It’s full and it’s filled with stuff ranging from electronics to clothes to toys to chocolates to house wares. It’s signed and sealed, from top to bottom and sideways with multi layered of packing tapes just to make sure it won’t be open in the middle of its month long journey. The only portion of the box that is visible is the middle part showing the address where the box is to be delivered and the name of the cargo company that prides itself as the “Hari ng Padala”. Astonished, I suddenly wondered who better deserved that accord. Is it the cargo company that physically delivers the package or is it us OFWs who trade our sweats and tears to make that box evolves larger that the sum of what’s inside it? You judge.
Christmas is just around the corner. More than any other month in the year, it is during this time that cargo delivery trucks appear more visible across the streets not just in the Philippines but also here abroad where the boxes originate. Customarily, it has become a call for Filipinos working abroad to send their best efforts and fruits of labor to their loved ones back home right at this time and right inside a box. As if pulling it off together is as easy as collecting sands in Arabia, snow in Canada or tin cans in America, we try to absolve our absence in these special times to be with our family by sending not the best gifts but our best thoughts and efforts thru a box for at least making up for the moments where we should have been with them.
Meet Dennis. As early as May 2009, he’s been saving a portion of his monthly salary to buy things that would comprise his first ever balikbayan box. At each payday, he would visit the hypermarkets with one thing in mind: buy the cheapest yet most useful and sincerest gifts he could give his family back home. Below his bed, soaps, salts, sugar, shampoos, shirts, shoes, stuffed toys, school supplies, casseroles, celfones were in plastic bags for months waiting for day they get boxed in and cargoed to his family in the Philippines. Dennis works as a salon attendant here in the UAE and just recently, he was able to send his highly anticipated box right to the Philippines. Meet Joseph, he is an engineer, two weeks ago, he ordered a big box from LBC and in two days, he was able to fill it up with varied types of expensive clothes, gadgets, shoes, toys for his family and relatives in Manila. Both of their boxes are now in transit.The joy a balikbayan box brings is never contingent on what’s inside it and the joy of sending it to our loved ones is never dependent on how fast we could afford to fill it up. When these boxes reach its intended recipients, more than tangible things that comprised the goodies, it’s the thought and attention that matters and overwhelms. It doesn’t have to be the most expensive that would make them happy. I know Dennis’ family will feel just as proud as Joseph’s because he was able to send a balixbayan box though he’s just a minimal earner. I know, when his family open a box of Sneakers and try to eat it, they will be reminded of his sacrifices and willingness to live less of a better life abroad so he could provide more for his family back home.
A balikbayan box is more than just a big box of chocolates that serves good while it’s there. Like the image above, every inch of it represents what we are and every time we try to send the box to our loved ones back home, we are stripping a part of us, more than our sweats and tears so that the same thing could bring joy and comfort to the people whom we derive our inspiration to work harder.
LBC Number in the UAE is 800-035-702-444