Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Filipinos Overseas and the Balikbayan Box

Balikbayan is a Filipino word which literally means going back (balik)  to the country (bayan). It refers to Filipinos who coming back home to the Philippines to visit their loved ones after a long stay in a foreign land. Balikbayan mostly refer to Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) , the Filipinos working abroad, those who migrated to another country due to marriage, and those who migrated to different parts of the world and live there permanently because of work and career. These people, including me, believe that we live a better life than those we left back home in the Philippines and we all wanted to make our loved ones in the Philippines experience what we are also experiencing living abroad, especially to own things which we also own, like dresses, shoes (most especially rubber shoes), bags (the designer bags), perfumes (the special ones) and many others and to let them taste what we are eating abroad, mostly canned goods and sweets, especially chocolates and special cookies. The offshoot of this feeling of the Filipinos wanting their loved ones experience what they are experience living abroad is the Balikbayan Box.

A Balikbayan Box are big cardboard box sent by Filipinos workers and living abroad to their loved ones in the Philippines and contains as many items as the box can contain, like personal items (perfume, shoes, bags, sunglasses, make-ups and all other designer items), canned goods (corned beef, sausages, meatloafs especially Spam), food items (chocolates, cookies, candies), toys (Lego, etc), toiletries (toothbrushes, toothpaste and sometimes even beautiful and thick tissues), household/kitchen accessories (pots and pans, kitchen tissues) , electronic items (mobiles, cameras and computers), clothing (the branded ones). Mostly the weight is unlimited until the box is already quite full or until it can be closed.

The last 2 balibayan Boxes I sent to the Philippines from Bremen, Germany before my 2013 vacation to the Philippines. I needed to send them so I will have a gift for everybody when I arrive. 

Although it is quite expensive, mostly it takes 500 euros to fill one (1)  box which will cost me around 85 euros per box  to send to the Philippines, I am still very happy to send at least 2 to 3 boxes per year to my son and siblings in the Philippines. It makes me feel good that my family can also eat all my favorite foods in Germany.

Below are the photos of some of the contents of my last 2 Balibayan Boxes.

To open a Balikbayan Box is a wonderful feeling. My first time to open a box filled with imported chocolates, perfumes and designer shoes was maybe 20 years ago, the first time, my younger sister who works as a Physical Therapist in America sent us a box. Opening a Balikbayan Box is like opening a gift much like when you receive a gift during special occassions, like Christmas and birthdays. It is much more special because some of the contents of the balikbayan Box are items which are hard to find in the Philippines or too expensive to buy in the Philippines.

My 2 Balikbayan boxes being transported starting from Germany to my home country, the Philippines. It takes 2.5 months before they reached my loved ones back home, but for everybody it is all worth the wait.