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Thursday, February 01, 2007

The Balikbayan Box

Most of the time when one goes on vacation, be it for a week or a couple, one or two pieces of luggage usually will suffice. Actually, that is all most airlines would allow you to bring for free. If you decide to carry additional luggage you would be charged an extra fee.

When balikbayans ("balikbayan" means "return to country" and is used to describe Filipinos returning to the Philippines for a vacation) go home, it usually is more efficient to pack things in a box, a balikbayan box, rather than a suitcase. You see, when a Filipino goes to the Philippines, it's not the usual vacation where you pack your personal effects then go and enjoy yourself. A Filipino's vacation usually involves going home to their hometowns, in our case it's Sagunto, meeting numerous relatives, and maybe somewhere in between sneak in a sightseeing trip of two. That was the case for us anyway.

When we went home last December, there was twelve of us arriving in Manila along with 24 pieces of luggage, a motley combination of luggage and balikbayan boxes. It took two huge trolleys and four bell boys to carry it all out of the airport. Why so much you ask?

Months before our departure, my mother, grandmother, aunts and sisters (notice how I left myself out? that's cause I didn't do any shopping! haha!) have been shopping for Christmas presents for our numerous relatives and friends. My mom shopped like we were going on survivor island. She packed every incidental item she thought her grandchildren will need. For the Clone, she is the most finicky of her grandchildren, she packed ramen noodles, spaghetti noodles, spaghetti sauce, pancake mix and powdered chocolate drink mix for just in case she didn't like any of the food. She packed extra tooth paste, soap, shampoos and conditioners, and enough lotion to moisturize the whole town.

The funny thing was, the Clone actually liked the food there and barely touched the food we brought for her! See some of the foods prepared for us in our kitchen.


HiPnCooLMoMMa said...

I went to see your kitchen...WHOA lots of food, ang sarap! I'm especially fond of kilawin. I wouldn't mind gaining a few lbs if that's the kind of food served all the time =)

chase said...

My aunts when they travel to the Phils. they dont carry balikbayan boxes but instead buy some stuff on the duty free instead. Coz usually some cases you might lose your packages.

Joan said...

For someone who likes to travel, I hate to pack. I already have thought how I'll dread our week long trip this summer. Anyway, I enjoy learning about your Filipino (is this correct word for an adjective?)culture. I always assumed everything was spelled with a "PH".

JMom said...

Hi Girlie, me too, I just love kilawin, especially seafood. I just wish I could have brought some back with me.

Hi Chas, some people have told me that too, but my mom is old school. She still likes to spread her shopping over time and pack the boxes herself. We were lucky this time, even with all the boxes we had, we didn't lose one!

Hi Joan, I'm with you there. I hate packing too. That's why my only responsibility this time was to pack the kids' and my personal stuff. lol! Grandma was the one who thought of everything we could possibly need or want. Yes, Filipino is correct. Filipino with an F describes the people, Pilipino with a P is the language. The only one with PH is the proper name of the country, Philippines. :)

MrsPartyGirl said...

when we went home, we had 18 pieces of luggage, 10 of them were boxes :D we even got those "balikbayan bags" to put or boxes in. they are so convenient to use! 1) we dont have to spend a lot on packaging tape because when the boxes are in the bags, they are protected from puncture and the bags are water-resistant too. 2) easier to carry (or drag hehe), because the bags have handles, no rope burns for us! 3) easier for TSA to inspect because even if you don't tape them securely, you can just zip the bag then lock them with TSA-approved locks. and, 4) they make the boxes look more like luggage, hehe. uy, balikbayan gear should pay me for this, hahaha!

anyway, like your clone, ninna didn't even touch the food we brought with us (we brought some, too, just in case hehe)! as you know, rice and adobo lang ok na with her. :D

Sugarmama said...

This reminds me of when a former co-worker was returning home to Bosnia for a visit. She was doing mad shopping for a couple of months before departing because all her extended family was expecting tons of presents. Poor woman! I don't know which I'd like to do less--shopping or packing.

cathy said...

I can understand your mom.
My mom when she was alive was also like that. She would like the grandkids back home to enjoy whatever she had in the US.

The US born grandchildren were hesitant to go home to the Philippines, the first time. Not long before they had unpacked, the boys were swimming with their country cousins in the "Ilog" catching some crabs and "palaka".

The girls were playing barefeet with the neighbors playing hide and seek and some tinda-tindahan.

Amazing but the London born, Australian born and US born can communicate with their country cow-sins, what with all those different accents.

I just cannot understand kids. hahaha

Leah said...

Wow, andami nyo naman pala umuwi. That must have been a fun holiday with the whole clan almost.

If ever I plan to go home, i will time it when my parents go para hindi rin ako mag-sha-shopping masyado. lol

mrs. pektus said...

Glad to hear the Clone love Pinoy foods..:)Hope you guys didn't put on additional weight from your vacation.

ruth said...

24 luggages? ilang sasakyan ang sumundo sa inyo sa airport??!??!

JMom said...

Hi mrspartygirl, I'll have to keep those bags in mind. They are so cool! I wish I had known about them before we left. Who knew! :)

Sugarmama, I hate doing both. That's why I grabbed the chance when my mother said don't shop, just pack what you need. LOL! what a godsend moms are!

Cathy, I know what you mean about the language of kids. They are so funny. One would say something in one language, and the other would answer in another language, then off they go! We adults are left standing with the "huh?" look on our faces, wondering how they even understood each other. LOL!

LOL! leah, that's the way to do it. Naki ride on lang ako :)

MrsPektus, oh we definitely put on some pounds! But every ounce of it was worth it. I can still taste all the mangoes we ate :)

Haha! Ruth, ako din, nagtaka how they were going to handle all the bags. Sumundo sa amin, 2 passenger vans for people and a cargo truck for the bags. Grabe no? then we trucked all that mess all the way to Pangasinan.

kathy said...

Wow, ang tiyaga nyo mag-uwi ng boxes at pasalubong. We never bring more than 3 checked-in items whenever we go home - even in December. It's just too stressful for us. But anyway, since we're coming from Narita, we are only allowed 20 kilos of luggage each.

JAZEVOX said...

when my sis went home from abroad one time, all she gave to us her siblings was one perfume for each of us and then took us one-day shopping at the department store in the phil to choose what we want, with budget of around 1000-1500 pesos each, i think? she had very light travel baggage, and we had fun shopping together, i thought that was great kahit na it wasnt imported.

One christmas, i bought my bro a handy multi-tool knife at hardware store here in the US, when my bro receive it, he commented that it was made in China? I didnt know, he said, there is a lot of them in the phils too! i think i spent more money mailing it to him than what it actually cost to buy them in the phils.