino friend’s birthday special by creating a personalized slideshow of photos, videos, and songs just for them.

Check out Canva for all your design needs!

Image credit: Facebook

Perform a Song or a Dance

If cash is an issue, why not prepare a song or dance performance for your Filipino friend or special someone? Don’t laugh—we’re not kidding! In the Philippines, it is part of the culture to perform a song or a dance in honor of loved ones, friends, and relatives.

Image credit: Facebook

Birthday Giveaway Ideas

As another bonus, we’ve added some cool suggestions for birthday giveaway ideas for your next Filipino birthday party, like the cheeky coffee mug below.

Image credit: Etsy

Check out these Philippine birthday giveaway ideas:

  • Woven banig coin purses on Etsy

  • “Mahal kita” keychains on Amazon

  • Philippine-themed coffee mugs on Etsy

To shop for more Philippine items, visit these stores in the UAE:

To learn more about and build community with Filipinos in the UAE, check out this article on fun Filipino activities in the area.

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